Future Generali

Should start-ups focus more on innovations or branding?

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Rama Bijapurkar

So I want to ask you on behalf of a lot of the startups that I know in the audience about what you said on subcategories. We see actually a lot of subcategory creation from our very vibrant startups. They're building digitally driven ways to solve real persistent problems that we haven't solved. Whether it's better logistics last mile distribution buying gold education tractor hiring all that stuff. But the language that we seem to think about it here is everyone's talking about being innovative business model. That seems to be the search. We don't hear the word brand at all. And the assumption seems to be, that If you have an innovative business model then you get funded and you grow and the brand builds on autopilot and. What I’ve heard you say is that you've got to lock your innovation as well into a brand. so is there a cooler light way to do it for startups?

David Aaker:

Well, first of all, it there's enormous literature in disruptive innovation. I mentioned Clayton Christensen but there are dozens and dozens of really important strategy thinkers that have written books on this. Very influential books and you'll go to those books and you look in the index and read, they don't mention branding. I mean it's really phenomenal. I mean Clayton read Christians and none of those guys mentioned branding. And so one of the roles of my book is to Is the introduce branding into that literature. And there's one of the advantages that these startups have is they don't have this huge legacy that they have to protect and that they kind of Smothers them. They can have a lot of energy. They can be irrelevant. They can do that. I encourage you to go to dollar shave club on YouTube and look at this a 90 second video that was made that created 12000 subscribers in two days. Gillette couldn't write it something like that but this guy dollar Shave Club he had nothing to lose and he said what the hell I'm going to do it. And you read that. And there's some sort of words in there that would be offensive to some people. But not to his core market they're not offensive. They just thought it was delightful that you could be so outrageous and so relevant and so shocking and so humorous and so funny.

And so if you are a small guy you have a chance to do that kind of thing. I wrote a chapter in the book about competing with Amazon and how Amazon has all of these enormous qualities that it seems impossible to compete against economies of scale. But if you look at them they don't have any sense of humour. They're not fun. They're very serious. And they don't have a higher purpose. I mean Amazon's just trying to get bigger and make more money. They have no higher purpose and they don't care about the products. I mean we don't have any they're selling crafts now they're trying to compete against Etsy and they're unsuccessful. They can't have it a community. They can't have a brand community about anything. Because they're not they don't know mattresses. They don't know cosmetics they don't know motorcycles they don't know anything.

And so if you have a dollar shave club they know razors and they know men and they have all these funny little letters they send out about the toilet news and stuff and all this outrageous funny stuff. And July can't do that.

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