One of the main differences between small and large companies is in brand approach and brand building. This probably explains why only a few brands have recall value despite the economy being overwhelmingly inhabited by small businesses.

The MSME sector is home to more than 6.33 million businesses, of which 99.4% are micro-enterprises, according to the annual report of the Ministry of MSMEs for fiscal year 19. Although the coronavirus pandemic has had an effect debilitating the economy and most businesses, it has been a boon to many small and micro-businesses born out of its disruptive effects. Overall, this sector is important from a macroeconomic point of view because of its contribution to GDP and employment. But it is marred by a paradox: a larger number of companies but a smaller number of strong brands. Big business brands dominate our mental space.

The important question is, why do small businesses typically fail to grow into big brands? The important word here is “generally”. Many companies have achieved multi-crore turnover. For example, MDH, which was started by Mahashay Dharampal Gulati, who paid the price for Partition but managed to open a small shop in Karol Bagh in Delhi; Nirma, for whom Karsanbhai Patel laid the foundations from the backyard of his modest home; Havells, which now governs the electric space, was created from the modest ravines of the Bhagirath Palace Electric Market in Old Delhi. Then there are startups that have taken advantage of the ICT wave to become big brands – Ola and Nykaa.

What can we learn from these stories? What do these successes have in common? The most decisive aspect is the deep bond that creators or entrepreneurs have with the company or the brand. This is also true for the now ubiquitous brands; they bear the name of their creators. Consider this: Adidas comes from the name of the founder, Adolf “Adi” Dassler; Conrad Hilton Hilton Hotels; HP by Bill Hewlett and David Packard; Levi’s by Levi Strauss and Walt Disney by the brothers Walt and Roy Disney.

This does not mean that the product or service must bear the name of the person who created it. The suggestion is that these brands have had a very close and intimate connection with the human force behind them. These brands and companies are tangible forms of the founders’ visions, the actualized reality of something unique and invisible. The fatal flaw of MSMEs is that they often suffer from a lack of sight and vision.

The sight pushes small entrepreneurs to build profitable businesses and adopt a popular business model by copying an existing product. We can see this in the large number of small entrepreneurs who host their products on Amazon or stuff retailers with their products using a push approach. These products, designed to resemble popular brands, seek to appeal to consumers through the power of push, price, or lack of information. The lack of vision is one of the reasons small businesses stay small and the presence of vision is the reason many small brands have gone big. Sight is a strange ability to see things that should be there, but are not.

Thousands of businesses are created, but most disappear without a trace. The reason lies in the strength of the desire to earn money without realizing that it is a consequence of doing something that others have failed to recognize. It is the absence of vision but the presence of sight.

The founder of McDonald’s saw hungry people walk long distances and Fred Smith of FedEx visualized the importance of fast and safe delivery of messages. Patel de Nirma saw the desire of the middle class for a detergent powder and Gulati of MDH heard the call for quality and affordability of spices. BTW or Bittoo Tikki Wala – who started out selling tikkis from a cart in northwest Delhi and then set up a restaurant chain – resisted the urge to be like other vendors. of cat. He recognized the customers’ desire for hygienically prepared and standardized tikkis. Vision is the ability to see the current state of people or consumers and the state they would like to be in, and to see it before someone else sees it. Nokia, which dominated the mobile phone market, suffered from the inability to visualize the passage from ear to eye. People wanted a phone to be more than just a connecting device; they wanted an empowerment and empowerment tool. In a related vein, HMT lost because he continued to see a watch as a time machine, as Titan’s Vision took into account customers’ silence about a watch’s appearance and attractiveness. .

The main questions that need to be addressed in building a brand are: can I hear the silent whispers that others cannot? Can I imagine my consumer in the state they would like to be, but not?

Small businesses should start their branding by answering two simple and obvious questions. What is the activity of the product I am selling? What is the activity of my brand?

It is important to understand that a brand is a dual layer entity. It is a more product. Consider a men’s vest. The role of a vest is to provide insulation and absorb sweat. That’s what all vests do, but Rupa became a big brand thanks to the second question. This brand has defined its activity as comfort – do you remember the slogan “yeh aaram ka mamla hai”? Red Chief has become a multi-crore brand in the same way. The footwear market is teeming with hundreds of brands, but Red Chief has found its fame in defining its brand business – to give customers the reassurance and confidence of pure leather. Think about deodorants. What is the job of a deodorant? It’s no rocket science that the job of a deodorant is to prevent body odor. It’s common to all deos, but Fogg’s made a promise to give customers deo, not gasoline. These brand creators have heard the whispers of customers.

Small businesses are often victims of a misunderstanding of brands and the brand name. While brand building requires a brand name, the brand name is not a brand. We cannot build a brand on the strength of a brand name. The name only acts as a signifier. What it means is more important. The company must find its mojo, its proposition that is both relevant to customers and different from competitors.

Avoid a name that has physical or phonetic similarity to an established brand. Brands like Fair and Lovely or Coldante evoke the comparison with giants and this has a dwarfing effect. This so called smart strategy makes you like a duplicate or a fake. Ghari,

, Action, Priya Gold, Fena, Duckback, Babool, Color Bar, Nykaa, Chik, Bagh Bakri – all of these Indian brands stand alone without any similarities. If possible, the brand name should be related to the product category or benefits. It is likely to improve internet discoverability and improve brand recall.

Customers don’t think in terms of products or brands; they look at what is important to them – the benefit. We are not interested in the ointment but in “fast relief” (Fast Relief is a brand); we want to remove the cracks on the heel (Krack cream), we want to have odorless bathrooms (Odonil), and we want to save ourselves from the coronavirus (Coronil).

Formulating a strategy is the essential first step in building a brand, but the real challenge lies in execution. It is a “process from the outside to the inside”. Without substantial effort and investment in production, quality, consistency, distribution, communication and after-sales service, any branding can fall flat. Branding is made to gain trust. It opens a gateway to relationships and income streams. Branding is successful if your customers become inflexible in the face of the temptations of competitors. The secret is to drive the anchors much deeper, beyond the surface of reason into the recesses of the emotions, so that he or she says, “I don’t care.”

Harsh Verma is Professor of Marketing at FMS Delhi and this article is part of the ETRise Top MSME program. To participate, click here.