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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 30. Startup Branding: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs

1. What does startup branding really mean for an early-stage company? Is it just picking a name and a logo?

“Brand” is one of those words everybody uses and nobody really understands, so I’ll start with a definition.

It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that their “brand” is the collective emotional response to their product or service. A brand is not a logo, and it’s certainly not a URL. Those things are the stimuli, while the brand is the response. It’s something out there, in the hearts and minds of the people you hope to sell to.

So... do I think it’s important for startups to be thoughtful about the nature of the emotional response that might serve their interests, and try to build a graphic identity designed to elicit that response? Abso-freaking-lutely.

2. Any favorite startup examples that you think are particularly clueful about brand and drawing out the right emotional response?

Sure, a few come to mind right away.

Zipcar is a brand we’ve played a role in since the beginning—it isn’t about urban lifetstyle, or being green, or collective commerce, really. From day one it’s been about Freedom, from both the hassles of car ownership and car rental (wheels when you want them). Focus on that emotional value proposition has guided everything from brand identity to vehicle selection at the company, and Zipsters around the world have responded with not just loyalty, but advocacy.

Path 1.0 was a decent ...

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