Brand Positioning

Karrie Sanderson (Typeform)

Growth Summit 2022

How to position your brand to increase conversions and affinity.



[00:00:00] Ian Martins: Welcome everyone. Very excited to be back after a short break. Today, we're gonna be talking about brand and positioning, particularly in context of startups. And we're very lucky to have two great speakers with us today. We've got Leila Kashani who is the founder and CEO of Alleyoop. The brand is her love letter to smart self-care, and every one of our category-changing products are designed to help women get time back for whatever matters to them.

And we also have Karrie Sanderson here with us, who's the Chief Marketing Officer at Typeform, leading all core marketing functions including brand strategy, advertising, demand generation, product marketing, viral,SEO, and the Typeform website amongst some of some other things as well. So lots of of context, experience and value to share with all of you today on the topic of brand and positioning.

So I wanna push you all, If you have questions, please pop those into the Q&A section. You're welcome to chat along with one another under the chat for this particular section. And without further ado, let's get started with a softball question. I'm just kidding.

Why is brand important for startups to think about particularly early on in their journey? I think I've had a lot of the conversations among a lot startups that didn't think at all about brand until maybe raising some money or what have you. And then it's a lot of work to go backwards and do some of that.

Why is it important for them to think about it and how might they approach thinking about their brand at very early stage? And maybe if Karrie, if you want to start off today and then Leila you also share your perspective as well.

[00:01:55] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah, I think whether or not you know it, whatever you're doing you're building your brand.

Everything you do from the first way decisions you make about the product, the design where you're offering, whether you call it brand or not, you are doing that because brand is just what people think of you and what they say about you when you're not in the room. If you're intentional about it and you think about how do I wanna show up?

Where am I going for the long term on this both inside the product and outside the product, whatever you're building, how does that all connect across all the different channels? It's a lot easier to do it intentionally from the beginning. Then it is to try to reverse engineer that in the end.

So it doesn't have to be complicated, it doesn't have to be but really just thinking about the intentionality of how I wanna show up from the very beginning, I think is why it's important. And either that or your customers will decide for you what your brand is.

[00:02:54] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah, I would totally agree with that.

I think for the way that I think about brand. It's your company's North Star. When you're thinking about making a decision, should I develop this or not? Does this make sense or not? Everything points back to that question, that mission statement that your North Star, what the brand means to you, and then making decisions along the way become much easier, and that more cohesive your products and your messaging and everything.

You're really defining the brand and your why becomes very easy for people to regurgitate back to you because you've been so clear on defining it through your development of the brand.

[00:03:34] Karrie Sanderson: And I think that, I love that too, because there's a big part of one of the hardest things to do when you're starting something up is deciding what not to do, especially if you're in that mode of

I'm building and I'm trying to finance this thing as I go along. And, oh, there's that cool opportunity over there. It's tempting, but if you have that intentionality in your head and you've written down that North Star or Wise is used, you said Leila it makes it lot easier to decide what not to do, so you can focus on the thing that you started in the first place and why you decided to do that in the first.

[00:04:10] Ian Martins: I think brand oftentimes for startup founders, particularly if they aren't, don't come necessarily from a marketing background. Maybe they come from an engineering background or a product background can sometimes feel a little ephemeral, right? It can be a little gray.

It's hard to understand what brand, like what is a brand anyway. It's what am I trying to define? What decisions am I making? Do you have any maybe questions that you start off trying to ask yourself to help get the process going with defining what the brand is like when someone's asked the founder, what is your brand like, what types of questions should they have answers for?

[00:04:47] Karrie Sanderson: Go for it, Leila.

[00:04:48] Ian Martins: Either one. Yeah, either one of you.

[00:04:50] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah. I'll jump in here. I think there's a clear difference in my mind of what you're solving as a problem, which is not just, that doesn't stand alone as your brand. There's a problem and solution, which every company should have. That's how you are. You have a problem that you wanna solve and that you're creating some kind of service product efficiency to be able to provide that for this problem.

Now, that is just creating a company in my mind. Creating a brand is having a mission, is having a why, and that is like what wakes you up in the morning? What gets you excited about it? Why, What are you actually trying to change and do differently? And so knowing that is very different than talking about your problem.

Cause you can sit here all day and I can say, Oh, there's too many beauty products and oh there's a lack of efficiency in the space. And those are all problems that I'm working to solve. But I'm really trying to solve is like moving the world forward, giving people their time back.

That's like a big mission and that is almost so big that it's unattainable and that's when you really build a brand. And I think if you look at companies that have made history. Think different, right? We all know that if they're not talking about making your phone more efficient or making technology, easy in the palm of your hands, it's not that it's much bigger.

Think different is stands alone, but it's it means so much more to you and it is halos into the problem in the solution. .

[00:06:17] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. I also think there's if you're a startup or a founder and you're thinking like, what? But how do I articulate that? A lot of that can be found in your origin story.

Like, why did you decide to do this in the first place? If you were, when you were thinking about the idea, like what inspired you what unneed, unmet need was out there that you were trying to solve and why? What's gonna be different about your customer's experience in the end and not just the product and features.

It's like the origin story is something that you can find a lot of inspiration for in that brand and how it's has nothing to do with exactly how you built it. It's the why you built it. That will come from to your point, it's not the thing, it's the why, it's the purpose and really thinking through.

To me the other piece is who is this for? And who is this not for? Like really getting clear on that will also help you as you think about your brand articulation, because then you're like what do those people care about? And how am I gonna present to them in a way that that they're gonna want this?

So it's I think there's a lot of the why there that you can dig into if you're trying to articulate what your brand is and be intentional.

[00:07:29] Leila Kashani Manshoory: On a meaningful level, what the brand means, totally. I totally agree with that. I think that knowing your mission state your reason is to why your story, your origin story, and picking that apart and figuring out what's a meaningful thing that happened that in that situation.

And one of the things that is really interesting and Karrie why I'm so excited to share the panel with you is when we were, when I first started Alleyoop, I had this idea of why I was doing it, but I wasn't sure if the world wanted what I had to offer. And we had a small following of a email list of about like 10,000 people who were interested in the cool products we were making.

And I was like as this brand develops into what it's gonna make next, and really honing in on this mission and making sure it's what everybody wants, I went to Typeform and I sent an email out to my 10,000 customers at the time, and I asked them a bunch of questions to make sure what I was putting out was being picked up and it was resonating and there was some things that changed, like some, one of my first products I made for Mix Fox and Touch-Up for shaving, and the community was like, We don't wanna use it for Mix Fox and Touch-Up.

We wanna use it for everyday use. So I had to go back and reengineer. And so your mission statement will evolve and get more clear as the company comes to market and that's okay. It's a little scary, but sometimes, in my mind what was efficient to me is not as efficient to everybody else. And how do I really take into consideration my customers and balance the development of my products and my mission based off of what people actually want?

[00:09:08] Karrie Sanderson: I love that. First of all, I didn't realize that you were a customer, so thank you, first of all. I love that. And the other piece I was gonna say is, and you're not, sometimes I think folks that are in that founder entrepreneur mindset, they're so used to doing everything themselves. Don't forget about the customer you're building for, ask them questions.

Let them come along in the journey with you and test it with them and test it out. Some at dinner parties or, but again, that's why you have to know who you're for, because then you can ask those people what do they want? Am I getting off track? Am I on the right track? Help me do this.

That input is such a gift, not no matter what stage you're at in your business, whether you're just getting started or you've been around for a long time, you should always be looking for that signal. And in giving them a way to give you that feedback and then really thinking about it and how that either strengthens areas that are working or gives you a chance to tweak what you may need to do differently with your product, your messaging any part of that out there that will help you continue to grow and thrive.

[00:10:15] Ian Martins: It can sometimes be challenging to sift through feedback and response and surveys to find the signal through the noise.

How do you think about either, what are some specific questions that you think are very high signal that you would consistently ask your people who are either aware of your brand or are customers of your brand. How do you think about that, about parsing that out and making sure that the details that you're paying attention to are ones that you really want to wanna pay attention to.

[00:10:50] Karrie Sanderson: For me, I think it obviously depends, First of all, how you ask, which I would've, I would say that because you know that Typeform is built around that. That was the disruptive insight that our founders had around that kind of wall.

One way form experience, that there's a different way that you can do this to make it more human and bring humanity to the digital world. So how you ask matters, and we know that ourselves, but then think about, specifically what you're asking about. So it depends upon where you are in your journey.

If you're trying to figure out why did a customer buy from you. Ask them like, how did you find us? Don't just assume it was some last touch conversion on your website. They may have heard about you through social along the way, or if you've delivered a piece of content or something educational, cool to them, take a minute to ask them What did you think?

What did you expect? Did this give you all the answers you were looking for? What's left unanswered? Just be really curious to borrow from Ted Lasso. Just be curious, right? And at different points along the journey as you're building your business, you're gonna have different things that you're gonna need to be focusing on building on and get them right along the way and connect them and you're gonna ask different questions depending upon

where you are and where your customer is in that process I think. Your current customers are gonna tell you something very different than the folks that you're trying to tell your story to and get as customers.

[00:12:18] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah. I asked, I think we asked, so like we have a community of now 300, I don't know.

300 plus people that we talk to every day about a product that we're trying to develop and what they think, and I remember early on having to get really good at asking questions in a way that I wasn't guiding the answer. Leaving it really open ended and letting them come back to me.

But always when you are thinking about the question, think about are you prompting an answer that's gonna be what you think it is, and if so, then you're not asking the right question because you wanna let them guide you. That's the point of the question. So I remember in the very early days I was trying to find out what brands people were using in my space.

Like how can I ask them this? If I ask them this, they're gonna tell. The brands that they're most proud of to show off to the other people in the chat, so I can't ask them directly. Instead, I'm gonna ask them to send me a picture of their favorite eyeshadow palette. And the intention was to find out the brand.

But when I started getting pictures of the eyeshadow palettes, they weren't showing me the brand, actually. They were opening them up and showing me the inside and what I saw in that moment completely changed the next product that we developed. I realized that people were not touching more than one to two colors in these like huge eyeshadow palettes.

And I was blown away about how much waste was happening by that. And I was, that shocked me more, I forgot about my question about what brands they were using. I decided to develop eyeshadow sticks that eliminated all that waste. And I used the colors that they were touching pan on getting to the end of, to develop those color.

So having your questions be open-ended many times will help guide and like creativity or a new direction or more insight that adds more value than you can imagine.

[00:14:08] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. That and pay attention. And when you get those things back, it's easy to look and say, Okay, this confirms what I thought.

But to your point, pay attention to the outliers. Pay attention to the signal that's coming from some of the other ones there. There's an important signal there to either decide to do something about or not, but I agree. I think that's right. Be is open ended. Try not to lead the witness a little bit if you can.

And then just, thank people for their feedback. They wanna know that even if you don't use it, that's closing that loop. And then going back and saying, I listened to you, this is what we did differently. It's a conversation. It's an ongoing conversation. If you look at your customers as humans who are there and want to have a conversation, they want to become vested.

They're looking for someone in a company and a brand to, to have a relationship with. It's so hard to build these days that when you do it well, you will stand out. So closing that loop when you ask the question, even if you don't take their feedback, Thank them for that. Whether, however that looks it, it takes a moment, but it leaves such a strong impression that they'll come back if they're not right for you. Then if, when they are,

[00:15:20] Leila Kashani Manshoory: I'd also like to add that I think the biggest regret that I have about starting my business, the most expensive mistake I ever made was asking just friends and family, because they'll be nice, they'll tell you what you wanna hear. Or you know there's so much more information out there from people who are not friends and family even.

They were like, they were testing my products and they would only tell me what they loved, never told me what they hated going a circle or two or three out using Reddit, using other programs to get people. If you don't have people, people love to get feedback and the further out they are, the more honest they'll be.

[00:15:57] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah.

[00:15:59] Ian Martins: So on the path for a startup as they're developing their brand or kind of figuring out their why they're getting this feedback to help guide them. At what point do you think it makes sense for them to formalize the brand, maybe bring in an agency or a consultant to help with a brand deck and start to put a little bit more pen to paper or doing it internally like what's the right stage to start to lock some of these things?

[00:16:29] Karrie Sanderson: I'll let you answer that,Leila . I'll start cause I, Yeah I'll explain why in a minute.

[00:16:36] Leila Kashani Manshoory: For us, what we initially launched a brand under a different brand. We got sidetracked by a really shiny retailer who loved one of my products and wanted to take everything in store. And having my background be in that brand building, it was a really hard decision.

Do I tell them no and focus on building the brand or do I leave with product first? I made the mistake and led with product first because it was a shiny object of a retailer, and then I had to go back and spend time afterwards fixing the brand and really developing a brand that told the bigger story.

And so what I would say is definitely do it. Once you figure out what your North Star is. Once you figure out why you're doing it in your problem and your solution, you can get really clear on developing your brand name and your colors. Like for us with Alleyoop, if everything that I'm developing is meant for you to go and make, life more, live a better life and be more efficient, and I wanna make sure that you're getting back to the things that matter.

Then what is an Alleyoop? An Alleyoop is when someone throws you ball and you score. I want you to score in life. So like the brand name spell perfectly into the space of what we were trying to achieve. But if I didn't have my why, my problem and solution figured out first, right? I would be working backwards. And when I launched with just the product first, it was like, okay, I developed this cause I was solving just a problem, but on a higher level there was so much more that I was doing, but I was so lost in the weeds of the product that the brand name had nothing to do with what the bigger mission.

And so if it's the product you're focusing on, you're not ready yet. If it's at a level of which you know what your overall goal is and why, what's gonna come next on some level and what you wanna achieve, that's when it's time to really bring in that branding agency or do it in house. Like everything that you think of will help you determine which way to go.

So even our brand color, primary being red, right? I ask myself if I wanna change the beauty industry, what's the one color that's never been seen in the beauty? , so like picking the color became so easy because I knew that I wanted to, I already had my why, really clearly figured out. And so picking red was like against everyone's recommendation, , but it was so outside of the space that it made so much sense. It was just an easy yes.

[00:19:05] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. I would agree there like going back to that again, your question in some way, the way it's framed, like by formalizing the brand. Of course you need to have your logo and you need to have your colors and all that kind of stuff. But to me that's just an expression.

It's one element of an expression of what happens when you have your brand determined. And then it's around consistency of application across all your channels. I love the example that you gave. . If you don't know your why, then how are you going to determine how that's gonna show up?

Whether that's your packaging, whether that's your messaging, how are you gonna behave differently on social? All these different channels that you may have. How might you run an event if your brand is a certain way or not? Like those decisions will be by nature if you don't have that essence of who you are.

and why people, what is your why? You'll make decisions around shiny objects that don't connect and they break trust. They don't build trust like people are want to do business with people, with brands they trust. And a huge part of trust building is consistency, consistent. Consistent. Consistent. We as humans, we trust people that show up consistently in a consistent way with us. And that's true also for companies and brands if you're consistent. The other thing I would say about brands is, It's super easy to get bored with your own messaging because you're like, Oh, we've been doing this for a year.

Let's change it up. Don't do that because your customers are not bored, because they are confronted every day with thousands of other brands and thousands of better decisions. And the more consistent you can be in what you say you're for, what you do for them, why you do it, how you show up with your tone of voice, with your experience that you give across all those channel.

Don't look at that as like a bad thing. That's a great thing from your customer's point of view. So if you're getting feedback from them, this is where that feedback loop comes in. If you're off a little bit, they'll tell you. But if you're switching it up all the time, they'll be like, I have no idea what this brand stands for.

I'm gonna look for something else. So it's so tempting because especially sales people wanna get really creative Ooh, something new and cool and different. It's because they're bored. . But that is, that's the enemy of the brand is internal. Internal restlessness.

[00:21:31] Ian Martins: Yeah. No, I was gonna say I would actually love to double click on that consistency.

In startup land it's the land of MVP and get to market and test and iterate and experiment. How do you balance the consistency on the brand with allowing for experimentation and testing and iterating and all of that? How do you try to marry those two, what can seem like opposites?

[00:21:59] Karrie Sanderson: To me it's, if you have that why define like the why you decided to build something in the first place and you're getting that customer feedback then hopefully you're iterating what you're doing based on that feedback. And you're saying like, Oh, we heard you, we made this change. We we rolled that back because you didn't like it.

Whatever. That, hopefully that doesn't happen. But just those ideas of. When you've been consistent, when you've built that trust, when you've taken people's input, when you do make a misstep, they're more likely to forgive you. They're more likely to say, Okay, got it. Thanks for being open and, of course correcting or that type of thing.

But it gives you some room to explore within that umbrella. Now, of course, if you realize after a long time, after a certain period of time that whatever you're trying to build is just, there's not that product market fit, then you may need to start over. That's a whole different conversation.

But if you're pretty certain about what you're building, just that input, as we were talking about earlier, is so critical. . As long as what, why you're making a change is based on what your market and your customers are telling you, and that it should not be an issue.

[00:23:15] Leila Kashani Manshoory: I think there's also a really clear difference between internal message and external message.

So when you're, you have your why, obviously you put that on your website, your North Star, it lives everywhere. It's important to you. But as I think back to the pandemic, right when that was happening, our, the way we marketed was everyone's decluttering here, make your vanity and everything more efficient, right?

But before it was everything you need to travel like. So your messaging and your marketing are two different things. Your why stays the same, right? But your messaging can continue to evolve. Your marketing messaging continue to evolve with what's happening and all of that. it's just another layer of communication.

It doesn't mean anything's changing along the way, but what you're, what you might be saying to get your messaging out, your why out might not resonate. And that you can continue to evolve based off of times, based off of market fit trends, how people are, understanding that information.

And that might continue to change very, like a lot more often than you want even every email might be different, but the root of it is back to. .

[00:24:26] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. Your why and you're messaging, positioning that you're right, that should stay, but you're copy, but that's not copy . Yeah. That's not effective ad or marketing copy.

That's a whole different thing, but it informs it so that you show up as the same each time in terms of who you are underneath. Yeah. , That's a great point.

[00:24:47] Ian Martins: How do you think about cause you know, I think there's quite a bit of nuance and differences between brands and positioning.

How do you think of those two and what they mean to you and how you think about.

[00:25:05] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Do you want go? I'll go on this one. So for me, the positioning is the who, the what, the where, the how, not the why. , It's all those other things. Who's the customer? What are we providing, for like we're, it's everyone looking for efficiency. It's for the non beauty experts. These are all things that don't live in my why.

It's for creating efficiency and multifunctional to cut down the clutter. It's to go against what traditional brands are doing. It's to simplify your routine. It's for this demographic. It's for. You're getting really specific with your positioning.

With your why. It becomes, it's very much your unattainable, right?

It's not gonna lead your marketing direction and who you target on Facebook and who you target on Instagram. It's gonna just be the overarching halo you know how you're trying to change the world per se, and that is the difference. Your positioning is more tactical. It guides your direction on product development, marketing, and all of that, which your mission will do too, but your mission lives a little further away and it's a little bit more of a magic trick, something that you might never see again.

[00:26:21] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. It's interesting cause I like that way that you frame that like for us, our brand promise is bring people in, right? Like it, It's like no matter where Typeform is literally designed to bring people in more closely in a digital conversation. But the positioning of that and how we articulate that to different audience changes depending upon the audience.

If we're talking to somebody who's using it with employees, it's slightly different versus if we're talking to somebody who's using us for lead gen or for research and there's like these layers. But in every case, like we know at our core, what Typeform does is bring people a little bit closer by we've designed it that way, right?

To bring in and invite that feedback and create that conversation. And so that doesn't change. That's the brand essence of the brand. But then, so everything we do, whether it's how somebody in customer service answers a call or how our website is flows, or, how might we show up at an event like inviting and it's it just informs and it's this, we have examples, this not that, you know how we show up then when you know who you're positioning against and who your target is, and we've been around for 10 years.

We're pretty big company, so we've got different target audiences you can think about for each one of those, what the value that your product brings. So a little bit further away from startup but having understanding that who you are and then bring people in was part of the origin story. So it's go back to that again.

Like, why did the founders do that? It's there's gotta be a better way form that's like a one way wall that who wants to answer this thing and I'm never gonna get quality information. And so it all ties together and it seems hard but don't try to do it yourself. Let your customers inform you, not your friends and family, to your point, , but let the people that you're trying, that you think your product is for, let them help you articulaten of them.

[00:28:21] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah. I think the mission also is to remember it never has to do with the product, right? So Alley's mission is to assist you in making moves in your life, assist you in making moves in your life. It also ties back to the name Alleyoop. I always try to carry things through, but it has nothing to do.

Make moves in your life and in the world has nothing to do with the product. I don't talk about it being beauty. I don't talk about it being efficient. It's just make moves in your life and in the world, the positioning really focuses on what it is that you're and who you're targeting. So that's where you get more specific Yeah.

[00:28:53] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. Bring people in. Exactly. It doesn't say it's a form, but it's a digital interaction layer, whatever you wanna call it, forms.

[00:29:02] Ian Martins: Yeah. Something that I come across quite a bit when speaking with startups is this idea of investing in brands, and

Should I invest more brand, should I not invest Warren brand? And I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding perhaps of what that means. Particularly how you've both been speaking about what brand is, and it can be misconstrued with like awareness, investing in awareness versus direct response or performance or what have you.

I'd love to maybe talk about, for a startup in particular, obviously there's a temptation to invest in things that generate revenue, right? It's very easy to wanna play at the bottom of the funnel, capture demand, so on and so forth. How do you think about investing in things that can't necessarily be directly attributed tomorrow to returning ROI?

How should startups, founders be thinking about that awareness building sometimes referred to as brand?

[00:30:02] Karrie Sanderson: For me, it's a matter of time horizon, right? Like at any given time you're a target audience, whoever you're trying to get to, like what percentage of them are really ready to buy, right?

So if you only invest in marketing activities that are gonna hit people who are ready right now, they're Okay, I'm in the market to buy makeup that is a two-sided, eye pencil or something great or they're looking for that kind of thing or looking for something different, you're gonna get them.

But to me, where brand plays a role, and again, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to do a big ad campaign or something like that, but if you think about your marketing activities on different impact timeline dimensions, and balance that for what you can do with your budget, if you only optimize for short term, that will work for a while, but then you'll hit some diminishing returns because you have an invested time in creating pent up demand for people who aren't quite ready for you yet.

But when they are, you've planted a impression in their mind that says, You know what? I am ready for, I've just finished my last eyeshadow palette and I'm ready to do something different. I heard something really cool about this brand, I'm gonna try that. So it's, in order to do that, you have to show up.

You have to create those impressions, whether they're just name, impressions or show up in places where people who care about that hangout with a provocative point of view, with your value and not always be asking for the buy now sign up now and to know where that is, you got to ask people like, where do you hang out?

Where do you find your information? That's that whole getting that feedback part. It's really a different series of time horizons and you can get, so you can get pretty far, maybe, I don't know. You can get some far on just those, put a quarter in, get a dollar out type motions but you won't grow, you'll hit a wall.

[00:32:01] Leila Kashani Manshoory: I would agree. I think that if you look at Apple versus IBM, Samsung, you're not gonna buy a phone from IBM if you're gonna buy anything that Apple brings out because they've created a brand. And I think there's a balance between the two. And the balance really is where, how much you invest in brand and how much you invest in marketing and advertising and performance

really like the conversion. There's perfect moments for each. So the tighter your brand is, the higher the expectation. To have a voice at certain life events and things that are happening in the world. There's, for us during the pandemic, we made a funny video taking a mash up of all the things like everyone was posting of their, how crazy it was to be home, working from home, and all these funny pieces of content.

It was probably like a $1,200 investment to make this video. Because of the editing. But it was all existing content. But it helped us tell the story that, one, let's find the humor in it and two, we're here to assist you and we know this is a hard time and let's go at it to, we're in this together.

And it wasn't a brand campaign. It didn't have valuable over it, it didn't tell a Nike story. You didn't get inspired by it. But it to, it showed where we sat it to, it showed our personalities. And so I think, as you go through your marketing calendar, you really wanna make sure that's part of it.

And it might be guided by, what's happening in the world, but when you're, when someone lands on your site, if you are gonna develop something like that, people buy into brands. There's so many different beauty brands. But what's my story that's different? And if I can tell it well and I can get people to understand how I'm different, the more likely they're gonna buy my eyeshadow stick versus somebody else's, or buy my brush versus someone else's because I'm holding place in their mind because of my story, because of my why.

And so it doesn't have to be such a scary investment. It can just show up in your messaging and your images. Throughout the site and, but not show up as much, in something so crazy like a brand campaign early on and get really scrappy with it.

[00:34:21] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. Okay. I agree. And I think that what was interesting about the example you gave is, the more you've articulated or spent some time saying who we are, who we're not, who we're for, that part of that, that defining that brand or just writing it down and being intentional about it.

What's our tone of voice? Do we show up with a sense of humor? Do we show up with a seriousness and a helpfulness or what are those things are just doesn't, again, doesn't have to be complicated. You can pressure test it with your customers when opportunistic things come up like the pandemic, and you're like, Okay, how do I help my customers do this?

It makes it a lot easier too, to know what to do and also to not make a misstep, right? If you're clear on, here's how I show up, here's how my audience expects me to show up. We've all seen brands that step into something that people like, Wait, why are they speaking up? And I bet you they wish they could take that back.

You can be more opportunistic in an amplifying, safe, effective way if you've just taken the time to write down a few of those things about who you are, why you exist and what you wanna do for your customers. So my guess is that informed some of what you did there right? Yeah. Is that you've articulated that about your brand?

[00:35:35] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah. And also, no, I want to sit. There will be times where it has nothing to do with you. Our campaign launched right on Mother's Day, so it was perfect timing for our audience. We have a huge population of working woman, working mothers, things like that. I didn't do anything on Father's Day.

Like that. It helps to find the direction. Once you get more clear on who your audience is and you're messaging in on where you step up and where you stay silent, and maybe you don't know enough. And I would say that a lot of people think, Oh maybe for me brand won't matter as much because I'm in tech, or I'm in this category, and people don't need to like people don't care about brand.

If you think about, that's probably how IBM felt, right? and then Apple came out. And so every industry can, people will follow you more if they believe in your why. And so having it, even if you think you shouldn't, you're creating pots and pan, you're creating, underwear. It doesn't matter that any category can use a brand identity.

[00:36:39] Karrie Sanderson: Absolutely. And I think it also, whether you're B2B or B2C it matters. There's a lot of conversation in the B2C world Oh, B2B world, should we be behaving more like brand and yes, because at the end it's a person and people make decisions with lots of factors, many of which are emotional and a connection.

Have you made that connection with them and there's in the B2B world, it's just a little more complicated because especially in tech, you may have somebody who uses the software. You may have somebody who buys the software, approval, that kind of thing, like the chain of all that

and if they use your software customer facing to their customers, like that's the situation that we have at Typeform. But if you're thinking about those constituents and how your brand can show up across that whole network, It's, you can do it. And it is just as important if not more. Think about all the software brands out software products out there, right?

There's just, you've seen that MarTech chart that comes out, like every year is it doubles the number and you can't even see the logos anymore. That's what you're fighting against if you're in tech or even in B2B of any kind, because there is a and one way to stand out, you have to offer a good product.

Brand cannot cover up a bad product. So that's the other thing too, right? Like it can do so much, but then at some point you're gonna break the trust if you don't deliver. But if you've got a good product and you feel like it's truly breakthrough then I, in my opinion, is even more important to get the brand right because that will propel you when you deliver on the promise that you're making.

The word of mouth, the loyalty and retention that you'll have because you've delivered on the promise you've made with your brand and your marketing, your messaging will create a flywheel of growth, frankly.

[00:38:28] Ian Martins: For startups that are going through the process right now of kind of building their brand or taking a look at their brand or what have you, how much of this work do you think can and should be internal versus what might be some conditions where you think it is probably best to go to an agency or bring in a consultant or something like that. Very curious what your thoughts are on that.

[00:38:54] Karrie Sanderson: If you bring in an agency, they definitely play a role, but do not advocate the say here's a project, Go work on it and come back because you'll end up with some shiny things that'll seem cool, but when you try to

pressure test them. You have to be an integral part of that process. So if you're trying to save time by doing it, you won't. Because to get the most out of a good agency, of which there are many out there, and I've been partnered with throughout my whole career. It's gonna take as much, if not more work.

They're gonna ask you really hard questions and they're gonna try to get to the core of the things that Leila and I have been talking about and pull that out of you if you haven't been able to do that. So it's worth the investment. Really check around and vet and make sure they're the right ones for you.

Not just because hey, just because somebody, Apple, use them. That's cool. We have them make sure they're the right ones for you. They have experience in your industry, hopefully, or similar type things. But it won't save you time. If it's done right you'll have to invest in it.

But if you don't have the internal capability or you feel like you want that partner, there's no reason not to do that, at least in my opinion. .

[00:40:15] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah. I'd say that I, this is a tough question because it really matters on what you're good at. Where are your strengths in your team and where are the holes that you can lean out for?

Because if you have someone who's an incredible copywriter and loves to write and can tell the brand story really well, then that obviously there's no reason to go out. You'll understand it better than anybody else but by the time you hire an agency and you get ready to do an agency or a freelancer or anyone else, there's stuff that's in a founder's mind that we can see things and say, Oh yeah that's totally not it.

Like they didn't get. But the more clear you get in putting all the things that are in your head on what the brand means and defining it, your mission, your why, your positioning all of that. Once you do onboard a freelancer or an agency, or even hire someone, it'll be easier for them to create images or create brand identity and all of that.

Once you are really clear and that stuff comes out of your head and onto some kind of a dog. that they can utilize as their inspo. And then I'd say you're, you wanna go to market with something you're proud of, when I went to market prior to really being proud of the brand, just because the retail shiny object, my excitement and my ambition and my I felt like there was still so much work to do.

I didn't get out loud and out. I didn't hire us fast. I didn't do as many of the things as I could have done in if I had done it earlier. So it doesn't have to be an agency. We use freelancers for our brand and I think it looks like an agency. And you also can, if you look at the evolution of Nike, their brand identity continues to evolve.

Their why stays the same, and you'll watch a Nike video and it look the same. But the swoosh has gotten thicker or thinner. It has moved to orange to white, to different colors like they've evolved it with the times, and that's okay. You can bring in a bigger agency, start small and continue to work up further into it.

You might not need like a photography guideline in the beginning, but as you get to the place where you're running, you save that stuff for later, this is not, I wanna just do the visual identity and I'll come back. to these added bonuses of photography guidelines and things like that would normally fit in visual, but might not be needed upfront.

[00:42:53] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah, totally agree. It can be intimidating if you do a search for brand books and how do people do this? It's Oh, I'm not ready for all that. It's okay. But I think as you and I talked about, like getting that why that purpose that doesn't have to do with the product.

If you start there, then the rest of that will come as you need it and you'll realize when you need it.

[00:43:15] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah, a mood board is so much more than you. I had a mood board for the longest time and one of them was like, What I want you to feel, and that's what I want it to look like, and this is what I want it to sound like.

And it was all just moved. It wasn't actually created work. And that's what I would send to partners, whether it was an agency or if it was a freelancer or it was a hire, it would be that until I got a place where I could actually put my own images in there and my own copy in there and all the other things.

[00:43:41] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. And then you built your brand book along the way.

[00:43:44] Ian Martins: So what I wanna get into some of the questions that folks are asking here, so let me see if I can find any that might be interesting to ask you all. What is the difference in your mind between brand versus product marketing?

[00:44:05] Karrie Sanderson: So for me the brand marketing is more at the why, the purpose, the value, like how you stand out, right? We talked about earlier. So for us it's about how do we show up in the world letting people understand like what is different about Typeform, the fact that we are built, we are literally designed to bring a conversational feel to that digital experience so that you get a better customer relationship.

The product marketing piece of it, at least in the company, at the size of Typeform, is more about the how, right? They need to articulate okay, so what is the solution? What are the features associated with it that deliver on the promise of that solution? And what value might you get from that?

The product marketing team, it gets into more of the product specifics about delivering on that brand, that value, that promise, where the brand marketers are, it's the umbrella everyone needs to keep dry under, if you will. And then the individual products can fit well under there and they need to connect.

But at many cases, many companies start with a product marketer, right? First before they do brand. And that's fine as long as you are thinking about that umbrella of brand while they're doing the product marketing.

[00:45:24] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah. I'd say like your mission statement feeds your mission. Your why feeds into your brand.

And your positioning feeds into your product marketing. Your positioning is your I'm creating efficiency. It's multitasking. It's the benefits, the selling points, right? It's the very tack if I'm gonna run an ad, my ad is gonna say, it's multifunctional, it's efficient, it's five in one.

It's everything you need to use on the go. But the brand piece of it is the more brand campaign or the how it ends and how it starts. But really the selling points in between are the product marketing. You're literally, think about it, product marketing. You're marketing the product that you're selling, and the other one is your storytelling, right?

The brand is more of the storytelling the heartfelt side of it. It's a part that tugs at your emotion on some level, and then the product marketing is the stuff that really ties to the actual, like pro, like the technology or the physical product and the selling points.

[00:46:30] Ian Martins: Perfect.

Another great question here is what are the KPIs that we can use to measure branding or the effects of your branding? And I might add something in there. What are some of the ways that you collect that data to begin with, let alone like what, not just what the KPIs are. How can I, what are ways that I can collect the data that will help inform, am I building a brand or not?

Am I doing a good job at this or not?

[00:46:56] Leila Kashani Manshoory: Yeah, that's an interesting one because brand is not something that easy to measure. So I like to think that when people are commenting on that brand moment that we did, kudos it saying, picking up what we're putting out, saying it, repeating it back to us like, gosh, just Brandon's created, made me get back to the things that matter and it's created so much freedom in my life and I've been able to do X, Y, and Z.

Those moments of them saying what I'm trying to create back to me is moments of like wins. That's when I know our brand is being picked up when people are storytelling our brand for us. When you're starting to create a following and a desire of people to join your community, they're joining for the brand.

They're not joining for the products. And so it's, you have, to me it's a more of an emotional measure.

[00:47:48] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah, agreed. It's emotional, but I like what you said, cause I've done this in the past where we've had, talk to customers and they tell the story and people will say, Wow. It's like they've read our messaging framework, we're like, then we know we're doing a good job because we, it resonates with them.

It's easily recalled and they come back with you like, This is why I use you. That's important. I think there's also just some leading indicators, like you said, around how much engagement are you getting in areas where you're deliberately showing up, how much sharing that kind of thing. And then the other piece is you can ask, how did you find out about us?

You can use a Typeform. Like it's easy to just use the attribution that comes digitally, which is important. As the changing data privacy rules go, like you should be asking folks open ended, how did you find out about us? And you'll hear a lot of interesting signal as well that will be reinforcing about whether or not your brand efforts are effective, about where they heard about you.

If it was a Google search, then good job on your demand gen. But if they're talking like social or recommendation, things like that, those are usually pretty good indicators of brand. And then if you get further out from a founder startup and you have the money to invest, you can, there's ways you can actually do surveys among your target audience and see who can name you underwear, like without prompting, who can recall your brand with prompting.

Those are some metrics that you're probably a ways in, but you could start to do that. It's an investment and you can absolutely move the needle there and that's the stage that come. Most of companies I've worked at,

[00:49:31] Ian Martins: Yeah, Karrie, I'd love to double click on that, some of the folks in the audience are working at companies that are further along and doing bigger media investments and all that sort of thing.

I remember one of the challenges that I had when I wasn't working at ad agencies and trying to get more budget for awareness building activities versus performance activities.There can be a bit of a struggle to get those dollars right, and say I'm getting this ROI on these performance things, I'm not how do I know that I need to give you another million dollars

for top funnel awareness, Like how you have that conversation, right?

[00:50:10] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. To get really specific, especially most marketers have in their toolbox of pretty good digital plays. With traditional demand gen, ads and things like that search. And you can test it, find a market either a country like US or even MSAs within that.

Look at what your baseline is on those metrics. When you run your advertising, you can see they will go up, right? You're effective spend on your typical demand gen. So that's one metric. So you can do it that way, you can do a test, run some air cover awareness type things if you'd like. And then you will see a halo effect of those things, not just during that test, but after.

Typically, that's one way to do it. On top of that you can, a lot of the common platforms that people that you may be investing in do have where you can test your brand lift, your brand awareness, like within certain ads, like recall, take advantage of those services for some of the common

ad platforms to see, start there, get those signals in these small tests, and then build. You're not gonna go from zero to 10 million investment in brand but there's ways to give you signal on how it can not only have its own impact for that longer time horizon that we were talking about around just short term investment versus creating new buyers, but also the lift it will have on the rest of your motions.

The other marketing investments will start to show some lift as well. It's not just attributed only to brand. There's a lot you can do there, and then you can also measure it at, in and of itself if you'd like.

[00:51:49] Ian Martins: Wonderful, No, thank you for diving in there.

Karrie, Leila, thank you so much for your time and your insights and sharing with the audience. Karrie, if folks wanna find you online and, get in contact to see what you're up to working that they can find.

[00:52:07] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah. Karrie, I'm on LinkedIn. That's the best way to find me, so you can find me on LinkedIn.

I'm the CMO at Typeform, and I appreciate the opportunity, Ian and love the conversation, Leila.

[00:52:20] Ian Martins: And Leila, where can folks find you online as well?

[00:52:24] Leila Kashani Manshoory: I'm not answering LinkedIn emails. I have over 400, so don't LinkedIn message me. But you could definitely get in touch with us through our social channels or through me directly.

I'm at Leila,Kayla on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, all the fun stuff. Yeah. And then if you really wanna get in touch with us through LinkedIn do it through the brand, not through me.

[00:52:49] Karrie Sanderson: Yeah, also true.

[00:52:51] Ian Martins: All right, awesome. Thank you everyone for tuning in today. It's been a great conversation on brand and positioning.

Hope there's some value that you all could take away from this. Next up we got a session on influencer marketing and hope you all stick around to check that out. Thank you everyone again.

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