There are people around the globe who buy a certain product just because it is a certain brand. The brand value determines the initial outcome of any product. Hence, for new startups, it becomes tough to compete in the market as flourishing brands outshine and outperform them.
In an already crowded marketplace, setting your startup apart will be crucial to its survival and success. The four recommendations below represent strategies that have already proven successful for startups and that reflect trends currently developing in branding and consumer behavior.
- Start telling stories
Humans are natural born storytellers. We are also naturally wired to listen to stories. In fact,ï¿½Spanish researchersï¿½demonstrated that stories not only activate the brainï¿½s language processing center but also activate parts that would be active if we experienced the story ourselves.
It doesnï¿½t take a neuroscientist to see the power of stories to invoke emotion and stick in peopleï¿½s memories. Teachers, authors, and politicians (to name a few) have understood this for years. In fact, storytelling has also served as the backbone of nearly every successful marketing campaign in one way or another.
While an important part of branding is to tell a story about your brand, more and more marketersï¿½are taking an alternate approach. Instead of telling stories about their brand, they are branding themselves as storytellers.
A great example of this approach is OkCupidï¿½s consistentlyï¿½incredible blog. Each post takes the reams of data OkCupid collects about their users and artfully weaves these insights into a fascinating story about how their users behave and what this says about dating as a whole.
Instead of just telling its customers a story about itself, OkCupid decided it would be much better to develop itsï¿½voice by telling customers a number of different stories. Nobody likes that guy who just talks about himself, and the same thing goes for brands.
The very act of choosing what stories to tell and how to tell them does more to develop your brandï¿½s personality than trying to construct it from a singular narrative. Instead of trying to brand itselfï¿½as a data-centric dating site, OkCupid figures that posting about the statisticallyï¿½best questions for a first dateï¿½will create the same image more convincingly and will also provide something useful to your customers in the process.
As more brands enter the landscape clamoring to tell potential customers how they want to be seen, defy the trend by simply telling customers stories they want to hear and that reinforce the overall branded story you hope to tell.ï¿½
Or, to borrow phrasing from the previously mentioned OkCupid blog post, the stories your brand should be telling are the ones that ï¿½are easy to bring up, yet correlate to the deeper, unspeakable, issues [your customers] actually care about.ï¿½
- Take a stand
Although many members of the older generation feel that millennials are apathetic and selfish, almost all the data suggests the opposite. Multiple studies show that this key consumer demographic actually has a very real affinity forï¿½philanthropy.
In fact, what might be mistaken for apathy is simply cynicism. Due to the increased exposure of this generation to marketing messages, millennials have just become more discerning and less trusting of much of the ï¿½cause-drivenï¿½ marketing being done.
The reality is that cause-driven marketing is dead. If your companyï¿½s mission statement is ï¿½to maximize shareholder revenueï¿½ or even ï¿½to provide business solutionsï¿½ your cause-driven marketing seems disingenuous.
Instead of doing cause-driven marketing, millennials expect you to be a cause-driven business. This doesnï¿½t mean you need to be a not-for-profit. Making money is not a bad thing, it just canï¿½t be the main thing — at least if you hope to capture the attention of millennials.
One of the most effective examples of this strategy had no grand, world-changing plans in mind, but they did want to solve a problem and do so in earnest. Harryï¿½s is a monthly subscription service that delivers affordable high-quality razors.
The company began when co-founder Andy Katz-Mayfield went to buy razors and was shocked at how expensive and uninspiring the product he received was.
The company does not have a grand mission. Itï¿½simply wants to give customers a better option for razors. The result of taking such a simple stand but sticking to it wholeheartedly has resulted in a business that consumers trust to be genuine in other ways.
So, when Harryï¿½s partnered with the prostate cancer awareness initiative Movember (that encourages men to grow out their mustaches to raise money for prostate cancer) not only did this cause-driven marketing improve the company’s reputation,ï¿½it caused a 360 percentï¿½lift in traffic to Harryï¿½s website.
- Focus on great design
Another way to set your startup apart from the crowd that is becoming increasingly important is to focus on good design and to make products or experiences that are remarkable.
Making things that are beautiful or at least look nice is certainly not a new strategy, but the great design doesnï¿½t necessarily equate to beauty in the traditional sense. As many products move towards software, looks cease to be of central importance. The real important thing for interactive products is the overall user experience.
An unlikely example of a product that succeeded largely due to great design is Tinder. Now, Tinder is not exactly the most elegant or beautiful piece of software. In fact, it is unapologetically crass and blunt. Most people equate great design to subtlety and charm, and Tinder possesses neither.
Yet Tinder is a marvel of wonderful user experience design. Its simple, intuitive interface not only made the service incredibly addictive, it perfectly communicated the companyï¿½s casual approach to online dating.
The example of Tinder is actually a fitting place to end this discussion because it embodied a number of branding tactics that will become increasingly effective in the coming years. Beyond focusing on great design, Tinder also took a stand. The company claimed that online dating could be as natural and casual as a bar, and in doing so, defied expectations.
ï¿½Social media ï¿½ you cannot have a brand and not tell people about it. The whole point of having a brand is so that people can identify with the brand and the products associated with it. The more frequently the target group looks at a brand and products sold under that brand name, the better the chances of the group associating the products with the brand and resulting improved recognition and familiarity with the brand. For eg. since Patanjali has been a huge success, any product they come up has now greater credibility because it is associated with the Patanjali brand. This huge popularity of Patanjali products has led to a significant shift in the market trend. Consumers now prefer buying Patanjali biscuits over Glucose biscuits. ï¿½Increased visibility of a brand through popular social media such as ï¿½Facebook ads, twitter, Instagram etc. all help keep the brand alive in the market as well as in the minds of the public at large making them grow accustomed to the brand and products associated with it.
These things will help you build a strong brand and will let you thrive in the ever competitive market.