India Brand Conclave: A brand's purpose must be same across markets: Narasimhan Eswar

Eswar, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, RB Hygiene & Home, South Asia, Reckitt Benckiser, delivered the keynote address at the conclave on ‘Building Brands Across Cultures Globally’

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 29, 2019 8:27 AM
Narasimhan Eswar

Narasimhan Eswar, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, RB Hygiene & Home, South Asia, Reckitt Benckiser, delivered the keynote address on ‘Building Brands Across Cultures Globally’ at the e4m India Brand Conclave 2019 on Thursday.

Beginning his session on a lighter note, Eswar admitted that since he had the first slot post lunch he had the huge responsibility of ensuring that “those eyelids don’t droop, those heads don’t drop and there are no soft and gentle snores filling this room”. Once, he had tickled the audience into attention, Eswar began his session with an elaborate case study based on the stain remover brand - Vanish.

The reason for picking the brand, he explained, was because, “Vanish is the number one stain remover in the world. The brand is present in about 70 countries globally. So, it’s truly a global brand and exists in different forms in different places, different consumer insights. There are some things that are very, very common about Vanish globally. One of them is the fact that it is pink in colour and that's its standout feature as you approach the supermarket shelf or an e-commerce portal. The second thing that's interesting about Vanish is that it actually has an ingredient which is active oxygen, and this is what does the magic for Vanish.”

The selling line for Vanish for 20 years has been the same, ‘Trust Pink, Forget stains’, which according to Eswar, was a powerful selling line and had worked very well for Vanish.

Using the brand as the centrepiece to answer questions like - ‘How do I move a brand globally across cultures’. He explained that the key point really was to answer what is the work required in this, what has been done globally, what has been done locally and most importantly, always for the consumer as the bedrock of everything that brands do.

Delving into details of global versus local and tackling the former first, Eswar said globally every brand has a purpose and it should be the same across all the markets. The positioning and brand strategy, too, should remain the same.

The other feature, standard globally, was the brand identity - like the logo and its message. The brand personality was also applicable globally, which Eswar explained in this manner: “If you met the brand for the first time and shook hands with it, what would you think of it? That’s the brand personality.”

Talking about the local aspects, he said local teams had multiple responsibilities. While the benefits and the positioning was global, the relevancy of the benefits was based on local markets. Communication, too, would be different based on cultures and different aspects of the market - like usage, practices, habits etc. Other marketing features that applied locally were products being tailored for local markets, as was the packaging of the product.

Through country-specific case studies and commercials of Vanish, Eswar explained in great detail the nuances that were needed in a brand’s marketing journey.

While concluding the session, Eswar spoke about three points.

“When you think about building brands across cultures, globally, the first thing that you have to do is define strategic areas of agility and flexibility. Where are you going to say l will not make a change in this come what may, and where will you say that I'm open to looking at changes. That has to be defined clearly up front.

“The second one is within the areas of flexibility, I would still urge you to - Think Global and Act Global. Now, this a famous sentence, but what does it mean? Well, even a small change done by a country can have a massive impact on the organization because for every little change that we do, whether it's in packaging or in formulation, there's a huge number of people and hours and effort that goes into it. So, only change if you really feel there is a substantial need to do so. That's what is the meaning of - Think Global and Act Global. Just because you have the freedom to change, don't do so.

“How do you decide whether it's worth changing or not? There's only one formula - always go back to the consumer. If the change you are proposing makes a major difference to the consumer, absolutely go ahead and change what you need to. If to the consumer it does not make a difference, irrespective of how you feel, try not to do it.”

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