Building Your Brand: What HBO’s "Silicon Valley" Can Teach New Companies

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The HBO show Silicon Valley is hilarious, but it also contains valuable lessons for startups and small businesses alike. Learn more inside.

Building your brand is the first concern for any company with ambition. Actually doing it is quite another thing.

Most startups never manage to do it, and that’s why the majority of them last no longer than five years. You can find inspiration for branding from practically anywhere.

HBO’s show "Silicon Valley" is all about the tech startup world, but you can learn a whole lot from the series. These lessons are going to demonstrate how you can build up your brand.

A Failure of an Initial Idea Doesn’t Have to Mean the End

Few entrepreneurs are going to hit upon the right idea on their first attempt. In fact, studies say that up to 20 percent of startups pivot from their original business plan. It demonstrates that just because you fail with one idea doesn’t mean that you have to abandon all hope.

The company Pied Piper demonstrated this in the series. Their first app was designed for songwriters to determine if their copyrights had been infringed upon. But this was a disastrous startup idea, and so they pivoted by using advanced compression technologies to produce a company that acted as a competitor to Dropbox.

Related Article:Real Talk: 6 Things No One Told You About Personal Branding

Naming of the Company

The name of your company is as important as what your company actually does. One of the big mistakes startups make is not checking whether their proposed brand name is valid. If it infringes upon someone else’s brand name, you will receive a cease and desist order in the mail, which can take you all the way back to the beginning.

The main character, Richard didn’t take the naming of his company seriously, and it cost him because he realized that another company also bore the Pied Piper name. So how do you name your company right?

  • Clear and Short: Make sure that your name is short and to the point. Anything that’s too long will be hard to remember and won’t resonate with customers. Also, Google your company name to ensure that your proposed name doesn’t have any negative references.
  • Is it Free?: Your company name must be free or you are going to find it difficult to compete on an original platform. Furthermore, if the name is trademarked it will land you in legal trouble.

Stop Trying Too Hard to Be Unique

It’s easy to go out of your way to be unique and stand out. Erlich hired a graffiti artist to create a logo for Pied Piper. What he received back was wholly inappropriate to the company and said nothing about what it stood for. Instead, the artist concentrated on himself.

And this is an illustration of what can happen when you are so desperate to show how unique you are. If you are desperate to be unique, you are going to come across as a frustrated artist, as the graffiti guy did in the series.

Everything you do must be strategic. For example, a logo has to show what your company is, what it does, and what it stands for. Every major company in the world has created an iconic brand because their logos incorporate these three things.

Simplicity is always the best path. Stop trying to be overly unique and you will stop wasting money on marketing.

Related Article:7 Ways Your Personal Brand Sucks

Choose an Investor Who Will Support Your Company

 A lot of startups just want to secure an investor who will give them a lot of money. But money can only take you so far. Before Gavin Belson saw Nucleus receive a bad online reputation, he offered $10 million for Pied Piper. The characters decided to reject this offer for a lower amount.

They realized that this raising this lesser funding would enable them to receive business mentoring at the same time. For them, the chance to learn was much more important than a fast payout, which is a characteristic startups need to succeed. A business with the right people will always be worth more than a business that happens to have lots of money to play around with.

When you are branding, you should focus on people who are going to support your branding efforts. An investor with direct branding experience will be worth far more than the money they are giving you.

Related Article: What is More Important: Building Your Business Brand or Personal Brand?

Last Word: Branding Takes Time

Startups are determined to become a big brand in the shortest possible time. What the length of HBO’s "Silicon Valley" has taught everyone is that it takes time to become successful through building a brand. This is not a process you can rush, nor should you attempt to do so.

How will you brand your company?

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