Wunderline 2.0: Helping Businesses Distinguish Themselves In An Evolving Marketplace
A couple of months ago we relaunched Wunderline, our free, impartial consulting service for startup founders and entrepreneurs. We've already conducted dozens of calls with founders from a wide range of industries, such as biotech, fintech, sustainability, and SaaS, at different stages of investment — from Seed to Series B. After so many enriching conversations, we have gathered quite a few insights on what’s on founders’ minds these days and how the current market conditions differ from those we witnessed when we first launched Wunderline in April 2020.
A different type of uncertainty
Wunderline made its debut during the height of the COVID pandemic. When we first launched this initiative, anxiety was running high due to business slowing down and many professionals having to make a sudden and drastic shift to remote, online-centric operations. Businesses found themselves reassessing survival strategies and reengineering plans to weather an unprecedented storm.
In response, we launched Wunderline as our role morphed away from a typical agency into allies and consultants. We mentored designers at different stages of their careers, facilitated businesses transitioning to digital platforms, brainstormed go-to-market strategies for mid-pandemic product launches, audited websites, and tackled countless other tasks necessitated by a new and uncertain world.
Fast forward to the present, and the landscape for Wundreline's relaunch appears similar, yet starkly different. With the economy gripped by recession and venture capital funding experiencing a significant downturn, startups are once again facing challenges. These challenges are quite different to those they witnessed during COVID though. During the first launch of Wunderline, people contacted us with questions that dealt with all parts of business operations. However, in this new landscape, the vast majority of the inquiries we receive are requests for help with either perfecting a pitch or crafting a compelling brand narrative.
Brand narrative: many questions — one solution
We’re witnessing renewed interest and appreciation of the power of narrative from entrepreneurs and business owners. They are coming at it from different angles though.
Fundraising, especially in light of a more reserved investment climate, is a primary reason why startups are choosing to reassess their narratives. An eloquent story can effectively communicate their value to potential investors, highlighting the unique solution they offer to a problem or an unmet need in the market. While the bottom line is indispensable (a good story can’t save a bad business), a compelling narrative is a startup’s opportunity to stand out in a sea of pitches. Crafting a memorable narrative is not a guarantee of funding, but it is an additional asset that can help a startup connect with investors.
Another reason for focusing on narrative is the need of many startups to pivot or refine their business models in the current economic climate. Such shifts are often beneficial and even indispensable in the long run, but they require a simultaneous narrative revision. As the company changes its focus or strategy, it needs to redefine its story in a way that continues to make sense to its audience, reflecting its new direction or emphasizing its evolution.
Finally, the power of storytelling extends far beyond the boardroom. Deep tech and B2B founders are increasingly recognizing the importance of engaging narratives in building emotional connections with customers and fostering brand loyalty. Stories resonate on a human level, making complex products more relatable and memorable, something that listing out features simply doesn’t do. This recognition has led many founders to seek guidance in crafting a compelling brand narrative that can bridge the gap between their company's vision and their customers' understanding in different channels: from websites to customer support.
Stepping away from a product-first approach
In our conversations though Wunderline, we observed a trend: founders tend to take a product-first approach. In trying to communicate their product’s value, startups often resort to in-depth explanations of features and mechanics over identifying audience needs or the problems to address.
For many, their pitching materials and their online presence mirror this approach. Pitch decks focus on hard data and product features without a story to put everything together and drive things forward. Websites we reviewed consistently include a product-focused rather than a customer-focused approach.
When we are tackling cases like this, we like to remind founders that regardless of whether the target audience is B2B or B2C, one element remains unchanged—our first point of contact is always a human being. Any communication you engage in needs to be accessible and authentic to be memorable.
Every case we encounter is unique, but our guidance consistently stems from fundamental branding principles: a strong vision, clear mission, definitive positioning statement, and distinctive brand personality and tone of voice. As a startup, you often share the market with competitors offering similar services or products. However, the distinction arises not from what you offer, but how you offer it and how you communicate your unique value proposition. This differentiation becomes your competitive edge.
It is also important to acquire actionable insights about what your audience seeks and tie these into your positioning. The combination of a strong story and a deep understanding of your audience can help you connect with your audience deeply and demonstrate why your brand outshines competitors.
Wunderline: still here to help
Our experience with relaunching Wunderline has confirmed something important: dealing with change is something inherent to running a business, especially a startup. The hurdles faced by businesses during the pandemic were unique to that time, just as the challenges they face now, amidst economic recession and decreased funding, are unique to this moment.
Throughout these shifts, a compelling story can be your steadfast companion. No matter the audience—be it investors, customers, or partners—human connection is at the heart of every interaction. Whether you are communicating with a potential investor, redefining your brand after a pivot, or attempting to connect with your customers on a deeper level—a story can help you get there.
If you're looking for help with your story, or any other area we specialize in, don't hesitate to book a free 30-minute chat with our team. We're always ready and happy to help you weather any storm.