The 6 basic truths

Shivani Daiya
5th June 2022

Whether its re-branding, creating a niche, targeting a new customer profile or building a new category – the basics never change. Here are 6 truths you should know when starting out.

The 6 basic truths

  1. Good stories make great brands
  2. Organic growth comes from authenticity, great product and being different
  3. The first or the best product doesn’t necessarily win the market, the product that everyone uses the most usually wins
  4. Product innovation isn’t enough, it needs to have advantaged distribution.
  5. The customer journey is everything – it’s all about the touch points.
  6. Paid marketing works until it doesn’t


What’s your story?

lead with the story, not the product

“ I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse '' Ask anyone, and they’ll know where this line is from. Just like movies live and breathe in consumers’ minds, so do brands. Storytelling is at the heart of building great brands, because consumers buy into authentic compelling stories and not merely into products and services. Telling a good story is important to make the customer understand “the why '' and unless your brand is built on one BIG idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.  As Galloway puts it, sell a promise, not a product. The snack brand, Whole Truth Foods, sells the promise of no nasties and has built a compelling story at every touch point – from the packaging to advertising, it tells one story – the truth about healthy food. Sometimes the story is born out of a dire need in the market or the founders personal journey, either way – find a way to tell the world your  why with a story they won’t forget and you’ve captured their attention. Consistently practicing what you preach  won’t just result in having product or brand evangelists, but rather mission evangelists.

Find your purpose and use that as your north star to scale.

Human values are at the core of purpose led brands – whether that’s freedom, equality, respect for nature or shared responsibility, customers and employees both have a stronger connect to the brand that defines and supports human values. In the longer term, they have a chance to not only win with consumers and grow faster than their competitors, but also positively influence society in a long-lasting way.

Mental health platform, InnerHour, started with one founder's personal journey and purpose to inspire confidence and empower their users by providing support for their mental health conditions. They’re on a mission to de-stigmatize mental health in India and build an end to end platform from discovery to recovery.

Building an experience for a brand that’s driven by people and creating a space that makes people feel like they belong are two very intangible things that go a long way.

Bottom line: Your brand is all about your story. Good stories beat good spreadsheets. Find your purpose and tell a good story.


Don’t play in someone else’s backyard

 better is worse, different is what matters

Make your future bet and take bold risks.  Solving a problem that exists today completely ignores the fact that your consumers are dynamic and always changing. Cultures, beliefs and behaviors are evolving faster than ever, so being authentic and different is important. Placing bets on the future should  feel risky. When we bet on Furlenco (now House of Kieraya), furniture rental was still nascent in India, but the differentiation in business model is what worked. It’s exactly the same thing with Rebel Foods as well. It believed that they would create a market where people would order from Cloud kitchens and not from recognized brands that were offline that they would normally have gone to from the restaurant creating that market. But venturing into the unknown has its advantages, and doing it with an operator VCs gives you the belief that you could be a category creator is even better. Bombay Shirt Company didn’t just build another fashion brand, it’s easy to do that, but building a bespoke apparel brand that’s customized, stylish and sustainable ticks all the right boxes.

Bottom line: Organic growth comes from authenticity, great product and being different


Look for rituals

habits make life easy. Rituals make life meaningful

When consumer habits change, look for rituals that remain.  Re-shuffling business of social norms and broken ideals has questioned customer loyalty and there’s no better time to decide if your brand is a habit or a ritual. This comes from trust – we buy the same brand of chips, underwear or electronics, largely because we trust them. Think about the one brand you ‘missed’ during the pandemic scarcity because logistics didn’t allow it to be on shelves. Did you switch? Or did you try finding it someplace else?

We don’t fight for our habits, we fight for our rituals. That’s because they provide meaning in an uncertain time and fulfill our needs and when daily habits are taken away, we hold on even tighter to the rituals.

" The $2,400+ price tag for a Peloton seems exorbitant given the glut of other options in the market, but the well-documented cult-like experience of a cycling class gives people stability, order and routine"

If you do away with fonts, colors, filters and aesthetics, most brands will fall into one of two categories: those with nothing left to differentiate themselves and those that have gone much deeper to start a unique conversation. Nua, for example, has taken women’s wellness to another level by breaking the category code and engaged in a larger dialogue with their users. With a community of 250K nua women, they’re exploring the “human” side of a user, at the very life moments when the users are exploring the concept themselves - between work, play and downtime. Those life moments echo the brands’ guiding beliefs. It resonates with self-discovery which moves us away from the notion of emulation (which is so core to aspirational brands) and toward empowerment. Brands that empower the self-discovery journey are already pushing the frontier of lifestyle.

Bottom line: The first or the best product doesn’t necessarily win the market, the product that everyone uses the most usually wins


Build and they will won’t come

start marketing the day you start coding.

You’ve hit PMF. Awesome! But here’s a little PSA, it won’t matter if they don’t know that you exist. The fit is only a hit, if your distribution game is strong. What the eye can’t see, the heart won’t want and to make your product stand out, it needs to reach people in a way that creates a buzz. There’s different ways of doing this:-

Influencer marketing, ATL campaigns, Content and Community, SEO are great ways to reach customers. One thing that works well for brands that are born on apps are push notifications. We’ve seen that with Dunzo. They actually wrote a blog on making users love push notifications. Key takeaway: Don’t be pushy. Just make the content interesting enough for users to be engaged. Puns, Humour, Nostalgia – keep it interesting. They talk about how their CTR actually increased by 65% and the exercise directly helped the business with a 45% increase in orders. All this with ZERO marketing budget and just engaging content

The other kind of distribution is product distribution. Here, tech and sustainability play an important role.  WayCool, one of the fastest growing agri-commerce platforms has managed to crack the product distribution code by strategically tying up with distribution channels for value added vegetables and optimizing resources. They’ve done a great job of reducing food wastage by using tech and automation. An added advantage is the community of over 1000 farmers they support. Their ESG efforts also allows them to recycle water, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and integrate processes that reduce overall resource usage.

It’s simple – distribution cannot be an afterthought and brands that think about it while building out have the advantage and foresight to reach more customers with a lower CAC.

Bottom line: Product innovation isn’t enough, it needs to have advantaged distribution


What’s love gotta do with it?

more than you can imagine.

You see an ad on Instagram, click on it and it takes you to the website. Unfortunately the website isn’t optimized for mobile, so you get annoyed and close the window. 2 days later, you’re at the mall and see the same brand offline – great! You go check out their products, but remember that they have discount for first time visitors on their website and you promise yourself to log-on from your computer and check it out. That never happens. One month later – you see the same brand on Amazon and buy the product there. Bingo!

What just happened? Missed opportunity.

The brand gained revenue (minus amazon fees), but also lost the opportunity to create a personalized experience for a potential customer, email marketing on new product launches, share freebies, track website visits, share discount codes, cross sell products and nudge them on abandoned carts – all of that would’ve been possible if only the customer journey was smooth. We actually wrote a blog on this. Check it out. Here’s a summary.

Love lesson # 1: When a customer truly loves you, they will tell others about you

Love lesson # 2: If a customer loves your product and service, they will use to over and over again.

Love lesson # 3: If a customer loves you, they’ll pay you appropriately for your service

Bottom line: The customer journey is everything. It’s all about touchpoints.


Organic search is taking its last breath.

Soooo, does your performance marketing really perform?

According to Forbes,  less than 2 percent followers get to see organic posts. How do you look at loyalty without fulfilment though? The answer lies in the way you operate:

Act like a consumer brand, think like a  media company

Think about your media strategy and how you communicate with your consumers. Let’s face it – everyone and their grandma is on facebook…but is your audience really STILL there? Is short form content the future of video consumption? Consistency and personalization go a long way in building loyalty and advocacy. Customer acquisition happens in stages, often visualized by the “customer acquisition funnel”. As customers move through the funnel of awareness, consideration and purchase it’s important to consider the cost of acquiring these customers. You ideally want businesses with repeat purchase behavior to recover CAC in 6-12 months. Once you gain traction, your LTV/CAC ratio of 3x is good, 5x is even better.

Bottom line: Paid marketing works until it dosen't

On our next blog, we’ll talk about some channels you can leverage to create a buzz and build awareness for your brand and metrics to measure success.

Here's a peak into what we'll cover.

Brands usually use 4 main resources to create awareness and recall

  1. Social Media – user generated content, community and short form videos.
  2. The power of content and community - emotional > functional
  3. ATL – big money for small returns?
  4. Influencer marketing - hit or miss