"What I've Learned from Users: Branding, Focus, and Listening"


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 05, 2023

4 min read


"What I've Learned from Users: Branding, Focus, and Listening"

When it comes to startups, there are common problems that many founders face. It's surprising how these problems remain the same regardless of the industry or product they are working on. What's even more surprising is how often founders are unaware of their own problems. They may come in to discuss one issue, only for us to discover a much bigger problem in the course of our conversation. It's not that founders are oblivious to their problems, but rather they may not fully understand the relative importance of each issue.

One of the biggest surprises we've encountered is how often founders don't listen to us. This can be attributed to the counterintuitive nature of the startup world. When we share something that goes against conventional wisdom, it often sounds wrong to founders. They simply don't believe us until they gain firsthand experience that proves otherwise.

However, focus is crucial for early stage startups, especially since founders are often the only ones working on the multitude of problems they face. At YC, we aim to help founders determine which problems matter the most and come up with actionable ideas to solve them. The key is to focus on action with measurable, near-term results. Speed is what defines startups, and focus enables that speed. YC plays a significant role in improving focus among founders.

YC is not just about experienced founders passing on their knowledge. It's more like a specialized environment that fosters growth and learning. The knowledge of YC partners and the founders themselves have different shapes, and when combined, they create a unique and valuable ecosystem. However, one of the most important aspects of YC is the opportunity for founders to connect with their colleagues. The advice and guidance from partners are valuable, but having a supportive network of like-minded individuals can be even more crucial for success.

When it comes to branding, it's essential to consider how you describe your product or company. The positioning model, which includes positioning, customer benefit, and personality, serves as a foundation for your brand definition. It's crucial to use clear and concise language that is easily understandable by consumers. People are busy and don't have time to parse complicated ideas, so simplicity is key.

The brand pyramid expands on the positioning model by adding two additional elements: aspiration and emotion. Defining the personality of your product is crucial in determining how you want your brand to relate to customers. Emotion plays a significant role in making products memorable, so it's important to acknowledge and incorporate it into your brand framework.

Additionally, thinking about the bigger impact your product can have on the world is essential. Consider how your product could dent the universe and make a lasting impact. This long-term vision can inspire your team to build a great product and company over time. Take Apple, for example, which delivers revolutionary innovation, or Nike, which enables customers to fulfill their full human potential. These brands have a clear vision of their larger purpose and inspire their customers.

To ensure the success of your branding efforts, it's important to test and iterate. Conducting A/B tests, focus groups, and surveys can provide valuable insights and feedback from consumers. By continuously refining and improving your brand, you can better connect with your target audience and meet their needs effectively.

In conclusion, there are valuable lessons to be learned from users, whether it's understanding common problems faced by startups, the importance of focus, or the significance of branding. Three actionable pieces of advice to take away from this article:

  • 1. Listen to your users: They can provide valuable insights and uncover hidden problems that you may not be aware of.
  • 2. Focus on action and measurable results: Prioritize the most important problems and come up with quick solutions to test and iterate.
  • 3. Create a strong brand: Clearly define your positioning, customer benefit, and personality. Incorporate emotion and consider the bigger impact your product can have on the world.

By incorporating these advice into your startup journey, you can increase your chances of success and build a strong foundation for your business. Remember, startups are about continuous learning and improvement, so stay open to feedback and adapt as needed.

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