Start Up Blog

How a new brand can gain trust

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 25, 2014

This post by Seth Godin got me thinking about how to generate trust when we are a new brand or startup on the block. Here is what I think:

Building trust is simple. Create stories by doing things which exceed expectations. One customer at a time. When we do it, they share their good fortune to have done business with us. Trust never comes from the brand owner, but the interactions with the brand recipients. They then deliver that trust to others who buy the brand off them metaphorically. Thought they’d get X and they got X+1. They tell people about their win. We win by being generous.

Startup blog says: Generosity is the fulcrum of trust.

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The first 10

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 2, 2011

When we build our next project we should only worry about the first 10.

The first 10 people we tell.

These first 10 people are people that we know, people that like us, trust us and value our opinion. If they don’t tell anyone, we need to start again. Re-build our project, or find another one. But if they tell another 5. And then that 5 tell another 3. Then we can be pretty sure that it is start start of work that matters. Work that people need.

At the start of our next launch we should really think hard about these three words: the first 10.

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Entropy & business

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 14, 2011

The scientifically minded readers of this blog will be more familiar with the law of entropy than the business minded. The law of entropy defined from a physics viewpoint is heavy in maths and description. But from a social perspective the concept of entropy is generally used as a metaphor for chaos, disorder. They way I’d describe it is like this:

Unless we attend to stuff and maintain it, it will naturally fall apart.

We see this every day with old houses and cars. Unless they are attended to frequently, they just fall apart. What we don’t do is take the analogy as deep as we should into the businesses we run. They too require constant attention just to maintain the status quo. To grow, requires extra attention above ‘maintenance levels’. The problem with startups is that we are so focused on gaining initial traction and momentum that we forget about the upkeep. We are so focused on the next win, improvement or iteration, that we forget to check the stuff we’ve already done, built or created. And so it can start to fall apart without us really noticing. In some ways the most important innovation we can make is maintenance.

Lesson: If we don’t maintain what we already have, then the new stuff we introduce will end up being zero sum game.

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Brands that have fun – Toyota Prius

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 12, 2011

There’s something about brands that know how to have fun. I reckon the Toyota Prius fits in this category. Their recent advertisement asking the crowd to work out the plural version of the word Prius is very catchy. (I’m a long time jingle lover). It’s also a cool way to build some anticipation and awareness of the new range

Is your brand having fun?

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One Downsmanship – John’s phone

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 9, 2011

The myriad of tablet and smart phone launches recently seems like a race of one upsmanship which inevitably leads to total confusion. Occasionally something really stands out. In the sea of features, occasionally one product makes you stop and take notice. On this occasion it is because it does less. I like to call it one downsmanship.

Introducing John’s Phone.


It makes and takes calls. That’s it. It’s so simple Alexander Graham Bell would know how to use it. It does have a quirky ‘analogue’ way of storing numbers, sending messages and playing games which you’ll see in the photo essay below. To me that adds some charm and talkability. At $110 it’s not exactly cheap – but it can be bought outside of contract.  As entrepreneurs the question we should be asking ourselves is this:

“How can we do less, to stand out more?”

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Visual Orgy – Retail

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 26, 2010

This is an amazing piece of creative work from H&M at a new retail store launch in Amsterdam. Check it out below.

The same theme shines through again. Creativity wins. The production costs are clearly much less that the creative input. I wonder what other startup brands could use the visual projection idea to make something worth sharing on the web?

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100,000 eyeballs for $8

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 8, 2010

If you want to know how to get your brand exposed to 100,000 people for $8 then we need look no further than what David did.

You may remember this post where David go his Jarritos soft drink van all branded up. Well, he took the next step in exposure and got to the AFL grand final early for a front row car park near the MCG for a measly $8. As far as I can tell it’s one of the greatest media investments of all time – there were 100,000 people in attendance. See photo journal below. Great startup bootstrapping David.

When we get big

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 1, 2010

There are many things we’ll implement when we get big enough. When our footprint is big enough to deserve the investment of the bigger, game changing idea. When we achieve X, we’ll implement Y.

Maybe we ought implement Y now and skip X altogether?

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Bratz dolls & stealing ideas

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 25, 2010

It was recently decided in an appeal court that success of the Bratz dolls brand is not based on the idea. It’s my favourite court ruling in a long time. In April 2009, a federal judge upheld the $100 million jury verdict that essentially gave Mattel ownership of the billion dollar plus Bratz brand. Which basically gave Mattel the rights to most of MGA’s Bratz products. A jury in the case found that the designer who created the dolls was working at Mattel when he conceived of the idea and the name and made the initial drawings for the pouty and multi ethnic girls.

But this decision got over ruled a few a days ago by a unanimous panel of the ninth circuit.


“It is not equitable to transfer this billion-dollar brand, the value of which is overwhelmingly the result of MGA’s legitimate efforts, because it may have started with two misappropriated names,” the appellate panel said in its ruling today.

“It is not equitable to transfer this billion-dollar brand, the value of which is overwhelmingly the result of MGA’s legitimate efforts, because it may have started with two misappropriated names,” the appellate panel said in its ruling today.

The great thing about this decision is that it reconginizes where true brand value comes from, everything ‘but’ the idea. As I’ve always said on Startup blog ideas are near worthless when it comes to building brand equity. Rather it’s the rich combination of design, building supply chains, inventing demand, effective distribution and the constant iteration of these factors. It should not only be a lesson for entrepreneurs, but large lazy corporates who try and beat their more nimble and innovative competition in the courts.

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Seagull Management

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 8, 2010

I heard a great new (old?) terminology the other day called “Seagull Management”

Fly in, shit over everything, steal any hot chips or good food and fly away.


Of course all the other seagulls fight over the food that was stolen in the first instance. It’s an intersting idea we see in many corporate scenarios, less often in start ups.

Here’s an alternative idea “Koala Management”

Give birth to new things, put them on your back while you teach them to navigate the world, nurture them until they are strong enough to stand on their own two feet (four claws?).

No wonder seagulls have such a bad name, where Koalas are so loveable.

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