New Year, New You! Positioning and Messaging edition

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Screenshot from our event in late December.

If you’re like us, 2021 has the Defy team thinking about a fresh and new aesthetic. But design is so much more than a look. How you position and message your company, your product, and your mission can have an immensely positive impact on your revenue growth and brand recognition.

Andy Getsey joined us and our portfolio companies to talk about the importance of these two branding cornerstones. Andy is with Getsey Hannon, a communications consulting firm. He’s also a partner at seed and angel fund, Theorem Ventures. Having helped companies such as Mint, Splunk, LinkedIn, and Verse with the challenge of distilling their brand, he is no stranger to the start-up world and the power of position and messaging.

Like great design, good positioning and messaging looks simple, elegant and obvious but actually take time and attention to get it right. Read on to hear a synthesis of our top takeaways from the conversation.

According to Wikipedia, positioning is “the place a brand occupies in the mind of its target audience.” Complimentary to positioning is messaging, defined as “a set of specific statements used to support a company’s positioning, and communicate important information about the company and its activities to customers, employees, investors, partners, and other stakeholders.” As you’re embarking on your redesign consider the differences and build for a brand position that will resonate with all your stakeholders. Subsequently, write out statements that support your positioning.

Together these distinct efforts help tell your story.

Takeaway One: You have eight seconds

In 2000, Microsoft did a study that found people have twelve seconds worth of attention. Today, it's estimated people have eight seconds.

Saying less to the right people is how hyper growth takes off- Andy

Andy pointed out that the websites with less, often say more. Said another way, this is a reductive process. What you leave out is as important as what you leave in. As a founder, you know everything about your company. Naturally, you’re excited to share all there is to know. However, that is at odds with the attention span of the market. In light of the dramatic attention decrease over the last 20 years, it is more vital than ever to make your website and communication channels speak to your target audiences quickly and effectively.

Takeaway Two: Focus on your best customers

Talk to your best customers and understand why your product works for them. Be very clear about what’s different from the competition or status quo, and how your solution affects change. Don’t get too distracted by the complexity of the technology, in the end, it’s very simple. How are you solving a high priority problem?

Customers just want to know that you can fix their problem.- Andy

And importantly, don’t try to capture all of the value felt by all of your customers, just the most important parts. If you get it right for your best customers, the rest will follow.

Takeaway Three: Go slow to move fast

In the startup world, “move fast and break things” is often a lauded matra. However, when it comes to great design, Andy reminded us that taking a step back and setting aside time to properly explore the story you want to tell pays dividends in the long run. Tactically, Andy recommended you have every function across the company in your design tiger team. Not just the CEO, but the head of sales, head of product, head of engineering etc.. These unique stakeholders internally all understand a different part of your business. Listening to the colorful perspective of individuals internally will help to tell a better story externally. Have at least four positioning and messaging sessions with this cross-functional team.

Telling your company’s story inevitably comes with emotions. It should! Customers (and investors) love companies that have passion behind them. However, it’s important to balance the passion with levelheaded and timely decisions. Once you’ve taken your time on deciding the new branding, positioning, and messaging, do not wait for a unanimous vote. Andy acknowledges there will always be dissenters. However, the mechanism of having all stakeholders in the four meetings will create buy-in for the final decision. At the end of the day, you want everyone in the company on board with the final positioning and messaging, even if it wasn’t their top choice. The hard work, time, and collaboration will ultimately pay off. As Andy so eloquently summarized:

You need to go through the long-form to get to the Haiku - Andy

Our conversation with Andy highlighted the value strong positioning and messaging can bring to any business. Whether you’re a consumer brand, enterprise-SAAS solution, or venture capital firm, good branding matters. As we embark on this new year, leverage our takeaways from Andy’s positioning and messaging talk to reach your customers in new ways and create internal alignment on the new you!

— Defy Team

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Early stage venture capital

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