Start-ups often begin with one or two people working to get business off the ground, with no outside support or guidance. Tools such as incubator schemes can be of help in these cases, but how can start-up companies head in the right direction from the outset?
FoodBev consulted with two retail industry experts, Martyn Garrod, creative director from Carter Wong and Elizabeth Finn, managing director from Cowan, London, to analyse how start-ups can bring the best of themselves when stepping out into the world of food and beverages.
In order to grow and improve, often the best way to learn from others is to observe how established companies have recovered from previous mistakes. Garrod suggested establishing a wide foundation for your product or solution before making decisions on the finer details.
“You only get one chance at making a first impression. Once this impression has been made it is hard to change people’s opinions – this is true for customers and buyers alike. Make sure you know your product and why there is space for it – then invest in communicating this with clarity.
“One mistake many start-ups make is picking a name they like without thinking about how it ties in with the bigger brand picture, resulting in a confused identity as the brand grows and develops.”
Finn observed that spotting genuine consumer opportunities is the key to success. However, a common pitfall for start-ups is not taking note of how ‘to be truly differentiated.’
She detailed what start-ups may go on to do once they establish themselves among well-known competitors: “Consider carefully what category conventions you are going to break and which you are going to abide by, for example flavour, colour coding and range navigation.”
These aspects can then be reflected in packaging and design choices, reinforcing the message you want your products to communicate.
To thrive in such a competitive space, start-ups must be unique and stand out. But how is this achieved?
Garrod has advised that meaning is the core to standing out. He said: “You need to believe in something – whether that’s better ingredients, authentic recipes, or responsibly sourced products. Vision, mission and purpose are the building blocks to any successful brand, and these will inform the visual identity – not the other way around.
“Once you’ve outlined your brand values, let this guide your visual and verbal identity, making sure you communicate this purpose with absolute clarity.
“When you’ve clearly communicated your brand through your story and visual identity, you’ll attract the right audience that believes in the same things. Build your brand and your following will build with it.”
What bigger companies can learn
The growth and development of start-ups is not one-sided, however. More established food and beverage businesses can take note of how entrepreneurs operate, Garrod and Finn explained.
“Established food and beverage businesses need to remember that managing a brand is a job that never ends,” observed Garrod. “The best brands evolve all the time – even Coca-Cola and McDonalds are constantly being tweaked to ensure that they don’t lose touch with their audience.”
Larger businesses have been taking note of the success of startups, and many seek to invest. Finn said this is due to a loss of ‘relevance and appeal’ with consumers.
She also added that: “These big companies can learn from successful startups to re-think their own brands, as the same rules apply. What successful startups all have in common is a single-minded, differentiated and relevant offer.”
Garrod concluded: “Consumers are more inclined to embrace challenger brands than they used to be, so bigger brands should take note of how successful start-ups operate – and ensure that they continue to stay relevant in such a fast-moving market.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019
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