What we learnt speaking with 100 founders launching businesses in lock down

Two months ago we put our heads together to see how we could support our community during Covid19. We created Wunderline – a professional support line for free, impartial advice. We didn’t pretend to know all the answers, but we knew we could speak for days about remote work, managing creatives, brand development, web design and fundraising.

And speak for days we did. We have been blown away by the response our little Wunderline has received. In two months we’ve spent over 50hrs on the phone and talked to ~100 startup founders.

We’ve reviewed multiple websites, pitch decks, fundraising and go to market strategies from businesses around the world. After doing so we felt it important to share some common traps first time founders fall into as well as tips for avoiding them.

Fundraising strategies during Covid19

VCs are open to investing during lockdown. Whilst parts of your business are dormant it is a great opportunity to rethink your strategy and prioritize fundraising. Always look for opportunities, even in the hardest of times.

  1. If work streams are dormant due to Covid19, use it as an opportunity to refine your pitch to highlight how your business will thrive in this new reality.
  2. Make sure your pitch reflects your ability to adjust to and build upon the challenge (e.g. you were selling your product to retailers? Think of going D2C)
  3. The VC market hasn’t shown signs anything has changed dramatically in the decision making process – there is obviously a greater interest in healthcare solutions and tougher decisions to make on brick and mortar – but this shouldn’t stop you from testing the waters.
  4. Prepare your deck for virtual pitching. When pitching online all investors see is your deck. Slide design is always important, but even more so when you can’t rely on body language to boost your chances.
  5. Even if you’re not currently pitching, consider tweaking your business model to take into account current developments and test it with VC’s. You never know, economic shifts may be beneficial to your business.

Here are a few more great pieces of advice for fundraising during down time from Business Insider.

5 common pitch deck mistakes

What became apparent after reviewing 75 pitches is regardless of industry many first-time decks contain some of the following (easy to avoid) mistakes:

  1. Not clearly explaining the product in the first 4 slides. As tempting as it is to set the scene, make sure your idea is the first thing investors see.
  2. No information on market size or projected market share. Even for early stage start-ups it’s important to demonstrate how much of a market your business needs to prosper.
  3. Not showing a breakdown of how you’ll use the funds, or having a breakdown that doesn’t match your roadmap. Investors want reassurance you’ve considered how you’ll spend their money.
  4. If a product or MVP exists, not showing traction or any customer feedback. A lack of data can be interpreted as an unwillingness to show it.
  5. Claiming to rely on “marketing channels” for customer acquisition without a marketing strategy outlined. Do not worry about fine details, but marketing = customers is too vague.

Website and digital presence

For many businesses their website is their only consumer destination. Here are a few errors to avoid when building your digital footprint:

  1. Landing pages without email capture. An inability to capture visitor data is at odds with a landing page’s primary objective.
  2. E-commerce homepages without products. Minimize the path to purchase, especially when starting out.
  3. Launching campaigns without the basics in place e.g. using different business names on social channels and websites, an inability to make purchases on product display pages, broken page links.
  4. Poor social maintenance: think quality over quantity, one regularly updated page beats four dormant channels.
  5. Uncertainty around function leads to poor optimization: be clear on the purpose your website serves and ensure user experiences are tailored to the needs of individual visitors.

Wunderline may be over but our commitment to helping founders is not! Due to the overwhelming response we’ve decided to allocate two hours every week to continuing to help founders for free. Whether you need pitch deck advice, brand insights, web reviews or go-to-market help. Our team is waiting to take your calls.

Head to Calendly, pick a Wunderline slot and tell us what you’d like to chat about!


How do vision and mission statements impact a company's long-term direction?

Effective vision and mission statements should ideally constitute important tools in formulating a company’s strategy. They should largely remain unchanged through the years, though a significant pivot may bring about new vision and mission statements. Together, they work to define the focus of the business and how it impacts the world. 

The vision statement is a representation of your company’s view of a better world. The mission statement reflects how it sets about to achieve this vision. They work together to create internal alignment and help with strategic decision making. When planning for the future, developing new products, or experimenting with new strategies, teams can perform a quick check against the vision and mission statements to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with the essence of the brand. 

In short, the vision and mission statements are powerful tools which can and should impact decisions across the organizations, making them important factors in a company’s long-term direction.

How does brand strategy influence the overall success of a business?

Your brand strategy reflects how your brand sees the world and its role within it. It is the framework that, ideally, should guide all your communications (both external and internal) and audience touchpoints, i.e. each interaction an audience member has with your business. 

Having standardized communication across all channels and touchpoints makes business processes smoother and positively influences your client relationships, ensuring you develop strong, long-term connections with your customers. It also simplifies strategic decision-making and aligns your team. All these factors are vital to the success of a business.

How do messaging frameworks help communicate your brand message effectively?

Messaging frameworks are structured guides that outline the core messages, value propositions, and differentiators of a brand. They ensure consistency across all communications, from marketing materials and social media posts to customer service interactions. By defining key messages that resonate with the brand's target audiences, messaging frameworks help ensure that a brand’s communications are clear and memorable. 

They also help organizations stay aligned internally and ensure that each member, regardless of their role, understands what the brand’s key message is and how to communicate it effectively. This internal alignment is crucial for presenting a unified brand image to the outside world.

What specific elements contribute to a brand's verbal identity?

A brand’s verbal identity should align your team on how your brand communicates and how this communication changes depending on the situation. It defines a specific and recognizable language through which your brand can deliver its message to your audience or audiences.

Typically, a verbal identity includes some, or all, of the following elements:

Brand personality: This captures the human traits or characteristics that your brand embodies, such as being adventurous, sophisticated, or reliable, which help shape how your brand is perceived.

Brand voice: The brand voice reflects how your brand reflects its personality across all communication channels.

Brand tone: While the brand voice remains consistent, the brand tone can change depending on the context of the message and the audience being addressed, ranging from formal and professional to informal and friendly.

Messaging frameworks: These are strategic tools that outline the key messages your brand intends to communicate to its different target audiences, ensuring that all messaging is aligned with your brand's mission, vision, and value propositions.

Messaging examples: These provide specific examples of how your brand's messaging might be applied in various scenarios.

Style and grammar guidelines: These outline your preferred spelling, grammar, and style, ensuring that your communication is consistent across the board. 

What are some key considerations when developing a tone of voice for a brand?

The first and most important consideration is the brand’s personality. While businesses are functional, they still communicate with people – and people primarily connect with stories and personas. Your brand’s personality will define a set of human characteristics which reflect how it sees itself in the world. By giving your brand these human attributes, you are making it both distinctive and easier to identify with. The tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality.

It’s also important to consider your target market and your audience’s expectations. While having a distinctive tone of voice is important for memorability, there is such a thing as being too different. If all brands in your segment adopt a serious, professional tone, and you would like to be fun and playful, there is certainly space for that, but consider very carefully why you are doing it.


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How does competitive benchmarking influence the development of a visual identity?
Competitive benchmarking is important in developing a brand's visual identity as it provides insights into the market environment. By examining the competition, a brand can better understand its unique value proposition and strengths. This understanding is crucial in identifying what sets the brand apart from others.With this knowledge, a brand can lean into its unique strengths when crafting its visual language. This approach ensures that the visual identity not only looks appealing but also reinforces the brand’s distinct point of view and competitive edge.
How does visual identity differ across industries, and how can a brand ensure it stands out while remaining authentic?
Visual identity varies significantly across industries, shaped by both the industry norms and the unique aspects of each brand. Understanding where your brand stands in the competitive market is essential when crafting a visual identity that both stands out and remains authentic.Industries have distinct visual trends that are often expected by consumers. For instance, financial services brands typically adopt a reserved, traditional look with a color palette dominated by blues and greys. In contrast, skincare brands often go for a lighter, more colorful approach with pastels. Being aware of these industry-specific trends is important because it helps to decide how much your brand should differentiate itself from these norms. This differentiation should be based on your audience's expectations and your brand's unique value propositions.For example, a financial services brand that emphasizes its use of innovative technologies might choose a more digital-oriented visual language. Similarly, a skincare brand that focuses on scientific innovation might benefit from a more science-based visual language.
What are the key considerations when creating visual concepts for a brand?
The visual identity of a brand should quickly and clearly reflect its strategic positioning. Designers begin the process of creating visual concepts by immersing themselves in the brand’s strategy to extract key narrative themes. These themes are then translated into a visual language that employs both emotional and aesthetic elements to communicate the brand's messages. This translation is crucial as it shapes how the audience perceives and interacts with the brand.When developing visual concepts, it's important to make sure they align with the brand's strategy and fit well within the competitive landscape: demonstrating key differentiators, but still fitting into the industry at large. The visuals should also be suitable for the mediums they will be used in. Whether for digital, print, or physical applications, the choice of medium can greatly influence how the visual concepts are designed.
How does visual identity contribute to brand recognition and trustworthiness?
Visual identity is key to boosting brand recognition and trustworthiness, especially in busy markets. When a company maintains a consistent visual brand across different platforms, it becomes easier for customers to recognize and remember it. This consistency is crucial for standing out among competitors.Having a consistent visual identity also shows professionalism and attention to detail. These qualities make customers more likely to trust a brand. When a brand looks the same across all touchpoints, from websites to products and ads, it tells customers the brand is reliable and serious. This builds trust and makes customers more likely to pick this brand over others that may not look as professional or consistent.
How do brand guidelines ensure consistency in visual identity across different platforms?
Brand guidelines are a key tool for maintaining a consistent visual presentation across various platforms. These guidelines typically outline the main use cases where the brand's visual identity will appear and provide comprehensive rules and standards. The guidelines include detailed instructions on how to use the brand’s assets, such as logos, color palettes, typography, and imagery. This ensures that anyone using these assets, whether they're designers, marketers, or external partners, can apply them correctly and consistently. It’s crucial that the entire team is familiar with these guidelines. It’s important to get team buy-in on the visual identity and ensure that the guidelines are easily accessible. When the whole team understands and follows the guidelines, the brand's visual identity remains unified across all touchpoints, enhancing brand recognition and trust.


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