Image by Ross Findon
A common mistake that startups make is to build a brand identity around a specific service or product that they offer. Whilst this is often the most obvious approach, it may not provide your company with the scope to adapt easily. Early success and sales may give the impression of a strong brand, but what happens if there is a sudden dip in sales, and you need a new strategy. To ensure longevity, build a flexible brand identity that connects with what you do and how you do it. Building with flexibility will go some way to establishing a long lasting brand.
What is Pivot?
A pivot is fundamental to the Lean Startup. The Lean methodology is about building a brand that can adapt to consumers needs in an ever changing market. Embracing the opportunity to learn from customers, lean brands have conversations and constantly ask how they can evolve. By focusing on your customer’s wants and needs, your pivot point should be a central, defining attribute of your brand and most importantly, it should be adaptable.
Not simply changing your product
A pivot is a principled approach that teaches your startup to steer, turn and accelerate growth. The Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model canvas is a useful resource for putting all of your complicated strategies of your business in one simple diagram. Each of the 9 boxes in the canvas are allocated for specifying details of your company’s strategy – remember that in order to pivot, you must make a considerable change to one or more of the 9 business model components.
It will reassure you to know that almost all startups pivot on some part of their business model after founding. Iterating constantly by building, measuring, testing and learning will ensure that your service is constantly realigned with your users hopes, fears and aspirations, ensuring the strongest possible brand position.
Determining your pivot point
Part of the process of the Lean branding model is to keep an open mind in terms of how your brand will grow and change over time. Aspirations and desires for how we want our brands to develop are useful, but there are many factors surrounding a brand’s success and market performance that can’t be realised until it’s release into the public domain.
At the earliest stage, there is a likelihood that your first iteration of your lean canvas will focus on what you do rather than why you do it. If this is the case, you’ll want to drill down on the values that really drive your company, and your unique selling point. Your goal is to distill your core values into a few key words and find your primary focus. Examples of this might be affordability, integrity, sustainability, trust, or dependability. The brand pivot starts with Identifying these core strengths, and then aims to align them.
Identifying the appropriate pivot for your brand requires an understanding of the unique challenges your company faces. A well informed approach to the lean canvas model will enable you to move quickly and pivot more effectively maximising chances for success at early startup. Considering the following strategies can help you identify challenges that your business face and pivot appropriately.
Involve your team in the decision making process. Support their ideas and and encourage them to play an integral role in your company’s development. By listening to your employees you can empower them to find solutions to problems, and to share ideas and visions of new technologies that will vastly improve how the company juggle tasks, and achieve greater results.
Prototype before pivot
Building a basic prototype is an excellent way to get people testing your product. You can observe how people use your product, identify what they value, and gain some valuable feedback about what works and what could be improved.
Feedback from investors, friends, family and customers in the early stages of development is vital to determine where the product will have the greatest impact.
Keep on iterating
Make sure you are iterating all the time to ensure your product is in demand and provides more immediate value to your target audience. Look at the product cycle, sales discussion and look at your product’s positioning. Subtle shifts in communications and effective messaging can drive a startup to success.
As a startup founder, it can be difficult to separate yourself from your idea, and let go of every decision making principle. Recognising that great ideas require revolution and adjustment will help you and your team move in the right direction. Change isn’t to be feared, and can often be the place where vast improvements are made to your company’s positioning in the long-term future.
Although not always possible, it is worth trying to calculate the impact the change might have on the future. Recording each decision making process so you can measure it against your lean branding model before your next pivot is a great way to track progress.
Keep your investors in the loop
Always ensure that your team and shareholders are well informed of any changes in advance. A drastic change to your business strategy could strain relationships with any or all of the above. Good communications and transparency are paramount to a healthy work environment, and should ensure you maintain full support whether you are generating new ideas, acquiring funding, or moving in a new direction.
By defining and aligning with your pivot point, you will create a more powerful and succinct brand message — one that not only communicates your core capabilities, but also provides direction for future company growth and development. Rather than compete as a known commodity, you can succeed as a vibrant brand.
Ready to build a flexible brand identity? Talk to us!