I’ll make it simple ’cause we don’t have a lot of time. You’re an entrepreneur who has a to-do list for today longer than 10 mouse scrolls and this article needs to be like a 10 minute briefing meeting. So, you’re here because you want to discover how to create / what is the value of your startup’s brand.
The Starbucks fruit salad
With what is the value part, I’ll jump right into the matter: there is no mathematical formula to calculate the added value of a well-built brand but the proof is in the pudding. Or better put, in the fruit salad.
Take the fruit salad at Starbucks. Calculate for yourself the margins on that if you were to prepare that salad yourself – take into consideration cost of goods, cost of labor, packaging, labeling, everything, and then deduct the total from the actual price —and you’ll get the actual value of the brand (e.g. if a salad costs approx. Dhs20 and the total cost of production is approximately Dhs5, it means that the margin is 75%).
For that salad, for one purchase. We’re not even going into how that brand’s influence can persuade one to come back for another purchase or a constant stream of purchases.
The theoretical platitude here? The brand adds quantifiable value to a product, service, company. The cashflow issue? It doesn’t add it immediately and if it’s not visible immediately, it seems unquantifiable.
The undiscovered genius
I’ve been involved in the entrepreneurship scene in UAE for a year and a half now, and I’ve met well over 200 startups from not only Dubai. But I still have to discover and learn lots of nuances about the way the Middle East perceives branding.
So this is why I am going to talk from the direct experience I had by observing the evolution of startups.
The majority of the startups that I interacted with have a fear of idea theft. And it is normal for the region.
As the Middle East is searching for its own tone of innovation and is still in the process of implementing the local versions of major innovations in Europe or US (be they cloud solutions, mobile apps or e-commerce platforms), entrepreneurs fear that people, groups or organizations with more and better resources can take an idea they heard and run with it, entering the market as a first mover (which is still a major business as well as branding advantage in the Middle East).
This is why, most entrepreneurs are developing what I call the undiscovered genius syndrome, isolating themselves for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months in order to develop their product, bootstrapping or burning through initial funds and not saying a word about the amazing innovation / invention or simply better product they are going to launch. When they do eventually launch, their first message is a shout in the dark.
Can you make me a nice logo?
Another issue that I’ve noticed in UAE regarding branding is that entrepreneurs tend to consider it a blurry concept (and not only from a monetizing point of view). Most discussions about branding still start with a brainstorming session around what the logo of the company might look like. And the discussion continues around the design areas from website wireframes and colors to business cards shapes and sizes and up to roll-ups and banners for events.
I know, you’ll probably tell me that’s a grim view of things but I am not rooting against print shops becoming brand agencies but I am actually rooting for startups to master communication principles as well as they master business models, technologies or logistics nowadays.
I’ll give you one example from the entrepreneurship scene. The GlassQube co-working space that recently launched in Abu Dhabi.
From the thorough competitors’ analysis that led to the choice of features that are promoted online and offline to the slogan of the brand to the use of keywords and up to the way the brand manifests itself through the events it organizes (the speakers that it invites, the topics that it chooses), GlassQube has proven that it went beyond the imagery and has understood that the brand is a combination of all the manifestations of the company in different environments.
This is the first in the series of To Brand Or Not To Brand? by Tiberiu Iacomi