Branding is essential for establishing an identity in any market or geography. With a lot of startups plunging into “red oceans”, branding has gained more importance and attention. Seedfund, an early stage venture fund with marquee investments like redBus, Carwale, Vaatsalya and Innoz recently organized Brand Bajaa, a panel discussion on brand building for start-ups. The event addressed the following topics:
- Do start-ups need to build a brand?
- When is the right time to think about branding?
- Is brand building all about burning cash on TV and newspapers? How can young companies build powerful brands in the new India?
The panel included Alok Goel, Chief Product Officer, redBus, Sridhar Ranganathan, VP – Strategic Initiatives, InMobi, Bidisha Nagaraj, CMO, Qyuki Digital Media, and Sreenesh Bhat, Planning Director, Ogilvy. R Sriram, Founder, Crossword moderated the panel.
The panel discussed the important of branding and shared ways and means that startups can employ to build a strong market position. The discussion started with key essentials required for branding. While Bidisha Nagaraj stressed on the need to define the target segment clearly and be different, Sreenesh Bhat talked about how brands inherit their traits from the founders. Sridhar Ranganathan shared anecdotes from InMobi’s (previously mKhoj) rebranding exercise and Alok Goel talked told us redBus has built a brand by delivering great service and connecting with their consumers regularly. The panelists agreed that it is important for a brand to ensure consistency of quality and communication across all touch points with their consumers. R Sriram used the example of Chumbak, a fun design products company, to demonstrate how using social media effectively can be very effective.
“If you cannot afford to advertise, just wow your customers” was a comment from a panelist. Post the 50 min discussion, Sreenesh Bhat made a brief presentation and told the audience, “Brand happens. It is not one thing that makes a brand. It is the sum total of everything that you do as a company.” The formal panel discussion was followed by presentations by two start-ups who got real time feedback from the panel and the audience. Founders of Renturduniya, a furniture renting start-up, and Iween, a company that makes enterprise software for the travel industry, participated. At Yourstory, we spoke to the presenters and here’s what they have to say.
“Given that RentUrDuniya is a pure-play consumer business in the home furnishing rental business, brand management plays a key part of our overall strategy. This event definitely has pushed us into thinking of leaner ways of brand building. While as of today the team at RentUrDuniya is concentrating on “selling”, events like this is telling us that brand needs to be built simultaneously and not as an after-the-fact strategy. We will now certainly be starting our brand-building exercise sooner than what we had been planning till date,” shared Ajith Karimpana, Founder-CEO, RentUrDunuya.
Sudheer Reddy, Co Founder, Iween Software, told us, “Brand building for startups starts with you and your product. Your brand is not just your website or logo. It is a combination of all the details pertaining to your startup: the product, the name, the logo, the website and even the email that you send to your customer.”
The event format was different from a usual panel discussion that you often see at events and the two case presentations made the conversation lively. We left the event with this final thought by one of the panelists, ‘If you have to build a strong brand, you must clearly understand and communicate the role you are playing in the life of your customer.’ We wish Seedfund and the two presenting companies the very best in their future endeavors.
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