29 September 2020

The Minimum Viable Brand (MVB) Playbook For B2B SaaS

A playbook that will enable you to test your hypothesis a lot faster and with more confidence. You'll learn:

  • Why you need to start with a shared purpose
  • What elements to include in a proposition
  • How to find your voice, look, and feel
  • Where to use your MVB

Develop a great brand in a minimum of time to successfully launch!

The first mistake when you have an idea is to make an MVP right away, and realize 6 months later it wasn't a good idea.

But the word is spreading around that you should test your idea with a landing page first.

Yes, it's great advice... But only if you have the right process!

A good landing page will help you validate that your idea makes sense. That it is solving the right problem, for the right customers, in a way you can beat the competition with.

But how do you proceed?

Start with a Minimum Viable Brand.

Pre-requisites: Research

You want to create a brand your customers can relate to and is different from the competition.

You absolutely cannot do this work without research!

Yes, it's a minimum viable brand and you shouldn't take as much time as a whole branding project. But it doesn't mean you can pass on research.

Here is the minimum amount of research you have to do.

  • What is your ideal customer? If you want a vibrant brand, you need to cater to a specific audience. I've got an article on the identification of your ideal customer: Potential Customer vs Ideal Customer.

  • What makes your competition unique? Go look at your competitors' websites and find out what differentiators they use.

  • How do your potential customers feel? You should do at least 10 interviews to start your research. Use my guide to get to know their emotions: How To Start Jobs-To-Be-Done In Practice Within The Hour.

Step 1: Finding a shared purpose

Once you have done the research, you can start on the actual MVB.

But don't do it alone!

Do a workshop with all the leaders that are affected by this project. That means the C-suite managers, co-founders, heads of departments, etc.

Everyone in the workshop should be accustomed to the research that was done.

And the first element to define is the shared purpose.

The shared purpose is something that will keep everyone in the company going day after day. It gives you a way forward. It guides your actions. It embodies the vision, strategy, and culture.

  • What are your values? I'm not talking about the value of your product but the values you believe in. Don't use single words like "openness" or "simplicity". Find something that has more weight like "Doubling down on simple and straightforward".

  • What is the outcome you and your customers are working toward together? The purpose is shared between your company and the customers. That's why you need to identify what outcome is shared.

  • Write your shared purpose. The shared purpose is something that comes out of what your company does, its values, and the outcome shared with the customers. It becomes the brand DNA, its essence. Be specific and concise when you write it.

Step 2: Articulate a proposition

The second element of the MVB is the proposition. Here we are looking at how the company is delivering its value.

The proposition is made to an ideal customer (WHO) to solve a problem (WHAT) with a solution (HOW).

Of course, you need to make it appealing. You can't talk about any problem or solution to your potential customers. It needs to be anchored to their emotions.

  • What is an expensive problem you solve? The idea that sparked the creation of a product probably came from one or multiple problems. And the research will point you to the problem your customers are ready to pay a lot to solve.

  • What distinguishes your company? What makes you unique? If you analyzed your competitors and interview enough potential customers, you should have a pretty good idea. Find unmet customer needs and your key differentiators will appear.

  • Write a positioning statement. Combine the expensive problem and the main differentiator to make a great positioning statement.

Here's a typical example you can use to write your statement.

{{Product Name}} is a {{Category}} helping {{Target Market}} with {{Expensive Problem}}. Unlike our competitors, {{Key Differentiator}}.

Step 3: Define your messaging

The shared purpose and proposition are elements that are mostly used internally.

The messaging is the visible part.

It defines how you are going to be communicating about them.

  • How should your voice be? When researching your ideal customer, you should try to understand the voice they are looking for. Do they want something very corporate, something friendly?

  • What do they care about the most? From the interviews that you've done before starting the process, you will have gathered a lot of insights on customers' pains, gains, and their needs. Find similarities and group them into the values of your customers.

  • Write your mission statement. At this point, you should be able to write your mission statement. It's the tagline of your homepage that encompasses the shared purpose, the proposition, and the values of your customers written in the right voice.

Step 4: Design your customer experience

The last step to finish the initial MVB is to apply all the elements you created so far to the customer experience.

Of course, at this point, you might not have much of an experience.

But you should be able to create style guides and systems based on your shared purpose, proposition, and messaging.

  • Clear and consistent communication. Use your messaging to keep every piece of the customer experience consistent.

  • Create a visual system. Find the colors, fonts, logo, images, and components that communicate your identity best. All the prior work help tremendously, so you should leave this step after you did the others. Don't start with the visual!

  • Your interface is your brand. How many times I am deceived by a great marketing site and an underwhelming product interface. Your product is a part of your customer experience and brand and should be carefully designed.

Step 5: Iterate

The minimum viable brand is just the start.

The next step is to test your hypothesis with a landing page.

And then refine your communication.

  • Talk to more customers. Once you have an initial MVB and started to work on the MVP, go back to the pre-requisites, refine your ideal customer profile, interview more potential customers, and improve your brand and product iteratively.

Use It Everywhere

Your newly created MVB will help tremendously when talking to customers, collaborators, partners, and investors.

It aligns everyone with a consistent brand. And everything you do is crystal clear:

  • Pitch decks

  • Landing pages

  • Emails

  • Sales calls

  • Onboarding

  • Product microcopy

  • About page

  • etc

Examples

Asana uses words like "empowering" and "humanity" to show their values through the shared purpose.

The about page expands on the values but carefully choosing your words in your statements will generate the right emotions to your customers right away.

Drift likes to create product categories as their mission statements. Right now, the new category is "Revenue Acceleration Platform".

It's a great way to be totally distinct from the competition and crystallize your mission in just a couple of words.

But categories are defined by customers, not brands. And it is really hard to make customers remember a new product category.

Don't do that for an MVB.

Templates

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I write weekly marketing & growth playbooks. Get the processes I use with my clients to identify bottlenecks, deflate churn rates, and optimize conversion.