Why Brand Sprint is the new Branding for startups

Andreea Encuțescu

Brand Experience Designer

04 Mar, 2020

Startup founders go through a lot of obstacles to validate their product in the pressure of time and money, and oftentimes, they neglect their brand in favor of the product, but you may be thinking now, what's a Brand Sprint?

Similar to the Design Sprint, the Brand Sprint is a new 3-hours process created at Google Ventures for startups that haven't yet defined their brand. It consists of a set of tools called exercises that help moving fast through the decision making, with the design and client teams, and coming to something concrete very fast.

Brand Sprint vs the old Branding process

Design agencies and designers usually use branding processes that take more than one month, sometimes even six or more, to design the clients' company branding. While we used to run the same types of processes, we quickly found out that these don't apply to startups that struggle with different kinds of problems than an established company does.

We now use Brand Sprint 2.0 - our own updated version of the one mentioned above. Let's now explore the benefits of such a process.

1. Very fast process with high-end results

The biggest goal of the Brand Sprint is to support startup founders to make big decisions regarding their brand in a short amount of time, without decreasing their brand's quality in the long run.

  • Each exercise has its unique role - This process works so well because each exercise is like a piece of a puzzle; united, they create the path for each member to follow
  • Focus only on what's important - By eliminating distractions like our phone, for example, or things like endless debates or unnecessary exercises / processes, we end up getting things done fast.
  • Time-boxing - We use a timer for each exercise to keep us accountable for focusing on the right things, not wasting time on distractions that keep us from reaching our end goal.
2. The client gets to contribute to every decision that's taken

Instead of designers taking decisions while working and then giving some kind of presentation that lets the client choose one path, the client gets to see how these decisions are formed and pick the ones that suit them the best.

  • Everyone is an expert - The team is formed by the client's team and designers' team. Everyone specializes in something, and everyone is equal. The process promotes everyone's opinion at the same level.
  • Work with tangible ideas - We use sticky notes or concepts to present our ideas. Nothing gets implemented before there's some sort of a discussion, ensuring the project's time is focused on what matters.
  • Voting - We use a voting system to eliminate the back and forth discussions. This way, we move even faster.
3. The brand is validated too by the customers themselves

You can't know for sure if a brand is going to appeal to the customers, or what their reaction to it will be when launching. So, in Brand Sprint, at the end of each week the brand gets validated by 5 real customers. This is especially important for startups who need support from their brand when launching their product.

  • Real-time testing - Each test takes from 30 minutes to 1 hour, and each user is asked to perform some tasks on the prototype. The designer guides the user and asks for his/her thoughts about the prototype.
  • Get to know the customers - The main advantage is that startups get to know the customers before launching, without doing research on the internet and using some data that already exists. Each user is asked at the beginning of the test some personal questions to learn more about their life and personality.
  • Revisions based on users' feedback - The important revisions are based on users' feedback, which is taken into consideration hugely.
4. The company's motivation & brand messaging is ready in one day

Both teams work together so that the startup's motivation is quickly discovered through the exercises. When that's done, brand messaging is created immediately afterward so that the customers can understand what you do and why you do it.

  • Set the 'why' in stone - The 'why' of what startups do is very important to differentiate from the competition, and to also create a special place in customers' minds for your brand.
  • Know customers' pains - Before the messaging is created, the customers' pains are carefully analyzed so that the messaging will reflect how the brand will solve their problems with the help of the product.
  • Have a story to tell - By the end of the day, the startups already have a good story and description of their brand to say, so that others can understand what they do more easily.
5. The brand gets to have a personality on its own

With so much competition it's hard to differentiate from the other startups, and to make customers remember you by your brand identity alone. This process allows the brand to develop a personality on its own.

  • Look & feel to match customers - While the client has a say in this, the look & feel are chosen carefully to match the customers' personality and pains too.
  • Appealing to the customers - The brand is developed in such a way so that the customers will either fall in love with it, feel understood, want to become like it, or all of them.
  • Human-centered - The process focuses a lot on making it feel like a real human being right from the beginning. It does need to fit the audience.

Lastly,

It is called brand 'sprint' because it's fast, the startup stakeholders get a say in the decision making right before implementing anything (eliminates most of the back-and-forth revisions), they won't have problems coming back and changing things because something doesn't fit the audience, and it's so high quality that the brand gets to have a personality on its own.

+ Brandenstein's Brand Sprint Guide for you to rebrand in 3 hours

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