Making progress in the chaos of a startup is often about finding a minimally viable process that gets you to a decision. Since
, I’ve used some version of the design sprint methodology to kick off new projects. Sprints can turn intimidatingly creative decisions like
What is our brand?
What should our new user experience be?
into a collaborative, step-by-step process that’s fun to do.
And while most software development workflows moved effortlessly to a remote-only or hybrid context after COVID work from home mandates, making subjective and creative decisions together is more of a challenge.
a brand is hard, especially with remote teams.
In order to
, your company needs an identity. Articulating your brand will help you make subjective decisions like what your company’s logo or product name should be. Once you know what your company’s brand represents, design and go-to-market work will flow more easily.
I really like
—it helps you quickly define a brand that’s authentic to your team. But as-written, using whiteboards and sticky notes and pieces of paper, the process didn’t translate into remote work. In early 2020 I created the 3 Hour (Remote) Brand Sprint for one of my portfolio companies and later got permission from the original creators to publish it here. Thanks, guys.
Who is this for, and what do you get out of it?
This guide is meant for startup founders and their teams across seed and Series A companies. You may just be starting out or your company may have grown amorphously and now needs a quick reset. Ultimately the founders need to drive the process and make the final decisions, but almost anyone at a startup can pick up and use this tool.
Here’s what you’ll ultimately get from this process: a short document that defines what you’re building, why you’re building it, who your core audience is, what your company values are, and a few ways to think about your company’s positiong in the market. Pretty good for 3 hours.
What is a brand? And why is it important to define early on?
A brand is not a logo, it is how people perceive your company. A controversy can tarnish a brand; truly excellent customer service can elevate one. Wall Street even attaches a dollar amount to a company’s
, which can account for a large percentage of its value. Brands are amorphous but very real.
In his (
The Brand Gap
, famed Silicon Valley designer
says, “The main purpose of branding is to get more people to buy more stuff for more years at a higher price.” Or to think of it in terms of SaaS software:
the goal of branding is retention
It’s important to define your brand now because it’s never too early to work on retention. A steady, happy customer base is the foundation of a viable business and absolutely necessary to enable hyper growth.
The questions your team will answer during the 3 Hour (Remote) Brand Sprint are not directly about logos or product names, but instead reveal existing beliefs and assumptions.
Hopefully, this means having one disagreement
about who the customer is and what your 5 year mission should be. The alternative is having hundreds of small arguments later about the logo, landing page colors, product name, et cetera that are
about who the customer is and what the 5 year mission should be.
Your turn: Start the brand process.
Copy this doc when you’re ready to take an interactive, immersive brand journey with your team. Good luck! I’m rooting for you. 🙌
The toolkit will guide you step-by-step through the exercises. Here’s an outline of what you can expect:
- Give your team context, build an agenda, and set expectations for the sprint.
- Look into the future with a hypothetical (and aspirational) roadmap.
- Take a hard look at your company. And then discuss.
- Narrow your company’s values down to three.
- Get to know who your company serves.
- Give your brand some character.
- Situate your company among competitors.
👉 Ready to get started? Head over to the