What a Startup Needs

 

Startups usually do not have an extensive performance track record, their brand credibility and brand capital are typically a combination of their promoters’ personality, product ideas, and founding vision. This constitutes their credibility, trustworthiness and reputation.

A strong brand supports startups and their founders through the difficult times. Mainly during the initial formative years when the brand personality is yet to be established and in a flux. To build a brand, the marketer has to understand the attitudes, ideas, and performances of the brand (for startups read founders) and position it clearly and distinctly in the market. And for startups these formative attributes are closely linked to founders and their vision. Hence instead of defining the brands through the outer shell and promoting it through social media marketing, the founders need to introspect and understand their core philosophy to build the strategic foundation of their brand.

Anyone familiar with startup ecosystem, particularly the early stage ones, knows that they thrive on the stories and anecdotes of their founders, their heroics, sacrifices and game changing ideas and not on stories of already tried and tested success formulas or ‘copycat’ social media marketing approaches. When the founders meet the angel investors and early stage VCs, they don’t have the backing of proven sales figures or efficiency gains, but rely heavily on their conviction, belief and hope on their talents, skillset, ideas and overall team effort. There are multiple examples where the founders’ persona, ideas and vision not only support the brand image formation but also fuel the exorbitant(?) valuations during the early phase.

Once the brand persona is identified as described above, the next step is building the brand around that ‘persona’ in a clearly defined manner. Here the challenge is translating the ‘abstract persona’ into clearly defined attributes. Startups  are not required to resort to social media marketing blitzkrieg for effective brand building but need right attitude and supporting performances. 

A real brand is built when the founders represent a clear attitude and are passionately committed to a common vision they want to turn into a reality – as most of the successful Startup founders did in India and abroad. And it’s not done overnight; it takes time to build a brand, supported by consistent performances over time. This can’t be replaced by social media bombardment but can only be complimented by showcasing the accomplishment of performance milestones in a consistent manner.

Hence “brand building” ideally means delivering superior performances, identifying the value proposition behind them, and clearly  communicating them through consistent messages to the target audiences. In today’s world artificial intelligence and consumer analytics play a major role in defining the strategy road map to achieve that objective in a structured manner.

 

Arindam Ghosh | An IIM Calcutta alumnus. Worked at the CXO level with Indian and Global  organizations. Closely mentored multiple startups including sirosa.co.in 

The Changing Times


Thirty-five years back there were the same agencies, which are there today. The names and the owners have changed; many have merged or have collaborated. But the competition is still on amongst them when it comes to awards, but do these awards hold any merit, is the question. Is it an idea that has changed the market or the sales graph that has won the award or is it some creative person’s ideal idea that just sounds clever? The award jury these days is the same scammers who participated a few years back.

So, is their judgment going to be unbiased or are they just going to give away awards to someone’s ideal idea?

One has seen honest advertising, advertising that creates an image and advertising that creates controversies. There was a time when the advertisements were known by the agencies that created them, so it was a trademark of the agency than that of the brand.Stunning layouts copied from foreign magazines which were made available by the elite few. Only a few had access to these magazines. So the happening art directors or then the creative directors thrived in the industry and became famous. Some thought they were supreme, untouchables and the godfathers of this industry and so they ruled. The juniors were still humble and obedient, had respect for their seniors. Your experience mattered and your all-round performance made you eligible for a promotion. Unlike the last two decades where you just have a partner and do work on projects that suit your taste.

I won’t dare to paint everyone with the same brush, but yes there were quite a few who were uptight. Since I come from the old times I still have respect for people who I worked with and know that they were genuine leaders who led their team from the front. Backed their juniors, gave them opportunities and trusted them to finish with a flourish. Agencies were more like a large family, though there was a divide of the snooty and the commoners. The office get-togethers were separate. There was a clear class divide.The agency really cared for its employee unlike today, where you are just a number on your desktop. Thanks to the globalization where we have adopted the policies where only the bottom line matters.

But what has happened to the people who behaved like people till a while ago? There are many such doubts to be answered, my quest is to find out what went wrong.

Ajay Chavan | Creative Consultant, India

Democratization of Advertising


Advertising as an industry has always seen changes, sometimes it’s been the change. A change in medium isn’t new to advertising, Newspapers to radio to TV and now the digital era. But this time Advertising communication faces a new animal. We’ve been talking to consumers. Influencing, manipulating, coaxing, bullying them into buying brands we sell. This has been a one-way communication. Today it’s different, today the very people we advertise to have become the brands’ spokespersons and custodians. They can talk back to a brand.

This shift in medium has changed advertising at many levels. Firstly, the clients can now reach out to more people with lesser money. The digital medium as of now is sort of democratizing advertising. Secondly, the client can see the metrics of how a particular piece of communication is doing, the number of people it reaches, the ones who react, the ones who convert etc. This makes the client skeptical about putting big money into the older costlier mediums. Budgets are being cut. Agencies are adapting. Fewer people working on more brands to make ends meet.

As we try to explain the concept of a “brand” which is built through a combination of all mediums and holistic thinking, the marketing and the sales machinery think otherwise. Immediate and visible results trump invisible projected magnitudes and scales. But the one thing we all agree on is the changes visible in the audience. Their attention spans hop, skip and jump to near extinction. How do we talk to someone who isn’t listening after the first three seconds?

These are real problems. They will have real solutions. Right now, advertising is doing what it has always done. It is experimenting. Once the dynamism of the digital medium is absorbed by everyone dealing with it, we’ll have more answers. But from the little I understand I believe the core of advertising still remains the same. An Idea that can adapt itself across mediums to communicate the same message, is the key.The same story interestingly told to make the audience curious, make him aspire, or to inspire. Whether an ad is aired on primetime television or is at the mercy of the audience’s scrolling thumb shouldn’t really affect the core. Creating stories for brands that engage people.

Saikat Sarkar | Associate Creative Director at Hakuhodo, Bangalore, India

Target Them.


The world of marketing has seen multiple changes. Technological advancements, socio economic conditions, rise and fall of political powers all over the world, everything has influenced the generations and thus marketing. Millennials today are no exception. They hardly follow the choices and trusts made or followed by their parents. They are gaining purchasing power, and decision-making capacity because, they’re now adults with jobs and incomes. Because of this, we are seeing branding trends shift to up their appeal to millennial tastes. It is undeniable that, by the grace of reforms in electronic and network media, these millennials are driven by politics today and they deal with brands that echo their moral say. As a result brands are catching onto this and following the trends that suit the changing perceptions. Take KIA Motors commercial for example. To announce its entry to Indian automobile market, KIA has beautifully presented the core message that connects the millennials. ‘Magic happens when the best in the business come together’. The ad was viewed for the highest number of times in March, 2019. Remember the Gillette ‘The Best Men Can Be’ campaign, this year? The ad boldly critiqued ‘toxic masculinity’. It did not miss to target the generation Y. Some customers praised the concept, some called it accusatory. Regardless of various opinions, the ad could make Gillette relevant to the audience. Many brands like Gillette, Levi’s, KIA are trying to make the shift.

The Millennials, like any generation, are influenced by the culture and world developing around them. They are not new. Every previous period has faced them. This group will challenge, expect more and desire a better idea for better living. Learning to target this audience will better prepare a brand for the next. Not only the brands but the branding agencies and the creative advertisers should keep the millenials in mind.

Business Tool In 2019.


The power of 1) being aware that a brand is created by the audience, and 2) understanding that you can only influence what consumers can see (not what they feel) will be the biggest branding realization of 2019. One can throw around billions of money right and left, trying to steer consumers in a preferred direction, but none of that will ever matter if your brand is not properly managed.

In 2019, brands around the world will realize that the biggest impact on customer retention and acquisition is the luxury of being able to present a relatable and consistent brand. Humans love to recognize and relate – feeling a sense of home. If you’ve already built a brand that your audience wants to be associated with, then building a business comes easy. This is the year for brand management.

Oskar Duberg | Content & Marketing professional