What began as a 15-minute radio programme on BBC in 1992-93, has today metamorphosed into the veritable ‘Branding Bible’. The concept of Superbrands was developed by UK marketing guru Marcel Knobil, the founder of the Superbrands Organisation and the chairman of the Superbrands Council, UK.
Today, Superbrands is present in 45 countries, including India. Following the tremendous response to the Superbrands India 2003, which listed 101 superbrands in India, Superbrands India Pvt Ltd is all set to introduce 60 Business Superbrands of India on September 8, 2005.
According to Anmol Dar, Managing Director, Superbrands India, “Superbrands is an intellectual book meant for the professional. Since Superbrands does not evaluate brands on the basis of tangible parameters such as sales, profitability or distribution strength (data for all of which are easily available), our task is a little more complex. We look at the intangibles: relationships between brands and their audiences and, therefore, need to rely on the opinions of experts.”
A compendium of case studies of outstanding brands, the book of 60 Business Superbrands of India would be a prized possession for marketing professionals, advertising and public relations personnel and journalists.
Talking about the immense relevance of the book, Dar said, “In lieu of the changing environment of India from commodity culture to a culture prompting brands, the book will help professionals to understand what differentiates successful brands from ordinary ones.”
Dar affirmed that the credibility for the book couldn’t be doubted as every word was authentic. With a vision to be recognised as the Branding Bible in India, Superbrands’ offering through finely crafted case studies, attempts to give a clear and fair understanding of successful brands to the readers.
Differentiating Superbrands from other publications, Dar explained, “Publications do a ‘balance sheet’ check on companies; not one, anywhere in the world, conducts an exercise like we do. Indeed, Superbrands is a unique attempt at creating an intellectual offering for professionals.”
Elaborating on the rigorous selection process, Dar said that the first and the most important part was the formation of a council of experts taken from various fields like advertising, marketing, journalism and research.
Invitations are sent to these experts to be part of the selection council and “in nine out 10 cases, they accept the invitation to form the council” Dar proudly informed. That’s not all, every member of the council has a proven track record of brand management and hands-on practical experience.
“It’s not just knowledge, but wisdom packed into it,” maintained Dar. He added that no money was paid to any member of the council.
With the council in place, the second step involves drawing a list of potential brands. The members have to rate the brands on a scale of 1 to 10. Members are asked not to give the scores for the categories they have an interest in. This is to weed out any biases. No rankings are done as Dar insisted “one cannot compare apples and bananas.” The category listing is done alphabetically instead.
All council members work independently and are not allowed to consult each other. All notes, listings have to be done by hand in the member’s own handwriting, with each page signed by the member.
The final stage involves taking out the averages scores for all the brands. Before invitations are sent out to the brands, the council meets to discuss the scores where all ambiguities and biases are ironed out. After much deliberation, the final list is drawn and the invitations sent out.
When asked whether consumers are a part of the Superbrands selection process, Dar denied saying “Consumers are recipients of branding strategies not their architects and hence, are not involved in the selection process.”
Dar gave his idea of a Superbrand with the help of an interesting analogy. He said, “Brands are very human. Ignore them and they shrivel; keep them engaged and they blossom. Brands by nature are fragile, hurt easily and when they fall, it takes some doing to get them back on their feet. A Superbrand is a rich amalgam of many things- energy to exploit the market, relevance to consumer needs, an ability to stay young and contemporary, research to make sense out of market vagaries and gut feel.”