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Startup Branding :: Strategy, Competitive Positioning, Personas, Naming, and Visual Design :: with Elisabeth Hass and Natalie Grummer

Most founders don’t pay enough attention to foundational branding processes, which often results in customer confusion, off-putting names/visuals, and/or an untimely death for new startups. In this episode, we dive into many aspects of branding a startup, from naming and competitive positioning to visual design and personas/values, including specific recommendations for designing a logo, mockups, and prototypes.

See below for detailed notes and links to resources mentioned.

You can watch this episode below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

My guests this week are brand strategist Elisabeth Hass and visual designer Natalie Grummer, and we cover the following topics:

2:20 - Natalie intro - https://www.linkedin.com/in/nataliegrummer/

3:40 - Elisabeth intro - https://www.linkedin.com/in/elisabeth-hass/

5:45 - Exploring Natalie’s early creative pursuits

7:20 - Story of Natalie’s photography business, ideation, branding/design, customer acquisition techniques, evolving of the brand, etc…

13:40 - Synchrony between communications strategy, visuals, and business aspects such as the financial model, anchored in values/vision/mission.

14:20 - What is a Digital Nomad? Why did Elisabeth decide to become one?

15:44 - How long does Elisabeth typically stay in an area as she travels around?

16:45 - Elisabeth talks about her new venture, Chariot.

19:20 - How did Elisabeth decide on the name, brand strategy, and visuals for “Chariot”

21:30 - Using Tarot Cards and Archetypes as tools to help with brand formation.

25:10 - How does Natalie come up with such amazing visuals for a brand?  

29:40 - What is the process of coming up with a brand strategy, name, logo, visuals, etc…? How do Elisabeth and Natalie advise founders who have an idea and are curious how to translate that into a brand?

33:55 - What are the dangers/pitfalls for founders that neglect thoughtful brand strategy?

37:25 - Recap of the process of brand strategy, naming, etc… and more discussion on competitive landscape analysis.

39:20 - How does Elisabeth help tee up brand foundations/strategy so visual designers such as Natalie can bring visual elements to life?

41:15 - Question for Natalie: What kinds of brand tee-ups/guides are helpful when beginning to work on the visuals? What’s not helpful?

43:00 - Elisabeth highlights the importance of thoughtful research for brand strategy, else it can be too easy to produce generic/pithy guidelines that aren’t helpful for

43:40 - What is the process of producing visuals given thoughtful brand guidelines? What kind of training is needed?

48:20 - What advice does Elisabeth have for teenagers considering a career in entrepreneurial creative arts / brand strategy?

50:55 - Where in the brand formation process does “naming” come in most efficiently?  What is that process like?

55:30 - Is coming up with a name needed before it’s possible to create visuals?

58:00 - Describing the process using specific examples of this podcast, Ventures, and a new newsletter/publishing platform called Satchel.  

59:45 - What was the brand strategy process for Satchel?

1:01:40 - How did Natalie then take the name/brand strategy for Satchel and turn it into visuals?

1:05:15 - On a personal level, what is fun and/or meaningful for Elisabeth and Natalie about the work that they do?

1:07:10 - Where can people find out more about Elisabeth and Natalie and their work?  https://www.linkedin.com/in/nataliegrummer/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/elisabeth-hass/

Mentioned resources:

Prota Ventures Brand Resources :: Competitive Analysis Framework

  • Simple spreadsheet you can clone for your own competitive analysis, plus another sheet with all the links & info below.

The Three-Hour Brand Sprint

  • A great set of exercises to help you create the foundation of your brand in no time.

Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands

  • A short, fun read about the most fundamental principle of branding.

The Brand Gap

  • Another short, fun read from Marty Neumeier. This one's about brand building.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

  • One of the most popular TED Talks. Learn why it's important for your venture to have a clear vision.

Brand Values Worksheet

  • "If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?"

Every Startup needs its (Brand) Pyramid

  • Meet the Brand Pyramid, a quick reference brand guide that helps everyone (including you) stay true to who you are.

The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes

  • *The* brand archetype book.

TV Tropes

  • Fun, extensive tool for building your brand persona and voice. Explore thousands of characters.

How to make sense of any mess

  • “This book outlines a step-by-step process for making sense of messes made of information (and people).”