Pitchfest Tips: Brand Building For Entrepreneurs
At last year’s Pitchfest, “focus” was a common theme in the feedback from the expert judges. They frequently urged the finalists to get more specific on their audience, find a unique and scalable opportunity, and be realistic about when and how to extend the brand. So for those of you preparing for this year’s Pitchfest—and all of the other entrepreneurs out there—ask yourself these three key questions:
- Who is my core consumer, the one for whom I am designing this product or service?
- What need or problem am I solving for this consumer?
- How is my solution unique and better than the alternatives this consumer currently has available to them?
These questions will articulate a clear value proposition, as long as you are being specific and making tough choices to focus on your core. Defining your brand strategy by answering these questions should be central to your overall business strategy.
While these questions may seem simple, organizations of all sizes often struggle to make the tough choices that a good strategy requires – to focus on a specific consumer target, or a particular set of goods or services…and to walk away from others. If you are trying to be everything to everyone, you don’t have a strategy. One of my favorite quotes from the academic and strategist Michael Porter argues, “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.”
The tendency to extend too far, too fast is often found among entrepreneurs—whose vision, energy, and passion can sometimes make it hard to say “no” (at least for now) to the multitude of opportunities they can imagine for their concept. But when they take on too much, too early, they risk losing meaning and differentiation. It is a good idea to have a general sense of where the brand can go in the future – but it is critical to launch with a focused proposition, and then eventually expand in a thoughtful way once you have established your brand.
Julie Ennis, who contributed this post, is the owner of Wise Winters, a Denver-based brand and marketing strategy consultancy. She’s pictured here with her two sons.