How Indian startups of today can become successful brands of tomorrow

The bygone 2015 was a year of both challenges and opportunities for startups – it posed a time of diminishing barriers to enter the marketplace and increase avenues for reaching and serving new potential customers than ever before, however, at the same time it also paved way for cut-throat competition.

In an already crowded marketplace, setting your startup apart is therefore crucial to survival and success.

However, branding in India still finds itself in the nascent stage, largely confined to visual identification and communication, despite several incidents proving its importance in the Indian market. It does not only help startups survive tough times, but also regain the trust of stakeholders afterwards.

We have listed 6 branding and marketing tips that every startup in India should follow for a bright future. Here’s what they are:

1. Focus Should Be Consumer Oriented

Most startups in the country are product or tech startups, where the founders and team are tech-oriented. What they tend to forget is that tech is merely an enabler and not the end goal in itself as opposed to a consumer oriented approach, which can guarantee a greater brand appreciation.

2. Product And Brand Should Go Hand-In-Hand

Idea of brand today is very look and feel. It’s something that is made to latch on to the product. It’s must for startups to realize that branding is essential to one’s business objective. Young startups don’t understand this very well despite several case studies. Say for example, Paperboat, which is a great case study of how this company thought of brand right from the packaging. They are thinking product and brand hand-in-hand rather than separate entities.

3. Activities To Build Equity, Garner Sales And For Immediate Gratification

Big companies know the importance for such activities, however, when Think Rasta works with startups, we break down their spends into three parts: Purpose spends (key-metrics for a young startup), equity spends (what to spend to build a brand’s equity over a period of time), and spends over experimenting (allocate a budget so that you can do activities on the brand just for fun, and hope that it works with your audience). Startups should not make the mistake of focusing on short term results, but focus on long term results and experimentation for better insight.

4. Build Content Over Campaigns

The best thing is to do both, but considering the cash constraints with startups, campaigns can be an expensive deal and a wasteful method of reaching out to the target group (TG). So the focus should be on creating customized content that is important for your consumer rather than merely talking about your brand. This is how your content will resonate with your audience. For eg, on your social media pages, do not focus on having 8 posts in a day around your brand, rather the idea should be to focus on the kind of content you create such that it is loved by your customers, even if you are making one post in a week!

5. Strategic Alliance: Associate With An Established Entity

One of the most sought after strategy in furious markets, it is a mutually beneficial alliance between two brands to reach out to their TG in most fruitful and economical way. It is imperative, as startups do not have financial bandwidth to do it all. Also, alliances with another market player might fetch you the most desired credibility factor that a startup requires at the nascent stages. For example, Hokey Pokey was a parlour-based model in Mumbai. After Think Rasta worked with them, today they are present across 2,000 stores as majorly an FMCG player. What Think Rasta did disruptively for them last year looking at their young target audience, Think Rasta tied up with NH7 and released a NH7 flavour as partnership marketing. NH7 is targeting exactly the same audience that Hokey Pokey is looking at.

6. Build Tight Framework, Be Decisive About Budgets And Get Professional Assistance

Identify a TG that is not broad (that one person who likes your campaign or content every time) and work towards it. Startups also has resource crunch and they simply can’t do ‘everything’. Professional assistance might be required at the time of implementation as it will bring more thoughts and resources that could do it better on your behalf. You may continue to focus on your product development while they take up on the assigned job. Being clear on what you want, how you want and the time frame you want it in will help you take decisions quicker and at the same time helo you stay within a framework.