The brand as an asset for successful exit strategies in startups


The Spanish startup market experienced 53 exits worth more than 1 billion euros in 2023. These operations, in which the founding team sells part of a company or makes it go public, have always been a challenge. We know it firsthand because Soluble was born in the digital ecosystem, and we have accompanied dozens of technology companies. And we are also clear that these challenges were easier until a few years ago if you had a great product.

However, in the current circumstances—marked by abundant supply, less demand and fierce competition— it is necessary to rise above the red ocean. Achieving this is possible and, above all, easier, thanks to branding. In this edition of Solublabla, we unpack the whys and wherefores.

Exploiting a brand's value

Brand equity is the value people place on a brand and the value it brings to a company's overall offering. Having a brand is not necessary; it is inevitable. Therefore, if it is not built strategically, operational decisions will define the image that is transmitted to the outside world.

A conscious strategy helps an organization to be cohesive and meet its business objectives. At this point, it becomes clear that it is an essential asset to become relevant and generate preference in all markets, including investment.

Acquiring a startup with a lot of brand equity is to ensure trusted connections between potential customers and the product. Going beyond to offer a complete experience which is full of nuances.

Standing out and reducing uncertainty

In other words, a strong brand helps to stand out from competitors. An excellent digital product, accompanied by a brand that is not established, can be much less attractive than a good product multiplied by the brand. Getting the best of both worlds is something we specialize in. We talk about making good companies look as good as they really are.

At the operational level, this ability is useful even in negotiation processes: strategy helps to clarify what needs to be communicated, and identity provides an extra layer that enhances the discourse. When in doubt about whether to invest in two exit situations, branding can tip the balance.

It makes sense if we consider that we project less risks. A large part of the industry is convinced that we don't invest in ideas but in people. So, if we design strategies based on what a successful team already is, already does and could do, in addition to its most essential motivations, the probabilities of success are multiplied.

Ensuring scalability and sustainability

Once the exit has happened, an authentic and effective brand will facilitate the processes to scale, again making the product more attractive at all stages of the funnel. It will be easier to find alternative markets, launch products or explore innovative lines of business. The experience will be consistent across all touchpoints, even if new ones arrive.

It will even reduce costs and optimize resources by developing the actions and working the channels that really contribute to growth or ensure sustainability.

Attracting and fidelizing talent

The exit generates doubt and uncertainty in the team. Although it does not affect day-to-day operations, the questions that arise could damage some relationships in the short, medium, and long term.

Having a clear purpose and aligning people with it helps connect with the future. To understand that these types of operations are moments of transition to fulfill the goal that drives the company.

This is an effective way to build talent loyalty, but the brand—which contributes to positioning, to highlighting rational and emotional attributes—has the potential to attract talent and underpin the organization's capabilities at a time that demands major performance.

Successful cases that are close to us

During the last few years, we have witnessed two international exits. The first is Declarando, the leading consulting and accounting software for the self-employed in Spain.

Together with them, we worked to develop a brand strategy and identity that allowed them to speak directly to their audience about the things that matter. We helped them showcase the clarity they bring to the market, showing that they are targeting autonomous workers (a concept that goes beyond freelancers) across all industries in the Spanish market. Speaking in gerunds to convey real power. In April 2022, it was announced that Visma, a Norwegian technology group that aims to empower people by simplifying and automating complex processes, acquired them.

This Nordic giant acquired Quaderno, a solution seeking peace of mind. How? By automatically managing the taxes that an online business pays in each country. They came to Soluble to align the brand with their evolving reality, get higher-quality traffic to their website and increase conversion. With these bases, we defined an identity—visual and verbal—that was warm and approachable. We even gave life to Qoodle, the doodle that represented the brand personality, relaxing the tone of the information and bringing peace of mind.

After its rebranding, this organization joined a conglomerate that provided it with resources and expertise to consolidate itself as one of the world leaders in this sector.

A decisive factor

We work from strategy to generate authentic, consistent, and scalable identities that help to transcend. We do this because we understand brands as businesses' critical assets to satisfy their objectives and purposes. We do it because the brand is a strategic necessity capable of modulating and determining a company's future.

At Soluble, nothing happens because of a single person. To make this post possible, the intervention of Marta Factor and Cristian R. Marín in the writing and Fèlix Hernández in the visual design was necessary.