Why branding a startup begins with a question, and not the one you’d expect.

Andrea Shillington

By Andrea Shillington
Founder & Owner 

Brands for the people

The first question every leader should start with is this: why does your business exists other than to make money?

It may come as a surprise to you that the first questions in a branding process is not about what the product or service is, or even how it’s delivered differently. Those questions will come, but the one that matters most to customers – and thus should to leaders as well – is why. It’s a matter of creating a partnership with your customers, one in which you both contribute to making the world a better place. This is not any easy question to answer, it requires business leaders to dig deep and get personal. The emotional connection you create by answering this will become the driving force behind your brand’s momentum.

For my new startup, Brands for the people, the journey began with a desire to help startup businesses with a vision to make a profit and make a difference. After 8 years of working with agencies branding large corporations and governments in the Middle East, Europe and North America, I had had enough of the singular goal of making rich people richer. I was seeking a higher sense of fulfillment from my work. I found my ‘why’ when I moved to Vancouver and I began meeting visionary entrepreneurs who wanted to have a positive effect on the world. I have always been passionate about helping startups achieve their dreams, but realized that most of these businesses could not afford the $30,000 price tag for a strategic branding process. I’d have to find a new way. Now that I had discovered my passionate purpose, I’d need to start thinking about how to create a new business model.

I wasn’t satisfied with the cheaper alternatives available for startups: finding a freelance designer or posting a brief on a logo competition site.  It can be a disaster if the designer isn’t competent or doesn’t match the business type. Similarly, a competition site sells the idea that a perfect logo is the magic pill for getting a brand developed. I had met many entrepreneurs who had participated in one of the above mentioned processes and possessed a logo design, but were still seeking a brand that stood out from the competition.  To provide a client, specifically a startup, with a successful product both alternatives are missing the essential and almost magical part of the branding process, where the strategic part gives way to business clarity. The step–by–step process that would help guide business owners and help them decide what they are and, just as importantly, what they are not. The part of the branding process that helps businesses create an ownable space in the market, which in turn directs how the brand gets designed.

The inadequacies of these cheaper alternative are what drove me to create a new business model and a unique technology platform. If you knew me you’d say, “she’s the last person I’d expect to develop a technology platform for her new business.” However, I realized technology solved one of my most important challenges in helping small businesses obtain the expertise they actually needed at a price they could afford. Hence, Brands for the people was born as a hybrid between the creative agency and freelance designer using the crowdsourcing model. I choose to deliver most of the strategic branding process using the ‘freemium’ model. Free brand tools are available to download from my site, brandsforthepeople.com, which helps guide leaders through creative exercises to develop a brand brief. Additionally, I wrote an E-Book, 5 Secrets to Branding your Business from the Heart, which is also free to download. It’s written as a branding how-to guide that helps business leaders think deeper about the difference they will make in the world.

The process for a startup wanting to working with Brands for the people is a streamlined, easy and collaborative process.  Once you submit your brand brief and have spoken to one of our consultants, we will connect you with designers from our hand-picked community – connecting you with designers that meet your startup budget, industry type, design style, personal characteristics and skill sets required for the project. In our community we have have designers in a range of industries and from a wide array of backgrounds, including senior designers who have worked as Creative Directors for global brand consultancies typically being charged out in the hundreds of thousands for a brand identity design. We offer the strategic process and the design online at a fraction of the cost. This business model is a win–win for both startups and designers.

I founded Brands for the people with a passionate purpose. We exists to improve the world through helping startups connect with their customers. I called my new business Brands for the people because I believe change starts with the people: the business people, the creative people and the people who buy stuff. I’m dreaming of the day when I will have helped thousands of startups to become world famous brands to do Good in the world.

Here are a few questions to get you thinking about purpose:

What moment in your life did you feel a strong calling?

What action could you take?

How will you product or service make people happier?

How will your product or service help the planet?

Why is the world a better place because of your product or service?

–END–

Andrea Shillington founded Brands for the people to help altruistic entrepreneurs create world famous brands. Before creating Brands for the people, Andrea was a brand consultant for several years in the Middle East, Europe and North America. She worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from rebranding the UAE’s federal governments to re-branding hospitality groups. After returning home to Vancouver, became passionate about helping the startup community and wanted to find a way to make strategic branding affordable. Going much deeper than logo design, Brands for the people was born to help startup businesses with a vision to change the world.

Comments

  1. This is a similar response I made to the onstartups post today..

    I agree, Branding is def about being the total package; the colors, the name, the logo, the experience from using the product, etc.

    My original name for my startup was Freelanceful; Thankfully Freelancify.com domain was dropped days before launch and I scooped it; rechanged everything and sitting at a way better position for long-term.