By Pam Webber
It’s uncomfortable to ask investors for funding… almost as uncomfortable as it is to fund a startup idea, rife with uncertainty. While a poorly designed brand might not sink your funding efforts, a well-designed brand can give you a leg up. This is not just my opinion. I have personally heard this from well-reputed venture capitalists.
What do I mean by a well-designed brand? A well-designed brand clearly and effectively communicates your mission, values, and core differentiators while supporting your goal of delivering a delightful experience to your customer. A well-designed brand commands attention, builds trust, and earns customer affinity for your offering. Those intangible elements are all crucial for tangible success — especially when requesting funding.
By putting a bit of time and energy into your brand materials, you can build more confidence in your prospective investors. Your brand is the face of your company. It should be a face investors can trust.
Not only does our company 99designs help other brands with this every day, but we’ve also been through it ourselves, making us uniquely positioned to share our expertise with you.
So, before you book that next big pitch meeting, take these three brand tips into consideration:
Establish a connection
As most venture capital firms will tell you, an investment decision is never solely based on great branding. But as much as they want to understand your market size and technical expertise, investors need to know who you are, how your product works and what exactly you’re selling.
By showing investors that you can connect with them through your brand, you’ll give them confidence in your ability to connect with future customers on a larger scale.
We could discuss how to connect with customers all day, but for the purpose of a pitch meeting, here’s a short-list of actionable techniques:
- Signature stories — Attach a real person to your brand who represents your vision and brand values. This could be a charismatic CEO/founder, a memorable advocate, or a relatable customer that personifies your company.
- Consistent messaging — It is no secret that repetition and consistency enhance recall. Make your pitch and your brand more memorable by being consistent with your message. Don’t be afraid to use the same words again and again to get your message across.
- Powerful imagery — On your website, in your stores, in your social media feeds — choose imagery that reflects your brand identity to reinforce your emotional associations and communicate your brand’s purpose. Be sure you borrow the consistency principle mentioned above and use similar colors throughout your materials.
Imagery is most relevant for your logo and website, which brings us to our next tip…
Take a critical eye to your core brand elements, such as your logo
Your logo speaks volumes about your brand, so make sure it says the things you intend to communicate. Your cousin’s pen-and-paper logo sketch might have sufficed in the early stages, but by the time you’re talking to investors, you need to elevate to a professional level.
You want all of your brand elements to connect with your customer. For example, specific colors have different connotations, not to mention what the logo design, itself, depicts. It’s not just the words in your slogan, but the typography that can support or detract from the intended meaning.
Before your investor meeting, consider professional help. If you have any graphic designer friends, now would be the time to call-in a favor. If not, there are a lot of options depending on your budget.
No matter how much you spend on design, ensure your branding is consistent across all of your customer and investor touchpoints, which leads me to my third point.
Leave a lasting impression
Two places to influence investors after your pitch meeting are with your pitch deck and your leave-behinds. These are invaluable because they are a physical manifestation of your brand that can continue to sell investors on your idea even after you have left the building.
Pitch Deck. Here is the perfect place to establish an emotional connection with the right imagery. Try to limit it to 15 slides (some say only 10 are best), and don’t go overboard with lengthy descriptions or excessive financial detail. Having a relevant and memorable soundbite can also help investors remember you after the meeting.
Leave-Behinds. The leave-behind is a way to remind investors of the points you made in the meeting, but also reminds them of the vision you are pitching. Again, be consistent with your brand color scheme and identity. Consider something that strengthens the connection to your brand. For example, a notebook imprinted with the logo of your enterprise software company is not memorable. But, if that notebook is imprinted with the logo of your company and your company services independent authors, it takes on a whole new meaning (and can have an even more powerful impression if the notebook cover is designed to look like a book cover). That notebook now becomes a source of reinforcement for your brand.
First and foremost, your brand should communicate the essence of your company – your mission, your vision, what makes you special. It communicates your relevance and uniqueness to the audience you plan to serve. Make sure your branding choices reflect this essence because ideas are a dime a dozen, but well-designed brands are not.
Pam Webber is Chief Marketing Officer at 99designs, the global online graphic design marketplace.