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How to Start a Brand in 24 Hours

Eighteen hours ago, Shaan Puri sent out a thread of business ideas to get off his chest (Shaan is an idea machine, follow him).

I liked his smelling salts idea and decided to start my process for validating demand.

Here I'll show you exactly how I did it in 5 hours. I won't hold any secrets back, either.

Note 1: Why am I giving this away for free? Ideas are cheap, execution is everything.
Note 2: The title is clickbait, of course. I personally hate when folks say they own a "brand" when all they have is a website. Brand is the sum of every interaction with your customer, so by my definition you don't actually have a brand until you have customers. But building out an online presence to validate demand is step one, and that's what this is about.
Note 3: Want to see the design concept I made in Figma? Here it is.

Zooming Out Real Quick

Why are we doing this? Here's the strategy:

  1. Find a potentially viable name for the brand
  2. Create photorealistic mockups to use on our "test website" and "test ad creatives"
  3. Create a landing page
  4. Create some Facebook Ads
  5. Test the brand
  6. Adjust positioning/messaging of the brand
  7. Either commit to the brand or cut your losses

Investing more than $1000 into a brand that you haven't proven demand for is insane. Testing your brand using this method could potentially save you $30,000 of bad assumptions.

Fringe benefits of this strategy: If you've done all this and proven demand for your product, you'll have a far easier time bringing on investors and partners.

Enough small talk, let's gooo!

Step 1: Find a Name

Don't stress about a name right now. Keep in mind that the most popular restaurant chain ever is named after some random Irish dude, and that Home Depot was almost called "Bad Bernie's Buildall."

For name inspiration, go to namelix.com

Namelix uses AI to come up with names related to the keywords you put in. You can then specify what type of names you'd like--brandable names such as Google, misspellings such as Lyft, or compound words (note: a compound word such as Fedex is called a Portmanteau).

You might not find your chosen name on namelix.com, but it could spark some inspiration. If you do think of a name that could work, use domainr.com to make sure that the domain you want is available.

In this case, mindframer.com, the domain that I want is not available. But we'll go with it for now. The .co extension is still available, so we can possibly work with that.

Step 2: Create a Logo

Folks, if you're not using Figma yet, you definitely should. That's where I did most of this project.

In Figma, I started a new file. I went with a text-only logo, made in a font called Sofia Pro, which is sexy and proportional and clean all at the same time.

But where to find good fonts? Use Adobe Fonts for premium fonts at a flat monthly fee. Give yourself an artificial restraint and commit to using fonts that are only on this list made by Jeremiah Shoaf: The 40 Best Fonts Available on Adobe Fonts. This way you'll use great fonts without getting lost in the sea of typefaces.

For this project, the logo is simply "mindframer", all lowercase and in a dark sexy blue.

We're 15 minutes in and we have a name and logo made. On to the nexttt.

Step 3: Build Mockups

As long as you're planning to sell somewhat conventional products, you'll be able to find an off-the-shelf mockup that will work great.

If you're attempting to sell a never-before-made product, such as doorknob shaped like Baby Yoda, you'll need to engage a 3d render artist. I recommend hiring Victor Ionichi on Upwork to create custom mockups for you.

If, however, you're planning to sell a new spin on a readily available product, such as a candle or a new carbonated beverage, do this:

Go to unblast.com and search [your item] + "mockup"

Find and download some mockups that you think might fit the aesthetic you're going for. They're gonna be .psd (photoshop) files.

Now that you have some mockup files, open one of them in Photoshop. Don't panic if you can't "do 3d stuff" in Photoshop, this is easier than it looks.

Once you're in Photoshop, navigate to the Layers panel. You'll see a layer that's most likely titled "Design" or "Change This" or "Place Design Here".

Next, double-click on this layer. A new tab in Photoshop will open. It'll look flat, because it's the design that Photoshop will later wrap around the 3d object that you're trying to mock up. It might even be empty. This one is empty. 👇🏻

At the bottom of the Photoshop window you'll see the dimensions of the image. write those down somewhere, you'll need them in Figma soon. In this case the dimensions are 1342px x 1980px.

Now we'll make our design in Figma, and then bring it back to Photoshop to complete the mockup. We'll do this because Figma is the fastest way to design something, and we're aiming for speed here, right?

So in the same Figma file that we used to make the logo, create a new frame that uses the dimensions we wrote down: 1342px x 1980px.

So in Figma, we create the packaging design. Once done, export as a .png and head back to Photoshop.

In photoshop, place the new design onto the canvas. It should fit perfectly, because we made it to exactly the same dimensions. Now, close the tab. when you do, a dialog box will pop up asking you if you want to save the changes. Click yes, and your design will magically appear wrapped around your mockup in the original tab you had open.

Hide the background layer if there is one, and export to .png.

Now that you have a good-looking mockup in hand, it's time to build a website concept in Figma.

Step 4: Build a Website Design

For this project we don't need a website with eCommerce functionality, so no Shopify is required. We'll create the initial design in Figma. From there we have two options: build it out in Webflow ourselves, or hire someone on Upwork to do it for $200-$400.

But back to the design we need to create in Figma.

Don't reinvent the wheel here--we're moving fast. Find a website to model your design after. In this case I modeled my design after Hydrant's impressive website. This means you're standing on the shoulders of giants. Not only has Hydrant probably A/B tested this website multiple times, but you can outsource some of your layout and design decisions to them.

Important: imitate, but don't steal. I took care not to use any of Hydrant's intellectual property.

At this stage you have a full website mockup (the homepage anyhow).

When you use Facebook ads to test demand, you'll want two things to happen:

  1. You want every website visitor who clicks the "shop now" buttons to be taken to an "out of stock" page
  2. You want to capture as many emails as possible from this test.

Why build an entirely separate 'out-of-stock' page?

First, you want to see who truly has intent to learn more. If someone clicks the "shop now" button, they've demonstrated a level of intent that is relevant to you.

Second, a separate page makes it easy for you to track conversions. Later on you'll set up a Facebook pixel trigger that fires if your user reaches the 'out-of-stock' page.

On your 'out of stock' page, include an email capture. Let visitors know that they can "reserve their place in line" by entering their email. Obviously uphold your end of the deal if you do end up creating the product.

For extra points, add SMS capture.

At this point, get your design built in a website builder. I fully recommend Webflow. Others prefer Unbounce for their A/B testing functionality. Either do this step yourself, or save yourself half a day and outsource it.

Step 5: Create Some Facebook Ads

At this stage, create between 10 and 20 Facebook ad creatives.

Mix up your style. Create carousel ads, still image ads, moving text ads, and UGC ads. UGC ads are "User Generated Content" ads. As Savannah Sanchez points out, UGC is actually AGC (actor-generated content) most of the time.

For more on UGC-style ads and using TikTok influencers, check out this thread I wrote.

Step 6: Install your Analytics Software

Before you start running ads, make sure you have tracking software installed. I recommend using Google Tag Manager to keep your site speedy and your header code all in one place.

All this software is free:

  1. Google Analytics. The latest version, GA4 is awesome. Just be aware that if you intend to use Google Optimize for A/B testing, you'll need to use Google's older version (Universal Analytics) for now.
  2. Google Optimize for A/B testing, if you'd like
  3. Quantcast for more detailed reporting on your audience. Learn more about your customers, such as their shopping interests and occupation.
  4. Microsoft Clarity for heatmaps and screen recordings. If you use this in concert with Google Optimize, you can optimize your website to a ridiculous level.
  5. Install all relevant pixels. Using Google Tag Manager, install your Facebook Pixel.

Test everything.

Some of these softwares may be overkill for your test. But now you know about them.

Step 7: Run your Tests

At this point you're all systems go to launch your ads. I'm going to assume you have around $1000 to use for adspend. This will give you roughly 100,000 impressions, which is enough to get some statistically significant feedback from the market.

I am not a FB Ads expert, but I discussed this with Sam Collier and here's a strategy he passed along:

Use CBO (campaign budget optimization).

Build 6-8 ad sets, and target a different segment of your audience with each ad set. Within each ad set you should run 4-6 ads.

Set your adspend budget to $50/day and don't modify your campaign for the first five days. After five days of testing, you'll be able to see which ad sets and which ads are winning. Take the winners and rinse and repeat with the remaining $750 in your adspend budget.

Additionally you could use Google Optimize to split traffic to two different landing pages.

Step 8: Commit, or Don't

At this stage, you'll have an idea if your brand idea has a chance to be profitable or not. Just as important, you'll have hard data you can use to make informed decisions with your marketing, or to present to investors if you choose.

Conclusion

That's it folks. There are a few steps in this framework that some might call overkill. Do what you need to validate your idea. Just don't make uninformed decisions that could cost you money.

If you loved this, definitely follow me on Twitter and introduce me to your friends.

Much love,

Eric