Establish a long-term vision of what the brand could be.
Always maintain integrity of your brand (Do not strive for instantaneous, fleeting success).
Link your brand to some cause/ social good that you are passionate about.
As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure of interviewing Niroo Kamdar, Co-Founder/ CEO Kitchen Crafted.
Niroo Kamdar has more than 52 years of professional experience in the CPG industry. He was 2002 Finalist for the highly prestigious Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award and 2013 Finalist for Next Gen Market Research EXPLOR Award for “Disruptive Innovation”. In 2019 Niroo became a Co-Founder of a food startup known today as Kitchen Crafted. Niroo spent 20 years as the Worldwide Head of Strategy, Forecasting and Planning at Kraft General Foods and has been a part of the innovative product strategies for Digiorno Pizza, Natural Bliss, Ritz Crisp & Thin, Natural Instincts Hair Color, Venus Women’s Razor and more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Multiple things came together: 1. I always had a passion for healthy food with bold flavors. 2. Being from India was exposed to spices from childhood; global travel gave me a vision to bring globally inspired cuisines to American palettes 3. A chance to work with family and leave a legacy for future generations
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Being more of a traditional, classical old-school marketer — I would say that my foray into social media targeting and planning was quite comical. Brand loyalty was much stronger in my generation and today’s digital shopper is willing to try a multitude of new products continuously. Which was a challenge to digest — since I spent my career on advising large CPG firms on new product introductions based on repeat purchasing. And I recall telling a Social Media Agency 4 years ago that it was a waste of time and investment. I heard dead silence on the other end of the phone — LOL! I literally had to update my thinking and understand how people are flooded with advertising on their computers and phones, which can significantly influence their buying decisions.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Everything we produce at Kitchen Crafted, is “powered by spice”. Our ingredient branding strategy is unique, innovative and no other company can offer a diversified product portfolio like ours. It’s more recent that people are realizing the time-honored health benefits of herbs and spices. Having been raised and immersed in this knowledge, it has been my mission to introduce the masses to all the good that is found in the spice world.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
YES. We are launching spice- infused AMPower™ Energy Bars — 100 MG Caffeine (= cup of coffee), 20G Protein (=3 eggs), prebiotic fiber. It offers Energy-On-The-Go for anyone ranging from high-performing athletes to full-time parents. We are also a NEXTY AWARD FINALIST for “Best Sports Nutrition and Active Lifestyle Product”, further cementing the view that this is a game-changing product.
Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
For me, Brand Marketing is the SOUL of the brand, whereas product marketing is an external BODY. BODY is visible to the outside world, but dead without the SOUL/ Conscious. Brand marketing represents our core philosophy and vision. Inspiration, Innovation and Integrity is our life!
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
Life of an entrepreneur is tough with many ups and downs. Branding keeps it together through the entire lifecycle of the brand. Once you establish the branding foundation, you stick to it. General marketing and advertising efforts must be adapted to the environmental and competitive changes; branding transcends time and space.
Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.
- Start with a product for which you are truly passionate, i.e., you believe in your brand.
- Establish a long-term vision of what the brand could be.
- Always maintain integrity of your brand (Do not strive for instantaneous, fleeting success).
- Link your brand to some cause/ social good that you are passionate about.
- Have complete transparency with your customers — if you make a mistake, do not hide, tell them and correct it).
And then have your conscious and sub-conscious mind working in unison to your vision.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
One brand and founder that stands out is Gail Becker from Caulipower. I love the fact that she challenged the status-quo and built a 100M dollars brand in 3 years! It’s uber-impressive that she introduced millions to the health benefits of cauliflower and reinvigorated a stale product category. I am a fan of anyone who has the drive and passion to challenge big traditional CPG firms and take them head-on. We have adopted a similar strategy and hope to have the trajectory she has witnessed.
In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?
First, look at the brand awareness, concept acceptance, positive attitudes, higher ratings of the brand benefits etc. rather than sales. More innovative your vision longer the learning curve for consumers and higher the peak in long run (slow build, but much higher potential). “If you build the brand, they will come”.
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
Social Media is one of the most crucial elements in building brand as it helps to spread the word about your brand and communicate both your brand and you, the person behind the brand. Social Media is the biggest equalizer for a small start-up entrepreneur.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Start with a big dream and vision and be prepared for the bumps along the way. Most important thing is to enjoy the journey rather than wait for the moment when you reach your destination.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Mother earth has provided more than plenty, so a simple proposition that no one should go hungry, thirsty or without needed medical treatment. Every child must have an opportunity to be educated and seek happiness.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My incoming karma is a fruition of my past outgoing karma. I am responsible for everything that happens to me and I have a choice of how I respond. That is, I am empowered and control my destiny. This simple teaching has helped me not to blame others or try to change others rather change myself and live in the present moment.
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Bill/ Amanda Gates and Tata are my heroes. They are successful businesspeople and used their gifts to help millions.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.