Joe Colopy is a partner at Jurassic Capital and was the founder and CEO of Bronto Software, bought in 2015 by NetSuite and later by Oracle for $200 million. Keith Pigues is the founder and CEO of Luminas Strategy and is an investor, published author, marketing guru and the former dean of North Carolina Central University’s School of Business.
- When is the right time for entrepreneurs to invest in building their brand?
(Keith) In short, when they begin developing the idea or concept for the business. When guiding entrepreneurs as a consultant, advisor, investor and board member, one of my chief areas of focus is the first step of building a brand — the development of a winning customer value proposition. Why do we exist? What is the problem we solve or opportunity we unlock for customers? How is our offering different or unique as compared to other alternatives available to the customer? When these questions are answered, you have the core elements of the brand — what you stand for and why you matter to the target customers.
- How much emphasis have you placed on branding for the ventures you’ve built, and what are some of the impacts/outcomes you’ve experienced as a result?
(Joe) Branding has been important for me as an entrepreneur. Markets are competitive when competing for new customers (and employees!), so it is important to represent something and for that something to be clear and distinct. Business 101 teaches us that differentiation is important and branding is an expression of that in direct and indirect ways.
- Which aspects of branding are more important or impactful than others?
(Joe) Branding is about consistency. Some brands are fun. Some are serious. In the early days of Bronto Software, I was our resident protector of our Bronto logo, image and expression. We did not play on the dinosaur theme or use the dinosaur in childish ways — even though it would have been an easy approach. We kept it consistent and present.
- What role does a company’s branding play in helping you decide if it is investment worthy?
(Keith) Customers don’t buy your product or services — what they really “buy” is the value received from the use of the product or service. All other things being equal, many investors prefer to invest in ventures that solve big problems — market size and opportunity matter. Secondly, as it relates to brand, investors prefer ventures that develop a truly distinctive approach to addressing the customer problem or opportunity.
Big markets and high-value offerings represent significant sales growth, attractive margins and higher valuations. So, the brand — what you stand for and why you matter to the target customers — is an essential element as investors determine if the business is investment worthy.
- Why is branding often overlooked — or perhaps deprioritized at the very least — for entrepreneurs as their companies enter a growth stage?
(Joe) Starting a company is difficult, and entrepreneurs have to juggle many different things to get anything off the ground. As the company grows and there’s a basic business model in place, branding becomes more important. It is less of a requirement and more of a tool to make other things like selling to customers and recruiting employees easier.
- What advice would you give a growth-stage company about its branding?
(Keith) In the midst of growth and all the excitement that accompanies this stage of the journey, keep your sights on the customer, their evolving needs, your differential value and a clear articulation of how you do what others cannot in service of the customer. Don’t get distracted!
The brand workshop led by brand strategist Chris Gorges is still open for registration. Learn more here.
Originally Appeared Here