In an ideal world, a hardware startup will begin with a great idea for a product and then translate that into a successful crowdfunding campaign. Branding shouldn’t matter at this stage; the project should be backed on the strength of the idea and the belief that consumers have in the company/entrepreneur, and their ability to pull it off and deliver on that promise.
But unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and branding really does matter. In fact, branding is often what ultimately seals the fate of a project – moreso that the actual concept itself!
If you hope to get backing for your idea, then people need to know about it and they need to be able to get behind it. That’s where branding comes in.
What is Branding
Don’t think that branding is all ‘bad news’ though. Branding is more than just a logo, just as your product is more than a list of specifications and capabilities. Perhaps the most important aspect of a brand is its ‘mission statement’ which should become the driving force behind everything that you do.
Your mission statement is your ‘why’ and that’s what gets people excited. That’s what should tie together all your projects, and that’s what should motivate you to get out of bed in the morning.
As Simon Sinek put it: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” See video of his full talk here.
It’s from there that every other aspect of your branding should emanate and that’s how you get people to really feel like they’re becoming part of a movement when they back your project.
How to Survive as Hardware Startup
Getting your mission statement right isn’t all that easy though either. To get your mission statement right, you need to understand your market. These are the people who you’re trying to inspire and serve: so how do your products and services accomplish that? What will those people find exciting?
As you can see, the process of ideation, of market research and of branding should all be highly synergistic when done right.
Fitbit serves as a great example. The company initially struggled to bring its vision to light – which at the time was still a relatively novel vision – and had to go the fundraising mode to stay afloat. They found support from SoftTech and True Ventures and after a great presentation at a TechCrunch 50 conference they managed to land 2,000 pre-orders. It was the vision, the brand, and the mission statement that got people excited.
Fitbit realised this itself, which is why it included a mission statement when it filed its IPO:
“Fitbit helps people lead healthier, more active lives by empowering them with data, inspiration, and guidance to reach their goals.”
Do you see how this is more exciting and motivating than a spec sheet? This is what entrepreneurs and startups need to understand when launching their own projects!
Of course, you don’t always need to be explicit regarding your mission statement. Oculus has a very clear vision for the future (there’s a pun in there somewhere), which no doubt, helped the company to reach the global-rockstar status that it enjoys today.
Great branding is about helping people to feel passionately about your project, and it’s putting a name and a look to your ideas.
As you can see then, a brand is much more than just a logo and a name for your company. Branding is all about intention, vision, and drive. Techies might see it as a frustrating inconvenience, but try not to look at it that way: look at it as a chance to help people feel as passionately about your project as you do!
What do you think is an example of a hardware startup with great branding? Let us know in the comments section and be sure to sign up to the mailing list for more inspiration, ideas and advice!