Bengaluru-based WinnerBrands aims to be the one-stop branding solution for SMBs with its affordable packages and dedicated brand managers. What's unique is that it allows all of this to be done online.
Being an entrepreneur and starting a company is not easy. You have to build a team, raise capital, keep an eye on the competition and find loyal customers. But, a name and a brand image is also a very important part of a startup.
While there are plenty of branding agencies in India, most are either too expensive for startups or are unable to bring out the value proposition. Solving this problem is Bengaluru-based WinnerBrands, which provides startups an end-to-end branding solution, right from landing a unique name to finalising that perfect packaging and finally taking the product to the customer.
Amit Swami was managing his family's consumer retail business in Agra when he approached his friends, Preetham Parvatham and Asher Ali, to help with branding the venture. After a lot of research, the duo realised that most agencies were too expensive and those that were not did not focus on all aspects of branding.
"Creative agencies approach a task as a purely creative exercise, quite often being ignorant of the strategic considerations," said Asher.
Asher and Preetham decided that the gap was actually an opportunity. So the two quit their jobs to start WinnerBrands, a curated and assisted online platform for branding services, in August 2017. Their aim was to be a one-stop solution to branding for SMEs and startups.
"We provide an in-house virtual Brand Manager who represents each client and then work backwards with category-specific experts, designers and boutique agencies," he says.
The startup works on naming and designing logos and websites. It also designs collateral and handles support functions like trademark, web development and packaging procurement services.
"WinnerBrands started with the sole mission to democratise branding services for business of all sizes, and making good branding accessible and affordable to all," says Asher.
Ironically, one of the first challenges that WinnerBrands faced was entrepreneurs - i.e. their potential customers - were not aware of the importance of branding. Many are still reluctant to work with an online-only model.
Asher and Preetham overcame this challenge by segmenting their customers into two categories - new-age and tech-savvy entrepreneurs, and traditional and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Today, 90 percent of WinnerBrands' customers are from Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Unlike traditional models, "We have not met 99 percent of our customers," says Asher.
Their services are customised for each segment and customer:
"Our services are great at hand holding traditional entrepreneurs, but more DIY for new age businesses," he adds.
Before starting WinnerBrands, Preetham was working in Oracle as a Marketing Manager, and Asher was running a boutique marketing firm. The core team consists of brand managers, designers, content and communication experts. The team works alongside a pool of curated freelancers and agency partners who help execute the branding mandate of each customer.
WinnerBrands also has legal, packaging, procurement, printing and photography partners. The team consists of 15 in-house employees, more than 50 freelance partners, and more than 15 boutique agency partners, who are category experts. Additionally, WinnerBrands seeks legal help from ClearTax.
"We give freelancers consistent work and an alternate source of income to boutique agencies, and that makes them work with us," says Asher.
WinnerBrands, being a freelancer-driven model, source freelancers from across the country. About 90 percent of its freelancers are former-design heads or art directors from leading agencies.
However, it is the in-house team that works as virtual managers for their clients. They take care of the entire working process - from talking to clients, understanding their requirements and delivering the services. "Virtual Managers are like any other Brand Manager and work with the designers, communication experts as well as support service providers," says Preetham.
WinnerBrands only lists out services and is not an aggregator of marketing service providers. Unlike other freelance aggregators, where freelancers get to connect with clients directly on a platform and work for them, WinnerBrands itself connects clients with these experts at the backend, based on requirements.
WinnerBrands does not serve as an aggregator for agencies either. It provides options from available freelancers and agencies and matches their expertise with the client needs. The startup then charges a commission for this service.
"We are a guided marketplace providing marketing services. We give our clients a choice of concepts and designs and not a choice of who they want to work with," says Asher.
Any company seeking a branding solution can pick a service from the company's website, explain its business and requirements to the virtual managers, make a payment using their secure gateway and then simply sit back as the company delivers their services.
WinnerBrands provides customised branding packs for their clients. For instance, the simple brand name pack, priced at Rs 21,999, comes with a dedicated virtual brand manager, two brand naming experts, six recommended names, matching domains, trademark, registration checks and a timeline of 10 days.
The Brand Logo pack is priced at Rs 23,999 and for the packaging design pack, WinnerBrands charges Rs 29,999. "Boutique agencies charge lakhs of rupees for the same services," says Asher. WinnerBrands provides packages in combos as well as individual formats.
The company also help with the launch of its customers’ products on ecommerce sites. A product manufacturer helps WinnerBrands with information regarding their product and they create content around these features, as a part of the branding service.
A bootstrapped business so far, WinnerBrands has delivered more than 300 projects in a year for 180 clients and claims to have almost 55 percent repeat customers.
On a month-on-month basis, WinnerBrands claims to garner over Rs 50 lakh in revenue. Almost 99 percent of this comes from Indian customers and the remaining one percent from customers in the Middle East and South-East Asia. Major clients include Healthy Craving Company, Tiplur, Perfecten, Workie and HomeRunn.
With several global design startups like Perdix, Designhill, eLEOPARD and others who are making their mark in the market, growth is tough to come by. WinnerBrands is primarily an online-only model and that's the differentiator they focus on.
While WinnerBrands receives enquiries from bigger companies, they aim to focus on helping SMBs only. The company wishes to expand its services globally and add more features to help customers with digital marketing, PR and media planning.