How to Take a Brand From Start-Up to Grown-Up

Posted 2 months ago by Shannon Healey

From the early days of Frontify to finding our stride, our brand has come a long way – but we’re still just getting started.

Our Founder and Head of Product, Roger Dudler, attended Marketing Week Live 2019 to share a bit about who we are and our brand journey. For valuable insights, challenges, and learnings picked up along the way, watch the full video – or jump below for key takeaways that you can apply to the evolution of your brand.

You Have a Brand (Even If You Don’t Realize It)

When you first start a company, you might ask yourself if you really have a brand, or what it takes to create one. In the early days, for us, I would probably have answered this question with a no because a brand is something strong and consistent. But actually, it might be a little different. Why? Because even from your very first activity, you’ve established a brand.

Authenticity Stands Out

I try to always get on a personal level with clients. With an authentic interest for them, we’re more likely to form a connection. When I went to do a company presentation, I actually drew their logo by hand before the presentation, and I put it on the title slide. I did that for about 40 presentations. Why? I could have just put their actual logo on the title slide. But with a more personal approach, presentations become personal and show we care. It’s not just a generic presentation, copied over and over again. This is different – something unique – and helps to build an identity.

It Can Be a Rollercoaster

When you build a company, in the beginning, it kind of feels like a rollercoaster. Things go wrong. Things go well. Things go wrong again. What you’re missing is the north star you actually want to reach. It’s more about the operations. You’re into it – you want to win the next client – but you’re missing out on the actual vision. You can’t define yourself completely based on the mission, because all of that could change in seconds.

People Strengthen Your Brand and Identity

The people that are working for you – the people you convinced about how you want to build a company – they are actually the ones that build your identity. They are the ones that give you personality. It’s their values and character that build your identity. Are you humble people? Or the funny ones? Are you more of a feisty group? This is defining your identity in the early days.

More Opinions, More Content, More Inconsistencies

It starts to get tricky. You start to create more content, you have more touchpoints, and it becomes a problem if you don’t have a clear identity that everyone understands and is written down. This creates more inconsistencies, which is a really big issue that you see with almost every brand. But if you grow and reach a certain level, and want to go further, you need to make sure this is more aligned.

Strong Brands = Better Buyer Experiences

What does a strong brand mean? I’ve asked myself this question many times but found the answer only when I got a little deeper into psychology. It’s really about how we function as people. When we go to a store and make a buying decision, there are things happening in our brain which are always the same. The first system is implicit, meaning if you look at something you know, your brain will implicitly tell you, “I know this brand, I know what it is, and I’ll just buy it.” It’s not a crucial decision for my life, I just go for it. When we don’t know something, the brain has to go to a second stage, requiring a lot more energy. It’s less rewarding, and it stresses you out. In the end, strong brands make decisions easier and less exhausting.

Look Closer and Listen Carefully

It’s important that you don’t only look at yourself from an inside perspective. Maybe clients see you completely differently? You have to ask yourself how you think your clients see you, and then, actually ask clients how they see you. You need to recognize that difference and try to understand it.

Every Touchpoint Matters (Even the Internal Ones)

A brand should be a living thing that should not only be challenged, but implemented on a daily basis. We created posters that hang on walls throughout the office to constantly remind people of the brand in everything they do – whether it’s a phone call, creating a design, or even building the product – so they can take advantage of knowing how and who we are.

Get Your People in the Know

Everyone should know the mission of the company. In our case, it’s about enabling anyone to create compelling and consistent brand experiences. You should gather your company and ask everyone in the room, “Do you know what the mission of our company is?” Most likely many don’t, so that’s something you can work on to really make sure the identity isn’t just something abstract, living in the cloud.

Take It to the Next Level

We asked ourselves, “How can we be different?” in a way that takes the brand even further. We explored something called an audio identity. Visuals are an important piece, but also, you can think of other things that can help strengthen your brand; audio branding might prove to be equally valuable in shaping brand perception.

Embrace the Journey

Is Frontify grown-up now? Mostly. We’re young – we still have a long journey ahead of us – but we understand how important it is to build a strong brand, what it takes, and how to get there.

Perhaps you'd like to know about our recent brand reboot, and how this factors into the story? Learn about our process, who was involved, and ultimately documenting the results with Frontify here.

Shannon Healey

Content Marketing Manager