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Cost Effective Branding Strategies For Start-ups
Sounok K.Ghosh
Sounok K.Ghosh
Business Head- E-commerce and Digital Marketing, Avvas Infotech
More than 16 years of experience in Marketing Sales and Business management. Currently handling a... more>>
As the world slowly moves towards an era of Entrepreneurship with an active encouragement from different Governments, support from financial institutions and of course a more conducive atmosphere than a decade back, more and more people including the recent B-School and Technology graduates are jumping into the Entrepreneurship bandwagon. Some people jump with adequate resources in hand- in terms of finance, manpower, materials, property etc., but a large chunk of people start and make money as they get along this journey. Whoever it may be, keeping the initial cost low at the expense of visibility always remains a big challenge more so for Consumer brands who needs brand visibility for many reasons, namely- Increase Sales, increase brand equity, attract investment, create a favorable image etc.

Over the years we have seen many successful brands coming up from a mere start up to a household name in their category. Any of their founders will never deter from accepting that one of their secrets of success is cost effective branding in their initial days which not only helped them in creating the right noise in the market but also certain "no cost" or cost effective activities saved vital scarce resources.

A leading fashion designer who started of his own venture after working with another leading designer faced similar challenges in his initial days- Tough competition to get a rack space in leading stores, creating demand among the customers and prospects and very less amount to spend on Marketing! We all know that this kind of situation is never an easy going one. He admits that only a good work doesnt guarantee a demand for his products. So this young designer came up with a brilliant idea. He convinced one of the leading stores for doing a small "hut-camp" on a revenue sharing basis where the store gets a bigger pie of each product sold. This helped the designer to talk to his prospects one-to-one and convince them to try out his dresses. The so called "hut-camp" was a big hit and he got a rack space in this store and invitation from other leading stores. Today this designer competes with the best in India and is a big name in his genre.

There are many such examples. A leading dot com venture in its initial days adopted quite a few cost effective branding activities. The Company tied up with newspapers for their classifieds in a mutual beneficial deal in which they packaged the newspaper classified with their products to get more Business for the newspaper and got some branding space in return. They also started a column in magazines to advice youth on career bringing in an expert and got some branding space there. Regular stories in different media and events to attract media attention helped them immensely. Of course their presence in online space was robust with very limited spend. These extremely cost effective branding methods ensured that they reached their audience with minimum spend and could afford to spend more once they established themselves in the market. Today this Company has four e-commerce brands each leader in their space and their cumulative turn-over reached INR 200 Cr in exactly ten years from their inception.

While these examples motivate every budding entrepreneur of today, a few words of caution that are worth pondering- the branding and its associated cost would depend upon the product, the target audience as well as the objective of the organization. Today a mass market product like a Soft drink brand or a food product with an objective to reach atleast ten states in India cannot afford to be cost effective to reach its objective. Same with a service brand with a huge base, say insurance or a mutual fund product which requires adequate attention among a larger group to penetrate.

In the current scenario, there are a host of cost effective branding options available with the start-ups. The Digital space along with the Social media provides a great opportunity for the brands to create visibility. Among the smaller start-ups, these activities are a "must-do" for any consumer facing brands. Search engine optimization or SEO is a very cost effective but strong method to reach the serious audience. A media tie-up always comes handy and if this route cannot be explored then planting relevant stories to create favorable brand image should be explored. Participation in forums- both online as well as events and conferences helps in building certain amount of brand visibility. In this age of interaction, both virtual and face to face interaction with the customer helps in building the brand and is always cost effective compared to a mass media. For a smaller brand this suits since the market penetration is relatively slower than a large brand.

While only time can script the success or failure of any start-up, it is imperative to take the right steps towards success along with many other factors to build a successful brand and there is very less scope of argument about the cost effective branding strategies being a major factor influencing the future of a brand towards its journey for accomplishment.

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