Startup Saturday: Uma Badwe, An Entrepreneur Tells Us The Essentials Of Brand Building

By Namita Shibad Hindustan Times, New Delhi

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Uma Badwe says that once your company's value is defined externally it is equally important to ensure that this is followed through internally. Badwe says that every employee and vendor should know the values of your brand.

New Delhi

Most startups are so busy doing business that they fail to pay attention to one of the most important aspects of their business -- branding. While they will chase the days and nights developing their proof-of-concept they will most often completely overlook this one thing that will make them stand out in an overcrowded market.

According to Al Reis, marketing professional and author ,"It is better to be the first than to be better. You have to be the first in the market with your product or service." But what if you are not? Then according to Reis, you have to create a category in which you will be the first."

Uma Badwe is an entrepreneur who has not only worked very hard to build the brand of her own restaurant Picantos (that got acquired by Sunrise Caramel Hospitality in 2016) but has also worked with Urban Clap (the spa services wing) to develop their brand. Here she tells us about how a startup should start with brand building and how they can translate that brand into profits.

"Branding is all about creating value. Every startup begins their journey with filling a need gap. But that in itself is not enough. One has to create value that is seen as such by your customers." So how does one do that?

Badwe delves into her experiences with Picantos to illustrate this. "When I wanted to start a Mexican restaurant I didn't just get into it because I thought that there weren't enough places providing Mexican food. I did a deep study on what people want, what do they expect from a Mexican restaurant, what do they associate with this cuisine? "

This involved talking to as many people as she could. "In the early days I was very fixated on a spinach dish which I thought would also be healthy. But when I did trials of this it showed that people were just not interested in that dish. What I thought was great was not echoed by my customers. So I abandoned it even though I was initially very charged about providing healthy food."

One should ask as many people from different groups about what it is that they want, particularly from what you plan to offer. "When you talk to them you will realize that these conversations throw up words that are oft repeated. In our case it was fresh, spicy and Mexican. When Urban Clap wanted to launch their spa services we initially thought that this was a service that would be bought by the high net worth people. But our survey showed something completely different. The people who wanted massage at home were the working women or the housewife who wanted to pamper herself. She was willing to pay for this but within limits. We studied the data and that showed that if we made our service professional and added a few elements over and above what the person who came home offered, we would hit bingo. We added aroma candles, our own table with disposable massage mats and we were sailing. Once you know what your customers want and associate what words with it, it helps you understand the value you want to create.

"These two or three words that come out of your survey should be used in every mode of communication from flyers, banners, menus, email, blogs everything. In the case of Picantos every little piece of communication had the words fresh, spicy and Mexican and Urban Clap Spa services had relax, unwind and de-stress. You also need to decide on the colours of your logo, the font and ensure that this is used always and everytime."

Once the value is defined externally it is equally important to ensure that this is followed through internally. "So every employee, vendor everyone your company should know what are the values of your brand. " Simply defining value and communicating to customers is not enough. "You must keep tabs on how it is performing in the market place with surprise checks. For Picantos we would ask our customers to participate in our survey for a discount on future purchases. To check our delivery service we would ask how the food was delivered, was it hot, was the delivery boy polite and so on. These are secret audits that help give you an idea of how your brand is faring, whether you and your staff are sticking to the guidelines you have laid out."

The third stage is to enhance your brand. Says Uma, "Brand building is a continuous process so you have to keep at it. You can offer loyalty programs to your customers, add new products to your portfolio, and most important have a continuous audit and compliance of your brand. And lastly it is important to keep communicating. You can write a blog, or get a celebrity to write about you, get on to social media and continually communicate with your customers. And whatever you do, the golden rule is be true, do not fake it."

Create value by -Doing a deep market study to know what customers want -Find out three words that they associate with your offering -Define your logo, colour, fonts and use it in any and every mode of communication Get traction -You have a great product, how do you tell everyone about it? -Ensure that your brand values are communicated externally but also internalized by your staff -Do this via owned media (your website, blog, videos) earned (customer feedback, social media and paid (PR, pamphlets, flyers, display banners etc)

Enhance your brand -Brand building is continuous, keep at it -Do loyalty programmes -Continuous audit and compliance -Public relations

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