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Brand Deck Essentials
How to build a deck that connects with clients.
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You want to have the right tools when sharing your company’s vision with retailers or potential corporate partners. Enter: the brand overview deck. This document is an essential part of your pitch, which is why we tapped Kelly Lyons for our small business webinar series. Lyons is the founder of Lyonshare, which she describes as “an investment bank for startups.” In her years on Wall Street, the former banker became an expert in building strong decks and pitch materials for her clients as part of her strategic work. She shared tips with our audience for creating an essential deck that they can then modify for meetings with corporate partners and buyers.
DESIGN COMES LAST.
“In my opinion, design is super important, because approximately 80 percent of the information received by the brain is processed visually,” explained Lyons. That said, it doesn’t pay to let the design dictate the information you present. She advised our small business owners to focus on rounding up the information and narratives that will make the deck most compelling and, if possible, hire a designer to capture the essence of your company in the slides. Tell the designer to use a popular slides program like Keynote, Google Sheets or Powerpoint so that you can make edits to content on your own. “This is a branding tool, and you’ll be able to reuse it many times.”
JOT DOWN YOUR INFO AND THEN ORGANIZE IT.
Ask yourself, “What am I trying to convince someone of with this pitch deck?” This should get you started with a brain dump; write down anything that comes to mind about how your business works and what you most want your audience to know after your presentation.
Some of the details of your deck will vary based on the audience, but Lyons said that every brand pitch deck should have answers to the following questions:
- What do I want my audience to agree to and what are five reasons they should say yes?
- What does my company do and how is it different from others in the market?
- What have past audiences really liked about my company? What didn’t resonate with them?
- What information about my company do I have that no one else does?
- How does my business generate revenue?
- What are the top risks in partnering with my business?
- What questions might a potential partner have, even if they say yes?
On the topic of risks, Lyons gave the example of a small business wanting to get their product into Target. Target representatives may worry about supply chain issues, a very real risk when partnering with a small brand. Head those concerns off by outlining a solution in your deck. “You should figure out how you can guarantee, at least via storytelling and this pitch deck, that that won’t happen,” Lyons instructed “[Make sure you’re] always thinking about the mitigant to any potential risk in the deal.”
Owners of service-based businesses can apply all of Lyons’ strategies. She noted that it’s key for these entrepreneurs to emphasize what qualifies them as the best option for providing a particular service, rather than delving too much into their own professional history.
FORMAT FOR FUNCTION.
Once you finish your brain dump, you’ll then organize your information according to importance. Lyons estimated that the first 20 to 25 percent of the deck convinces your audience, the second 25 percent fills in the key details and the last 25 percent gives required details. To that end, she recommended slides be arranged in this order.
Lyons also recommended one bullet per slide so each one doesn’t become too text heavy. Every slide should have descriptive titling that lets a reader know at a glance what you’re covering. Remember, the questions you asked yourself should serve as a guideline but shouldn’t actually be used as titles in your deck. Be sure to include page numbers, and check that the font sizes and branding are consistent. Include your logo on every page.
GET INTO THE NUMBERS.
Your business may not be the biggest, but you will have to have some figures in your deck. “It could be an estimate, but make some type of analysis about what the actual financial impact is going to be to someone that uses this.” What will they save or earn?
If your business is still in the very early stages and you don’t have impressive revenue to quote, you can still make your case. “You always need to prove traction and traction doesn’t always mean sales,” Lyons explained. “Traction can mean, ‘I had an idea and I built it into a product that actually works.’”
Other numbers that can wow an audience include the number of team members (especially if it’s grown) and the number of clients you have. Something to leave out of your deck? Your price list.
MODIFY YOUR BASE DECK ACCORDING TO YOUR NEEDS.
Build your basic deck and then make versions for different audiences and uses.
For corporate partnership pitches
The standard brand overview presentation will need some upgrades to get buy-in from corporate partners. The idea here is they already have a sense of your company and its place in the marketplace. Instead of starting with a company overview, start with a deal overview. Be sure to add slides that detail who your team is and what your expectations will be for this partnership. Are you asking for co-branding? Advertising? Help with distribution? Be clear on both what problem you’re solving and how you’ll like them to collaborate.
Lyons recommended that purpose-driven businesses make their impact goals apparent on every or almost every slide of their decks to show how social responsibility is built into their business’ DNA.
DO THIS BEFORE YOUR PRESENTATION.
Lyons recommended that you let your deck sit for a day and then you review for details for sending out. Practice your pitch. It should be 10 minutes or shorter; you want to make sure you have plenty of time to answer questions and have a genuine conversation so that you really connect with your potential partner or client.
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