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A brand cannot be created like a machine with algorithms: Harshil Karia

09-October-2013
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A brand cannot be created like a machine with algorithms: Harshil Karia

Is your brand human? Does it ‘talk’ to your audience? What attracts the audience to build a relationship with your brand like a human?

A brand cannot be created like a machine with algorithms. Yes, a lot of research and analytics goes into developing its core message, vision and mission. However, the audience at large defines a brand’s marketing strategy to a certain extent. If a consumer is unhappy with your content or dislikes how you’re communicating, you have definitely lost out on a brand advocate.

Remember, your audience wants to hear you. They want relevant conversations that make them think. Never underestimate the power of your audience. Therefore, humanising your brand is a necessity in today’s competitive business market. This will create a loyal audience, brand evangelists who will respect the brand and be prepared to shout from any corner of the world, of how wonderful the brand is!

This phenomenon is simply known as ‘Return on Relationship’ – a term coined by Ted Rubin, a leading social marketing strategist; wherein a consumer spends enough time interacting with your brand and the brand in turn celebrates that relationship by becoming more meaningful.

Going back to an earlier era of advertising, every branded advertisement on television was considered as a piece of entertainment. A consumer got ‘rewarded’ for his/her time by viewing a great advertisement on television. In the current scenario, with consumers becoming more aware and with high expectations, television and print advertisements now have a pressure to deliver the key proposition (in some cases including price) in the least amount of time.

Then, the onus of building that relationship lies largely with social media. The first obvious reason is that social media has unlimited time – unlimited is a misnomer – but has ‘more’ time than TV definitely. So, films for YouTube will be increasingly more important as media pieces. And it becomes the one key place where users will get return on time and be rewarded for having a relationship with the brand. The result could be something as emotional as the ‘Jad se Judein’ music video by L’Oreal Paris; something as obnoxiously funny as the ‘Not so Sweet slap in the mall’ by Cadbury Bournville; or even pop-corn entertainment such as the ‘Baby Lips Kiss Song’ by Maybelline New York India, which drives you to watch it repeatedly.

What makes a ‘social’ relationship really matter are the small things that goes into creating and maintaining a meaningful relationship. At the heart this value exchange is content – the tone of voice of a brand’s blog, responses to comments or even the daily tweets. While the highlight of most conversations maybe films, advertisements, fancy posters, often what strengthens the brand-consumer relationship are the small things like how Hippo chips, which only communicates as the cute Hippo who was the ‘earnest, easygoing guy who understands that often, we don’t take care of our health by neglecting to eat’.

Similarly, recently Garnier Men shifted its communication strategy to become the ideal man, the big brother everyone seeks out to develop a relationship with. Conversations across social media platforms were transformed from a brand talking to an actual man speaking to fans. ‘The Garnier Man’ is a witty gentleman, who is charming with all the ingredients required to woo any man and woman across any digital platform. Arriving in style, this change in brand communication received a Facebook exposure of 6.6 million, over 2,400 contributors and 13,000 tweets. #TheGarnierManIsHere trended No.1 in India with a combined impression of 3 million. With such a unique concept, Garnier Men India is the only brand in its space that has undertaken a step this bold.

Marketers should now acknowledge the importance of humanising their brands, which is the foundation for any successful social business. Brands that connect with and inspire their audience will develop brand awareness, establish brand loyalty, and steadily have a positive impact on the bottom line.

The author is Co-founder and Online Strategist at FoxyMoron.

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