Branding: Stratigic Weapon in Marketing


Dr. P.H. Karmadkar
Sr. Faculty Member
PE Society's Institute of Management and Career Development
Nigdi, Pune-411 044

Colgate is the number 1 brand in the Indian market followed by Lux, Rin,Dettol and Tata salt (Desh ka namak) in Brand Equity's survey of India's most trusted Brand 1 In which 150 Brands are ranked the 150th are is Harpic. Zandu Bam has entered the list for the first time and stood at no 16th much above Amrtanjan bam at no 55. It is said to be because of a new jingle "Zandu Bam Zandu Bam Dard Mitay Chutki Mein"

Coca-Cola is the no. 1 brand in the world the other are Micro- soft, IBM, GE, NOKIA among the first five 2

Does brand name make a product successful in the market? Or, does a successful product make the brand name well-known? This is a perennial question, like egg or chicken, which came first? The second common question regarding brands is, whether the brand name should be named after the proprietor, like Ford, Dabur and Tata, or whether the brand name should be independent of the owner's name, like Lux, Parachute and Coke?

Marketing gurus of course preach the basic principles of branding in their textbooks. The American Marketing Association defines:" A brand is a name, term, sign or symbol, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and differentiate them from those of competitors. 3

This is a post- World War II definition. But since the middle ages a brand has been considered essential to identify and distinguish one producer's products from another's. An identification mark or in Hindi. A 'Chhaap'.

My Random House English Language Dictionary defines it: "a kind, grade or mark, as indicated by a stamp: trademark or the like; and also as a mark made by burning or otherwise, to indicate kind, grade , mark, ownership, etc; and especially as any mark of infamy or stigma". So we have the expression,'the branded woman', as in Nathaniel Hawthorne's celebrated novel,' The Scarlet Woman. Scarlet or red being the colour of the skin after being branded for the sin of adultery.

In the United States, when cattle ranches proliferated on the West Coast, the animals were branded by a hot iron with the ranch's initials. Some of these ranches were also known by their initials and notorious stories were woven round them, with Hollywood making them famous by movies like ' The Gunfight at the OK Corral' (corral and ranch being synonymous) The most famous cigarette brand is Marlboro and its slogan is "Come to Marlboro country showing a cattle a man sitting on a horse and smoking Marlboro".


Philip Kotler, the doyen of marketing writers, whose 'Marketing Management' is standard reading the world over, from his own Kellogg ( of cornflake fame) school of management at Chicago's Northwestern University ( which is number one in the USA today according to the 'Business week' magazine and whose Dean is an Indian, Deepak Jain) to the Faculty of Management Studies at any Indian University, indicates four strategies suitable for the naming of brands.1) Individual names, such as Nature Valley, Liril, Lifebuoy, Amrutanjan, Red Label, etc.2) Blanket Family names , such as Campbell's various soups 3) Separate family names such as Johnson's Nutriment or Johnson's Metrecal. 4) And, finally ,company trade name combined with individual product names like Kellog's Corn Flakes etc. Kotler also advises that a brand should suggest something about the product's benefits , like Craftsman , Beauty-rest, Timex, etc, or it should suggest product qualities such as action or colour, like Sunsilk, Thunderbird, etc. Or, it should be easy to pronounce such as Tide, Crest, Lux etc. Or, it should be distinctive like Kodak, Xerox, Mustang etc. At the same time, multinational companies must ensure that the brand name does not have a poor meaning in other countries. A typical case is the Chevrolet Nova car. Nova may mean new in English but in Spanish it means, 'doesn't go'4

Branbach positioned Volkswagen, the German small car designed by Dr Fernands as a protest against America Detroit made cars big cars thereby making the better shaped car, a cult among non-comfort American youth 5 His greatest slogan was "Think small".

Today brand naming has become a subject for multi-million dollar research with association tests, memory tests, preference tests and learning tests. Name labs such as Landor Associates, which change about $60,000 for a job, is credited with successes like Compaq computers and our own, Samsika consultants, floated by Jagdeep Kapoor is credited with naming a new salt brand as ''Dandi''salt. 6 Dandi is a seashore town in Gujarat famous for Gandhiji's 'Salt Satyagraha' in 1931.The brand is gaining market share by leaps and bounds.


Howsoever we try to make a product successful in the marketplace it has to have good qualities, Low price and advertising momentum to make its brand name famous. Tata-Indica became a successful car because of its good features including a diesel engine, low price, and a patriotic brand name. By the way , Diesel is the name of the engine's inventor Otto Diesel. Nirma became successful all over India and till date is still the largest selling detergent, by volume, because of its low price and acceptable quality. 7

Branding became popular in America, in the closing decades of the Nineteenth Century ,when products proliferated and competition increased. Over a hundred years ago, manufactures stressed the quality and price angle and let the product carry his own or family name. 8

Thus we have Ford car , Tata steel ,and Kirloskar ploughs. Nirma is founder Karsanbhai Patel's favourite niece's name just like Mercedes is the name of a daughter of Otto Daimler, the proprietor of the car company. The craze for foreign names is much more in India. Abroad many products are named after the proprietor or inventor. Even in Japan, Honda , Suzuki, Toyota are family names made famous by successful products. Of course, there can be a mishap sometimes. Sony became the brand name because Akio Morita of 'Made in Japan' fame wanted his small radio- named Sonny which was a popular name for a boy, but since he made a spelling mistake, dropping one 'n', the brand name turned out to be Sony. That's for the importance of English.

In a country like India, it is still the price that rules, not the brand name. How many people in India remember Adidas or Nike shoes compared to Lakhani or Action. Obviously, the latter since they are acceptable in quality and much lower in price. For marketing a product nationwide, we need to give the product a trademark and a brand name for legal protection. But let us not be under the misapprehension that branding alone is enough. It must be supplemented with good quality and low price.


How does Marico's new offering, Hair & Care, should do to you.? Fair & Lovely, isn't it. The company that makes the fairness cream would like to extend the fairness brand to No Marks cream for the elderly beauty conscious ladies. That's Hindustan Lever.

Raymond's would rather like their exquisite men's suiting be known as, Park Avenue. And, in contrast to Bombay Dyeing, Reliance would like to name its range, Only Vimal. The bottomline, however, is a lift from Thomas Alva Edison's famous quotation, "inventions are one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration."

Band names are the most potent distinguishing feature between me-too products. The name makes the product differentiated from any other soap, toothpaste or shampoo. In that classic TV commercial, the housewife who askes for tea will not take any tea, but only Red Label tea. The name that's remembered makes brand loyalty steadfast. Why, even the oldest economic daily in India, The Economic Times, brand named its new advertising & marketing weekly supplement, Brand Equity. Another double-barrelled name.

Why should two words be there in a brand name rather than an easy to remember single word. Like Lux, Liril, Surf, Horlicks, Bournvita, Complan ,Promise, Limca, Fanta, and so on. Are they not easy to pronounce and quick on the tongue. Sure, they are. But, advertisers believe two words are better than one, to indicate product usage, Rather make the brand name into a product performance one too. Hair & Care indicates that this product cares for your hair. That it is a hair care product. In other words, a generic concept has been brought into its brand name. The additional copy features, like its being non greasy, vitamin- E enriched, and the bottle made of PET being unbreakable, fortify the name and make it doubly powerful in a highly competitive market, now captured by ethnic, herbal and ayurvedic hair oils, including Keo-Karpin. That's another two name product for you. Abroad ,products with brand names like Cold Spot and Hot point indicate product functioning in its brand name itself. Cold Spot should be a good refrigerator while Hot point an excellent cooking range.


A classic success in this genre, is Coca-Cola. It not only became a brand name to be remembered but a product identification generic one too. The cola leaves of South- America and the kola nut of West Africa combined to make this originally medicinal beverage into a famous soft-drink. However, the alliterative names made it rather tongue-twisting. Hence, the company also registered the shorter brand name, Coke. Pepsi-Cola would also like to be known as just Pepsi. In India, however, Parle's have followed a rather ambivalent policy on naming their diverse products, with unmixed success. Their oldest offering was named Gold Spot , to indicate that it was a whale of an organge soft drink. The second successful product in their range, a cola drink hasn't looked back since George Fernandes sent Coca Cola packing from India in 1977, had also a double- barrelled brand name, Thums Up. However , for their lime-n-lemony fizzy, Limca, and the soda, Bisleri, single names have been found adquate. Since, Limca is claimed to be India's top selling soft drink in that category, they are probably right. However the fizz from their name has been drawn out by Coca-Cola Inc. which purchased all the Parle soft drink for a ,now seen as ,very low price of just $ 50 million. In 1993 (After liberalization was announced and Coca Cola wants to enter back).


Branding is a deliberate strategy, which refers to the use of a name, term, symbol, design, or a combination of these , to identify goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers to distinguish them from those of its competitors. A trademark is a legal term for a brand name or mark or symbol, that has been registered under law. Advertisers are more interested in creating brand image and brand loyalty, especially for frequently purchased consumer goods, in order to facilitate repe At purchase. Therefore, they find two words better than one. Like Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, Benson & Hedges, Black-n-White, Cherry Blossom, Pall Mall, State Express, Federal Express. Park Lane, Godrage No.1 VIP, etc9

Even hybrid brand names have been used, especially in India to indicate the origin of the product to a famous foreign one. So, we have Maruti-Suzuki, Hero -Honda, Kawasaki- Bajaj, and BPL-Sanyo. Actully in the last case both are foreign names, the BPL standing for British Physical Laboratories, a name the company would rather not project since the stance of the organization is focused on consumer durables rather than scientific products and the name Sanyo is a famous Japanese one.

There is no doubt double names are more effective and appealing than one, although the single ones may be easy to remember and speak. So we have the ATBs, ( all terrain bicycles) named Street Cat and Hero Ranger. Crowning Glory sounds great, even for a hair-care soap, for those who would prefer this low-priced offering to a more expensive shampoo. Flush Kleen immediately shows how it can do its work. Bonny Mix and Gold Mist are two different products but the names indicate what they can achieve better than anything else. Even, the Emami- offering in competition to Fair & Lovely has a double barrelled brand name. Naturally Fair. The first sports shoes which set the trend for all others was, Bata's North Star. And the biggest success on the ethnic front is Kothari's Pan Parag.

The history of marketing is replete with countless brands which have declined and disappeared. Where is Afgan Snow today ? That famous E.S. Patanwalla product? Today Flex is the name of a scandal associated with the name of a former finance minister. Yesterday, it was the brand name of a famous leather shoe ,which has lost its glory and become an insignificant brand. Let us have brands that we can cherish like Tata and Nirma.

Thus Brand name and its popularity can make a stragic marketing weapon in the hands of resourceful marketer it is due to the familiarity of the customer who are ask for the product not by genera tic name (say salt) but by its brand name, Tata salt.


1) Economic Time, 5th Dec 2004.

2) Page no 23 Advertising and Integrated brand Promotion, By O'Guinn Allen and Semenik. Thomson- Vikas 203.

3) Glossary of marketing terms AMA.

4) Page 412 Marketing Management Philips Kotler 10th Edition 2000.

5) Page 12,Ogilivy on Advertising, By David Ogilivy, Prion Books 1983.

6) 24 Brand Mantars, Jagdeep kapoor Response book 2001.

7) Page 96 Advertising Attractions, by Arvind korba, Kalyani Pub,1994.

8) Page 28 What's in a Name by John Philip Jones, grower 1986.

9) Page 23 Advertising Management by Manendra Mohan Tata Mc Grow-Hill, 1989.

Dr. P.H. Karmadkar
Sr. Faculty Member
PE Society's Institute of Management and Career Development
Nigdi, Pune-411 044

Source: E-mail June 12, 2006


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