An Excerpt From the Book Go Start Up by Karan Kashyap

Branding

A fine-tuned system of values and culture will influence start-up’s products and will persuade customers to buy its services. It will impact what you build, how you build it, how you interact with employees, and how you talk to your customers. As most of the successful start-ups today realize, advertising can only create and push your brand to a limited extent; in the long run, the only way to establish a resilient brand is by investing time in defining and promoting the start-up’s values and culture system.

As nowadays employees are more sensitive to work environments and give higher importance to questions such as ‘Am I enjoying my work?’ or ‘Does this brand suit me?’, start-ups use various methods, such as testimonials and social media, to advertise stories in support of their work culture and environment, which directly affects the motivation and loyalty of employees.

A fledgling company’s brand reputation is a result of the quality of its team, mentors, vision of founders, along with past success stories of founders’ previous ventures. As the first round of money is largely driven by a start-up’s brand perception, to successfully raise capital, a founder must especially pay attention to how their company is perceived. A reputed and trusted brand offers benefits that go beyond fund-raising; it drives sales and revenues, because customers often buy into your company’s name before they buy your product.

Communicating Values

An effective medium of communication, such as emails, office interior decorations, and videos on YouTube, can empower entrepreneurs to relay the intended message for the outside world, including the employees. You can choose Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram to share stories of your culture. Or even list bonuses in the salary structure of your work force to emphasize on the necessary traits and actions expected out of employees. As leaders, you are the linchpins of your culture. According to Preeti Kaul, People and Culture Head upGrad, “It is not just about creating vision documents and sharing them with your employees. Actions speak louder than words, so making conscious efforts to live the chosen values during the hustle and bustle of the daily work routines, is crucial. Whether it is a team meeting, a one-on-one discussion, or an event at large, make sure to restate and reinforce the message through your actions. People need reminding.

For a more effective mode of communication, founders must share with everyone what they value, and make sure they actively follow through by acting upon it. They can even develop their very own unique way of communicating the company values. For instance, Bengaluru-based Intuit, provider of financial management solutions for small businesses, believes in vibrant workspaces to keep its employees on their toes. The Intuit Values Wall is located at the entrance of their office. “Every day, when I walk past this, I am reminded of our unique culture that sets us apart from other companies. The values don’t tell us how to ‘deliver awesome’, they tell us why we do,” says Anshuman Kumar, Director—Global Brand & Corporate Communications, Intuit.

About the author

The author is a well-renowned business journalist; he is one of the most established contributors for Forbes, where he covers start-ups, investors, and entrepreneurs in South Asia.

His written pieces have been cited in research journals such as IDRBT by Duvvuri Subbarao, Former Governor, RBI, in reports by IBM, South China Morning Post, Tech in Asia, and the Harvard Business School. Leading him to become one of the 30 leaders in Asia, a Fellow at Swedish Institute Management Program (SIMP), a Jury member for Sweden-India Mobility Hackathon, and a Panellist on the Aljazeera channel in America.

He has been trained by the United Nations for providing skill development to international migrants and refugees in their entrepreneurial ventures. He has studied entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Bootcamp and is a mentor at Government of India’s Atal Innovation Mission, where he conducts lessons on values driven entrepreneurship.

In his free time, he enjoys amassing cultural masks, playing darts for Trinidad and Tobago team, and practicing Japanese linguistic skills.

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