6 things to remember when creating a new brand

06 Oct,2015


By Alok Nanda


Today a brand must stand for something beyond functional attributes. For instance, a brand like Saffola stands for heart care, not just better cooking oil. Here are six things to remember when creating a new brand.


1.Have a purpose

Employees are the first to imbibe purpose– it gives them direction. Being a coffee fiend, I spent time recently trawling coffee shops in the US. Stumptown, Blue Bottle and Ritual Coffee are carving a space for themselves in the face of Starbucks. Spend time observing the front-end staff and you’ll know why. They aren’t serving a beverage; they are preaching a religion they believe in. How else could they painstakingly turn out cups of perfection while spending time talking to you about the differences between roast and bean? Today, where access to capital is uniformly easy, talent aligned to the brand’s bigger picture is a big differentiator.


2. The consumer is overrated

In creating your brand, you are the most critical component. I’ve seen how companies faced with the same business opportunity, targeting the same consumer, armed with the same research, but adopting completely different strategies. Why? The difference is internal culture, belief systems, vision and unique strengths. Don’t under-value them. Harness them instead. Entrepreneurial vision and conviction — your unique take on the business has the power to become reality. The consumer is only 50 per cent of the equation. Okay, let’s be charitable, 60 per cent.


3. Every product category creates its own clichés. 

You have an opportunity to disrupt them and stand apart in a crowded market. When IDFC approached us to do the identity for its bank, we discovered the banking cliché — a symbol (usually abstract) followed by the name of the bank in reverse white on a strip of colour. You take red, I’ll take blue and someone else will take orange. The identity we devised, of coloured tiles, breaks category codes. More importantly, it is designed to move in the digital world. Of course, an identity is only a reflection of who you are: In this case, it began with the positioning of a differentiated bank.


4. Advertising is not branding. 

There are many powerful tools available. Know when to use what. Advertising, for example, is terribly inefficient in enhancing perceived product value. Product design is a better way (look at Apple). Investing in great packaging design is another. Get these right first.  For luxury brands, experience design and a livery that creates a seamless world, is critical. Real estate is another category where branding supersedes advertising. You unlock the value of an address with appropriate branding. You propagate it with advertising.


5. Tell a story

There is no better launch pad for a new brand than having an interesting story to tell. An amazing ingredient sourced with difficulty. The passion of two engineers toiling in the garage to bring their dream alive. A family recipe lost in time, resurrected. A powerful story can become part of the brand. Your core loyalists will propagate it.


6. Start with a unique product or differentiated service 

You’ll need less help from consultants like us to do the above.


(Alok Nanda is Founder and CEO of Alok Nanda & Company, a creative brand consultancy)


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