Branding strategy is an integral part of every start-up’s growth plan. However, it can prove challenging and confusing for a new company. I, Sanjay Mehta, founder and partner at 100X.VC, warmly welcome Brand Guru Jagdeep Kapoor to share his thoughts, insights and advice on the same.
Importance of branding for a start-up
A start-up is born out of a unique, scalable idea. Along with this idea, you need a brand name and strategy to be identified and then recognized. That is why every start-up requires branding as much as any other company. The companies we see that have become huge giants with successful brands were also new start-ups at some point. While you build your technology and capital in your start-up, you also need to invest in building your identity and identifying your core values.
Establishing a digital-first brand
During the lockdown, people have realized the importance of digital brands and formed strong associations with it. We all acknowledge that the online world is snowballing. A successful brand is not one which is offline or online, but preferably in-line with customer expectations. As a start-up founder, you need to look comprehensively and not narrowly.
The digital medium helps you in terms of convenience, speed and assortment and your success depends on making the customer realize your brand’s offering. The following postulates can be emulated while establishing a digital brand -
Building a brand with less capital
Building a brand is a learning process and not a spending one. It is a huge myth that huge money needs to be poured into building a successful brand. Rather, time, effort and key values matter much more than money in this process.
Ethics and brand strategy
Your consumer will not come back if your ethics are not in-line while marketing. Fooling someone is not marketing but cheating. Marketing is based on honesty and must be put across interestingly. If you want the same consumer to come to you, again and again, keeping a high standard of ethics while building a brand is what you need to do.
Key focus point in brand building with capital constraints
The key focal point will always be your customer’s needs. There are two ways to identify a need. The first is to cater to an existing need, such as opening a new restaurant after identifying that customers like dining out. The second is to create a need. For example, Bisleri innovated by selling packaged drinking water and created an entirely new market.
Importance of brand building to different businesses
Brand strategy is not business-specific. The way you buy a commodity and a brand are completely different. Today, you are surrounded by brands built over the years, and you integrate them as a part of your life now.
Building a B2B brand
A B2B brand faces an additional challenge due to the presence of a gatekeeper. An interesting example is that of Otis Elevators which competed with other cheaper lift services. While pitching to the client, they spoke about their proof of quality with their presence in the Eiffel Tower. This showed their expertise to the client clearly.
Focus on new customers vs retaining old customers
While running a business, you need to find the right balance as both these objectives are equally important.
Science of naming the brand
A lot of brands have 3 letters since these are easy to remember and stay in the consumers’ memory. Your brand’s name has to be an easily digested morsel and not the whole meal!
Loyalty in a digital brand
One way to build loyalty is to launch a subscription model to give loyalty and regularity of purchase.
The second is to build a relationship with your customers to increase loyalty.
Brand positioning mantra
The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is to define your core value. The main point is not selection, but rejection of the choices before you.
Brand strategy: Outsourced vs developed in-house
While both options are good, what is important is to choose expertise. Branding is not a trial and error situation, and thus, you need to choose the highest expertise when you are analyzing your options.
Pricing in a brand strategy
If you overprice your brand, you are cheating your customers. On the other hand, if you underprice it, you are not doing justice to your brand. One solution is to use competitor pricing methods by bench marking your competitors’ pricing. However, a better way is to understand your customers’ perceived value of your product and price it accordingly. It is a myth that a digital brand needs to be discounted or priced lower to be successful.
Name and logo of the start-up brand
The logo plays a vital role in recognizing the brand. Colors, fonts and images come together to give cues to the customer about your offering. Thus, the logo and brand are essential for your overall branding strategy.
Rebuilding a brand
While innovation is a must, every brand also requires renovation. As the world changes, your brand also needs to step up and be contemporary to keep pace with the trends.
Right time to invest in a branding strategy
Currently, media prices are low. However, that should not affect your spending on a branding strategy. The first objective is to analyze your need and go accordingly, irrespective of media prices.