Branding plays a major role in the development and growth of every business. When it comes to startups, it is of paramount importance.
A brand is what helps you distinguish your product from others in a crowded marketplace and help customers associate better.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO rightly said, “Your brand is what your people say about you after you leave the room.”
The majority of the startups make the blunder of obsessing over their products, meanwhile turning a blind eye to the branding aspect of the very product. This can have disastrous consequences for the product in the long run as it might begin to get irrelevant or unnoticed.
A brand is like a living entity
With a solid brand image, a business can get a loyal clientele as well as a solid competitive advantage. The brand should not be just seen as a company logo or jingle, but as a persona with its own unique identity.
A brand containing life is expressive, engaging, and interactive which grows and matures over the years, just like any living entity.
Therefore, it is very important for a company to carefully choose and invest in building a brand that promotes its unique business method and core values. In the age of the internet, it is of paramount importance to have a unique brand strategy to keep the audience engaged through the right media.
Brand names are seldom selected arbitrarily as it is the first word in which a person will hear about your company.
Though there is no instruction manual per se to select a brand-name, it requires a lot of crafty work. Startup branding is the initial introduction of what you can offer to your customers and investors. People connect on a deeper level with brands that have a persona.
In sales, brand value plays a major role
Branding also helps in establishing a price-point. According to a recently published survey, shoppers are more likely to shell out extra bucks for strongly branded products and services compared to their peers.
Gerald Haltman, Harvard University professor writes in his book, How customers think: Essential insights into the mind of the market, that 95 percent of a customer’s decision-making process happens subconsciously.
Therefore, a major chunk of the reason why a customer will buy your product instead of your competitor’s will largely depend on how the customers ‘feel’ about your company.
This is largely important for startups as they tend to have major competitors with a bigger team, infrastructure, and marketing knowledge, and with this, they need to declutter. Your brand soon becomes a part of the customer’s everyday life.
For example, when a person decides to buy a washing machine, they will want to have a machine of good quality material alongside assurances. Even if your machine is a bit more costly than its peers, people would still go for it as a result of its solid brand image.
A good brand image will mean that your product will finish on top of your competitors. While this example was primarily of the quality aspect of the brand, there are various other routes that brands can take to have a solid foothold.
According to Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, “Too many companies want their brands to reflect an idealized and perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character, and no public trust.”
This reflects one of the worst mistakes startups can do — copying other businesses or internet trends’ values and images.
Startups naturally have something unique and connect them super strongly with the target audience.
Creating a fake brand that doesn’t represent them would mean to waste one of the strongest emotional factors why customers may choose their products and services over corporations’ ones.
It will also be difficult for the company to keep up to the values it is professing, thus eroding its customer base.
An established brand-name can revive itself
For the people born in India before the 1980s, Royal Enfield, Yezdi, and Rajdoot were household names for people who associated themselves with the motorcycles.
Amongst these elites, Jawa had a cult name which is also being enjoyed by Royal Enfield. Everything was going well for these brands until the 1990s when the Japanese automobile market targeted India.
Though Royal Enfield managed to survive, Jawa was unable to do so at that time. Soon these two-strokes were replaced by small and frugal four-stroke bikes motorcycles.
However, Jawa’s brand-name remained strong even. As late as 2016, that vehicle manufacturing firm Mahindra & Mahindra’s subsidiary Classic Legends Private Limited decided to acquire it. It now comes with the name Jawa Mahindra.
Branding in the age of the internet
As the age of the internet has slowly taken over, with the advent of really affordable smart-phones and their widespread usage due to low-cost internet connectivity, branding of products online is no longer a luxury but a necessity due to the changing shopping habits of the new customers.
A person is equally if not more likely to order a product online than to go to a physical store to purchase it (even more important in the case of the current pandemic situations).
Ecommerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart also help in fast and convenient shipping, which is also getting more effective by the day. Even brands like Nike, Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi are focusing more on online reach.
It is not just the millennial, but also working professionals, due to the paucity of time are unable to go to a physical store in particular to grab products.
In Bezos’s quote mentioned at the beginning of the piece, the term “room” nowadays could also be referred to as the internet. Your customers have access to the internet 24×7.
A business should make use of this opportunity – listen to what the stakeholders and customers are saying about your brand, and use their inputs to build your brand message better.
Though times have changed, and the medium of product advertising has also changed, the importance of product branding will always play a crucial role in any business organization.
(With inputs from YourStory)