Startups ride the 'nostalgic' tide to name and advertise their firms
The 205-second advertisement of Hector Beverages’ Paper Boat brand of drinks, by Lintas Productions, aims to evoke one emotion: Nostalgia.
Hector Beverages isn’t the only new age company trying to tap into that age old feeling. New age businesses like Crown it (a Gurgaon-based cash back startup), Shadowfax (a Gurgaon-based hyperlocal logistics startup) and Roadrunnr (a Bengaluru-based delivery startup) are all digging deep into the past to woo customers.
For Crown it founder Sameer Grover, who grew up in the 1980s and whose parents were of the salaried class, cold drinks like Campa Cola and Gold Spot were a luxury. Whenever there were guests in Grover’s house, his parents used to buy bottles of cola for them and young Grover would collect the crowns of these bottles and exchange them for a bottle of cola. “It was an ecstatic feeling,” says Grover.
“It is exactly this feeling our customers are getting now,” says Grover whose startup raised $5.5 million this year from investors. Crown it helps customers to find local restaurants, outlets or services like spas, avail cash back offers and then shop online with partner ecommerce sites.
Neeraj Kakkar, chief executive officer of Hector Beverages is very serious about the nostalgia theme and it is not a passing fad for him or the company. Hector Beverages, which is competing with the “Achilleses of the cola world” has already shelled out around Rs 20 crore for the marketing campaign. “Earlier, on flights people used to choose cola over something like jal jeera because jal jeera was not cool. But things have changed now and people choose healthier options,” says Kakkar.
But aren’t these memories a bit too old for the current generation? 40-year-old Kakkar says the basic doubts and memories he had as a child are quite similar to those of his 11-year-old son. “My son asked me after accidentally having a watermelon seed if it will grow in his stomach. These are similar doubts I had as a child,” says Kakkar. Having said that, Hector Beverages’ primary target consumer is of the age 25 to 35, according to Kakkar. But not everyone is sure if this kind of branding will work or not. Nalin Khanna, president, Vertebrand consulting, says that what you do with the brand is more important than the name itself.
“Coke and Pepsi are not great names, but what they have done over the years with their branding and product is remarkable,” says Khanna. “Paper Boat has done a good job with its branding. But at the same time, it limits your product line. You can’t sell cranberry juice under this brand,” adds Khanna.
Rajeev Banduni, cofounder of GrowthEnabler, a startup advisory firm, says there are a whole host of startups coming up in the “memories and habits of Indians” space. “Tea-serving startups like Chai Thela (tea cart) and story-telling platforms like Kaalras (loosely means ‘essence of time’) are all examples of it.”
Not only B2C startups, but B2B startups are also jumping into the nostalgia bandwagon. Roadrunnr was named after the fast-running ground bird from the cartoon series Looney Tunes and competitor Shadowfax got its name from children’s classic The Lord of The Rings. Shadowfax, the horse, is faster than the wind and can comprehend human language.
“It perfectly suited our company,” says Shadowfax cofounder Abhishek Bansal. “We have all read The Lord of The Rings and we want our delivery boys to be the fastest and they can understand technology, just like the character Shadowfax who could understand what humans spoke.”
But is innovative branding of B2B companies as important as B2C companies? “In India, most B2B companies have lived on their product or service rather than their branding. For Shadowfax, I don’t see The Lord of The Rings factor rubbing on their brand delivery,” says Khanna of Vertebrand.
Mohit Kumar, CEO and cofounder of Roadrunnr, is not doubtful that this sort of branding will work. “Even though we are a B2B company, branding matters to us,” says Kumar. “Even though, characters might change from a Popeye to a Pikachu (of Pokemon) because of generation gap, we all have an emotional attachment with our childhood. Those were the best of times.”