Brand messaging, done right from the start, sells your company
If you ask Hannah Redgewell, marketing is the one thing that can make or break a start-up.
Redgewell is a principal at Channel 4 Ventures, which you would be forgiven for never having heard of, and I recently interviewed her for my entrepreneur-focused podcast, backyourself.show. Let’s start first with her background, then talk about Channel 4 Ventures.
Redgewell is a Cambridge graduate with an honors degree in politics, psychology, and sociology. She got her start with a short internship at G4S’s Welfare to Work division, then after graduation became a manager and then senior associate at Strategy&, which is a part of the PwC network. At Strategy&, her role was that of a strategy consultant responsible for leading teams to project delivery, including commercial due diligence, strategic options review, market assessment, and business plan design. She worked in those roles in both New York and London.
The job at Strategy& kept Redgewell happy, but after about four years she started to yearn for something new, and that’s when the opportunity at Channel 4 Ventures opened.
Channel 4 Ventures is a style of venture capital firm that invests in high-growth consumer start-ups. But rather than infusing promising companies with cash, Channel 4 Ventures gives them access to its platforms for advertising. Its current portfolio includes Eve Sleep, Meatless Farm, Sportpursuit, Crowdcube, and Readly.
As Redgewell found, there are many similarities between VC and large firm consulting.
Large-scale type consulting at Strategy& and startup investing of the sort that Channel 4 Ventures is engaged in don’t necessarily mix, as Redgewell admits, but there are actually a surprising number of parallels.
Consultants at Strategy& tended to work on projects that were five to six weeks long, meaning she’d handle 10 or so in a year. After a while, she’d seen almost every business model there was and gained insight into what makes businesses work. That translates well to venture capital, even if the size of the business is much smaller. Plus, there’s a good mix of dealing one-on-one with clients and handling analytics, which is similar to working with venture capital, where you need to build relationships with people but also dive in and study analytics and legal frameworks.
Redgewell looks for a common set of behaviors when assessing businesses and has found some that make these early-stage companies stand out. Here is her list of four tips that make a start-up stand out.
1. Companies that really stand out are the ones that generate excitement through their marketing.
“Anything that is distinctive, unusual, or modern gets us really excited,” she said. “It’s not always a given that most companies have that. If a brand resonates with us we think it will resonate with people as a whole.”
Brand is your first impression of a company, Redgewell says, and if you can create an emotional connection to people through your brand and your story, you’ll make an impact.
Or as I like to say, marketing is asking someone on a date, and branding is the reason they say yes (or no :( )
2. Companies that want successful branding should start thinking about that branding and messaging on Day One.
Weaving that story into your message from the beginning will streamline your message. Don’t be afraid to hire a consultant or outside agency to help you with this process.
3. Know what your brand stands for.
Your company may be solving a huge number of problems, but people will only remember one or two of them. Make sure you are clear about what you want to be, and that should be your branding message and it should be woven through all of your marketing messages.
4. Make sure your marketing funnel will be positioned to make the most out of your media campaign.
In Redgewell’s case, that means pitching an idea that will be able to make the most of Channel 4’s TV coverage, but by extrapolation that can be extended to any campaign and the media format it plans to use. There’s no sense in sending customers to your website to make a purchase if your website format is awful, and there’s no sense in creating a TV campaign if what you are selling won’t look good on the screen.
Be prepared for success, Redgewll intones.
5. Productivity tip: Stop multitasking and start focusing
Productivity is key for Redgewell, and she ensures that she stays productive by not multitasking.
Yeah, that may sound counterintuitive, but for Redgewell, multitasking obliterates her ability to focus. To combat that, she has recently begun to block off regular intervals of time for specific tasks. That way, she can devote full focus to the task at hand.
For startups, branding may be the most important part of their development process — branding tells your story, and determines how customers will (or won’t) relate to your product. If you are in the start-up process, and particularly if you are seeing venture money, you can’t afford to ignore your branding message.