Brands need to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant in this rapidly evolving technological age and building strong bond between brands and their customers is imperative for the success of any brands. These are the two major points that speaker after speaker stressed at the 4th edition of Brand Summit held in Hyderabad on February 1 and 2, 2008 under the theme ‘The brand is dead. Long live brand’. Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), this year’s Summit had six keynote addresses and 11 case studies, which were presented during the two-day convention. The Summit featured speakers from corporate brands, iconic brands, technology brands, service brands, pharma brands, luxury brands, retail brands and popular brands.
Setting the right tone for the thought-provoking two days was Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman, Brand Summit 2008, and CMD, RK Swamy BBDO. Delivering the Chairman’s address, he said that unresponsive marketers were responsible for death of a brand. Consumers’ preference was undergoing some change and the brands or the marketers of brands were oblivious to the changes that the consumers sought in the brand. The competition realised the need of the consumer and brought out a new product which ate into the market share of the existing products, he said.
Swamy further said that with the increasing competition and change in consumer preference, the brand believed that it was the reigning prince without realising that it was in for serious trouble. Stressing the need to change according to the needs of the people, he said that brands should keep reinventing and live in the changing retail environment and be relevant to the consumers.
Delivering the key-note address on the occasion, Dan Wieden, CEO, Wieden+Kennedy
narrated his agency’s 26-year association with Nike and how that turned around the fortunes of the brand. “When we started working with Nike way back in 1982, they had one selling season and a handful of athletic shoes to market – mainly running, basket ball, football and tennis. Then they had two selling seasons, which was followed by three, which later become four selling seasons. Today, Nike has one endless selling season with 10,000 SKUs a year,” he pointed out.
“We wanted people to fall in love with this brand – deeply and irrevocably – with brand Nike,” he added.
The best way to increase the customer retention was to look at beyond product advertising, Wieden said, adding that mere product advertising was sex, but doing brand advertising was kind of love. “That is exactly what we did with Nike that people fell in love with the brand,” he said.
Product ads normally sell for performance, capabilities, and physical looks, on the other hand, brand advertising appealed to different set of needs. Brand ads helped to connect with a group, to an individual, to a set of values etcetera, Wieden said. “If you really want to improve customer retention, you should look beyond product advertisement. You have to look for ways to connect to the consumers through values and look at the way to connect to the consumers and improve the personality of the company that gave life to those products,” he added.
Quoting Vicent Partal, Wieden said, “We are moving from a world where the big eat the small to a world where the fast eat the slow. What we used to call progress, we now simply refer to change.”
Wieden+Kennedy today exists to create strong, provocative relationships between good companies and their customers. “No matter whether it is advertising or marketing, the focus of everything we do as an organisation is around building relationships by whatever means necessary. Brands are fundamentally about relationships,” Wieden further said.
Stressing the importance of client-agency relationship, he said that one could not build a brand without investing time and the transparency necessary for a dynamic relationship with the agency they worked with. “If you are lazy in agency relationship, what the hell makes you think that you are going to be better when it comes to customer relationship? The agency and client may not need each other, but the brands that we are trying to manage need the consistency,” Wieden emphasised.
Speaking under the topic ‘Iconic Brands’ B M Vyas, MD, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, said that branding in India was more than 5,000 years old and that the brands were now being reinvented.
According to Vyas, branding was invented by a shepherd. He said that added in the days of yore, a shepherd had a herd of cows with him. His neighbouring shepherd had a herd of cows too. And they both used to go for grazing together. So, one shepherd had to identify his cow from the other shepherd’s and, therefore, decided to put a mark on the back of the cow, thus started branding.
Why certain brands survived for centuries though there was nobody in charge of brand management, while there were also brands that did not survive for more than two decades, he wondered. The values behind the brands and how seriously these values were practiced were important for the success of the brand, and as long as those brands were relevant to the society they would prevail, he said pointed out, adding that brands that did not change according to the demands of the society would perish, while those brands that kept on reinventing and changing according to the needs of the people, would survive.
Meanwhile, Gopalakrishnan, ED, Tata Sons, spoke on corporate brands; David Shaw, Director, Brand Marketing & Integrated Marketing Communications, Lenovo Asia Pacific, Singapore, spoke on technology and service brands; Vikram Rao, Business Director, Textiles and Apparel, Aditya Birla Group, spoke on luxury and retail brands; while D Shivakumar, MD, Nokia India, spoke on popular brands.