Work Those Sails

Sails‘I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.’ – Jimmy Dean

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How to Create an Emotional Attachment to Your Brand

emotional-branding_000At Sniply, we bootstrap our startup with no marketing budget. No Google Adwords, no PR team, and no marketing department. Yet within a short few months, we managed to acquire thousands of users and began generating revenue. Within several months of coming up with the idea, Sniply has already been featured on over 30 blogs and publications. Such progress is impressive even for a top-tier PR agency, let alone a brand new startup.

There was no magic involved. We simply built a really, really strong brand. More importantly, we built relationships. We had no need for a marketing budget thanks to our army of product evangelists. Our users and fans support us by writing about our story and constantly sharing our product whenever they can.

Here are three key lessons we learned while building the Sniply brand.

Build a brand capable of weakness and vulnerability

Have you ever met someone that just seems too perfect? It is difficult to build relationships with these people. This is also how most brands behave. Businesses flaunt their achievements, bombard you with press releases, and such perfection makes it difficult to connect with them.

At Sniply, we take pride in our weakness and vulnerability. Several months ago, we applied to Y Combinator, a startup accelerator in Silicon Valley. Even though we were rejected, we still publicized our whole experience. We published our entire application and interview transcript, thus sharing with the world our first big failure. The story attracted over 15,000 readers and resulted in a tsunami of supporters.

Building a brand is like building human relationships. By revealing your insecurities, you invite others into your world. When we decided to publish our failures, we invited everyone into our story. Entrepreneurial journeys are filled with shining victories and crushing defeats. Brands are so caught up in flaunting their victories that they often forget the power of displaying vulnerability and the joy of simply being human.

Build a brand that expresses gratitude and appreciation

Have you ever met someone that constantly asks for favours and never does anything for you in return? Meaningful bonds are formed through mutual support and reciprocated appreciation. It starts with the genuine expression of gratitude.

At Sniply, we make it a daily activity to show our appreciation for the users who take the time out of their busy days to try our product. We delight them with personal messages and craft thoughtful gifts. We strive to understand their personal needs, beyond our product, and we do everything we can to just be a good friend. We engage in genuine conversations with no sales goal whatsoever. In a business culture that is dictated by the bottom line, we break just about every rule when it comes to productivity. Yet, time and again, these relationships foster into evangelists, and these advocates become the lifeblood of our exponential growth.

The genuine expression of gratitude goes a long way. Showing people you appreciate their time and expressing your gratitude can make the difference between a transactional relationship and a meaningful one.

Build a brand that is more about them than it is about you

Have you ever contributed to a project but never received the credit you deserved? It is safe to say that everyone appreciates proper acknowledgements for their time and effort.

At Sniply, our About Page is less about our team, and more of a hall of fame for the people who made a real difference on our journey. We feature our mentors and advisors. We showcase our evangelists, fans, and friends. We are proud to have their support and they are delighted to be acknowledged.

A brand is essentially a personality and they can be delightful or insufferable. The product you are working on and the direction you pursue can always change, but relationships and brand affinity are immortalized in the hearts of those you touch. As a startup, you may never have the resources to compete with larger players, but you can always pour your heart into crafting your company’s persona.

Building a strong brand is really not that complicated. Treat your brand as a child and teach it to be a good person. Treat your customers as you would like to be treated by your friends. Start by applying what you have already learned living all these years — as a human being.

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