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Stay global or go local: Bend your brand to what extent?

01-September-2008
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Stay global or go local: Bend your brand to what extent?

Leading industry captains like Star India CEO Uday Shankar, PepsiCo’s Sandeep Arora and BBDO’s Josy Paul, among others, shared their thoughts and personal brand experiences on the theme ‘Bend your brands to what extent?’ at a seminar on brand strategies in the era of globalisation, organised by management institute Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) in Delhi on August 30.

Opening the session, Harsh Vardhan Verma, professor for marketing at FMS MBA - MS, cited examples like Marlboro cigarettes, which was initially meant for women but the brand metamorphosed itself came to be regarded a symbol of machismo; Maruti had to add suspensions to suit Indian road conditions; HUL’s Lifebuoy changed its health proposition to hygiene to compete against Reckitt Benkeiser’s Dettol. Even McDonald’s had tweaked the brand to suit changing consumer aspirations, needs and tastes.

However, some brands like Harley Davidson, Raymond’s, Apple, Virgin and Lux had been able to navigate comfortably with the changing times due to their well defined DNA. “Lux remains the same, only its brand ambassadors changed from Madhuri Dixit to Aishwarya. The only time it tried repositioning itself to men with Shah Rukh Khan, it failed to make its mark,” remarked Verma.

Uday Shankar took the audience through how Star TV had brought alive the real experience of colour TV to Indian homes through quality content, packaging and superior technology, and the brand went for many transformations from its ‘Santa Barbara’ and ‘Bold & Beautiful’ days. Shankar further said that today, it had channels to cater to every regional, national, niche and elite needs like music, sports, movies, but all along, Star had maintained its core values of “excellence and aspirational”.

He added, “We (Star) recklessly mutilate our brand in order to preserve it; we don’t see our brands as fixed entity. Since consumers are dynamic, the brand has to keep evolving. Star TV proposition is creating brands by not trying to create global brands. So, we have Fox Network in the US, Sky in the UK, Star TV in Asia to Star Plus, Star Majha (Marathi) and Star Ananda in India.”

Sandeep Arora, Executive Vice President-Marketing, PepsiCo, remarked that Pepsi had to forego its challenger brand image while coming to India as Coca-Cola was not on the radar. It pegged itself as a ‘cool brand’ with youth-orientation. “Creating buzz was very important to stand out. Since Pepsi is an indulgence brand, we banked heavily on cricket and Bollywood, two most popular youth indulgences,” he said.

Commenting on why Apple was a cult emotional brand known for it ‘wow’ factor, Rajeshwar Butalia, Strategic Business Development Head, Apple India, said, “Attention is given to details such as always launching an Apple product on a Tuesday by Steve Jobs to the time (exactly three seconds) it should take to take out an iPhone from the box. Thus, entire machinery is product-oriented. Then there are communities on Apple products like Mac, iTunes, iPod or iPhone just like the case is with a Harley Davidson or a BMW.”

Taco Bell’s Marketing Head, Aparna Chopra, who was earlier Marketing Head with Pizza Hut, shared how the pizza brand had undergone several repositioning since 1996 to remain aligned with its target consumers, thus becoming the most preferred pizza brand in the country by bringing in pizzas, beverages and desserts with Indian flavour. For the soon-to-be-launched Taco Bell, the Mexican cuisine specialty, the management would have a different approach as the market had matured and people were more aware about such products, she added.

BBDO Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Josy Paul had the best advice to offer. He said, “Learn from water, it is the world’s most bendable brand. From glass, to river to tsunami, it bends and twists and turns, but keeps flowing.” He further said that it depended on the consumers whether they give one the license to bend or not.

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