Archive for February, 2014


Startups and Branding: Quirky Thoughts.

I’ll be honest. At the time of writing this post on Feb 4th 2014 at 5:30pm I still don’t have a comprehensive idea of what branding is. Someone smart once said ‘Your brand is what people say about you when your not in the room’, and as companies we all seek to control that conversation. The following post is not a formal dissertation on branding. They’re scattered thoughts collected over the past year.

Branding is not just your logo:

Your logo is part of your visuals. Your sales collateral. Your website or business card. But lets be honest — if your a startup no one would know your logo from another so it’s sweat over. I’ve seen some generally good folks sweat over their logo’s without even having a product on hand. To them I say — build something. An MVP, a landing page, a website (and make a ‘logo’ in Photoshop in 10 minutes) and then and only then worry about your logo. First understand what you need to build and if anyone cares about it. Even if you have a shitty logo no one cares as long as your building something meaningful or helpful. Your not Coke or Best Buy — you can always change your logo once your onto something and lets be honest people remember experiences and not logos.

Colours are important. But they can be changed:

When we were building Organimi — our then Creative Director made a good point. Everything is blue, from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter so lets have some fun with our colors and be different. And different we are. Our current color palette ranges from blue/yellow/red/grey. Our first product User Interface was themed after the branding colors we had so it was all grey with bits of red thrown in. It looked quite dated so once we had a stable product — we changed the whole UI and it turned out to be blue.

That messed up our whole branding. As of writing this post the website is still red/yellow colored and if you signup and go login to the app — it’s all blue. Disconnect much? We’re currently working the website to match the product more closely without giving up our fun with colors philosophy.


The above ties into consistency. Branding is about consistency not just with colours between your site and product but across all your properties.

I’ve recently started consulting with iNot For Profit — a startup out of Waterloo that’s focused on mobile solutions for not for profit organizations. They have an interesting problem: the names on their online properties are all different variants of their company name ranging for iN4P to iNotFP. In the interest of consistency — the CMO started a consistency 101 project internally. Just all the names on all their internet properties reflect the company name properly starting with Twitter.

The oversight is a common one, there’s no assurance that the domain,twitter,Facebook, Vine, are all available to match the domain. Often times the someone is squatting on your Twitter handle so the next best thing is “Get[app-name-here” or “Use[app-name].

Is it a deal breaker for an early stage startup?


If you build a great product and execute well, your audience will know which Twitter Handle is yours and they will remember you.

There are however some nifty tools to help you check all at once.

Customer Service and User Experience:

Give me something to smile about. This ranges from small UX tweaks to change error messages into a lighter tone to support and customer service. Buffer calls them Happiness Heroes and they have a Chief Happiness Officer. I honestly love the title. Not only does it define how essential great support & community is to a company but you always know they have your back incase you f*ck things up.

You read through most of my thoughts and musings so in the interest of readability I’ll make a list to end off on:

  • People remember experiences not logos.
  • Don’t sweat the colours or logo at the early stage. All that is flexible
  • Don’t spend weeks writing big fat documents on branding strategy. Be nice and build awesome shit that you would want to use yourself.

Remember to enjoy yourself in the process.

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Klout & Buffer

They’re starting to look awfully simillar.

Klout sent me an email today:

Klout email. Saved to Evernote for email marketing reference.

Naturally I logged in via Twitter. After some 403 errors I finally managed to get in:

Klout score 42. What does that even mean?

This looked very familiar so I logged into Buffer:

And I clicked on Daily Content Suggestions:

Looks like Klout is evolving into a content creation and sharing platform to increase your Klout Score by sharing great content. Buffer is a social media management tool but they also encourage you to add content into your queue. The only differentiation that hit me was:

  1. You can select topics on Klout and build a content stream.
  2. Buffer tends to suggest content to share on multiple network (with a quote thrown in) based on past behaviour (I am guessing here).

No judgements or predictions. I am not aware of the internal workings and roadmaps of both companies. But it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

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