Countless books and articles have been written about how to start a business; how to launch, how to get funding. There are plenty of mistakes to be made, and comparatively not that many clear paths to success. 

Bill Gross is the founder of Idealab, an incubator that has launched numerous successful start-ups from ‘ideas to successful companies’. But along the way Bill and his team have also had their share of failures. In 2015, he gave a TED Talk on his theory of the single thing that makes start-ups succeed. His answer? 

Timing.

No matter how well prepared you are, how great the idea is, or how keen your team, if the timing isn’t right, you’re battling uphill from the start. Thankfully, there are lines of inquiry that can help to gauge the likelihood of whether you’re about to push straight out of the bay onto rough seas. 

Understand the context you’re launching into

No man is an island, and no company is either. Both are subject to the world they find themselves in. Do some due diligence around the factors that you anticipate will be important to your success.

Who is your target customer and do they want what you’re offering?

Do you have a clear idea of who your target customer is? Does that customer have a current demand for your offering? A good way to get started with finding out is by talking to the people who you think will buy into the idea. And don’t do it just once – make sure you check the pulse regularly as you come closer to launching so that you aren’t caught unaware after you’ve entered the market.

Will customers find it easy to adopt or access your offering? 

This is likely to be a big one if whatever you’re offering is based in the tech sector, or is in any way seriously innovative and unfamiliar to the consumer. Too many great, ahead-of-their-time ideas have failed because the world wasn’t ready for them. Cases in point include Palm Pilots and Segways, and if those names don’t ring a bell, then best to just trust us – the problem was and the reason is (drumroll): timing. 

If your answer to all of the above prompts is ‘yes’, then the odds may well be in your favour. If the signs do seem good, it’s still best to err on the side of caution and plan as thoroughly as possible. 

Having a strong, considered brand strategy founded on a comprehensive understanding of your target customer and their context can significantly mitigate the likelihood of failure. That includes not just their personality, but their broader experience and preferences. What kind of brands do they already align themselves with? What sort of economic climate do they occupy? Who influences their decision making most? The data that can be gathered from in-depth questions like this can be game-changing.

Design Strategy is a methodology that rigorously examines as many informing factors as possible to produce the strongest solutions to complex problems. That is, problems that will have immeasurable impact in the long term, but that can’t be answered thoroughly in just a couple of minutes, such as ‘How should I be branding and marketing my company?’.

Using design thinking to develop your approach-to-market positioning and strategy can not only reveal possible threats ahead of time, it can also result in the discovery of major value-add opportunities.

If you’d like to know how you can employ design thinking to develop a holistic brand strategy to give your company the best chance of success, get in touch with us here.