Brands don't work, until they've found a fan base big enough

Within the realm of startup advice that is "don't startup by emulating a big business" is "Don't startup by building a brand".

A great brand can draw attention its own attention, build its own trust and grow a business on its own. So naturally, when growing your own business, it seems like a good idea to get started on building a brand for your business.

But once the name, basic logo, and a very high-level personality are established - you should probably take your focus off the brand, and focus on finding your first fans.

The marketing of new businesses should focus on finding your first critical mass of fans, not on building a brand.

Brand building is about:
  • Putting your best foot forward
  • Being consistent in language, quality, and personality
  • Becoming established as a thought leader

But finding your first fans conflicts with this because it:
  • Requires a lot of tiny, lower-quality bets - which is ugly
  • Requires experimentation - which is inconsistent
  • Requires public failures and mistakes - which erode authority

Once you've established a group of fans big enough, building a strong brand makes a lot of sense.

So if you need it, here is permission to post messy, inconsistent, lower-quality experiments until you find your fans.