Participatory Branding - Involving startups in the design process of their brand.
Despite brands being strategic assets central to company’s long term success, little or no attention to branding can be seen in the business literature and resources for startups. If so, it is usually by adapting the branding approaches for large organisations into the context of smaller ones. However, startups are not just smaller versions of big organisations; they are living organisms of their own with specific characteristics and culture affecting their business operations. Thanks to the size of startup and close proximity to the founder, the startup’s brand is often the founder himself/herself. Therefore, instead of creating the brand from scratch, there is a need to find a new branding approach that would help founder to uncover, express and frame the brand essence of the startup and, consequently, turn it into a competitive brand strategy. For us, as Business Designers, this was an interesting possibility to explore whether there is an opportunity for application of the strengths and competencies of Business & Design. Through secondary and primary research within the areas of branding, startups, and design, the opportunity for intervention of Business & Design into branding for startups was identified. This became the departure argument for brainstorming & ideation leading to the framing of the central concept of this thesis: Participatory Branding. To prove its validity and feasibility, the Participatory Branding was further tested with six startups in Gothenburg to provide practical implications for practitioners in both branding as well as Business & Design field.