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SXSW Interactive 2014

When Bad Brands Happen to Good Startups

“Funny coffee mugs, at your doorstep.”
“Online surgery made easy.”
“The Zappos of vibrators.”

We get it. Whether it’s an investor intro, an online listing, or your elevator pitch, there are times when capturing your startup concept in a few words is critical.

But talking to customers? It ain’t one of those times.

Yet for some reason many startups continue to court customers with the same robotic sound bites used in their pitch.

And while a digestible “My Unique Feature” formula is fine for accelerator applications, in the real world, you aren’t pitching a business model or market niche. You’re pitching a product. And even the simplest, fastest, shiniest, funnest product needs more than a value prop and a clever name.

It needs a personality.

We’ll examine brand personality types, marvel at great ones, laugh at bad ones, and share some tips for uncovering your brand voice—one that’s genuine, true, and that offers your customers something no positioning statement can.

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Additional Supporting Materials


  1. What is brand personality and why does it matter for digital startups?
  2. How can under-utilized approaches to brand personality give my startup a competitive advantage?
  3. What are the 7 brand personality types startups can leverage?
  4. What 5 techniques can startups steal from brands people love?
  5. What are the 3 crucial questions a startup should ask itself when building a brand personality?


  • Gary Backaus, Chief Creative Officer, Principal, archer>malmo
  • Justin Dobbs, Associate Creative Director and Senior Copywriter, archer>malmo


Gary Backaus, Chief Creative Officer, Principal, archer>malmo

Meta Information:

  • Tags: branding, startups, marketing
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Entrepreneurialism and Business
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginning
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