Insights

One year as Folklore

By

Alister Coleman

May 8, 2022

A year ago we closed the chapter on the safe brand for our firm that was Tempus Partners to begin a new journey as Folklore, a brand that reflected our vision for the future, our long-range ambition and our differentiation as a firm.

Why Folklore? We believe it's our role to help iconic founders unlock their ambition and build great legacies – to help founding teams create business and cultural Folklore. But in a world of VCs named after rocks, trees, momentum, light, clouds, animals, puzzles, streets, places and the VC partners themselves, we were perplexed why so few VC firms embraced their purpose in their name. So when the opportunity arose, we nailed our purpose and ambition on the door, and Folklore was born. 

We didn’t just change our name. We cemented our commitment to founder vision by adopting the faceless paradox of René Magritte who believed we need not look far for the mysterious, since it lurks everywhere in the most conventional of lives. Folklore's adaptation shows that no matter who you are as a founder, we see you, we see your vision – and we see it in hypercolour.

What did we learn from our rebranding experience?

Folklore has always had a permanent capital mindset – from first cheque to forever – investing at every stage as a long-term partner for founders. This ambition was in our original blueprint for Tempus, and it remains the essence of what we want to achieve. But we never truly communicated our ambition to build a permanent capital investment firm that shed the ‘old ways’ of putting capital’s priorities ahead of the very people creating value –  the founders. 

It took us time to reflect on what mattered most in this journey, and we want to share some of those lessons from our rebrand with you, and give you a first look at where our identity is going… 

Lesson #1: Don’t be afraid of change. Carve an authentic identity for your business and have the conviction to stand firmly behind it. It's easy to say that you don’t want to risk brand equity, but this is an optimisation exercise and after making the change you only have to educate those people who already know you. The future is ahead, and your new brand will ‘meet’ many, many more people than you currently know, and they’ll accept the new brand for what it is. So get moving. 

Lesson #2: Not everyone needs to love your brand, but it must be memorable. If you want people to really understand who you are and what makes you different, your brand must reflect what you stand for. It must sing to you. When it’s ‘right’ it will feel comforting and you’ll be excited. Because branding is more emotional than it is cognitive, when people have the same emotional reaction as you, that's when magic happens. Good quality “F” merch helps, too.

Lesson # 3: Your team are your company’s evangelists – create a space that matches your brand’s ambition in order for them to thrive. Folklore’s brand reflects our beliefs and our values, which are deeply embedded into our culture, our ethos and our vision. We created our Redfern office to reflect these beliefs and our purpose, and to have a place where our Folks feel inspired to do their best work.

Images by Andrew Worssam

Lesson #4: Get professional support. A great place to start is by engaging with a brand strategist or a senior designer that knows how to craft a brand and an identity. If the early work feels new, exciting and scary – keep going. But if the early work is uncomfortable like ill-fitting shoes, say thanks and move on. Designers do their best work when there’s an emotional connection to the brand vision and the company values, and sometimes it's just not there. 

Lesson #5: Don’t grow stagnant. Brands are living, breathing things. They must always evolve. We have poured a lot into our brand and it will continue to evolve as a reflection of who we are as a firm and what we stand for. This is why we’re excited to offer you a sneak peek at where we’re going…   

Our brand is developing

Early-stage VC isn’t supposed to be ‘safe’. Folklore invests as early as pre-product ideation and pre-revenue into the most daring founders. And that's not VC lip-service where founders later find out ‘it's too early’. Over 96% of our founders got investment from us at the pre-seed or seed stages.

Good companies evolve their products and their brands, and Folklore looks to the future, across a vast landscape for founders in the wild. We look for signals of amazing vision and the life-changing products that create iconic companies. Like startups that create carbon-neutral drones for life-saving medical supplies, radical approaches to supporting addiction, or data-driven insights to improve student wellbeing

By reflecting our search for visionary founders and their mission in our brand, we are anchoring our culture and what the world expects of us to our founders’ outcomes. 

You will begin to see us adapt our identity to reflect our open-minded search for founding teams beyond the obvious places. As we establish greater surface area as a firm, Folklore will become more active in sharing the values that make us unique, and will embrace the values and ambition of other community builders in order to share our collective success. This is the evolving identity of our brand: founder-focussed, more perspective, greater surface area and just as ambitious.

We believe founding teams deserve more than a cheque, a tweet and a request for financials every quarter. Folklore has been building infrastructure and products to support our founders and their teams, and over time these products will develop their own branding as we share them with the ecosystem.

Products like Campfire (shhh…), our Chapters: People, Growth, Product, Bootcamps for our operating teams, and our support for communities like DAO Under, Startmate, Earlywork, Wade Institute, Textbook Ventures and What the Health are part of our mission and the experience of working with Folklore. All of this represents Folklore’s respect for ANZ startup culture, community and our contribution to the broader ecosystem.

What’s next? 

We know that great founders can come from anywhere, so wherever you are in Australia and New Zealand, we want to reach you. Over the next few months, we’ll share more of our  product vision along with our brand evolution.

I promise it won’t be safe or boring.

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