One of the first things to do when starting an accelerator is figuring out the brand, messaging and communication. When we say brand here, we do not mean just the name or logo. We mean what is the difference you want to make in the world, who needs it and how will they find it. The more on point the preparation, the easier it will be to get loads of applications. So here are some tips for building your accelerator brand.
First thing is research. Once you have decided in broad terms who you are addressing your program to, it is useful to describe a client persona. Who are they, are you looking for first time team or serials, are you looking at students or older. Where do they get the same service now, from their universities or replacing it with something online. What is it that they need the most in the first place.
Once you understand who they are, take a quick look at also who is the competition. Get to know what is on the market, how is it good and what is it missing. If you see there are some services the target customer needs, but the competition is not offering, consider adding that to your program. Now you are able to set your goals and formulate your messages. You want your startups to feel you understand their needs to details.
2. USP and value proposition
With all the research done, let’s move on to uniques selling points and value proposition. Your brand is your promise to the startup. That is why you need to develop a brand that conveys a unique value proposition your startups can relate to. Figure out why is your program better- do you include investment, is your network wider, do you only concentrate on one vertical. All of these can be your unique points. You can try to formulate a value proposition or just some bullet points, as long as you yourself understand the core of the value. These selling points and value proposition is something your messaging will be carrying to the target customers your identified above.
Many people start with the name, but why do we mention it only third? Well now that you know who you are competing agains, who are your customers and what you offer them, you are better positioned to incorporate all of the above in the name. Choose a name that delivers your message clearly. It’s best to be specific since the name is the most used word about your product. For example, GameFounders for an accelerator operating in the game vertical is quite literal and needs no slogan really. The name can also reflect the added value or USPs, just remember to keep it simple. Another important aspect is the domain. Try to choose a .com domain since that is the best known, but .io for technology is also widely used.
Exciting, now you know who you are talking to and what is your name! On to the visuals. Most people are visual, so it is important to get this right. Colors, shapes and even directions of lines evoke emotions. You want them to be the correct ones. Think colors- red creates urgency, blue is credible, green signals environment, etc. Think fonts and text effects. What would work for your concept and name? One small thing to have at the back of your head is not to be too similar to your competition. Keep in mind the logo will be used in all marketing channels – from the website, to social media or offline posters. There are several services that generate free logos online in no time- that can be a great source of inspiration to test out of some shapes and colour combinations.
5. Messaging, channels and strategies
Almost there! Now we have a name, logo, value proposition, USPs and a target startup. The pieces are here, but how to connect them all into a working strategy that reinforces the brand through time. Next thing to do is messaging. What are the main messages you want to get across about your accelerator. How do you best demonstrate your value. Second which channels to use to get that message to the startups you are targeting. Are they mostly on Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, maybe Discord. Build a list of places you want to be present starting from your website. Sketch a rough strategy what you want to use each channel for and how often you aim to add content there. Perhaps the website is more static, Facebook has program updates and your behind the scenes stuff is on Instagram. Try to build a strategy that is realistic in terms of content creation. You need to have time for the program itself as well.
These were our tips for building your accelerator brand. Sounds easy, but in reality each step requires multiple iterations and why not even testing on the target startups. At the end of the day, the better the prep, the easier the real life. You can always adjust the messaging when the brand grows and perhaps the services change.