THE SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL BRANDING

By
Prof R K Gupta
BE (Hons), MBA, FIE
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
E-mail :
cityju@rediffmail.com / rkgupta_India@hotmail.com
URL :
www.Geocities.com/rkgupta_india

THE SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL BRANDING

Successful Brands, some of which are called Power Brands are invaluable assets of companies in this highly competitive world of goods and services marketing. In fact it is one of the best Intellectual properties a company can possess and thus ensure for itself sustained profitability and growth rate. So much literature has been written on Brand Creation and management which often lead to confusion and diffusion of understanding the simple facts about Brands. This article attempts to touch upon crucial concepts behind promotion and effectiveness of Brands. Just imagine the respective companies trying to sell their products without the Brand names; like Nirma or Lux or Colgate. The last one is an example of using the Company name as a powerful Brand. Similar is the case with Godrej, Tata, and L&T. This article does not touch upon actual practice of management of Brands.

WHAT IS BRAND

Brand should not be confused with product as it is often done. Brand is identity given to a product (or service) like the name of a person. Brand immediately creates a mental image of set of consumer value and degree of need satisfaction in relation to consumption of a particular product or service. In other words, Brand is always attached with some attributes which the product offers to the consumers.

In this context Brand awareness is not enough. It is the Brand promise that should come first and the awareness should follow.

SECRETS OF BRAND CREATION:

* The Brand must reflect at least one USP or an outstanding value that the product carries with it, and also not many. This value better be a distinctive advantage over competing suppliers' product in the market.

* The Brands also age like people, and therefore, have to be rejuvenated by fresh dose of advertising, product attributes changes and innovation. In other words the brand should reflect continuous improvement in product proposition and reflect image of being owned by a dynamic organization (Here comes the role of PR executives).

* Brand cannot be built overnight, whatever may be the advertising effort going into it. It would be sheer wastage of resources and this often acts as counter productive and kills the brand in its nascent stage. The credibility and acceptance of Brand accrues only over a period of time and often is linked with background of its owners. For example it is difficult to create world class brands by purely trading organizations that do not actually manufacture the goods or service.

* The multi products and multi Brand companies have a difficult task in maintaining Brand equity for all of its brands and products. It is always advisable to have only a  few core Brands, we may call as Umbrella Brand or Power  Brand and which focuses on particular product  group not category (like Dental hygiene products or Shaving products). This may even be pricing based differentiation & segmentation of the same product, for example low-end, medium and high end priced product, but in this  case it will be suicidal to use Umbrella brand or Company logo in common as this will invariably lead to confusion and erosion of high end product market. The customer perceives the high end product being made merely with objective to raise profitability of the company; such products are bound to bear discounts and sales promotion schemes. In such cases, the individual Brands should be completely separated for promotion or unless, this can be managed by distinctive product attributes that justify price segmentation (Like Automobiles).

* Brand acceptance by the consumer is not achieved by Brand promise alone. But it is achieved by testing of the credibility of a Brand by repetitive purchase by the consumers over a long period of time (At least 3 years) and the satisfaction derived by such consumption over a period of time. In other words brand equity is created by repeated and consistent delivery of brand promise.

In this context supply chain management has to be highly efficient in distribution, availability and after sales service of the product, which FMCG companies and many Engineering goods manufactures are now learning after painful experiences, which were solely dependent upon Advertising. While Advertising can pull the product through markets, it cannot push the product which needs sales promotion and efficient distribution of goods and services.

* In present situation when technological differences in product attributes and quality are indistinguishable, a Power brand is sure way to improve sales margins and price differentiation. But a company cannot have a range of Power Brands as mentioned earlier. Price differentiation based on Branding only will not work, if the consumer is in a position to comprehend the value of product attributes built into the product. In such case the Brand may not even take off or die earlier death than normal. It will be out rightly rejected by globally aware consumers now-a-days (A consumer would like to have Burger at price of Narula's but in ambience and hygiene of  McDonalds).

* There is found to be a strong association of Powerful Brands and their life with factors such as Product leadership, Technological leadership, market share and consistent performance by the companies owning the brand. For example, the brand of a product that is not regularly available in market is likely to go in oblivion.

* While it is doubtful that any such thing exists, the Brand Loyalty is not strongly associated with Brand usage and exposure but to the product superiority in its class. In spite of this, there is always brand switching customers and given the near equality of various brands in same product category, the market share is bound to stabilize with time (Markov Chain model). Any effort to drive market share through Brand advertising, without shifting product positioning over this share will entail sheer wastage of resources without any perceptible results.

* The brand name should reflect the cultural and ethical background of the product and the target consumer class. For example, it is unlikely that purely Western names will succeed on Indian spices, handicraft items or Indian food items. In other words Desi products should bear Desi Brand names. Similarly Feminine products should bear feminine or at-least Gender neutral names (Lakme and Ponds). It is doubtful if "VIP" Brand can ever sell much of ladies undergarments.

* It is surprising but true that in many cases, lesser the consumer knows about the product and Brand Owner's background, more is the chances of developing Brand Charisma (Ralph Lauren, Pierre Cardin). Such Brands which are built on limited product knowledge and Brand owner's background  may end up as Charismatic Brands. Such Charismatic Brands play heavily on psychological satisfaction and Status association for the consumer and work well in Hi-fashion products like garments, cosmetics and interior decoration items. Personal health care products thus are well amenable to developing of charismatic Brands. In a brand-building context, memes are powerful pieces of communication — either verbal or visual
(Or both) — That has such power as to alter people's perceptions of your product or service.

Think about these advertising themes and symbols...
Just Do It.
Think Different.
Have it your way.
The Pink Bunny with the drum
The little talking Chihuahua

If asked, you could probably name dozens of others.

These are examples of strong and powerful memes. You know exactly who they stand for, and what the brands that own them stand for too. And every time you see the image or hear the line, it self-replicates and reinforces the perception of the brand that owns it.

Great memes can help build brands that define their categories.

What all great brand-building memes have in common is the emotional component that answers every consumer's magic question: "What's in it for me?" See, what makes it memorable isn't really the symbol or the words, it's the benefit. A good meme repeats the benefit over and over every time you see it or hear it.

Answer your customer's "What's in it for me?" question simply, with a bit of poetry and a benefit that means something, and you'll be on your way to a great meme - and a charismatic brand that can define its category (Lux, Amul, Sony)
 

BRAND DRIVERS:

Maruti / Sujuki

Passenger cars

- Better technology (Compared
to
Primitive ones like Ambassador
and Premier)
- Reasonable price
- Functionality

Lux

Toiletries

- Skin friendly (though it is not)
- Aroma
- Market Share
- Glamour/Status

Amul

Food products

- Freshness
- Purity
- Availability
- Emotional:
  National Pride
  Cooperative pioneer

VIP

Hosiery

- Fabric quality
- Durability
- Pioneer in India
- Availability

Nirma

Toiletries

- Reasonable price
- Charisma (Achiever)

Reliance

Textile, IT products

- Charisma (Achiever)


ROLE OF ADVERTISING IN BRAND CREATION

* Most Organizations blame Advertising Concerns about failure of Brand development exercise or reaching the sales target. But that is not the only reasons for failure. Besides, poor and run-of-mill advertising without DAGMAR approach, it is mostly the factors very well within control of the Brand owners that are normally responsible for failure, like poor promise delivery in the product , poor after sales service or even deficient supply logistics. It is interesting to note that the brilliant advertising campaigns normally don't exceed 3 to 5% of total advertising work created by even the best global Ad agencies (Liril, Amul). More often than not a histrionically and artistically appealing Ad is misunderstood for highly effective advertising for the brand, though it actually fails to convey the desired attribute to the viewers.

* In present scenario of world class companies and indiscernible product differentiations and broadening of brand basket of the consumer, trying to broaden the brand extension or product categories under one brand will sure prove to be detrimental. Here it is always advisable to create Company name or logo as Common brand and create sub brands for product categories, though this too is not likely to work well.

* Using multinational, particularly western Brands are not likely to succeed in regional and local markets in countries like India, China or even Japan. The regional Brands are emerging fast because of their closeness to cultural practices and lifestyle of the target market segments. Better understanding of trade channels and their proximity to them puts Regional Brand owners in definite advantage position (Wagh Bakri in Gujarat and Brand rivalry between Coke and Pepsi, Global image Vs Local image, with the latter having won the battle).

* With burgeoning cost of national and now regional advertising  needs, the brand spend may well exceed the marginal increase in profits through brand development. It is imperative for the brand owners to focus on supply chain strengthening and below –the- line advertising rather than trying to pull the brand through media advertising alone.

CONCLUSION:

It is as simple as the common sense. The brand should be focused, should convey a promise and deliver it over a long period of time, should reflect target market's cultural and lifestyle value, should have excellent yet SIMPLE communication   of core benefit  and brand should smoothly merge into daily lifestyle  of the consumers and not try to alter it. However, conceptualizing the above facts and translating into real Brand Management campaign is a tough job giving nightmares to the best of THE Brand and Category managers and the Creative Directors.

The brand development and management problem is distinct and tricky for small and medium enterprises, which are likely to face stiff challenges in market place in coming times. They will be increasingly in catch22 situation.

HELP CENTRE:

The S.M.Es can approach the author OF this article for inputs for designing their Brand development strategies and Market research program, at the address given below:
 

Prof R K Gupta
BE (Hons), MBA, FIE
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
E-mail :
cityju@rediffmail.com / rkgupta_India@hotmail.com
URL :
www.Geocities.com/rkgupta_india

Source : E-mail October 2003

 

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