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Startups Make Products, Fans Make Brands

Startups Make Products, Fans Make Brands

Although viral growth is always built into tech business models, in reality it’s quite rare to achieve. The best thing a brand can do is to drive a product’s strategy through a market efficiently by provoking conversation and creating desire. This is not an emotional game but a survival strategy. Investing early in creating a fan-centric product advantage keeps marketing and sales costs under control and has a much greater shot at viral growth.

The question to ask: is it creating fomo with potential users?

Here’s a 6-point checklist to see if your brand is effectively managing your relationships.

Lets product lead

Rather than overthinking vision, mission and purpose, the product must be clear about how it helps users like no one else in the world can. A good brand should play off that. When Uber dropped its premium positioning and let the product lead the way, it used the halo around the brand to create fomo at massive scale. Rather than let exclusivity get in the way of growth, the brand is now much more about solving urban transportation challenges across the world than being everyone’s personal driver. And everyone’s invited to be a part of a solution.

Founders create personality

In the cacophony of voices on the internet, if you want a place in the public square you have to make yourself a brand. Otherwise, you risk being ignored and your product loses the chance of owning social conversation. It doesn’t mean being noisy. It means having a point of view that can drive conversation around category disruption. It gives your brand personality and authenticity. The domination of social networks means silence is not an option.


It seduces

Emotion changes the quality of your relationships which unconsciously habituates people towards a new behavior. Rasmus Andersson, Partner at Designer Fund, a venture capital firm backing design-led startups, said recently in a tweet: “There’s no right or wrong in design, just a spectrum from useful to useless.” Brands that see things differently, passionately imagine a better way and have the skills and sensibilities to make it happen ultimately reduce their marketing and customer acquisition costs while dramatically escalating the chances at converting a user on a great experience.



Personalize like you mean it.

Data is the glue between product, design and marketing. Product brands have the potential to create deep relationships especially with their most valuable customers using predictive recommendation engines. Built on contextual user preferences, personalization keeps users in the know and ahead of every one else. Meta data engines allow you to give power users extra perks. And just like that, a brand becomes a part of a user’s identity and their everyday swag.



Two-way and real-time

Communication doesn’t have to mean advertising. When it feels like you aren’t talking down to consumers but bringing people together around your brand, you take the customer acquisition cost around your product and turn it from a cost to a value that differentiates you. Multiple notifications a day pushing product doesn’t turn people on. Personalized offers do. Check out how created an almost zero budget campaign to spread awareness on its new product.



The experience is the message

Inventive gestures add multiple dimensions to brands. When you surprise people and give them something beyond what they expect, you find you’ve brought them what they really wanted from you. Provocative conversation, edgy music, interesting art and a few people in-the-know and you have yourself the opportunity to be culturally relevant and give meaning to the brand. Make your brand the curator of newness and change.




Creativity involves a certain amount of rebellion. Make people think. Create conversations. Iconic brands tend to leapfrog category conventions by championing new ideologies that are meaningful to customers.

Your fans represent the character, vibrancy and future of your brand.


Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.