Every startup wants to be cool right? Well, how do you go about doing this and how can you benefit from improving your image? In an industry that builds so much hype, it’s a given that your startup’s brand is of utmost importance. But what’s probably more important than having an established likeable brand is the need to actually follow up on your promises.
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So what is this “cool”?
Defining what is cool stems from originality, exclusivity and then bridging the divide in stimulating the “want” or “need” of your product. The budget and time allocation obviously depends on the type of startup you’re planning but that doesn’t mean it cannot be cool. Simply keeping up with the trends helps you survive but setting the trends will make you cool. “A 1 million dollar company is not cool. You know what’s cool? A 1 billion dollar company, that’s cool.”
Communicating your product or service to customers so that they ultimately have the desire to associate with your specific brand is what should make your business stand out from the rest. Take Apple for example: it manages to convey an image of sleek style and sophisticated lifestyle people want to associate with.
The “have you heard of this…” conversation starters should have your company name written all over it. In the end people want to be associated with things that are cool, so you win. A company’s product needs a “wow” factor — people won’t talk as much about a delivery that arrived on time. They will however talk about the exceptional customer service they experienced or the fact that the delivery came with a free cupcake. You’re not going to tweet about your cab ride, are you? A helicopter lift to the Hamptons on the other hand could be worth a mention.
A case for being Uber cool
The luxury cab service Uber is an excellent example of leveraging coolness. The company virtually oozes cool. It’s able to create incredible hype with its services such as its helicopter service that flies you from New York to the Hamptons. Expensive one at that, but worth it. This service won’t necessarily be its most lucrative in terms of direct revenue, but given the amount of publicity it’s created, it will definitely pay off in the end.
Leveraging social media the right way will make word spread like wildfire. Cool is a matter of offering people what they want, by making it accessible and exclusive at the same time. Again, people want to associate with the service or the brand. An average cab ride could be fun, perhaps. But what’s going to make it exclusive?
First time using @Uber to LAX. Remarkable. Same price as a cab but an Escalade. Car was at my house in 5 minutes. Driver really nice.
— Christopher (@Run2SaveLives) September 30, 2013
This brings me to my next point– engaging with your customers on a social level and actually following up on interactions (i.e. complaints, suggestions, praises) in order to amplify your online presence.
@ksalonius Sorry to hear we let you down! Hope to make it up again to you soon
— Uber (@Uber) September 30, 2013
No publicity is better than your clients speaking for you. Ecommerce startup League of Beers founder Rob Heyns noted last week at Startup Grind Cape Town how important and lucky he is in having a passion for the industry. In terms of marketing, word of mouth is what proved to be most successful in the end. Luckily, League of Beers founds itself in a place that’s already associated with exclusivity — something that will get people talking about it.
When it comes down to engagement, putting up a wall of disclaimer responses won’t help your need for good customer relations. Sticking by the book to avoid the hassle won’t win hearts and minds. The old “customer is king” saying should have by now really sunk in.
League of Beers makes the popular entertainment and lifestyle pages such as Men’s Health for instance and then manages to leverage its product and increase its user engagement. The company doesn’t only make it easy to get your hands on awesome interesting beer anywhere in South Africa, your beer will also be cold on arrival. That’s really cool– pun intended.
Probably the most challenging of all obstacles as a startup is gaining adequate funding. Then allocating your funding is even more daunting. I believe that by creating publicity, engaging with your community and following-up and delivering your product are the most crucial steps in building up your brand.
Everyone’s different, yes. All startups don’t fall into the lifestyle entertainment category of things but that doesn’t mean that your brand doesn’t have to be original and exclusive. As soon as you successfully communicate the exclusivity of your product and why your target market needs it, the sooner you’ve crossed the most crucial bridge in your branding process. What makes your startup cool?