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Take A Walk On The Dark Side 
Branding for 
Startups & Sith Lords 
@DaveMcClure 
@500Startups #INK2014 
Mumbai, Nov 2014
WARNING: 
REALLY. 
BAD. COLORS. 
AND. FONTS. 
COMIC 
SANS!
WARNING!!! 
this deck is guaranteed to offend, 
provide tragically incorrect advice, 
and perhaps get you arrested. 
deal with it.
[This Talk] 
• WTF is a BRAND? 
• Be Different. 
• Stand 4 SOMEthing. 
• Tap Into Humanity: Fear, SEX, Power! 
! 
• Be a Hero, or a VILLAIN. 
• Don’t say 1000 words. 
• When It Works, Double Down. 
• Be Yourself.
Read Geoffrey Miller. 
Sex + Evolution + Consumer Marketing = Awesome
More Great Shit to Read. 
Psychology + Comics
[Start(up) + Heart]
NEGATIVE Emotion Examples 
Fear, Anger, Sadness, 
Pain, Pathetic, Pariah
POSITIVE Emotion Examples 
Humor, Sex, Power, 
Daredevils, Babies & Kittens
Marketing & BRANDing 
• Tell a STORY, Build a Storytelling Culture 
• SINGLE element: Color, Animal, Number, Word 
• UNIQUE Position relative to Competition 
• Embrace NEGATIVE/Shameful Positioning (when necessary) 
• Know When to Get Back to PRODUCT
What is BRAND? 
Brand (def): a name, term, design, symbol that 
identifies one seller's good or service as distinct 
from those of other sellers. 
! 
• Branding began as way to tell one person's 
cattle from another by a hot iron stamp. 
• Branding is usually full of PAIN.
Q: Who FEELS Your Brand? 
• Customers 
• Partners 
• Investors 
• Employees 
• Press
Be Different 
Take Risk.
Be Different. 
• Take Risk Early. (U Have Nothing 2 Lose). 
• Playing it Safe = Death. 
• Pissing People Off is OK. (in fact, #WINNING) 
! 
• U Can’t Build Brand around INDIFFERENCE. 
• “Niche 2 WIN” (see blog post) 
• Love *or* Hate are OK… Both = Good Signal.
Stand 4 SOMEthing. 
(or stand 4 NO-thing) 
CHANGE. 
PEACE. 
POWER. SEX. 
SEXIST?
Ronda Rousey 
FIGHT. 
Undefeated #1 UFC 
Mixed Martial Arts 
Female Champion
Stand 4 SOME-thing, 
or Stand 4 NO-thing. 
• Be ICONIC. 
• SINGLE word or emotion. 
• Don’t be afraid 2b HATED. 
• Don’t be afraid 2b SHAMED. 
• Aim for the Moon! [but land on the Roof]
Tap Into [your] Humanity 
Fear, Sex, Power
Tap Into Humanity 
• Fear: What u run from 
• Sex: Who we love, lust 4 
• Power: Ability 2 Control Ur World 
• Family: Find Ur Tribe. 
• Anger: Fight 4 Ur Right [2 Party]
Be a Hero! 
or, Be a Villain 
(pro tip: Villians have a lot more fun :)
Be a Hero… or a Villain 
• Who do u LOVE, Admire, Want 2 B? 
• Who do u HATE, Despise, [secretly] jealous? 
• Whatever u are ATTRACTED to… 
• Just Don’t Be BORING. 
• Again: Indifference = Death.
Don’t Say 1000 words. 
[just use 1 Finger]
Don’t Say 1000 words. 
• 1 awesome picture. 
• 3 powerful words, or a few sentences. 
• 30 sec meaningful music or video. 
• Less is more. 
! 
note: these slides are not less.
If/When It Works 
Double Down.
When It Works, Double Down. 
• If someone LOVES u, it’s working. 
• If someone HATES u, it’s working. 
• Once u get signal, try iteration, repetition. 
• Once u get repetition, try variation. 
• Good artists COPY; great artists STEAL 
(from themSELVES!)
Be Your SELF. 
(But Be Ur SUPER Self)
Always Be Your [SUPER] Self 
• Start from the Heart. 
• Be YOUrself. Be Authentic. Be Comfortable. 
• But: the MOST AWESOME, PASSIONATE u. 
• Find a feeling or emotion u can sustain 
• [sometimes even weakness can be ok]
Are U Ready? 
GO 4 IT!

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Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Branding for Startups & Sith Lords (Mumbai, Nov 2014)

  • 1. Take A Walk On The Dark Side Branding for Startups & Sith Lords @DaveMcClure @500Startups #INK2014 Mumbai, Nov 2014
  • 2. WARNING: REALLY. BAD. COLORS. AND. FONTS. COMIC SANS!
  • 3. WARNING!!! this deck is guaranteed to offend, provide tragically incorrect advice, and perhaps get you arrested. deal with it.
  • 4. [This Talk] • WTF is a BRAND? • Be Different. • Stand 4 SOMEthing. • Tap Into Humanity: Fear, SEX, Power! ! • Be a Hero, or a VILLAIN. • Don’t say 1000 words. • When It Works, Double Down. • Be Yourself.
  • 5. Read Geoffrey Miller. Sex + Evolution + Consumer Marketing = Awesome
  • 6. More Great Shit to Read. Psychology + Comics
  • 8. NEGATIVE Emotion Examples Fear, Anger, Sadness, Pain, Pathetic, Pariah
  • 9. POSITIVE Emotion Examples Humor, Sex, Power, Daredevils, Babies & Kittens
  • 10. Marketing & BRANDing • Tell a STORY, Build a Storytelling Culture • SINGLE element: Color, Animal, Number, Word • UNIQUE Position relative to Competition • Embrace NEGATIVE/Shameful Positioning (when necessary) • Know When to Get Back to PRODUCT
  • 11. What is BRAND? Brand (def): a name, term, design, symbol that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. ! • Branding began as way to tell one person's cattle from another by a hot iron stamp. • Branding is usually full of PAIN.
  • 12. Q: Who FEELS Your Brand? • Customers • Partners • Investors • Employees • Press
  • 14. Be Different. • Take Risk Early. (U Have Nothing 2 Lose). • Playing it Safe = Death. • Pissing People Off is OK. (in fact, #WINNING) ! • U Can’t Build Brand around INDIFFERENCE. • “Niche 2 WIN” (see blog post) • Love *or* Hate are OK… Both = Good Signal.
  • 15. Stand 4 SOMEthing. (or stand 4 NO-thing) CHANGE. PEACE. POWER. SEX. SEXIST?
  • 16. Ronda Rousey FIGHT. Undefeated #1 UFC Mixed Martial Arts Female Champion
  • 17. Stand 4 SOME-thing, or Stand 4 NO-thing. • Be ICONIC. • SINGLE word or emotion. • Don’t be afraid 2b HATED. • Don’t be afraid 2b SHAMED. • Aim for the Moon! [but land on the Roof]
  • 18. Tap Into [your] Humanity Fear, Sex, Power
  • 19. Tap Into Humanity • Fear: What u run from • Sex: Who we love, lust 4 • Power: Ability 2 Control Ur World • Family: Find Ur Tribe. • Anger: Fight 4 Ur Right [2 Party]
  • 20. Be a Hero! or, Be a Villain (pro tip: Villians have a lot more fun :)
  • 21. Be a Hero… or a Villain • Who do u LOVE, Admire, Want 2 B? • Who do u HATE, Despise, [secretly] jealous? • Whatever u are ATTRACTED to… • Just Don’t Be BORING. • Again: Indifference = Death.
  • 22. Don’t Say 1000 words. [just use 1 Finger]
  • 23. Don’t Say 1000 words. • 1 awesome picture. • 3 powerful words, or a few sentences. • 30 sec meaningful music or video. • Less is more. ! note: these slides are not less.
  • 24. If/When It Works Double Down.
  • 25. When It Works, Double Down. • If someone LOVES u, it’s working. • If someone HATES u, it’s working. • Once u get signal, try iteration, repetition. • Once u get repetition, try variation. • Good artists COPY; great artists STEAL (from themSELVES!)
  • 26. Be Your SELF. (But Be Ur SUPER Self)
  • 27. Always Be Your [SUPER] Self • Start from the Heart. • Be YOUrself. Be Authentic. Be Comfortable. • But: the MOST AWESOME, PASSIONATE u. • Find a feeling or emotion u can sustain • [sometimes even weakness can be ok]
  • 28. Are U Ready? GO 4 IT!