3 Disruptive Branding Tips for Southeast Asian Entrepreneurs

Branding is required to survive and thrive, but it can be different when it comes to start-ups

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BY Melissa G. Bagamasbad - 31 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Branding is defined as the process by which one creates a unique name and image for a product using advertising campaigns. It aims to establish a presence in the market to attract and retain loyal customers. When done in a half-baked manner, branding merely enhances the outer package of a mediocre product.

According to media company TechShake, “the world of start-ups, however, possesses a different challenge—for it believes in change, innovation, and disruption. The purpose of branding this future, therefore, is to fill the gaping void between the innovator’s belief, and the consumer’s ability to believe in that belief.” Gov Daswani, founder of The Fourth Wall, gave a talk on disruptive branding and how to bridge the start-up founder and the consumer. He refers to this as “breaking the Fourth Wall of entrepreneurship.”

Here are three tips he gives for Southeast Asian entrepreneurs:


1. Your desire to solve a problem must outweigh your desire to be a great entrepreneur

Daswani says that it’s important to be selfless and to really care about the problem you’re solving. One cannot create an iconic brand without love from followers, and this requires connection. Daswani summarizes three requirements for creating a connection: first, have one’s heart on your sleeve and not be satisfied with the status quo; second, have the tireless desire to earn human trust by becoming an authority in your field; and, third, have a novel and newsworthy solution to fulfill one’s desire.


2. Brands should provide the “right ammunition”

Daswani says that word of mouth can be an effective form of branding, especially when Person A for example, is able to relay the right, newsworthy information to Person B. If Person A is successful, Person B relays the information to Person C and the cycle goes on. Daswani says that brands should provide the right ammunition, so to speak, to their audience for any word-of-mouth campaign to be successful. “If Person A provides Person B with the incentive of sounding smart and awesome by talking about your product, trust me, they will,” he says. “This is called social currency. Person C will sound cool to Person D and so on.”


3. Don’t rely on influencers, but on enthusiasts for genuine testimonials

Daswani says that, unfortunately, the influencers who are usually present in launches and events nowadays have become unreliable. According to him, these people are usually invited for their huge number of followers but not necessarily for their credibility.

Instead, Daswani says to rely on enthusiasts for their authenticity and authoritative knowledge. “We want people who are enthusiasts,” he says. “They are the greatest and most genuine form of marketing.” Daswani adds, “In 2017 and beyond, the greatest form of marketing is a sincere endorsement from an enthusiast. And if your brand cares enough about something to impress the enthusiast, if you are able to enable the passion of the enthusiast, they will become your personal evangelizers and pay you with their allegiance.”

Daswani advises entrepreneurs to find these enthusiasts on public forums or threads on Facebook, where there are conversations. An example of how effective evangelizers can be is Signet store, a men’s clothing store in Manila, which found success in marketing in a public forum. Daswani says that word-of-mouth on forums can even be more powerful than a billboard on main roads like EDSA.

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