For any brand, no matter how mass or niche, the dream is to be synonymous with a common human idea, need or emotion – just like how Coca-Cola equals ‘happiness’, Dove symbolises ‘real beauty’, or Apple means ‘cutting-edge technology that simplifies mundane tasks and chores’.
Shedding light on the ideal formula of creating such iconic brands, Tjaco Walvis, Managing Partner, THEY, an Amsterdam-based brand management consulting firm, highlighted three crucial laws of branding. According to Walvis, these crucial laws are – distinct relevance, coherence, and participation. He further said that for brands to be truly iconic in any culture, they need to be disciplined and have a deeply propositioned value.
Walvis, who has worked with marketing executives of companies such as Amsterdam Airport and Dorito’s and has also written the book titled ‘Branding With Brains: The Science of Getting Your Customers To Choose Your Company’, spoke about how making a brand stay in a consumer’s mind involves a combination of repetition, brand and proposition discipline and thinking beyond financials.
Following are some of the key pointers he brought out in his presentation:
Bigger role for the higher management: “Marketing investments are rarely aligned with company strategy and needs. Budgets are based on rule of thumb… Currently, for most brands marketing budgets constitute only 10 per cent of the total revenues. CFOs and CEOs need to delve deeper into the company’s marketing plan. Also, if marketing is not aligned with the concept of ‘value’, budgets will be wasted.”
Find meaning in human value: “Financial values come from pursuing human values… If your fundamental reason exists to make more money, it also means that your belief is that the customer exists only to pay you.”
Focus on the brand purpose: “Critical purpose can drive a brand’s ability to generate unprompted choice… Philips, for instance, defined a simple purpose – ‘Sense and Simplicity’, which essentially opened a world of opportunities in consumer electronics.”
Brands are built on two kinds of consumer choices: “These are stimulus-based choice and memory-based choice. The former is when you see a big stall of packets of rice at a supermarket, for instance, and are drawn towards it. The latter involves, for instance, you’re in the train and you wished you had an iPad to while away time. While it’s easy to establish the former innovatively with the help of digital media, the latter is a challenge.”
Walvis also gave some interesting examples of what he thought were iconic brands and interesting campaigns:
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign: It identified the common self-esteem issues of women and converted that deep-felt need of ‘looking and feeling beautiful’ into a business opportunity.
Indigo Airlines: The communication is consistent and the messaging convey how flying’s fun.
Incredible India: While the visuals are strong, I believe India is bigger than these visuals. India has a bigger story to tell.
Apart from these, he also commended on the strategies of global brands such as Apple, Google and Starbucks.
Tjaco Walvis shared his views at the 13th edition of the exchange4media Conclave in Mumbai on November 25, 2013. The session was chaired by Anupriya Acharya, Group CEO, ZenithOptimedia.