5 Key Elements of a Startup Brand Story

Startup-Brand-StoryEntrepreneurs tend to be busy people.

In the hustle and bustle of a startup environment, finding the time to focus on brand building can be a challenge. But the simple truth is that startup branding matters.

A startup’s brand is the space it is able to rent in their customers’ or prospects’ minds. It’s their reputation. It’s a promise. Often times, it’s why a startup wins with a customer or prospect.

Especially as a new business without much of (if any) a proven track record, a great brand can be the difference between “not interested” and “I want to learn more”.

The key to building a great startup brand? Telling great stories. In the 1980s, Apple set the bar by making the world think different. More recently, Facebook has helped people connect and share with the people in your life. And closer to home, Desire2Learn is helping transform the way the world learns.

Here are 5 things to remember when thinking about your startup’s brand story.

1.  A Great Story Inspires

At its core, your startup’s brand story should aim to inspire and convey a sense of purpose. By challenging consumers to ‘Think Different’, Apple was able to position itself and its targeted customers alongside some of history’s greatest thinkers and icons, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John Lennon and Albert Einstein.

2.  A Great Story Builds Relationships

People value relationships. At the end of the day, everyone likes to be a part of something larger than themselves. A great startup brand story helps people to not just understand how you can solve a problem they have, but understand why you should be the one to solve it.

3.  A Great Story Is Targeted

A great startup brand story must speak to a specific target market. As Seth Godin has written on his blog, “if you need to water down your story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. The most effective stories match the world view of a tiny audience—and then that tiny audience spreads the story.” Taking too broad an approach to sales and marketing is a common startup challenge – don’t let it spread to your brand story.

4.  A Great Story Is Personal

As an entrepreneur, you need to be aware that your company’s brand story is, to a degree, an extension of your own. Apple’s Steve Jobs understood this better than most entrepreneurs. He was unique and so was (and still is) Apple. As an entrepreneur, one of the most important questions you need to answer to develop your brand story is “what’s my own story?”

5.  A Great Story Spreads Easily

Make sure your story is short, easy to consume, easy to remember and easy to share. If you’re wondering what your brand story is, try answering these simple questions:

  • Why you do what you do? (The why tends to be the most important element of any brand story)
  • What problem(s) are you trying to solve?
  • Why is your company best positioned to solve these problems?
  • Does your startup fall into one of these 5 brand story archetypes?

Additionally, because of social media, your target market is able to directly engage with your story. This can help to provide a degree of real world credibility and validate your story (also known as social proof). Embrace this element and create brand advocates on as many platforms as you can.


Ultimately, storytelling is the key to building your startup’s brand because people connect with stories. Stories provide context. They are personal and command attention in ways that business-speak doesn’t. They are memorable and help build trust with your audience. From a sales perspective, you can’t ask for much more.

Like all entrepreneurs, you are undoubtedly passionate about what you do. Thinking about why you want to do it will ensure you have a great story to tell and not just a great product or service to sell.

This post originally appeared on the Laurier Innovation + Entrepreneurship blog. 

To learn more about how to brand your startup, contact us for a free consultation.