Guest Post – Building a Consumer Product Brand with Virtual Infrastructure: Going the Xiaomi Way

Getting a consumer durable brand in the market meant significant investments in distribution, on-ground displays, marketing and everything else that was traditionally associated with the launch of a consumer durable brand.

I.e. creating a consumer product brand required large capital, and therefore was not something that new and emerging entrepreneurs without access to capital could aspire to do.

Xiaomi just debunked that theory with a model execution of a creative & unconventional strategy.

Without opening a single store, without keeping the products on shelves in physical stores, without spending on advertising, this China-headquartered company has already become the world’s 3rd largest handset manufacturer in just under 3 years time since launch.

Continue reading “Guest Post – Building a Consumer Product Brand with Virtual Infrastructure: Going the Xiaomi Way”

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A brand is a critical asset of any company, and so too for startups.

What is a brand?

A brand is a set of values that are associated with a company or product or service. E.g. dependable, reliable, fast, elegant, expensive, high-value, etc.

In effect, a brand is the sum total of the perceptions about your product or service or company that different people have. These perceptions are a result of the brand’s look & feel and communication, including PR, as well as the customer’s experience with the product and the service. All of these have to work in sync for a brand to establish positive equity with all stakeholders.

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What is brand management?

Simply put, brand management is about managing the perceptions about the brand that different stakeholders have.

Continue reading “A brand is a critical asset of any company, and so too for startups.”

Logo Design and Tag Lines for Startups

A logo is one of the most visible faces of your brand. In other words, the logo is most likely to be your most frequent and most visible brand representative. Hence, a logo should clearly state the following:
  • Who you are
  • What you do

How well the logo is designed and how well the messaging is in the tag line will create the first impressions about the brand’s personality.

Right from the time you exchange business cards, or when you release an ad – in print, TV or online, or when someone visits your site, it is often the name of the company, represented by the logo + tag line  that will be noticed for the first time.

For startups, it is critical that the logo and the tag line be designed well. This is because when you are new, most people would not know what you do and who you are. Hence, when they interact with your brand for the first time, it is usually the logo unit that will set the first impressions about what you do.

While a badly designed logo may not necessarily send the wrong impression, a well-designed logo will most certainly create a favorable impression.

Similarly, with tag lines. Tag lines should be used to communicate clearly what you do. E.g. “Online fashion store”.

Often entrepreneurs make the mistake of using a tag line which is nothing but a smart set of words with no reference to what you do. This is of little use in brand management. E.g. for a healthcare brand, if the tagline said ‘We care for you”, it really means nothing to anyone and does not establish what the brand does. Instead, if the tagline were to be specific saying “Your neighborhood childcare clinic’, there is specificity in communicating what the promise is.

It will be ideal if your tag line can also communicate your value proposition. E.g. “Affordable cardiac care.”

PR as a brand building tool

PR is one of the most powerful, yet most neglected tools for marketing.

Especially for consumer brands, it is most useful in creating familiarity and visibility among users. Let us see with an example:

In India, the cost of customer acquisition online through CPC and CPM based activities is anywhere between Rs.500 – Rs.1500, depending on various parameters. For a category where the average sale price is Rs.500, and where the brand is operating at a 30% gross margin, if the customer acquisition cost is Rs.1500, the brand will need 10 transactions from that customer to just cover the cost of customer acquisition.

On the other hand, in case the brand also uses PR, and is able to get some visibility for its offering, they can reach many new potential users without any direct cost. In this situation, if the ‘blended’ cost of customer acquisition i.e. the average cost of customer acquisition including paid + free PR generated users, is say Rs.300, the brand would need just 2 transactions from the customer to recover the cost of customer acquisition.

Good PR is not by accident. It is a result of a planned effort by the company. Of course, to leverage PR, the startup or its product and service should have something newsworthy and interesting for media to cover.

How do you find early adopters for your website?

Most entrepreneurs with online businesses focus only on online marketing for customer acquisition. However, even if your business is online, your consumers live in the real world.

In many cases, especially for the initial user base, it is possible to use off-line marketing. E.g. offering it to a employee base of a company with some incentive, doing posters and leaflets on campuses, etc.

In countries like India, where the cost of customer acquisition for e-commerce sites is estimated to be around INR 1500 [USD 30], a few companies have successfully experimented with passing on a part of the customer acquisition cost to the user. E.g. Offering an INR 500 or USD 10 voucher to just signup, etc. The likely result will be higher conversions.

These methods may not be scalable or sustainable in the long run, but they can give you a decent start.

Role of PR and Marketing in Acquiring Customers?

How important is the role of PR and Marketing in acquiring customers? Tune in as Prajakt Raut discusses how you can plan your PR and Marketing roadmap.