Starting a startup is a battle, and only the bravest and most innovative entrepreneurs survive. From navigating the rocky waters of product development to securing investment, the journey is long and full of challenges. But in this article, we’ll tackle one of the biggest hurdles faced by startups: branding and marketing.
In this article, we’ll hear from an Endeavor Entrepreneur, Yukka Harlanda. Yukka is the CEO and Co-Founder of Brodo, a groundbreaking startup that has disrupted the market and captured the attention of fashion enthusiasts around the globe. So, are you ready to learn the insider secrets of branding and marketing from a true visionary? Let’s dive in and discover what it takes to build a thriving business!
From College Obsession to Digital Disruption
Have you ever wondered how a tenacious and bold mentality can make or break a start-up? Here is Yukka’s story. In 2011-2012, he and his partner started Brodo in a way that was unconventional: without a business plan. They believed that they themselves as college students were the target market. With keen observation, they noticed that their college friends preferred boots to sneakers, but boots were so expensive and beyond the reach of most students. Thus, Yukka’s love for shoes and his partner’s entrepreneurial spirit drove them to bridge the gap for shoe lovers, especially college students. Their campus location was close to Cibaduyut, the area where shoe manufacturers were located, which further supported their plan. They started making shoes with designs they desired and sold them at a more affordable price point.
But wait, that’s not all! Yukka and his partner realized that they could take their shoe sales to a whole new level if they synergized it with digital technology. In 2012, they started to build a digital brand while there were not many prominent local brands or e-commerce platforms in Indonesia. As a result, they made a commitment to seriously build Brodo for one year after graduation. They believed that as long as they were still young and if they procrastinated, there would be more competing priorities. With their bold mentality and entrepreneurial spirit, they transformed Brodo into a household name and proved that anything is possible with passion and perseverance.
Branding vs Marketing: Which is More Important for Early-Stage Startups?
Yukka believes that both branding and marketing are crucial for the growth of early-stage startups. In his perspective, marketing and branding are like push and pull. Marketing involves pushing content, storytelling, visuals, and products to the target market, while branding is about pulling in the interest of the audience.
According to Yukka, branding is difficult to measure, but it is a long-term game that can be felt. Thus, the importance of branding or marketing depends on the industry. For Yukka’s business, branding is a focus and pillar, as creating a brand that is strong and sustainable takes time and effort. While marketing and sales are important, they are easier to achieve than building a strong brand. Additionally, after a decade of operations, companies should undergo a brand rejuvenation exercise to keep up with the times.
Yukka also weighs in on personal branding for founders of early-stage startups. While it ultimately depends on the founder’s personality and preference, personal branding can be a powerful organic marketing engine. In today’s attention-driven world, personal branding can be an advantage for businesses to increase brand and product awareness. However, it is not necessary for all founders to do personal branding, as it can create an attachment that is too strong and become a double-edged sword. Ultimately, if the founder is comfortable with personal branding and believes it will benefit the business, they should go for it.
Insights on Balancing Branding and Marketing
The world of marketing has changed dramatically in the last decade, with now being vastly different from 2012 when Brodo started. Early-stage businesses today face intense competition and noise. So, how can they stand out? According to Yukka, the answer is simple: be authentic. Building authenticity in recent years is harder than it was for Brodo in 2012, as they were the only local shoe brand accessible online. Other than being authentic, Yukka advises early-stage startups to build a relationship with their customers. Listening to customers can provide valuable insights for new campaigns, product ideas, and expansion plans. The key is to maintain a continuous relationship, not just a one-time interaction.
Early-stage startups often face the dilemma of whether to allocate their budget to out-of-home marketing or digital marketing. Yukka suggests evaluating the effectiveness and longevity of the marketing efforts before making a decision. With a limited budget, digital marketing can be the best solution to reach out to digital natives and accelerate growth. However, out-of-home marketing can also be impactful in grabbing the attention of non-digital natives or those who are too busy to surf the internet. Success in either method relies heavily on being authentic.
Yukka offers a new perspective on how to deal with the overcrowded and competitive retail market. He believes that competition in the retail industry is a myth. According to statistics, the number one retail brand in Indonesia only has a 2% market share. This means that customers are not tied to a particular brand and can switch to other brands at any time. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to build a relationship with their customers and maintain their loyalty.
The key to success in marketing is to be authentic and build a genuine relationship with customers. As an early-stage startup, it is essential to earn the love of customers and continuously strive to improve. Startups need to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, allocate their budget wisely, and be open to feedback. By doing so, businesses can stand out, create a loyal customer base, and grow in the market.
Key Strategies to Turn Your Vision into Reality
Picture this: You have a brilliant idea for a new business venture. You have the passion, the vision, and the drive to make it happen. But how do you take your idea from the drawing board to a successful, thriving enterprise?
To start with, it is important to differentiate short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are measurable and achievable through campaigns and product releases, while long-term goals like branding take time, effort, and investment to build. Yukka stresses that long-term goals cannot be measured in the short term, and as entrepreneurs, we must have a clear understanding of both to drive the growth of our businesses.
Breaking down goals into actionable plans is the next step. Yukka suggests starting with defining the big picture goal, then breaking it down into specific targets and an action plan. Assigning targets and plans to relevant teams and reviewing progress quarterly can help keep everyone on track and ensure that the business is moving in the right direction.
One of the most critical aspects of building a successful brand is understanding your customer base. Yukka emphasizes the importance of defining customer segmentation in-depth, including their demographics and psychographics. Understanding your customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points is key to developing effective branding strategies that resonate with them.
Creating a positive experience for customers at every touchpoint is essential. Yukka suggests that every interaction with the brand needs to be thoughtfully designed to create a lasting impression. From the website design to customer service, everything needs to be aligned with the brand’s values and mission to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for the customers.
In the initial stages of building a business, the founder’s taste and feel are crucial. Yukka advises that authenticity, passion, and market-fit need to be in sync. As the team is still small, the founder’s vision and personality play a vital role in shaping the brand’s identity and creating a strong connection with the audience.
Lastly, don’t forget visual branding as it is essential for online businesses, where customers have no physical access to the product. Yukka highlights the importance of creating a visual identity that resonates with the customers and builds trust. From the logo to the color scheme, everything needs to be carefully crafted to represent the brand’s values and personality.
The Importance of Authenticity in Branding
As an entrepreneur, building and sustaining a brand is no easy feat. It requires a unique set of skills and a team to complement any areas of weakness. According to Yukka, the key is to be self-aware and find partners and team members who can fill those gaps. While digital marketing can produce measurable results, building a community organically can lead to a more sustainable ROI in the long run.
Yukka emphasizes the importance of creating a deep and authentic brand that resonates with a specific group of people. By focusing on connection building rather than simply image building, a brand can cultivate a loyal community of customers who will stick with them through thick and thin. And while influencer marketing can have its benefits, user-generated content can often be even more impactful and unexpected.
For non-tech entrepreneurs just starting out, it’s important to remember to grow slowly and thoughtfully. While growth is important, rushing it can lead to a loss of authenticity and passion for the business. By taking the time to build a strong foundation and connection with customers, a brand can ultimately achieve more sustainable success in the long run.
In the end, the key takeaway from Yukka is that building a brand is not just about selling a product or service, but about creating a community and connection with customers. By staying true to the brand’s values and purpose, and focusing on deep rather than wide growth, entrepreneurs can build a brand that can stand the test of time.
If you’re looking to learn more about branding and marketing, then don’t miss out on our insightful discussion, Scaleup Mindset: Marketing & Branding with Yukka Harlanda of Brodo, available below. With Yukka’s expertise and experience in the field, you’ll gain valuable insights and practical tips to take your branding and marketing strategy to the next level. So, tune in now and take the first step towards building a strong brand identity and successful marketing campaigns!