A year ago, a friend of mine in PR famously said, “Most start- ups chase the first mover advantage and customer acquisition. Very few of them are focused on a differentiated brand offering.”. This statement was not based on any factual data – but quite a few people agreed with her. However things are changing and in today’s world, Start-Ups are re-evaluating their strategy and looking at business models with a focus on sustainable growth and profitability.

As the environment changes, often the three key challenges that emerge are Awareness, being Relevant to the consumer and staying Different from the competition. In other words – communicating a focused & differentiated Brand Positioning. Something that is critical to the survival of a brand in today’s competitive context.

We have worked with several  start ups and have learnt  from their visionary founders. Basis this experience, I have put down some 3 positioning pointers for firms who want to grow profitably.

1. Customer Profiling : Understand the Early Adopter
Getting positive traction amongst early adopters is key to Start-Up success. They can literally ‘make’ the brand by giving it positive word of mouth and social shout-outs. Comprehensive customer profiling would include the following :

  • Demographics : Location, Occupation, Relationship status, Education etc.
  • Psychographics :Value and Beliefs, Self perception, Image, Life-stage etc.

Sure this is a lot – but they are early adopters. The better we know them – the higher the chances of us delighting them. And as most of us know, a sharply defined pen picture significantly increases the effectiveness of an in-bound marketing campaign.

2. Differentiated Brand Benefits : Stay Relevant
People choose brands that make them feel better or make their lives easier in some way. Hence it is necessary for a start-up to understand how their brand fits into the user’s life and makes a difference.

  • To begin, with founders can take a good look at the rational benefits and emotional pay-offs they offer in a competitive context. The more distinctive the benefits – the higher the chance of user loyalty.

Research helps dispel doubts. We often do immersion studies (with usage observation) or study reams of data to understand what could possible be the benefits that can help grow stickiness.

As the customer evolves and has access to an ever growing pool of brands – the need to stay relevant while differentiated from the competition, is increasingly important.

3. Identify Key Touch-point(s) : Consistency in Experience 
A client of mine said, “Brands have a short live-span if they are inconsistent on key touch points.”. Every brand offering has multiple touch points – some of them are drivers of choice, a few of them are hygiene factors and the rest immaterial.

Unfortunately, often consistency in brand experience is sacrificed on the alter of expansion. But this is best avoided.

The start-up team needs to identify the key touch-points (single or at the most 3) where the brand is really making a difference and build on it. If we own a touch-point  and ensure our offering can make the consumer’s life simpler and more joyful- we have a winning proposition.

In summation :

In today’s rapidly changing digital world – customers have a plethora of choices. Start-Ups need to understand their customer’s needs and ensure their offering is relevant and credible. Creating a differentiated brand offering is a key part of business success.


Read more about how Centric Brand Advisors helps Start Ups profile their customer for effective marketing: