You’re Funded. Should You Focus More on Product Design or Brand Design?

This article is the second part in a series we’ve developed to help product teams answer a critical question: To bring a product to life, should you start with product brand or product design? Read part one to see how pre-seed startups might answer this question, and listen to this Better Product podcast conversation to go deeper. 

Unlocking more funds to grow your company is a huge step forward. When you reach Series A and beyond, you have more exposure to more people who are backing not only your growth, but the evolution of your product.

At this point, you’ve likely answered and made key decisions around starting with product design versus product brand. But the truth is, that core dilemma never disappears; it simply becomes a question of what you should prioritize at each stage of your growth.

Remember The Pendulum

As we explored in part one, pure startups have a lot more to answer when deciding where to start. In many cases, product brand is where startup leaders will want to begin to build hype and create those key first relationships.

Let’s revisit an example we gave in part one: Pitch. When Pitch launched in 2018, the company started with a brand that communicated their clear & original vision of reinventing the PowerPoint presentation. Pitch shared this vision on a splash page that garnered early interest and that convinced the first users to wait for the product reveal.

In Series A and beyond, you have more opportunity to get specific with your product design. This is the time to look back at what you’ve accomplished and synthesize what you’ve learned; it’s the moment to swing the pendulum back to the other side. Ideally, as Christian shares on the podcast, you will always be trading between the two focuses rather than doing them in parallel.

Invest In Talent

Making strides in both areas, product brand and product design, will lead to growth. At a certain point, you need to get a perspective on this growth from people who weren’t with you at the beginning.

As you unlock more funds, seek out talent beyond your founding team. If you leaned into product brand in the early stages, leverage your matured brand and acquired capital to hire the best product designers and product managers you can find.

The right hires will create momentum for the development of your actual product, creating what Christian calls a “moat” around your company. Even if you’re in a competitive space where other companies have strong brands, propelling your product design will cement the vision you hope to create as reality.

Leverage The Trust You’ve Earned

Advancements in product brand and product design take work. To make the right move, you have to know what those supporting you actually want. You need to devote time and money for research.

Why? User insights are everything. If you haven’t invested in research to this point, now is the time. This process can go two ways: You can hire researchers for your company, or leverage your current team to get insights from where you’ve already established strong relationships.

Christian offers this example: Robinhood, the popular app that pitched itself as a way to make stock trading accessible to everyone, rebranded before it went public. But the brand didn’t shift in a big way; instead, the company evolved its brand and cemented itself as a tool for Millennials and Gen Z looking to get into finance.

Summary

In every stage of your business, the goal should be the same: to build an amazing product. No matter where you are in your development, lean into what the moment requires to bring your vision to life. Then, take a pause to learn and make adjustments. The growth will follow.

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