Mickey Mouse and the gang of Disney characters are no strangers to us. Nor are the 'Power Puff Girls'. It's amazing to see a brand striking a chord with consumers the world over, transcending boundaries, moving beyond its land of origin. The sense of awe is accentuated when one considers the diverse tastes, cultures, and several other factors that mark the different markets these international brands revel in. .
Surely, there has to be some roadmap to manage such globally renowned brands. At FICCI Frames 2006, Ken Chaplin, Vice-President, Asia Pacific, Emerging Markets, Retail Sales and Marketing, Walt Disney Company (Shanghai) Ltd, and Sashim Parmanand, Executive Director, Asia Pacific, Cartoon Network Enterprises, threw some light on 'Managing an international icon brand' - a session moderated by Jeetendra Jain, Director, Roadmap Consultancy. .
The two speakers agreed that local relevance and core competencies were of utmost importance. Concept of key category identification was also seen as significant, and they endorsed the view that a good brand offered the advantage of leveraging its strength across various avenues. .
The '4 Bs' of branding
Chaplin introduced the '4 Bs' of branding - badge, bonus, beacons and best bet - to the audience. He elaborated that a brand has to be a badge reflecting positively on the consumer; it has to be like a bonus - providing added incentives; it has to, like a beacon, show an easy way to find a specific product; and like the best bet, it should evoke confidence. .
Chaplin further introduced the concept of 'lovemarks' for brands – brands that experience loyalty beyond reason, are owned by consumers who love them, move beyond irresistible to irreplaceable and move from most respected to most loved. He cautioned against the overuse of promotions, which tend to dilute the brand. .
Getting priorities right
Through examples of great brands like Johnson & Johnson, Hallmark Cards, Nike, DisneyLand, and others, Chaplin explained that brand owners make money when loyal, heavy users, use the product all the time. Chaplin put forth his list of nine priorities, including local relevance, good branding, freshness, quality consciousness, public relations, and evangelising the brand inside and outside the company. .
Parmanand of Cartoon Network Enterprises emphasised on understanding the brand's core values and being consistent in terms of quality. Adopting local needs was stressed on, and was explained through abstinence from the colour purple in Japan and China, where it is viewed negatively. .
Licensing and extensions
A powerful brand increases the possibility of successful licensing and brand extensions. Parmanand delved deeper into this and shared how park alliances in India were planned to enhance the brand value of the Powerpuff girls. In the context of Cartoon Network Enterprises, she said that it was considering the development of two new theme parks. Parmanand's prescription for successful management of an international icon brand included identification of core brand strengths, creative consistencies, spotting key categories and seeking strategic local partnerships.
On the issue of being locally relevant, Chaplin said, "We are having an entire film developed and produced in China and are moving ahead of just dubbing the content." He also shared that local content development and management is top priority for Disney in India. .
More local content will perhaps have a larger role to play in the management of an international icon brand. One may not be surprised to see the Powerpuff girls lend their attitude to some cricketing event, or Disney characters dance to the tunes of a Bollywood hit, soon. .
After all, that's how these brands will be able to leave their 'lovemarks' on Indian consumers.