Making people care is hard. Making them care about your business is even harder.
So how can startups win the hearts and minds of customers as they grow?
The most influential businesses in the world all share one perspective: You need a differentiated product and a fantastic brand story to cut through the noise.
You also need to build a great team who live the company values and who act as ambassadors to amplify your brand voice out in the community.
General Assembly started from humble beginnings and is now one of the world’s fastest growing education companies, working with tech heavyweights like Google, Linkedin and Atlassian as partners, clients and sources of instructor talent.
Three key reasons for the startup’s success are its people, a purposeful approach to brand, and a relentless focus on serving up a great experience to customers.
I asked two experts, who both own brands people love, what tips they can offer startup founders looking to do the same.
Investing in the strongest marketing tool
Serial entrepreneur Taryn Williams, who founded WINK Models and TheRight.Fit, attributes the growth and sentiment towards her businesses to her internal team.
“Creating a brand people love starts from the inside by building a strong team who advocate for your brand’s values,” she says.
“Your people are your strongest marketing tool as a growing business.
“If you want your brand to be truly loved, you have to nurture the people inside it and their lives inside and outside of work.
“Ultimately it’s your people that will define your business.
“If your team are happy, engaged and empowered to develop as the business grows, every single customer, supplier and potential investor you interact with will experience your brand in a truly unique light and that’s how you stand out as a growing business.”
The Iconic co-founder and managing director Adam Jacobs says making the impossible possible and delivering outstanding customer experiences is what put the fashion retailer on the map.
“What landed The Iconic on Australia’s radar was our innovation around 3HR delivery,” says Adam.
“This taught us a lot about how to create a brand people love.
“It’s achieved through creating amazing experiences at moments that customers truly care about.
“I heard this great definition of ‘magic’ recently: ‘To make something easy and fun, that previously seemed impossible’.”
Growing with purpose
While passionate people and product innovation have also been a big part of General Assembly’s growth story, one thing that has helped set us apart is an authentic brand story and a mission that matters.
We’ve grown organically from a small cluster of entrepreneurs in New York to a global community of 300,000 individuals.
As our business has evolved, so has our brand.
At the end of the day, if you have a product that solves a real problem, you have genuine interactions with customers and community, and you empower your people as advocates, you’ll have the building blocks in place for a startup people love.