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How startups don’t fail

Again and again we read why start-ups fail today. But the much more important question is how startups don’t fail today. What can you do to have the highest chance of success with your startup and scale? We would like to introduce you to a few ways that won’t give you a guarantee, but will increase your chances of success many times over.

Start-ups fail due to lack of relevance

If you have founded a start-up, this is based on a special business idea that you or your co-founders had. In conversations with start-ups, however, we hear time and again that no one has ever thought about the need for this business idea for their own target customer group. Even if there is currently no market for the product or service, statements such as „I am convinced that there is a need for it!“

But does it really exist? The problem is that many startups have not yet defined their target customer group. They don’t know who their customers are exactly, what they want and what their everyday life looks like. Relevance is the most important building block for success, and without it the risk that your start-up will fail is very high.

Competitors too strong

If you don’t have a business idea that is truly different and disruptive, you will probably enter a highly competitive market. You will have a hard time to prevail over your competitors and also to become visible to your target customer group.

And there we are again at the key point customer target group. Ask yourself which people are not served by your competitors and which niche you can fill. For whom exactly is your product or service, which others do not cover so far? This will also make it easier for you to use your marketing budget for campaigns and content in a more targeted manner instead of for the masses.

Focusing only on the business idea

As already mentioned, you are probably convinced of your business idea and that is right! However, a second important building block is often neglected. The development of a brand strategy that helps you to successfully operate your brand and thus the continuous branding. People buy from people and therefore brands based on the same values, beliefs and lifestyles. People today don’t just buy a product or service, they buy a feeling. A feeling that reflects their own identity in the brand.

Become an agile brand

The market and the needs and expectations of your target customer group are always on the move. If you are not already used to it in other areas with your start-up, develop your brand continuously and agilely as well. A brand strategy is long-term, but we still have to question and adapt ourselves and our own brand again and again.

That doesn’t mean you should follow trends, because good and strong brands don’t follow trends. Test new ideas with your team and co-founder:s on how to keep strengthening and solidifying your positioning. Each of them has unique ideas that will benefit the brand.

Lastly, in everything you do, regularly invite your customers and get feedback. Your customers buy your product or service and they will tell you exactly what they want and what seems relevant to them. Afterwards, you can test new ideas directly on them and thus further develop your start-up as a brand in a targeted and consistent manner. Your business idea is certainly great. But it’s your customers who decide what meaning and relevance your brand has for them.

We hope that you now have a better feeling for how you can position yourself with your start-up in the future.

What can you do now?

Here are a few specific suggestions on what you can do to increase your chances of success.

01 // Define your customer target group. Who is underserved within your industry?

02 // Define your clear niche for whom your startup is exclusive.

03 // Develop a long-term brand strategy that helps you consciously position your brand in the minds of your customers, employees and business partners through branding.

04 // Develop your brand as a team and allow for new ideas and perspectives.

05 // Important: Test your positioning on your target customer group to find out whether you are on the right track. Don’t develop your brand from an internal perspective alone, but strongly incorporate the customer perspective.

06 // Keep it up! The market and therefore your brand are always on the move.

Are you in the process of scaling your startup?

Then be sure to check out our Knowledge & Insights page. There you’ll find exciting downloads, our branding for startups & scale-ups podcast „Brands after hours“, as well as book recommendations that will help you build your brand.

Marcel Schubert ist Brand Strategist und CEO der disruptiven Branding Agentur burnt GmbH.
Marcel Schubert
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