Brands must keep evolving to keep the audience connected

Building a brand is not an event but a process, which sees a company’s message continuously evolving to match changing goals and audience expectations.

e4m by Gopal Sathe
Published: Feb 7, 2011 7:31 AM  | 5 min read
Brands must keep evolving to keep the audience connected

For most companies, whether they are offering products or services, whether they are customer facing or B2B companies, the notional value provided by the brand image is tremendously important. However, for marketers, it is not enough to create a brand and use the right channels of communication to reach the audience, because the audience itself keeps changing and the brand identity must also continue to evolve in the face of the changing audience, or risk getting left behind.

An excellent example of this is in the case of Star Plus. The channel, which is one of the most popular entertainment channels, quickly built up a certain image in terms of the content that was on the air. And as the audience interest shifted, and the content lost appeal, the brand suffered. Losing ratings, the brand uderwent a radical shift, bringing in a new motto, “Rishta wahi, baat nayi”, which sought to encapsulate the new thinking within the company, said Anupam Vasudev, Executive Vice President Marketing, STAR India.

He said, “In many ways, our new approach is like an ode to women. We have seen from field studies that women are true multi-taskers taking on a tremendous role inside the house and outside, managing their jobs and running their homes all at once, and we want to celebrate women in the kind of programming we have.”

To this end, one of the new moves by the channel is a campaign titled ‘Tu Hi Tu’, an “anthem for women”. In the ad one sees a woman fulfilling the many roles as envisioned by the channel, and Vasudev said, “This is one of the insights that we gained when we were losing TRPs. That the audience is changing, and along with that the content, and the kind of content that we air, is changing.” He also touched upon the subject of reality television, another area where the channel is entering with the show, ‘Wife Bina Life’. He said, “I don't want to comment on what other channels are doing, but in our case, with our new show, it again shows how important the role of women is, how much of an impact they make. So again, we are celebrating women, which is consistent with our brand.”

Vasudev explained, “Television is a very dynamic industry and your brand image also has to be very dynamic – you have to constantly be in touch with your core followers and not lose sight of what they want. You have to maintain the relationships that exist, and bring in a fresh perspective to keep the audience with you.”

Brands can have value even if you are not trying to sell a product based on the brand name. According to Ramesh Jude Thomas, President and Chief Knowledge Officer, Equitor, it important to understand a business’ aims, and then build the brand to meet those goals. Thomas, one of the people who helped introduce the concept of brand valuation, gave the example of how in the Tata Group, being a part of the corporate brand helped even those parts of the company which didn’t have Tata in the name.

He said, “When we were looking at Voltas, which does not have the Tata name in the brand, we thought that the impact of the brand would be minimal. What we quickly learned though, is that Voltas’ main line of work is not selling air-conditioners to consumers, but rather in selling cooling solutions to institutions, such as the air conditioning for the Hong Kong airport. And we also learned that without the Tata brand backing up the company, such projects would not have been possible.”

Pragnya Ram, Group Executive President - Corporate Communications, Aditya Birla Group, also agreed that a corporate brand should be integrated into the group offerings. She said, “We started a comprehensive brand building exercise in 1997, and the result is that today all the companies in Aditya Birla Group carry our Sun logo and the company name. Earlier, companies had their own logos, and the perception of the group was almost non-existent. We determined what our core values were, and then brought every brand into the same umbrella, and this has helped us a lot as a group, for the individual brands as well, because they are also associated with our values.”

She further said, “You need to bring coherence to internal and external brand identities, and build brand passion inside the company and brand identity outside. In the last 15 years, we have been highly successful in doing this, and it has had a role to play in the tremendous growth that the company has seen in the same period. We do this in a number of ways – through a website, employee blogs, well planned media interactions and all the right partnerships. We have been rated the best employer in 2007 by Gallup, and in 2010, we had 11,030 mentions in the news. People take news at face value, so this is a valuable figure. We are also associated with thought leaders and all this comes together to build the brand.”

“There is no finish line in building a brand. It is a continuous process, one which companies must keep engaging with,” she added.

This discussion took place at the two-day World Marketing Congress, organised by AIMA in Delhi on February 4-5, 2011.

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