The Startup Entrepreneurs’ Guide to
Effective Branding and
Building Values-Based Organizations
Copyright © 2017 by Vasken Kalayjian
All rights reserved under International and
Pan-American Copyright Conventions
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|1 Branding: The Secret Weapon for Startups||11|
|2 The Big Idea of Brand Real||17|
|4 What Is Branding?||27|
|5 Great Brands Fulfill Simple Promises||35|
|6 What Is Your Brand’s Big Idea?||39|
|7 Market Research That Powers Creativity||55|
|8 The Promise of Big Data||69|
|9 SWOT Analysis||75|
|10 Naming Your Company and Your Brand||85|
|11 The Top Twelve Branding Archetypes||101|
|12 Brand Architecture||111|
|13 The Visual Identity of a Brand||129|
|14 Globalization and Branding||163|
|15 How to Create Strong Brands||169|
|16 How to Build an Effective Organization
Open to Change
|17 Identifying Your Core Values||195|
|18 How to Build a Great Team||201|
|19 Your Employer Brand:
How to Attract and Keep Talent
|20 Resilience: A Must-Have for Entrepreneurs||217|
|21 Cultivating Optimism||235|
|22 Crisis Management for Startups||243|
|23 Leadership Coaching||253|
|24 Getting Backers for Your Startup||257|
|25 How to Deliver||273|
|26 How to Innovate||279|
|27 Conscious Business, Conscious Leaders||295|
|Appendix 1: Writing a Business Plan||301|
|Appendix 2: How to Create a Marketing Plan||319|
|Appendix 3: Social Media for Startups||325|
|Appendix 4: Inbound Marketing for Brand Activation||335|
|Appendix 5: Intellectual Property||341|
|Appendix 6: Launching and Activating Your Brand||347|
|Appendix 7: Template for a Creative Brief||351|
Brand Real: How It All Fits Together
Brand Real is designed as a handbook for startup entrepreneurs. It covers a
variety of topics startup entrepreneurs need to know about in order to achieve
The guiding idea of Brand Real is that successful brands must be built on
reality: products and services that deliver real value to your customers, and
ways of doing business that reflect your personal values as an entrepreneur
and the values of your enterprise and its people.
Brand Real gives an in-depth account of branding, which is a crucial factor
in the success of any startup. Skillful branding is needed to establish your
identity in the marketplace and to demonstrate the value of your products and
services to your potential customers. A major part of Brand Real investigates
the strategy and tactics of successful branding, explaining what works and
why, based on the deep expertise of long-time experts in the field.
Brand Real shows why a successful brand must be built on reality – on
the real values of the startup company and its people and on the real
values its products and services deliver to customers. In today’s world of
multidirectional instant communications, branding can no longer be an
exercise in manipulating perceptions with phony images and clever slogans.
You build an effective brand by tapping into the value systems of your
customers, by being real with them, and by delivering real value.
Brand Real goes into detail on how to build an effective brand identity that
communicates your startup’s big idea. It explains techniques, which have been
proven effective, for telling your story and it explores how to name your brand
and give it a visual identity using a carefully crafted logo. Brand Real maps out
the principles of brand architecture, such as whether your enterprise should
use one brand or many and the various ways that ensembles of brands can
Brand Real analyzes branding across cultures, covering the evolution of media
and the need for cultural and linguistic analysis when creating brand names
and identities. This analysis will allow you to design your enterprise and your
brand so that you can succeed in the globalized economy and avoid having
your brand trapped in a single local cultural environment.
Building an Effective Organization with a Strong Culture
Brand Real devotes a lot of attention to how, as a startup entrepreneur,
you can create an effective organization that embodies your values and can
successfully deliver products and services to your customers.
As the leader of a startup enterprise, one of your most vital tasks is to build
the company culture in such a way that it both reflects your values and attracts
people who share those values. A company culture that is true to its own
values is essential to attracting talented people and keeping them engaged.
When people feel they are part of a great team, they are filled with energy and
their creativity and their eagerness to contribute are unleashed.
Brand Real explains the various types of people your startup team will need
and shows you how shared values are necessary to enable people of diverse
temperaments and professional specialties to work together as a coherent
team. Shared values are the key ingredient in an effective organization.
Brand Real shows the startup entrepreneur how to avoid the rigidity and
fragmentation that plague so many larger companies. It alerts you to the
dangers of the silo mentality that impedes big companies. The silo mentality
encourages people within a company to see things in terms of their own
narrowly defined departmental interests, so they lose sight of the overall
purpose of the enterprise.
Brand Real emphasizes that resilience is a necessary quality for startup
entrepreneurs. It describes the qualities that make people resilient and
explains how to cultivate these qualities. Again, having clear values and a
strong purpose in life play a crucial role in building the personal resilience you
need to see your startup through to success.
Brand Real presents techniques for cultivating the realistic optimism that a
startup entrepreneur needs to persevere in the face of difficulties and keep
driving toward success.
Above all, Brand Real puts the spotlight on the need for effective leaders to
be true to their values and to build teams that share these values. The guiding
strategy is to bring to life an enterprise that “walks the walk,” that truly lives
by and embodies the shared values at the root of its culture.
The Voices of the Experts We’ve Worked With
Brand Real includes several pieces contributed by experts we have worked
with, who share their deep insights into particular specialties.
Nobody can know everything, but as the leader of a startup you owe it to
yourself and your team to know as much as you can about all the ingredients
that enable a startup to succeed. You need to be clear about what you do know
and what you don’t know, so you can engage the appropriate specialists when
the need arises.
One of our colleagues who is a specialist in the field of crisis management
contributed a piece for Brand Real about how a startup can prepare a plan in
advance to be ready to carry out effective crisis management. This is an area
where you cannot afford to wait until the last minute and just hope for the
best. Be ready ahead of time!
Another longtime friend who is a renowned graphic designer contributed his
insights on how to create the visual identity of a brand and on what goes into a
compelling graphic design.
Two friends who are specialists in using social media shared their knowledge
about how to use “inbound marketing” when launching your brand. They show
how to draw in prospects and convert them to customers.
A professional leadership coach provided her reflection on how a startup
entrepreneur can benefit by engaging with a leadership coach.
A former company founder and CEO, who currently works as an advisor,
consultant, and mentor to entrepreneurs, CEOs, senior executives, boards,
and investors, contributed her expertise on conscious business and conscious
leadership principles and practices.
For the convenience of our readers, Brand Real includes several bonus
sections providing information on areas that are crucial to startup
entrepreneurs, although they may not be part of branding per se. These are
contained in the appendices.
In the first appendix, Brand Real gives a thorough treatment of how to put
together a business plan. This is, of course, a necessary task for the startup
entrepreneur seeking to attract investors and backers. Your business plan will
be what convinces potential backers that the big idea for your brand can work
and is worth funding. Brand Real also includes in this appendix a section on
how to find the right financial backers and how to tell your story effectively,
In the second appendix, relying on the expertise of an accomplished marketing
professional, Brand Real explains in detail what is involved in putting together
a marketing plan. This appendix explains how to lay out an effective strategy
for letting your potential customers learn about your products and services
and come to know and trust your company brand.
In the third appendix, Brand Real gives you an expert’s point of view on the
use of various types of social media in marketing.
In the fourth appendix, Brand Real presents the insights of two specialists
in inbound marketing who describe the strategy and tactics of using content-based
marketing and social media to attract potential customers, turn them
into leads, and finally convert them into customers.
In the fifth appendix, Brand Real gives an introduction to the legal issues
surrounding intellectual property (like patents, copyrights, and trademarks).
It shows how to determine that your brand name and logo are unique
In the sixth appendix, Brand Real outlines what is involved in activating and
launching a brand, the whole gamut of activities that fall under the broad
categories of advertising and marketing.
In the seventh appendix, Brand Real includes a template for the “creative
brief” you will need to provide when you engage with a graphic designer to
work on the visual dimensions of your brand.
Finally, the book includes two glossaries. The first includes all the definitions
of the special terms related to branding, conveniently gathered together in one
place, and the second covers the technical terms of graphic design.
Branding: The Secret Weapon for Startups
Founders of startups are often so busy with a million and one tasks that they
do not feel they have the time to concern themselves with branding.
We all know that big companies have dedicated brand managers who oversee
their brands, manage the market research, and have proposed designs tested
in focus groups to see if the message is hitting home to the intended target
Fortunately, in today’s digital age, startups can employ the same
techniques using social media, without incurring major expenses.
Your brand connects something of tangible value – the product or service
that is the result of your big idea – with some recognizable identity in your
Your brand’s positioning statement must answer the
question foremost in the minds of potential customers: “Why should I do
business with you?”
No matter how your potential customers come into contact with you –
whether via your website, by personal reference or word of mouth, through
write-ups in trade journals or media coverage, or through direct experience
with your products or services – they will naturally be forming judgments
about the value of your brand and your company and your products and
Branding involves a set of techniques and strategies for creating an
identity that is memorable and meaningful in people’s minds, one that marks
your products and services as better than the rest.
The message of Brand Real is this: To be effective, branding has to be based
on reality, the real value of your products and services to your customers, and
the real values by which your enterprise lives and works.