There is no one size fits all solution. But there is a one size fits all process -- learn, formulate a strategic direction, gain consensus, cull the strategy down into its simplest vision, then reverse engineer the components necessary to bring it alive. Fortune 500 or start-up, advertising agency or client side, this approach never fails to generate results.
You need to start with a strong creative brief that very simply answers who you are marketing to and what you know about them. Most advertising agency briefs have some sort of "single main thought" that you want to convey, along with up to three "proof points" that are the tangible benefits or features that support the main thought. Creating a good brief is an art form, and a good agency or a good strategic brand planner can develop one. Then you need to let a good team of creatives develop concepts.
The best ads tap into the emotions of their audiences. I've found that many times clients are concerned with saying everything that they feel they need to communicate, and the emotional impact gets lost in rational concepts that get lost to the end user in a 30 second spot or a display ad.
You can Google advertising creative brief to find examples, and if you like a certain brand or ad trying running a search for their creative brief. Ad Age has a pretty good article about briefs as well: http://adage.com/article/small-agency-diary/creative-briefs-simple/136711/.
So, it would seem that you might have the typical platform quandary -- you need to grow both users/investors, and companies that want to participate in your platform. Which do you grow first?
Growing users/investors is likely the priority. If you have a few companies, then you can grow your base of interested people. If you have enough people who are paying attention--and can cultivate a group that are willing to invest--then you can get more companies.
To raise awareness and grow the user base, I would focus on the controversial issues, which will be more likely to pique interest and to get people watching and engaging. Perhaps find some way for people to participate without investing, and a reason why people should share.
You can use PR to tie both the controversy and the model together, and use marketing and social media to promote the controversy.
Taglines that simply state benefits or features were in vogue at what point, but branding has evolved to more evocative taglines.
And, quite often taglines are benefit oriented not feature oriented. So, if your features are on demand, instant, and convenience, what is the benefit to your audience? Can you survey current customers, and find out what using your space enables?
Is it productivity and convenience? Or is is credibility? Or perhaps it's "no borders" because they can do business anywhere. It's impossible to come up with a good tagline based on a few lines--but listen to your customers, and you can start down the right path.
I'd say most leading brands are good because they resonate with people and ring true--which I would say is authentic.
Have a Coke and a smile. Powerful brand. Very simple. Is sugar water authentic? Perhaps not. But do people enjoy Coke, and does it convey happiness? I think so.
Nike Just Do It. Very authentic. Nike was born from competition, and has corporate goals to crush the competition -- so this is a brand ethos as well as a rallying cry.
Authenticity can also mean living what you say. So Tom's Shoes--donating a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair they sell. Pretty powerful stuff.
Having worked with Ikea, I can relate first hand that "Creating a better everyday life for the many people" is absolutely a core value. Their furniture may be quirky and varied, but somehow they build stuff that fits our needs at various life stages really well, and also create a truly unique store experience.
I'd say authenticity is the first step to creating a brand. I view my role in helping companies discover their brand, not in creating the brand. Brands exist. Every company has one. They are frequently hidden, or surrounded by layers of complexity. But the key to branding is finding something an organization IS, then being that really well.
The first part if focus. Is there one user set that you are ideally suited for -- solve their needs and build your value prop around that. Many times, companies want to serve everyone so they end up with a watered down value prop that end up appealing to no one. Ironically, a strong value prop works better even with the audiences it isn't intended. for. Take the Nisson Xterra from a product standpoint. It was marketed to be peope with an active, outdoor lifestyle. Nisson targeted the person who might strap on a surfboard and drive onto the beach. Now, most users end up not using it that way. But, because they built the brand and value prop around the active user, they establish a strong car brand that attracted a larger audience.
That said, people often misunderstand branding to mean that you have to always only be that one thing to that one audience, which is not true. Start with that simple value prop, and then develop more detailed communication.
The value prop itself should be able to be conveyed in a brief sentence. It should be true to who you are and what your organization delivers. And it should be differentiated from your other available options.
And, great if it is a psychological benefit! Nike's "Just Do It" is one of the great examples of a modern value prop. IBM had the informal, "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" -- a safety benefit for the risk averse. Find what you do really well that appeals to your core client base, then do that even better.
Hope this helps!
Congraluations! If you are able to delegate and find time to be strategic, you ARE doing your jobs. Most startups have trouble getting past their initial success because the founder feels they need to do all the work and make every decision. If you trust your team and can delegate effectively, then you've got a great team and you should focus on vision and strategy.
If you delegate and trust your team to do things, then not only are you happy you get to think strategically, but your team will be more motivated.
I'll add two caveats. I'm assuming that you are developing strategic ideas for your team to implement, and giving them some freedom on how to accomplish your strategy or objective. If you are simply handing out tasks, then micromanaging to make sure they are done your way, then that's not really delegation. That's direction.
Second, if you are constantly coming up with new ideas and asking the team to implement--which pulls them away from the core strategy--then you are in danger of not fulfilling your overall mission no matter how cool each of the new ideas is.
But, if you are focused on the long-term strategy, and working on ideas to get there--and then delegating the work of getting there to your team--awesome.
Unfortunately, you likely can't ask them that intent. I worked with Knowclick, which is a company that combines surveys with analytics of user behavior to try to derive intent. And, it's interesting that people often say and do quite different things. But for intent with a social platform, first you have to get them hooked on the value. You can ask them basic questions about value or features they would like to see. Or, employ an NPS survey mentality. Ask them how likely they are to refer the platform to others on a ranking from 0-10. In order to build the platform, you need scores of 8-10 that indicates that you have evangelists who enjoy or see so much value they are eager to tell others about. If you haven't read Platform Revolution, I'd it for a primer on challenges and strategies to building out both audiences -- including one that pays and one that doesn't-- in a timely manner.