Home Business 4 Ideas To Elevate Startup Branding With Foundersuite’s Nathan Beckord

4 Ideas To Elevate Startup Branding With Foundersuite’s Nathan Beckord

by Olufisayo
Ideas To Elevate Startup Branding

Just the word “branding” can be enough to make some founders turn green. Colors, fonts, and the overall feeling a logo evokes are crucial introductions to a brand. Naturally, choosing yours can be overwhelming. Having seen a lot of pitch decks in my day, I have some thoughts on how to stand out from the crowd.

I admit that my definition of branding is fuzzy and intangible, going beyond just the physical plane. It’s that emotional feeling I get when interacting with a business: looking at their materials, their website, or when hearing the founders or other key employees speak about the organization.

With my company Foundersuite heading into a brand refresh in its sixth year, branding has been on my mind. I recently joined Fabian Geyrhalter on his podcast, Hitting the Mark, to talk about some branding hits and misses I’ve seen and learned from over the years, as well as a kooky way we at Foundersuite build community.

Read on for four tips on how to craft a brand that rises above the rest.

1. More than a feeling

Branding is all about making a connection, inviting customers and investors to (literally or figuratively) sit and stay awhile. It’s important for branding to convey the feeling you want to express, whether it’s in your elevator pitch or your pitch deck for fundraising. The colors, fonts, and overall “vibe” of your visual materials should reflect your brand.

Pitch decks need to reach out and grab the audience, eliciting their emotion.

If I’m looking at your pitch, it should spark something in me on an emotional level. My left and right brain should be moved financially, too. Your deck should make me feel a bit greedy. I don’t see a lot of “mission/vision/values” slides in pitch decks, but good ones are stirring enough to make investors’ pocketbooks fly open.

One mistake to avoid? Playing it too safe with messaging. I’ve seen plenty of decks that are too clean, too boring, or too cluttered to be memorable.

2. Put a tag(line) on it: Catchy or informative?

Foundersuite launched with a cheeky tagline: “Tools to get startup sh*t done.” It grabbed attention —and it was a strong way to start sales conversations. However, we hit a major roadblock: That tagline didn’t mean anything. If you asked someone what Foundersuite actually does, they had no clue. So we changed it, begrudgingly.

I hated to let it go since it gave us such strong magnetism at conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt. However, the confusion the tagline created wasn’t worth the buzz. Without a clear definition of our company’s product, there was no choice but to retire it for something more practical.

We changed it to “software for raising capital,” which has less panache. But it describes what we do. If you are an entrepreneur raising capital, it’s easy to understand and hard to forget.

It’s ideal to find the intersection of catchy and informative. But if there can only be one, I lean toward an informative tagline.

3. Bring in the troops to build community

One of my goals for Foundersuite is to build “community thinking.” The company developed an extensive user base over the last six years, adding up to a huge databank of information on investors.

I want to tap into that collective knowledge to further bolster the brand.

Pre-pandemic, Foundersuite hosted events to connect with the platform’s user base. Now, we’re seeking ways to foster community in an increasingly digital environment.

We just released a user-generated review feature. If you just pitched an investor, we’ll prompt you to leave some tips about them. Maybe you learn that the investor is really looking for companies with at least $50,000 in monthly recurring revenue, or that they only invest in Austin-based startups. We aim to capture those little bits of intel from our field army, aka our customers.

Community sharing can be a powerful force in branding. Existing audiences can bring insights that elevate a brand, helping to serve it better in the long run. Groupthink breaks people out of their silos and pushes industries forward.

Getting people to share insights can be tricky, though.

How do we get people to open up about what they know? It all comes down to one principle: Founder karma is real. You pay it forward and we’ll send it back to you.

4. Get personal…with a giant teddy bear

Foundersuite became known for something a little off-the-wall at the annual SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. One of our marketing team members came up with the idea, and instead of shooting it down for being too wild, I embraced it. It turned out to be a memorable part of our company’s presence at SXSW.

The idea? “TEDdy talks”: short interviews with founders conducted from the lap of a 7-foot teddy bear that covers their pitch — and whether they’ve been funded.

We put a custom-printed Foundersuite t-shirt on the enormous bear, and we film the interviews, which usually include a little funding hack or a tip for our audience.

It gets a lot of attention. It’s friendly and totally different from most presentations at SXSW. People approach us and just want to cuddle with “TEDdy” because it’s so welcoming.

While an enormous stuffed animal might not be every company’s key to starting a conversation, it’s OK to be playful with the branding approach when appropriate. Getting funding is serious business, but people are still people. We all want to feel joy and warmth.

As we work on our own brand makeover, we’ll be keeping these four tips in mind: Elicit Emotions, inform with the tagline, engage the user base for intel, and approach it all with a light heart.

Nathan Beckord is the CEO of Foundersuite.com which makes software for raising capital. Foundersuite has helped entrepreneurs raise over $9.7 billion in seed and venture capital since 2016. This article is based on an episode of Foundersuite’s How I Raised It podcast, a behind-the-scenes look at how startup founders raise money.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

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