The journey of a scaleup or funded startup in today’s cutthroat market is akin to setting sail in unpredictable waters. To navigate these, a company must build more than just a product; it must construct a brand – an entity that lives in the minds of consumers, embodying trust, quality, and expectation. It doesn’t matter whether that brand is B2B or B2C, brand, time and time again, is critical to building long-term growth.
The essence of brand building
Brand building is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It’s a strategic, multifaceted process that extends beyond immediate sales. Renowned works like “How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp and the IPA’s “The Long and Short of It” have explained the intrinsic value of long-term brand building. For B2B, LinkedIn has published extensive work as well.
They advocate for consistent and memorable marketing, emphasising that brand recognition over time translates into sales growth. The rationale is simple yet profound: a strong brand becomes a heuristic for quality and reliability in the consumer’s decision-making process.
For startups and scaleups, although it’s difficult to start thinking of brand early, this principle is paramount as you find product-market fit. While the initial focus might lean heavily towards user acquisition and rapid growth, it’s the cultivation of a strong brand that sustains a business. It’s not a zero-sum game either; prioritising one doesn’t necessarily mean we exclude the other, just focus switches occasionally.
Let’s look at a hot scaleup sector: the MENA Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) category.
Analysing BNPL scaleups: The brand, community, and sentiment triangle
Let’s take a moment to examine the brand and community indices of various BNPL scaleups, depicted in the box plots crafted from recent data from Sila’s Digital Brand Equity Index over a 12-month period:
The box plot above looks at the average brand scores over the course of the year for the top BNPL brands in MENA. Notably, most seem to have neglected to focus on brand (a score closer to 100 indicates more robust performance).
The box plot above looks at the average community index scores over the course of the year for the same brands – and while there’s a stronger performance, they are all below 50, indicating a lot of work to be done to have a positive view in consumers minds.
These visualisations reveal that while some BNPL brands have built robust community engagement, their brand scores—reflecting broader market perception and recall—vary significantly. Brands leading in the brand index have successfully translated their community efforts into strong brand equity.
However, others still need to, indicating a disconnect between community engagement and long-term brand building.
When we look at the category as a whole, we can begin to understand the correlation between high brand scores and an increased community score:
- There is a cluster of data points with varying sentiment, indicating several brands with low brand and community scores but a mix of sentiment levels. These brands may be newer or niche players with varying degrees of customer satisfaction.
- A few data points have a higher brand score but have a mid-range community score. These brands have strong visibility but may not fully capitalise on community engagement opportunities.
- It’s less common for brands to have high brand and community engagement scores. The brands that do appear here are likely industry leaders (at the moment!), enjoying strong market presence and positive sentiment.
Notably, no clear pattern indicates a direct correlation between high brand scores and positive sentiment, suggesting that more than brand recognition is needed to guarantee favourable public perception.
The cost of neglecting brand measurement
Failing to measure and understand these dynamics can damage reputation and increase customer acquisition costs in the long run. The bubble chart highlights the perils of neglecting long-term brand and community engagement, as evident from brands with lower scores and smaller bubbles, which may be spending more to attract each new customer due to a weaker brand presence.
Branding for investment and valuation
Numbers do not just sway investors and venture capitalists; the strength and potential of a brand influence them. A robust brand can be a startup’s greatest advocate, speaking volumes about its market position and potential for longevity. It’s often what justifies a startup’s valuation, influencing the confidence of current and prospective investors.
The cost of traditional brand measurement
Historically, measuring a brand’s impact involved substantial financial outlays, often reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars for comprehensive market research and analysis. These traditional methods, while thorough, were not always accessible for startups operating on lean budgets.
Enter Sila: precision and affordability in brand analysis
This is the era where Sila revolutionises the game. With its advanced social understanding suite and Brand Pulse 360 product, Sila offers startups a way to measure their brand’s health and market impact accurately.
Gone are the days of excessive spending for brand analysis. Sila’s solutions provide deep insights into consumer sentiment, brand engagement, and market trends at a fraction of the cost.
Real-time insights and ROI measurement
Sila’s AI-driven analytics enable real-time monitoring and assessment of brand performance across various metrics, including sentiment analysis, brand loyalty, and consumer engagement. This tangible measurement of marketing efforts allows startups to dynamically adapt and evolve their strategies, ensuring that every dollar spent on marketing is an investment towards growth.
Sila: a catalyst for measurable marketing success
Sila’s tools are invaluable in the current landscape, where every marketing effort must be justified. They provide clear ROI, turning what was once an intangible aspect of business into a quantifiable one. With Sila, startups can confidently demonstrate to investors and stakeholders that their brand-building activities are creative endeavours and strategic investments contributing to the company’s financial growth.
Brand building is an indispensable aspect of a startup’s journey, with long-term efforts yielding substantial customer loyalty and sales returns. For scaleups and startups aiming to make a mark in a crowded space, embracing Sila’s cutting-edge, cost-effective brand analysis tools can be the key to unlocking sustained success and securing investor confidence.