Building a tangible reality for your labels: Minimum Viable Brand(ing)7 min read

Based on the practice of the minimum viable product, the Minimum Viable Brand(ing) [MVB] paradigm outlines the fundamental characteristics to launch a brand in the market. While it is complex for structured companies to follow, for start-ups and private labels it is one of the best ways to start making your way in the market. What does it consist of? Read MBK’s guidelines.

Putting your own business idea into action, choosing to profile yourself as a private label (product) orstart-up (service) is a healthy and increasingly widespread ambition. If, on the one hand, planning is everything, on the other hand we can say that, with the current digital dynamics, profiling in a “light” manner is becoming increasingly simple and within everyone’s reach. This is why those practices identified as Minimum Viable Branding are now the essential vademecum for those starting to present themselves on the market.

Organisation, balance and consistency are three key words; the rest can be read in this MBK study, which has always been at the forefront of creating marketing strategies in line with the innovations of the moment.

MVB: what it is

If we keep the analogy with the minimum viable product, we can define an MVB as the minimum amount of time, effort and money to be invested in the creation and presentation of a brand.

If we frame the concept from the point of view of a start-up or a private label, we are talking about the minimum characteristics that a possible digital presence (thus leaving aside the product) must have in order for them to be “attractive” to the public; it is a question of generating a minimum of awareness, enough to push as many users as possible to interact.

In any case, one must not make the common mistake of leaving a badly packaged and coarse structure; there must be a certain balance between structure and flexibility, so that what is presented is a “malleableanticipation of future benefits and improvements.

Moreover, it is essential to work on the structure itself. By presenting an initial output phase, an MVB becomes a feedback generator, valuable material for working on future implementations.

Why choose this approach

Although many people choose detailed and protracted design when launching a brand, for faster and more concentrated realities, relying on this type of programming can be more efficient.

There are four basic reasons for this:

  1. by developing the initial idea of your brand/business in this way, you create a concept that is complete enough to market yourself, but without taking away excessive resources from your company/team;
  2. by ‘shortening‘ the timeframe for action, you start to create interaction between the brand and the audience right away. This is extremely important when dealing with brands that have to impose a product without there being significant sales to support them;
  3. you begin to understand “your people” right from the start: the target audience is not simply chosen, but also shaped according to its role and the initial reactions that you are able to measure;
  4. you articulate your proposal, giving it a real image and ensuring that it can on the one hand develop beyond the concept of an idea, and on the other protect itself from the implications of a direct and structured entry into the market.
minimum viable brand(ing)
MVB: idea-action-process

How to structure a minimum viable brand?

There is no manual for generating the perfect MVB; every company that has chosen to start by following this path has done so with its own schemes. There are, however, a few fundamental rules that serve to define the boundaries without which it would be impossible to be a brand in general.

Over time, MBK has glimpsed a series of points that can summarise these basic steps; their application has meant that many private labels have succeeded in presenting themselves on the market as real presences, giving a voice and a face to products and categories that would otherwise have remained for a long time in a limbo of market presentation still anchored to old communication methods.

There are two levels of action in the construction phase: by task and by target.

Level N.1: Task

At least three basic actions must be carried out, which are the ones that guarantee the ‘minimum‘ for an MVB. Each of these summarises different actions that, in a more complex reality, would require more substantial commitments from many departments. Specifically, we are talking about:

  1. Conceptual Alignment: this is the definition of the brand as “idea and practice“. Once the mission has been outlined, the core values, value proposition and key differentiators are expressed; all this must be declined according to the target, opting for a localised and dedicated language;
  2. Visual identity: it should not stop at just the logo and typing. The visual identity goes through other important choices, such as defining one’s own colour palette, or a complete and distinctive imagery. The visual impact, especially at a first interaction, can be crucial;
  3. Implementation: once the first two steps have been completed, the entire technical structure of your online presence is implemented. The most important thing is to focus on speed and performance, so as not to lose the users’ attention during interaction. Following an internal coherence, you complete the experience by working on the most important touchpoints, and optimising the UX, so that every contact is perfect.

Level N.2: Target

At this point, with the architecture ready in hand, you can ask yourself 5 questions (5 W’s):

  • What are we?
    The true essence of the brand, partly outlined by the product, partly by how you communicate it.
  • What do we believe in?
    Referring back to the conceptual alignment, all the values around which the MVB revolves and acts.
  • Who do we want to attract?
    The target, to be imagined by creating real personas and identifying with the way they interact.
  • What distinguishes us?
    The key differentiators, i.e. all those characteristics that distinguish us as a unique experience among the masses.
  • What do we offer?
    The narrative behind our product.
Paradigma MVB secondo MBK Fincom
MBK Fincom’s MVB Paradigm

Telling concepts and emotions

Nowadays what users are looking for, more than anything else, is storytelling.

The uniqueness of a product is something that the customer takes for granted as soon as they arrive on your page; especially for private labels, if they have landed on your site it means that, at this point, the most important action is to keep the visitor’s attention on the story behind the brand, behind the product, behind the experience you offer, to then skilfully move it towards the objective (conversion).

Never before has the writing and design of content become so important; adding the right amount of emotional appeal ensures that those who encounter us identify with what they see, hear and read, and are more likely to interact profitably and productively.

For a start-up this is more important than ever, especially if you are looking for investors or first customers.

In conclusion

Ultimately, we can summarise the positive aspects of a minimum viable branding approach in three points:

  • even if it is a ‘minimal‘ first approach, it generates enough value to attract our target audience;
  • it demonstrates future benefits to users with a minimum of technical and creative input;
  • it is a continuous feedback generator, which is very important for the implementations that will be applied over time.
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