Opinion: The Startup Success Handbook for Category Leadership | Opinion

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Think Google (for search), Facebook (for social media), Dream11 (for games) or boAT Lifestyle (for wearables). What do they have in common? Of course, they are the best players in their category. But there is one more thing that has led these companies to become market leaders. Excellent creation and storytelling.

In a rapidly changing world of startups, compelling brand storytelling is key to engaging and educating the masses. Storytelling is an art, and storytelling through influencers makes art yield as a powerful science. It’s the backbone of a startup startup and now more important than ever to showcase your brand to the world.

Don’t forget that it’s important to align your messaging strategy across different channels to create visibility and deliver it to consumers. Simply issuing a press release about product updates is no longer enough. An inspiring story across campaigns can create more buzz about your business, start conversations, and lead to more attraction-driven sales. This is what startup founders need.

A strong brand story that not only effectively conveys your message, but also resonates with customers. For example, social media is such an effective tool these days. Having your C-level suite provide company insights on LinkedIn can create a big impact. A CTO or CEO who starts meaningful conversations and engages with potential customers or investors can go a long way in building a cohesive brand.

Of course, data and financials matter a lot when presenting to investors or business partners. But more than numbers, you need to add reliability factor and human dimension to all data to lead the market. Stories do just that.

Let’s look at the different types of stories you can create and tell:

Your origin story: Some of the world’s greatest companies have origin stories that speak to our hopes and ambitions. They usually tell us what role the founders played in it. Your audience will always want to know how your business came about and what was the idea behind it. When the founders present it all as engaging and compelling stories, they can show authenticity with a bit of emotion.

The story of your solution to the customer’s problem: Talking about a day in the life of your client is a great way to show that you understand their issues and their journey. You can then tell what your solution is, how it works, and how it’s more efficient than existing solutions. Just showing the emotional benefits and how they impact someone’s daily life makes for a great story.

The story of how you envision the future: Show how your solution or product can create a better future and how your company thinks long-term strategically.

Here’s how good storytelling determines the steps to becoming a category leader:

Improves brand awareness

So you thought the story-first approach should only be taken when you’re ready for the market? Not enough. You can start taking steps to get the message across even if the end product isn’t in place. Let’s say you only have a demo ready, even then you can still plan a video shoot or podcast around it. This will help prospects understand the product and give you feedback on the idea behind it in the early stages. The clearer the tone, USP, and brand positioning, the easier it is to get a priority callback. This greatly helps in improving brand awareness.

Improves brand positioning

Positioning your business goes above all through good storytelling via influencers, who can be your target journalists, your business partners in the ecosystem, your customers or even your collaborators. It’s through a brand story that customers get an idea of ​​what your startup is all about. What should a story do? It should say who you are.

Your positioning determines your ability to influence the consumer’s perception of your brand compared to your competitors. So, is your product helping you win? The answer is no. When done right, brand positioning helps your business thrive, beat out premium products, and ultimately lead your category.

For example, fantasy sports platform Dream11 launched “Dream Big” stories to bring out the untold stories of eight unsung heroes who made a difference to cricketers in India. Available on YouTube and social media, the series is an extension of the brand’s Dream Big campaign launched last year. The series of eight videos reveals the human side of these heroes and aims to inspire people to fulfill their potential.

Essentially, this form of storytelling serves a dual purpose: a) Strengthening Dream11’s dominance alongside the IPL and b) Positioning Dream11 as a global brand for fantasy sports beyond cricket. Dream11 has already grown from a startup to the world’s largest fantasy sports platform with 110 million users.

Creates positive brand associations

While telling a story consistently across all channels can bring all the attention to your brand, the real power lies in how you tell your story. It’s all in the words. As long as it doesn’t get technical, the real goal is to get the word out about your products and services while making sure people tune in. Interacting with brands is like meeting and interacting with new people. How similar are we? Do we have common interests? Do you stick to your core values? Here are some of the questions that your startup’s identity, design, and content must answer and reflect to create a positive and consistent association with your brand.

Build customer loyalty

How do you keep audiences engaged across all channels? By being transparent in your messaging, actively encouraging consumers to share their own experiences, and taking a strong multi-channel storytelling approach. Whether it’s your website, social media, product packaging, or retail outlets, every channel adds a fresh perspective to your story. This ensures that all of your individual stories are intertwined to create a brand experience that translates into brand loyalty.

Storytelling, when done effectively across multiple channels, ensures that people are already paying attention whenever you launch or sell a product. When you create stories to connect or entertain, there is sustained attention and engagement for a longer period of time. People trust your brand and develop an emotional connection. This way, you not only build loyalty, but also maintain it.

BoAt Lifestyle, the premium headphone brand in India, takes this to the next level. BoAt has built a community of 2 million loyal customers. Every time a customer buys a BOAT accessory, they become part of a community called “boAtheads”. Being part of this ever-growing clan gives shoppers a sense of belonging.

Another benefit of the community is that loyal consumers can log in and also give feedback on e-commerce websites, thereby contributing to product development at boAt. A strong brand story, using the boAThead community and campaigns supported by influencers and celebrities, has allowed boAt to build a strong narrative of category leadership.

The last word

Gone are the days of traditional positioning strategies simply stating product features, price and capabilities. The world of startups has changed quite a bit since the pandemic. With an expanding online customer base, more and more categories are being disrupted. A new window of opportunity has opened for new brands to take leadership in their category. Today, storytelling via different actors has become an integral part of the positioning strategy of startups. In addition to setting you apart from the competition, a great story not only increases your brand value, but also leads your category.

The author is Founder, CommsCredible

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