A brand is much more than a logo, a colour palette or the fonts. It’s more than an attractive website, shiny slides or animations for your social media accounts. A brand is the whole experience someone has with your company: it’s the story you tell, how you communicate, and fundamentally the vision you are towards. A brand reflects who you are as a company, your values and makes people care about you.
We are all driven by emotions. And emotions influence the way we make decisions. This is true even for the most rational of us, who focus on customer acquisition costs, evaluate the lifetime value of customers and estimate the total addressable market. Yes, investors are also driven by emotions.
Start with why
You most likely have heard this quote by Simon Sinek before: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Cleantech companies traditionally are very good at conveying what their technology does. Turning waste heat into electricity? Great! Creating amazing storage solutions for various forms of transportations? Got it!
As a founder of a cleantech company, you will be used to communicating how you achieve your commercial goals. How does the technology work? How do you convince customers? How are you going to outperform competitors? All of this is highly relevant. But will it convince an investor to invest in your company? This is where your brand comes into play. A brand conveys your why. It explains what you do and how you do it. It motivates every decision you make to grow your company. And a powerful why contributes to an investor’s decision to invest in your company.
How do I find my why?
So, how do you actually find your why? We suggest you surround yourself with the people that might have a say on your why. Your employees, your customers and of course your angel or first VC investors. We often achieve this through an interactive workshop format. Our methodology is proven and has helped cleantech companies around Europe to achieve their commercial goals.
In our experience, brand work often ends up at the bottom of the priority lists. Let’s face it: it takes a lot of time and energy and it often seems more pressing to get prepared for the next sales conversation or develop a new feature of our product. At the same time, you will have a strategy for product development. It is equally important to have a strategy in place for your brand. Yes, you need to invest in building a solid brand.
Your why conveys the opportunity
Last year, we worked for a company that had developed a software solution that could detect potential failures in machines before they actually break down. The business case is quite apparent: you would rather invest in a solution that detects anomalies in your car’s behaviour before it breaks down on a highway.
The company had always communicated what they did and how they did it well, but not WHY. Communicating how this cutting-edge technology works is obviously important. Combing edge-computing and AI algorithms tick a lot of boxes for anybody who is looking for innovation. But what if your customers don’t actually look for innovation, but for seamless integration in existing processes with the upside of saving money?
We realised that the company’s offering was not about offering a technological solution that detects anomalies. Quite contrarily, the company appeals to one of the deepest feelings and emotions that are rooted within us: a sense of security. We started looking for an analogy – where can you experience a service or company that protects you from negative consequences when something goes wrong? These companies and organisations already exist – insurances.
Tell your story differently
Positioning the company as an insurance was a game-changer. It allowed us to tell the company’s story in an emotionally appealing way. We all want to protect everything that is valuable to us – in a B2B context these are often highly specialised personnel, critical machinery and key business processes.
Concurrently, positioning the company almost as an insurance enabled us to convey the opportunity to investors. Insurances are part of our private as well as business lives. They are trustworthy, reliable and provide essential services to their customers as well as financially attractive returns to their investors. In summary: it’s what investors in the cleantech space are also looking for.
Your brand is the foundation for successful fundraising
An attractive brand, based on a powerful why will distinguish you from your competitors, enable you to hire outstanding talent and raise money at an attractive valuation. It makes the initial conversations with investors easier because they understand your value proposition immediately. Your brand won’t do all the job for you, but great brands secure you a – nowadays digital – seat at the table with investors. A compelling brand is a cornerstone of successful fundraising. Do you think your brand has what it takes?