Lynn Upshaw, the internationally renowned brand marketing consultant and author of several marketing bestsellers, has underlined the need for a focused positioning for India in the context of the global marketplace. Upshaw said this on the first day of the CII Brand Conclave in Kolkata yesterday.
In the short inaugural session on ‘Branding India in an over-branded world,’ Upshaw said perhaps it was easier to arrive at such a specific position in a totalitarian country like China than in a true democracy. India can justifiably take at least half a dozen positioning platforms today, what with diversities that exist in just the four metros.
Upshaw’s next module was devoted to ‘Using brands to build stronger customer relationships’. While branding is essentially about leveraging relevant superiorities, he argued that it was equally about forging mutually beneficial partnerships with its customers by building trust, which ultimately transforms into value.
He argued that the potential of CRM was probably over rated and great brands do not usually manage customers but rather manage to keep up with the customer and occasionally pre-empt him.
Upshaw advocated that price wars should be avoided as far as possible unless a brand had significant cost advantages. Instead the concentration should be on creating value perceptions and trying to steal a march in the value war.
Upshaw’s contention was that the most enduring and successful brands-what he calls Masterbrands- are not masters because they can dictate what companies or customers do but because they are built from the inside out. They are driven by a common understanding among employees of a company about what their brand stands for which is shared with customers enthusiastically.
Since masterbrands reflect what is accepted and believed inside an organisation they are far more robust in the face of vagaries of the marketplace. He cited Southwest Airlines, Apple Computer and nearer home Tata as examples of such enduring masterbrands.