Brand Storytelling: How to publish your brand’s story in media when you get funded
Startups are a rollercoaster ride — fun, exciting and challenging are just some words we can use to describe the journey every founding team goes through. As a startup grows, the importance and requirement for funding, from the right people, at the right time is omnipresent and required.
Startups raise funding to fuel growth, and to portray that the market/investors trust in the founders and idea. Funding is the fuel to startups. Not saying they can’t be successful without it, but it’s the general trajectory we’ve seen over time.
Fundraising as a whole is a skill and entrepreneurs need to understand the art of doing so, from the right people to thrive in the competitive landscape we have today.
Neiharika Rajiv, Angel Investor/Partner EAN chimes into the conversation“ The way we look at funding needs to be modified. Founders should focus on ‘funding for growth’ and not ‘funding for sustenance’; with funding it’s a long-term game where the partner is invested in you, and you in them — for growth. If you’re struggling to survive and make ends meet, funding is not for you because that’s a big red flag for investors/partners/VCs.”
The story that must be told
Every startup is out to solve a real-world problem with an innovative solution. We can agree on that?
Their solution hypothesis is summed up in what we call a brand story or a narrative that explains the gap, and the solution put forth, along with what these entrepreneurs foresee in the future.
The problem that arises
It’s all in the founding team’s head, and that’s not sufficient when startups think of media announcements for their fundraise.
While they should be happy and joyful that they raised funds, most entrepreneurs get caught up in converting thoughts to words to publish in media.
Media/PR is a tool that has proven time and again to establish credibility, build trust, and create a positive image in the eyes of potential investors, customers, and partners. There are no two ways about this.
How to build a brand story; a brief
Putting words to what’s in the founding team’s head is always a challenge, one that I’ve helped many startups with. So, here’s a snappy cheatsheet into the same.
- Know your audience: Now is still not a bad time to get talking on the phone and take a deeper dive into their perceptions of the product, and the successes they’ve seen while using it
- Identify your unique selling proposition and core benefits: Determine what sets your brand apart from your competitors and emphasize it in your brand story
- Go back to your brand values and ethos: Build authenticity into the story from the get-go, remember who you are, and what drives you every day
Amogh Yenagi adds, “Keep the vision and story simple — just 1 line. And say it in every announcement, interview, conversation. The more your vision is iterated, the more your people will believe in and rally for you.”
And lastly, create a compelling brand message: Start with a 5–10 liner on a simple Google Doc compiling all your thoughts from 1–3 in a few sentences. Then try and tighten it by summarizing it into 1–2 lines. Removing faff from here will help you get to the deep end of the message, rather than just the top-level messaging
Arjun Vaidya adds from his experience, “Storytelling is an under rated tool that founders can use very effectively. Today, customers (and I don’t mean just end customers I also mean investors) don’t just buy products — they buy into a story. Hence, effective communication of the Vision, mission, ethos and model is important not only as a communication strategy but also for business growth.”
Turning thoughts into media-ready articles
Once you have a clear brand story, it’s now time to turn that into a rich and shiny media-ready publication. Here are some overarching tips for any brand that’s on its way to publishing a funding release.
- Focus on the main pointers — the media will only publish what you give them, and they will take what you give them and tailor it to the channel they’re publishing on. Make sure you have all the relevant pointers included as much as possible, on top.
- Write with authority, objectively, and with purpose
- Provide supporting details: Use supporting details, such as statistics, data, or testimonials, to back up your claims and add depth to your story
- Keep it short and clear
Speaking to this point, Sanil Sachar, Founding Partner, Huddle adds on, “A media release announcing funding is a great way for the founders to be able to highlight their upcoming plans. It’s best to cover plans that are achievable with a larger vision being mentioned, rather than a vision shared that is yet to begin being built on. This is simply because such media becomes a tool to attract stakeholders to know who you are and also where you’re headed. Therefore, while being able to aim for the stars in the article might be eye-catching, it’s important to cover what is being done, in order to use it as a reference for when stakeholders (like investors), reach out to learn more.”
Write your pre-seed/seed funding announcement
Pre-seed investments are validation-proof once you’ve got an MVP in place. Usually raised from friends and family, angel investors, or early-stage venture capital firms it’s the very beginning of the journey, when the startup is still in the ideation or concept stage.
A startup is generally in between refining MVP and figuring out a revenue model. In India, the average pre-seed funding ranges between INR 50 lakh to INR 1 crore (approximately $67,000 to $134,000) per round. However, the amount of pre-seed funding can vary widely depending on factors such as the industry, the startup’s stage of development, the quality of the team and idea, and the investor’s appetite for risk.
What to write in a pre-seed/seed announcement:
- Sell the vision and story: Pre-seed is a time of rapid growth and while your founding team and early members are on board, this is the perfect time to sell the vision and story to the public.
Answer questions like:
Why did you begin
What made you build X
What’s the founding team background
Who are the early believers
2. Highlight your USP with clarity and the least jargon possible: Tie this into the impact on the market, follow up with thoughts on where the market is headed according to you; tie this back into why your solution is the best in the current times
3. Traction or milestones achieved: Share any key milestones or traction the company has achieved so far, such as customer acquisition, partnerships, or product development
Anirudh Siddharth from IPV chimes in, “As an early stage company, it is essential for the company to focus more on the MOAT, team and product., rather than focusing more on traction, numbers and growth. This helps focus on building trust and demonstrating confidence with respect to quality, ability to execute and scale among their target audience through their PR post fund raise.”
Examples in the news
Write your Series A funding announcement
Series A is where the money hits the road with a higher investment quotient. These are generally raised from strategic investors who see the business model, and the traction is enough to get them excited.
At this point, startups raise money to develop their product or service, build a team, and expand marketing efforts to drive growth.
In India, the average Series A funding ranges between INR 10 crore to INR 50 crore (approximately $1.3 million to $6.7 million) per round. However, as with pre-seed funding, the amount of Series A funding can vary widely depending on factors such as the industry, the startup’s stage of development, the quality of the team and idea, and the investor’s appetite for risk.
What to write in a Series A announcement:
- Growth: Series A is big and is proof you’ve moved out of MVP. Talk about numbers such as user acquisition, revenue growth, or customer retention rates. Also, talk about the growth trajectory without pumping up the numbers. The goal is to keep it realistic.
- Add context: Now is a good time to put your company’s growth in perspective of industry growth as well as segment. There are broader market forces in play, and here you can reinstate where your company stands on the spectrum.
- Team: Teams are what make companies succeed. Now is a good time to highlight new CXO hirings, as well the future of team building for your company. It helps investors put into perspective who’s running the company and the leadership that will drive growth.
Sanil Sachar, Founding partner, Huddle comments further, “At a certain stage as companies grow, the confidence is propelled when you learn more about the leadership alongside the founders, so don’t forget to highlight them, even your advisors and backers being mentioned adds further association and trust.”
Examples in the news
Write your Series B, C, D …. funding announcement
Series B funding is where you’ve proven your mettle, achieved significant traction and are now on a high-growth trajectory.
Growth can be innovation-focused, entering new markets/geographies, adding on to the tech stack/service offering, invest in marketing and sales, and so on.
In India, the average Series B funding round size can vary widely depending on the industry and the specific startup, but it is typically in the range of $10 million to $30 million.
Overall, Series B funding is an important milestone for a startup as it signals that the company has successfully proven its business model and is now ready to take on bigger challenges and opportunities.
What to write in a Series B and forward announcement:
- Growth from day 0 to today: Major milestones should be talked about here to put proof in the pudding.
- Innovation: Innovation is a blessing and curse, however, here, innovation has to be displayed in the sense of growth and expansion since day 0, along with pivots along the way. You can include some learnings from the journey too.
- Market expansion: This is the most exciting part, and a plan on how you plan to achieve it, is crucial to talk about here. Are you going international? Do you have a plan to get into more local territories?
- Strategic partnerships/stakeholders: No business grows without support, and now’s a good time to talk about how you’re building this from an ecosystem approach.
- Leadership and CXO management: Self-explanatory, but any new hires and plans to hire can be mentioned here.
Examples in the news
Media/PR is a sword for startups looking to raise eyeballs from consumers and investors alike. It can generate a lot of traction for brands, on social and their personal brands when media/PR releases are well-written.
Media publication/PR requires a strategic approach to getting it right, because if it’s a miss, it’s a wasted attempt at building awareness. Moreover, Media/PR done in bursts has never been successful, a constant and rigorous Media/PR push through and through has shown, and will show, better results for the startup over time.
The media/PR medium is a tool to build credibility and establish you as a thought leader, when done right!
Pitch time- just joking!
With a background and a proven track record of writing media/PR releases for brands, I’m more than happy to chat about the same