TechSparks 2019: Create a product niche before setting out to brand your startup, says Meeta Malhotra
It is said that a brand for a company is like the reputation of a person. At TechSparks 2019, Meeta Malhotra, Founder of The Hard Copy, delivered a slew of interesting insights about branding in a workshop aptly titled 'Branding without BS'.
Armed with over two decades of experience in the creative field, Meeta detailed the nitty-gritties involved in building a brand from scratch. Drawing from examples of successful brands like Apple and Nike, she explained the importance of creating a product niche before setting out to brand a product or a service.
“The product that one is offering forms the foundation of the brand. Focusing on changing people’s perception comes at a later stage,” Meeta says.
Whether it is developing a technology, customising a product, or creating a brand that resonates with consumers, there is a tried-and-tested process attached for branding, noted Meeta.
“The first step is to identify and understand the target audience and the marketing segment. Then, it is important to distill the marketing channel, and lastly one has to configure the branding message followed by measuring, monitoring, and reiterating the results,” Meeta said.
Getting down to brass tacks
An effective branding strategy enables people to distinguish the offering of one company from the other. That is not all. It also helps gain customer recognition, loyalty, as well as credibility, Meeta explained. She also set forth a bundle of questions that an entrepreneur needs to unpack first in order to build a successful brand.
“Are you a B2B or B2C setup? Who are your competitors? What is your USP? Are you an innovative maverick in the industry? Is there a scope for surrogate marketing or other adjacent categories? These are some basic things that need to be answered while kicking off the branding expedition,” she said.
Once the target audience is defined, it is crucial to plan the channels of communication and the best ways in which the message can be conveyed. Meeta also emphasised factors that need to be taken into account while churning out a brand message:
“Before getting to scaling any brand, people need to have substantial idea about what exactly will appeal to people, how the message can be tailor-made to different consumer segments, and, finally, whether the value that is being created through the product is conveyed in the brand message.”
Slogan vs brand message
Meeta noted the subtle difference between a slogan and a brand message, taking Nike as an example. “Nike’s slogan is ‘Just Do It!’ It summarises the benefits of Nike. Its brand message is ‘Everyone is an Athlete’. This is more of an emotion and it goes deeper than a tagline,” she said.
After crafting the brand message, the focus then shifts to positioning the brand, which, according to Meeta, needs to be a combination of customer insights and the strengths of the company or startup.
Meeta wrapped up the workshop with some wise words for new companies:
“Branding is an ongoing process. However, one should never lose an opportunity to build a brand.”
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)
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