You already know how valuable and awesome your company is. But if you want to want to get funded, you need to convince your investors of how valuable and awesome you are. The best way to convince them? By telling them a great story.
Companies that get funded are ones that tell the best stories. Their pitches don’t just show graphs and product demonstrations; they weave a tale in which they’re the superhero with the unique set of powers to defeat the problems their customers face – and that helps them build their brand.
If you’re ready to be your own superhero, here’s a step-by-step guide for developing a brand identity — and a brand story — that will get you funded:
Step 1: Define your brand.
The first thing you need to do when building a brand identity is to lock down what your company represents.
Your brand is made up of three major components: Who you are, who your audience is and how you’re different from other brands in your space. To figure out those three components, all you need to do is ask yourself a few questions.
Who are we?
- At the core, who are we as a brand?
- What do we stand for?
- What is our mission/purpose?
Who is our target audience?
- Who is our customer?
- What is their main problem/concern?
- How does our product/service solve that problem?
How are we different?
- What sets us apart from the competition?
- What unique thing do we bring to the table?
- What makes us so special that our customers would want to work with us over our competition?
If you have a team involved in your startup, it’s important to get all of them involved in answering these questions. Someone with a business background might see things totally differently than an artist or a person with an engineering degree. Ask your team: How do they see your brand? What are their thoughts and ideas on who you are as a company? Multiple perspectives can help you see things about your brand you might have missed or overlooked.
No team? No problem! If you’re a one-person show, ask your mentor, your colleagues or friends and family for input.
Answering these questions, either individually or with a group, will help you figure out your brand identity and set the tone for the rest of your brand story.
Step 2: Develop your brand identity.
Once you have the bare bones of your brand identity, it’s time to start developing it further, or, in story terms, it’s time to flesh out your main character. One of the best ways to add a little color to your main character is, literally, to add a little color. I’m talking about design.
Design is the key to bringing your story to life. A brand design says more about who the brand is and what they’re about than words ever could, so it’s important that you put some thought into what your design says about you.
Your logo is the most important piece of design in your business. It’s the superhero mask of your brand — the way the public will identify you. You want to make sure you put your most impressive face forward with a solid logo design. There’s a lot that goes into creating a logo. When getting your logo designed, you want to make sure:
Your logo is your #1 tool in gaining brand recognition, and if your audience, customers or investors forget it just as quick as they see it, your logo isn’t doing its job.
Too much going on in a logo = sensory overload. A great logo design will be clean, uncluttered and easy to understand. If your investors are squinting trying to read all of your text or feel totally overwhelmed by color, graphics or 3D, you’re going to lose them.
Your logo shouldn’t look like “just another logo.” It should look like you. That uniqueness (or “you-ness”) is what’s going the connection that you need to land funding.
Brand design guidelines
Batman had a great mask, but he wouldn’t have been the same hero without the batmobile. Similarly, once you’ve got your logo locked and loaded, it’s time to start thinking about the other design elements to build your brand image.
Now, if you don’t have all of this figured out right now, don’t worry! It’s not essential to have every single detail written in stone before you pitch your investors. Branding is an evolving process, but you’ll want to start thinking about different design elements and how they relate to your brand. Consider:
- Color palette
- Brand voice (not exactly a design element, but important all the same!)
These different design elements really help add a unique flavor to your brand and will help to move your story in the right direction. Different design elements tell different stories. So, for example, let’s say you wanted to tell the story that your brand is beyond trustworthy. Incorporating blue, which color psychology says can encourage feelings of trust, into your presentation deck can help to paint the “I’m trustworthy” picture to your investors.
Step 3: Pull it all together to tell your brand story in a visual way
So, you’ve got your brand identity. You’ve got your design elements. Now it’s time to pull it all together to create a pitch deck that tells your brand story in a compelling visual way and positions you as a company worthy of series A capital.
Good visuals don’t always equal pretty visuals.
When you’re putting together your pitch deck, remember: It doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty. It has to be impactful. Sometimes ugly images can pack more of a punch than pretty ones. This is especially true when you’re painting the picture of your customers’ pain points. Your investors really need to feel that pain, and using jarring or unattractive imagery can help drive those points home in a more impactful way.
Pull at the heart strings.
One of the biggest bonuses of using visuals to tell your story is that visuals spark emotion far better than words, and if you want to get your business funded, you need to make your investors feel all the emotions in your pitch deck. When you’re pitching your investors, they should feel a full range of emotions: stressed about the problems your customers are facing, excited about how you can solve them, intrigued about your strategy to get there. Use visuals to tell your story and create an emotional connection with your investors. Your bank account will thank you.
Bring your data to life.
There’s no way to get around it: Your investors are going to want to know numbers. But statistics can be so boring. By using visuals (like charts) to bring your data to life, you remove the yawn factor and make them more engaging for everyone involved. Any time you cite a statistic or share a data point, use a visual to back it up. Not only will this make it more engaging, it will also make it easier to understand and digest for visual learners.
Show your investors your brand.
No pitch would be complete without a sneak preview of your product or service. If you want to land funding, your pitch deck should include actual visuals of what it is you do. Developed an app? Include screenshots of the user experience. Created a product? Include photos and videos of your prototype in action. Use visuals to literally bring your product or service to life so your investors see exactly what you can do.
Go save the world!
Getting your business funded is no easy feat. But when you hone in on your branding and use solid design to bring that brand story to life, it’s only a matter of time before the investors are rooting for you to defeat the competition.
Kelly Morr is the senior manager of content strategy at 99designs. She likes writing stuff, making stuff, going on adventures, figure skating and cuddling her two cats.