Branding can play a significant role in Series A fundraising by helping startups create an ownable value proposition, establish a strong visual identity and gain the trust and support of potential investors.

It can be easy to believe that so long as you have a great product, the branding is secondary and many people in these businesses are amazing entrepreneurs who have created something really different and unique, but they don’t often think with a brand lens. But a great brand creates value and offers serious credibility and gravitas.

Of course, branding is never a one size fits all approach. It depends on the individual business and sector, but there are a number of key considerations that have applied across every project we have done in this space.

These are our top five considerations for branding.

Look inside-Look outside

The first thing we do at the start of any project is to assess what the standard is in the competitive set. This is a useful benchmark to understand the current playing field, but we don’t often take inspiration from the nearest competitors except for what we need to stay away from. The magic lies in seeking external inspiration and understanding who is setting the standard in adjacent categories or completely different categories that are solving a similar problem or need. This is where we can really find exciting learning to inspire a great creative brief and where you can demonstrate to investors you have the right understanding about the market and where you fit within it.

Before the colouring in, pick up a pen

It is critical to clearly articulate your positioning and where you fit in the market before you start designing or visualising anything. A well-defined brand strategy includes a clear positioning statement that conveys your target market, a value proposition that stipulates a clear brand promise and your key USP or reason to believe. People often have a whole heap of USPs and reasons to believe, and there is the temptation to try to be many things to many people, but the more selective and single minded you can be, the clearer and compelling your case will be to potential investors.

‘Don’t waste time on unsuitable investors’

Fortune favours the brave

We live in a noisy world in terms of stimulus, messages and the fight for attention. This applies not just for customers, but for investors too. Standing out in a crowded market is critical and that takes bravery and courage. It not only helps investors remember you but also shows you are confident enough to look – and sound – different to everyone else and that you are more unique and less able to be copied. It is not about disruption for disruption’s sake. Instead, it is meaningful disruption that makes sense based on your brand promise and finding a different and interesting way of bringing that to life. 

Design around distinctive brand assets

Beyond a logo and some colours, there is a whole suite of distinctive assets that can used to make a brand stand out in the market – from mascots, symbols or icons, to tone of voice and messages or even sound. Having a couple of really strong brand assets early on in the investment stage will not only help you be remembered and create stand out, but they are also proven over the long-term to create strong value if they continue to be used consistently. For example, Apple’s ‘bitten apple’, the Michelin Man or even the bright pink in Monzo were all there at the very early stages in each brand’s lifecycle and have helped them to build their respective reputations.

Start with the end in mind

At the Series A stage, investors are looking for start-ups with scalable business models and growth potential. A well-defined brand is a crucial part of this foundation as it provides a platform for future growth and evolution. If we know where the brand wants to go in the longer term, we can create a promise and an identity that allows it to grow into that long term vision in the future.

Every business needs to evolve their branding as they expand, grow and pivot. But having a brand that accurately represents your current business model and future direction is vital when seeking Series A funding. Moving forward, it’s essential to keep asking yourself those critical questions and assess your brand’s alignment with your competitors and industry standards.

Branding should not be seen as just about logos and colours; it’s a strategic tool that creates a clear and compelling identity, communicates a vision effectively and demonstrates real commitment to success and growth.

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