FEW Women’s Start-Up Club Meeting – Tuesday, 3 February 2015
By Katharina von Tschurtschenthaler
Sofia made it. She started her own business: She is running an online shop selling paintings produced by Ethiopian artists. The webpage looks fabulous, professional and creates the desire to start filling the online shopping cart. Now that the online presence is set up, Sofia is facing the next challenge: get clients, communicate the unique selling point. „How do I spread the word? How do I build a brand? How can I show: What I do is worth paying for?“, questions which apply to everyone who is trying to sell: no matter whether this are products, ideas or services.
One thing is sure: competition is high with many start-ups getting into business – space gets crowded, attracting attention gets harder. Anyone can put content on YouTube, everyone can set up an online store. „When it comes to create your own brand, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd“, states Fiona Berwick. She currently works as Director for the Consumer Practise for Edelman in Tokyo and was speaking at the Women’s Start Up Club 3rd meeting in February.
Brands are a lot more than just a logo. The key point is to create a living brand in a market, which grows faster and faster every day with a consumer who gets more and more empowered. The first task is „to find out who you are“, Fiona explains. „You don’t want to keep adapting yourself, but instead create a unique and consistent brand.“
That means that to get started one has to define what the business is all about and specify the vision, the mission and the goals.
„Create a brand vision“, Fiona explains. „Ask yourself the question: What are the rational and emotional benefits from what I do?“
Once this is achieved we must gather as much information as possible about our (potential) customers: Find out how they share, what they need and what they are not getting so far. „This can be done by sharing a common experience – even if it has nothing to do with the product we want to sell“, says Fiona. „Your brand has to be inclusive.“
This market research must not cost much. Like in Lauren’s case. She created her own homepage about a better living for foreigners in Japan. Her motto: „Get out and get feedback!“ Therefore she travels a lot, attends city tours and exhibitions, visits museums and talks to people in order to find out what information they are looking for – and get new readers.
When it comes to feedback „prepare for good and bad. Be able to respond to negative criticism“, Fiona advises. But most important of all: „Be comfortable with what you do.“ Then, as a last step, lay back and measure the success.
Fiona has over 20 years of experience in branding, innovation, strategy and planning. Before coming to Japan she had been working with many brands including Cancer Research UK and GSK. She currently works for Edelman where she is Director of the Consumer Practice responsible for both international brands entering the Japanese market and domestic brands looking for overseas expansion.
She has also been involved in setting up her own business and was founder of social enterprise fairsharemusic.com so she understands how important branding is when you run or start‐up your own business.
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