How To Know When It's Time To Invest In Branding

There is a "right time" to start thinking about and investing in the name and brand of a startup... or a growing company.

We understand that in the beginning, it’s all about the product. Product-market fit, product development, product product product.

At some point, though, if a startup is really going see explosive growth, attention must be paid to the brand. In our humble and totally biased opinion, the brand starts with the name.

Here’s how to know it’s time to dedicate precious resources to building a brand:

  • You’ve gotten traction and can see that you’re poised for explosive growth. Better to address any name changes and make branding adjustments BEFORE the train has left the station. Now’s a good time to make sure the trademark is solid, too.
  • On the flip side, maybe you’ve NOT gotten traction, and you have the sense that while the product is good, the brand is fundamentally not appealing to consumers. Revisit the consumer experience with fresh eyes. What does your brand look and feel like? If this is a question you can’t answer, you’ve got some work to do. We’d suggest taking a look at your name, while you’re at it.
  • You’re about to invest in a lot of inventory that will feature the name -- product, packaging, etc. The more that is “out there” in the world, the harder a name change becomes, so you really want to feel good about your name and know that you’re rock-solid in the trademark department.
  • You’re about to go pitch some big retailers. Trust us when we say that you want to walk in there with a name buyers love -- because what you DON’T want is to have them suggest names for you. We have seen it happen, and it’s not pretty -- retail buyers are not namers, but you’re placed in the awkward position of either using their subpar name or else ignoring their advice whilst trying to get space on their shelves.
  • You’re about to spend money driving awareness. Along the same lines as the “poised for explosive growth” scenario -- it feels a whole lot better to be investing in a brand you feel good about.
We know that for a cash-strapped startup, investing in the brand or the name can be a tough sell. After all, there’s no measurable ROI or fancy funnel or conversion metrics to tell you it’s a success. But think about the companies you know and love, and it’s pretty plain to see -- companies with weak names don’t end up at the top -- of your mind, or of the category.