Friday, July 26, 2013

Startups Should Decide on Branding Core Principles Before Even Choosing a Name

Warby Parker's core values, painted on a kitchen wall
One of the hazards of sudden explosive growth of startups is that a company often hits the big time before its founders have a chance to really decide on branding, the mission statement and core principles that guide it.  More than just  a name or logo, branding is a through line that gives a company a sense of authenticity and being true to itself.  Neil Blumenthal, one of the founders of breakout eyewear superstars Warby Parker, warns startups to not skip over or underinvest in branding from their founding stages.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article: 
Excerpt: "The most charismatic people are those who exude a thorough sense of self—people whose ways of thinking, talking, dressing, and behaving are unapologetically authentic to who they are. You can find examples in every field: Jay-Z, Muhammad Ali, Coco Chanel, John F. Kennedy. Charismatic individuals exert a magnetic effect on others, and I think this phenomenon offers powerful lessons to business leaders. Charisma, after all, comes down to personality, and a company’s 'personality' is constructed through smart, authentic branding.

In general, the startup community underinvests in branding. Branding is not simply a name, a logo, or a slogan—it’s a reason for being and the expression of that reason in every product, event, and campaign. It’s a point of view. It’s critical for entrepreneurs to sit down at the earliest stage and define the architecture of their brand: an overarching purpose, a set of core values, a statement about what the brand is and what it is not. I’d even suggest doing this before settling on a name for your endeavor. My co-founders at Warby Parker and I labored over the question of what to name our company for six months— coming up with 2,000 (terrible) options in the process—before finding a name that clicked with our brand architecture. In our particular case, the answer was found in a book. 

My co-founder Dave was wandering around the New York Public Library on 42nd Street when he stumbled into an exhibition about Jack Kerouac. Kerouac had been one of our touchstones throughout the process of defining our brand; we loved the way he inspired a generation to take a road less traveled and see the world through a different lens. (Plus, the connection between literature and vision couldn’t be closer.) The exhibit featured some of Kerouac’s manuscripts, notes, drafts and unpublished journals. Inside one of these journals, Dave noticed two characters with interesting names: Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker. We combined the two and came up with Warby Parker."

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