A brand is much more than a logo. A brand is the entire experience someone has of your company: it’s the story, motivation and personality behind your business. It should inform everything you do, from raising investment to social media campaigns. Of course, this can be communicated through how a company looks, but it’s also about the story you tell, how you choose to communicate, the principles you’re built on and, most importantly, the vision you’re working towards.
Many cleantech companies underestimate the importance of brand. We believe this is an oversight. Brand is vitally important and building an authentic brand early on will stand you in good stead as you start talking to investors, attempt to scale and begin building the best team possible.
That’s why we put together a practical guide for how to build an authentic brand. Drawing on over ten years’ experience working with cleantech companies, we wanted to share the Life Size brand methodology with you and lay out the steps you need to take in a practical workbook style.
You can download the whitepaper here. Not sure if it’s for you? You’ll find a sneak peak of one of the chapters, Why you need to ask why, below.
The author Simon Sinek famously said “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Why is where the magic happens. Why is where we connect to brands on an emotional level and it’s where people become motivated. It’s what delivers real change and what drives success.
Starting with why is a concept that consumer brands understand very well. If you think of the most successful brands in the world today, they put their why front and centre. One of our favourite consumer brands is Patagonia. Most people can quickly tell you what Patagonia’s core values are, why they exist and what they stand for. That’s because they have built an incredible brand, the core of which is their why.
If Patagonia sold what they do, it would be high-quality outdoor gear. While they most certainly do this, Patagonia in fact sells purpose. Their products, which cause as little harm to the environment as possible, are intended to facilitate consumers’ outdoor experiences, connecting them with the natural world and feeding back to a greater desire to protect our environment. Patagonia allows everyday consumers to be part of a movement, one whose purpose is to protect the planet. Their mission statement encompasses their why perfectly: We’re in business to save our home planet.
Perhaps you’re thinking this is easier to pull off in the B2C context, but this won’t work with a technical B2B product. Let’s look at another example. Slack is one of the most successful software startups of the last ten years, giving businesses around the world the ability to support their remote teams, organise workflows and facilitate seamless instant communications. If Slack sold their what, it would be a business communication platform. Instead, Slack sells collaboration. By keeping effective collaboration at the core of why they exist, Slack is able to fulfil their mission, to make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive.
Despite the world’s most successful brands consistently focusing on their why, most companies continue to focus on what. Their company messaging focuses on the following questions: what does our technology do? What’s the route to market? What investment have we raised?
In some cases, things are a bit better, with companies branching out and talking about the how. How do we outperform our competitors? How are we going to achieve our goals? How are we changing the game?
These are all important questions. But they don’t mean anything unless they accompanied by a why. It doesn’t matter that you’ve broken performance barriers with your technology if your audience doesn’t understand why your technology matters in the first place. It’s irrelevant that you’ve done a deal with a major distributer if we don’t know why your product is changing the game.
You have to go inside out: start with why, discuss how, end with what.