Launching A Startup: Foundational Design and Content

When a startup is preparing to launch, there’s never enough time.  And there’s never enough budget.  At Crowded Ocean, we try to maximize both by highlighting areas of critical priority and other areas where smart planning translates into real savings. Here are some thoughts on where to invest those precious marketing dollars and where you can economize; specifically in the areas of design, PR, and your website.

Where You Should Invest: 

Always retain a talented designer for your logo and website.  Most startups don’t need to hire a large creative agency for their logo and site, but they’re too critical to your early success to trust to amateurs or strangers (crowdsourcing).

Your logo is a foundational component that will anchor your brand identity.  We recommend investing in a capable designer to develop a unique logo that will work in all of its applications from mobile site to T-shirt.  Sure, you can crowd-source design.  Twitter famously purchased its tweet bird mark for $40.  But that’s an outlier.  Because your logo is an essential component of establishing your startup’s identity, we believe in retaining a strong designer who will work closely with your team and who will assess your competitors and market before they begin to design.

Small or large agency, get your money’s worth.  After you’ve selected a designer, he/she will submit at least six to ten distinct design options for you and your team to explore, refine and then finally solidify into your company identity.

Always get a style guide (for how to use the logo in a range of applications) as part of finalizing the logo.  That way, you will have a tool to equip other (lower-cost) designers to keep your identity consistent over time.

Where You Can Economize:

- Once your logo and brand guidelines are set, develop a set of templates – Powerpoint, case study, white paper, RFP, newsletter, for example – as a package that can be efficiently used by your sales and marketing team.  If you get the templates developed as a set, your designer should deliver them at a reduced price.

- Ask your designer to develop an icon library (often referred to as info-graphics) that can be used in sales presentations and on your website to represent the unique part of your story while reinforcing your brand visually.

- Consider video for your launch.  It can be a cheap and powerful way to tell your story and to drive traffic to your site.  Ask your videographer to build a standard “intro” and “outro” that can be used in every video to unify your video content with standard branding.

- Use the same writer to develop multiple applications, press materials and web content.  A capable writer can craft both deliverables and save precious time in the crunch of launch.  In our experience, you save time by starting to write early so that there is time for your story to solidify, and for the forcing-function of a press release to unify opinion across your team.

- For social media, recruit internal technical talent to help develop content.  Tapping in-house bloggers and/or Twitter pros will help give your company “voice” authenticity online.  Adapt online social media policies (available free from Mashable and other sites) to authorize and train your employees on the boundaries that they will need to follow.