Lay the groundwork for improving your pitch, briefing designers, attracting investors and partners and informing a feasible product roadmap by building a minimum viable brand.
Written by Alex Plunkett
Have you heard the phrase “minimum viable product” or MVP? If you have, it’s for a good reason: In today’s product development, MVP is probably the most overused term. According to Techopedia it is the most basic version of a product that can still be published as a minimally viable product (MVP). An MVP has three main characteristics:
- Its a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers
- It demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters.
- It will provide feedback for future product development
Nevertheless, branding is just as important as fine-tuning your product or service. With “Neue Bandbreite” I try finding time- and cost-effective ways to create something tangible and effective for small businesses with big ideas.
A successful product may have gone through a whole lot of feedback loops, before finally becoming what users love about it now.
Many founders will just want their product to work first, so they place branding on the low-priority shelf and maybe revisit it at a later stage. As a designer, I believe that thinking about identity, purpose and value for different target groups is something worthwhile putting some resources into at an early stage.
Branding is a large part of the overall value of the product. How does the product look like? Are you communicating your key features to the right users correctly and efficiently? What are your core values and are these understood by your audience?
Taking a look at the Minimum Viable Brand (MVB)
Of course, UX/UI is a natural part of a product life-cycle, but what if the design of your interface needs to be consistent with your messaging and also stand out from your competitors. Let’s say you are running out of time and need to get branding and your product launched at the same time.
This is where your MVB comes in: Minium Viable Brand takes the often mysterious, bulky, expensive and time-consuming concept of branding and turns it into something tangible that your client can work with straight away. The MVB consists of some raw elements you can start with and build upon as you work closely together towards your product launch.
So with no further ado, here are the key components of the MVB in a nutshell:
Crystalise your brand essence – What are your values? What do you stand for?
Aimlessness is a vice. If your product has no central purpose, your product will probably fail out of a lack of relevance. A product should be conceived of a legitimate purpose and set out to accomplish it. Formulate a mission statement early and change often until it is bullet-proof.
Who is your ideal user? What do they see, say, think and feel?
Talk to your potential customers and concentrate on those who will give you tough feedback. Think about smart questions which will trigger authentic answers. Keep gathering feedback and implement it. Go back and test it. Keep getting more feedback.
What are the key features which differentiate your product from your competitors’ and does it meet your users’ needs and desires?
This is your pitch! You should be able to explain your product, customers and the reason why you are doing it, in one sentence. Keep it short and be able to recite it with confidence!
Think about the overall experience. What can users do in detail and how do they begin to use your product?
The interface is the face of your product with which your user interacts – and it is also the reason they will keep using your product and recommend it to others. Think about user-flows, information architectures and on-boarding. It won’t be perfect in the beginning, so make sure you build in feedback loops so you can gather valuable insights to make it fun and functional.
What does your product look like? What do you say and how do you say it?
This is the part of your MVB you should spend most of your time with. Your personality is what sets you apart in a market of many others saying the same things and using the same language. Develop a brand voice and think about how you will communicate certain features. Think from your customers’ perspective. Create a visual system and try to bring your product to life with mood boards or concrete website mockups.
I have a brand now. What happens next?
Share your MVB with your clients and teams. Start building your living and breathing product – not only made to work, but made for humans to use on a daily basis. Yet another reason why your MVB should be dynamic and open to revisions, intended to satisfy your users’ needs. Because change is the only constant.
I hope this article will help you to lay the groundwork for improving your pitch, attracting investors and partners and informing a feasible product roadmap. Also, use it to brief designers and keep your team up to date.Written by Alex Plunkett
Alex Plunkett is a professional art director and designer based in Berlin who focuses on exploring the spectrum of design solutions for small to mid-sized businesses with clear social, cultural and ecological relevance. At Neue Bandbreite, he offers branding, website, event, motion and print design services to unique businesses. In his free time, he enjoys playing music and chatting with other designers.
branding, Entrepreneurship, identity, Marketing, ux