Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Branding & Pitch Decks


I have found that my experience in crafting brand strategy and positioning has helped me immensely in coaching startups in their pitch deck creation. Startups use pitch decks to raise funds and other support for their nascent businesses. Just like brands, pitch decks need to tell a story. By definition, stories have plots and characters. The characters are the target customers and the plot is how the nascent business will uniquely solve a significant problem that those customers have. The story needs to outline the company’s unique value proposition and the business model that will enable it to deliver on that unique value proposition. The value needs to be defined in terms of customer benefits rather than product functions or features.


The business must demonstrate that it has done due diligence in understanding who its target customers are demographically and psychographically and what their functional and emotional needs are. It needs to show how it will deliver a unique and superior solution in meeting its customer’s needs. This requires a thorough understanding of the competition. Further, the business will want to illustrate what its product is and how it will be used, including how the customer will experience using it. Ultimately, the business will want to share its long-term vision, which is very similar to the vision that would be a part of a mission | vision | values statement. 


Sure, there are some other elements in a pitch deck that are not typically a part of brand strategy or messaging, including an overview of the market, the startup team and its advisors, the potential risks, the finances and why they are pitching to a particular investor. But, whether one is creating a new product concept statement, a brand positioning statement, a brand ‘elevator speech,’ a startup pitch deck or even a grant application, the following components are essential:

·      Detailed customer description,

·      Customer insight including an understanding of their unmet needs or pain points,

·      Unique value proposition,

·      Which includes an articulation of the unique benefits that will be delivered to the customer,

·      And an understanding of the competition,

·      And finally, proof points and “reasons to believe” that you can deliver on your unique value proposition; put another way an indication of how the organization’s business model supports delivery of its unique value proposition.

And, if there is additional space for description, the messaging would benefit from being told in the form of a story with a happy ending.

My experience in new product development, brand positioning and strategy, not-for-profit grant writing and now new venture coaching has allowed me to identify the similarities between these activities. It all boils down to understanding an unmet customer need and developing a solution that uniquely meets that need. Further, it requires proof points that one is capable of uniquely delivering against that need. Finally, this message can be delivered in a more compelling way through storytelling. It’s that simple and it is also that complicated. 

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