Brand Building for the Modern Day Crowdfunder

Apple, Nike, Starbucks, and Armani. Logos, colors, fonts, and graphics.

No, the above list isn’t the beginning to the stupidest remake of the song Royals ever (OK, actually that might be kind of funny). These are the types of things most people think of when they ponder: What is a brand? But last week, we discovered that a great crowdfunding brand is really a well-told story.  (see part 1 of our 4-part series “How to Crowdfund Like a Marketer.”)

In this post, we’ll go over some key points to help you craft a core message and brand story and how these relate to content, design, and communication decisions for your crowdfunding campaign.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Core Message

Much like a good film, album, or work of art has a clear central premise, a memorable brand has a clear core message. Translation: You should be able to explain your message in one to two sentences.

Why so brief? Because you’re going to say it over and over again (on your campaign’s website, on your social media and in your day-to-day interactions with people you meet), and because short and snappy means memorable.

Here are some common approaches to brand core-messaging to help give you some ideas for your own:

The Explorer

“I’m making this film because I want to explore how my two greatest loves affect one another –– ice cream and cows.”

The Believer

“I’m creating this low-cost, water filtration system because I believe everyone should have access to clean drinking water.”

The Minimalist

“Loyalty. The songs in this album are about loyalty to another person vs. loyalty to the self.”

The Philosopher

“My clothing line is all about my simple philosophy: beauty and comfort should go together.

Step 2: Find Your Story

Memorable stories usually have a relatable protagonist we want to root for, a few bumps along the road and a trajectory that he/she is moving toward. Your brand’s story will most likely be a lot better if it has these exact same elements.

There’s no single right way to come up with a story for your crowdfunding brand. Depending on who you are, the nature of your project and how it came to be, there are many approaches you can take. The following are some ideas to help you come up with a protagonist, which will help you craft a great story for your brand.

You Are The Protagonist. Does your project relate to the “theme” of your life in various ways? Is the story of how you came up with the idea for said project particularly interesting or unusual? If so, you might benefit from making yourself the protagonist of your brand.

This means summarizing the story of how your project relates to your life. In essence, you want to prove to the reader/listener that *you* are the most qualified person to bring this idea into the world. Like any good protagonist, be forthright about the obstacles you’ve encountered bringing your project to life. And clearly explain how accomplishing your project is in alignment with your overall trajectory in life.

Someone Else Is The Protagonist. Your great-grandfather Ebenezer. Your dog Skippy –– sometimes it just makes more sense for someone else to be the protagonist. If you’re project was strongly inspired by someone else, consider building a story around them.

Imagine you’re inventing a new line of dog toys that are super durable. You got this idea after seeing Skippy tear the stuffing out of his favorite toy for the 18th time! Consider telling the brand story from Skippy’s perspective. If the dog could talk, what would he say?

“I get so excited whenever my owner John brings home a new stuffed animal! But I don’t realize how strong I am and end up tearing my new toy to pieces every time. It’s a bummer. I’ve lost 18 of my favorite toys this way.”

A story like this makes your crowdfunding brand a lot more fun and interesting than just saying, “Hey, I invented a new line of dog-proof toys.” Right?

Invent a Protagonist. What if what you’re doing now doesn’t at all relate to what you’ve done before? Consider *inventing* a protagonist. Big name companies do it all the time: Geico with its lizard. Kate Spade with its “traveling girl.” The apparel brand Hollister went so far as to create a completely fictitious founding story around the character “John Hollister.”

Making a film? Why not pull out the main character and pitch the entire campaign from his/her perspective! Get creative.

Step 3: Translate Your Brand Into Content

You have your core message. You have your brand story. Now, it’s time to begin constructing your content, which we’ll organize into 2 categories: Visual and Verbal.

Visual Content

This is what creative agencies call brand identity. Put simply, it’s the fun stuff like logos, layouts, colors, typography, animations etc. You may be wondering, how much effort do I need to put into visuals? The answer: As much or as little as you like. Work with the budget you have, but whether you’re going the DIY-route or you’re hiring a professional designer, carefully manage the project to ensure visual choices made are in alignment with your core message and brand story.

Verbal Content

Verbal content includes any written or spoken communication required for your campaign. Possible areas requiring content include: Sales pages, video scripts, social media updates, and blog posts. Things to consider:

Keep your communication simple and clear.
Approach communication like you are talking to an old friend.
Weave your core message and brand story into everything you do.

Follow the three aforementioned steps and you’re well on your way to branding a successful crowdfunding campaign.

This is the second part of a four-part series on how creatives can build successful crowdfunding campaigns by leveraging direct response marketing techniques. In part three, we discuss exactly how to build a community that LOVES what you’re doing and can’t wait to hear from you.

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