What does Branding have to do with Venture Capital?
By Mickael Kanfi, COO
So you have a start-up and you’re looking for funding. You’ve got a mentor or adviser and they are pushing you to think about your brand identity and put your best foot forward with potential investors. They are not wrong. The power of a good brand is immeasurable. Great marketers like Seth Godin spend their days teaching and explaining the power of building a brand whether it be a personal brand or one for your business. Potential investors might not all be marketing experts, but they know a good brand when they see one, and it weighs heavily on their overall impression of a company when evaluating it for an investment.
But what if I told you that I prefer seeing brands that still need work? It’s not because I don’t see the value. Quite the opposite. It’s because I believe so much in the power of a brand, that I want to help create it.
Inerjys invests in companies that are completing the R&D phase and starting to take on the challenge of commercialization. As a result, the companies we speak to are often just starting to think about their marketing messages, strategies and about their brand. Moving from R&D to Commercialization is a complete shift for company leaders. Their entire way of thinking about their business needs to change. Where they once had to worry about the viability of their technology, they now need to think about sales. Where they once obsessed about the market potential for their killer tech, they now need to thing about a go-to-market strategy.
That’s where we come in.
Inerjys knows that this mindset shift is not easy, and works closely with its portfolio companies to address any and all of the commercial challenges. And sometimes, that involves branding. And a brand is so much more than a logo. A brand encompasses the company logo and visual identity, but when done well, also includes the key messages about your company, the tone and manner of your communications, and even how someone greets a potential customer when answering the phone. A strong corporate brand/identity goes hand in hand with sustainable sales and growth.
Take Still Good for example. Still Good is a local start-up and Inerjys portfolio company whose goal is to reduce food waste, by creating delicious snacks made with upcycled ingredients. We recently worked closely with Still Good to help them define their brand, product packaging and messaging. We knew that the quality of the brand could make the difference between a product that flies off the shelves and a failed start-up. And if that sounds exaggerated, ask yourself about how you made your last buying decision at the pharmacy, presented with a wall of similar products only differentiated by their colors, wording, and visual appeal. Still Good will be launching its new brand and packaging in Montreal stores mid-June. But I’ve included a before and after to give you a little taste of what’s to come.
The brand now includes a brand story focused on the importance of upcycling quality food ingredients and the ability to source locally and prevent food waste on a local and regional level. The packaging now also has more food appeal, showcasing colorful ingredients on a recycled cardboard box. These are critical differentiating factors – and central to Still Good’s branding and future growth (additional markets, specialized food products).
Inerjys is not an advertising agency, nor are we consultants. We do however go above and beyond what a typical VC offers by bringing our expertise to the table on day one (sometimes even before). It all starts with identifying which levers will make the biggest impact to the bottom line as our portfolio companies get ready to take on the commercialization hurdle.
About Mickael Kanfi:
Mickael Kanfi founded Twist Image, what grew to become one of Canada’s largest Digital Marketing Agencies, acquired by WPP in 2014. Mick was Executive Creative Director at Twist Image for over 8 years, and has worked with fortune 500 brands in developing their annual communications plans, marketing strategies and shepherding them through their digital transformations. Mickael is now COO at Inerjys, playing a hybrid role as Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) with its portfolio companies, and as CMO when the hat fits.