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Guest Article: The ABC of Branding – Anisha Motwani

06-September-2011
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Guest Article: The ABC of Branding – Anisha Motwani

To understand the importance of branding, imagine the possible scenario of a shop shelf with similar looking or faceless packs. Cars on the road with no marquee or the names proudly displayed. People do use a particular category to make a statement i.e. a flat TV is more preferable than a normal TV and plasma TV is more premium than a flat TV. But a Sony makes a statement which is different than a Weston.

Turning a product in to a brand requires incremental efforts. This incremental effort is worth the effort because it is the brand that adds significant value when it is well recognised and evokes positive associations in the minds of the consumer, besides of course commanding additional price premium.

A brand is inextricably woven into consumer's daily life and routine and that’s why it should be easy to comprehend and stand for something simple; one thing. But how does a brand develop this consistent, repeatable positive association with the consumer? What is it that prompts customers to buy different products from the same brand? It is because brands create values and associations which are much above the product category. The most common example of a brand that transcends categories is Tata. Is there any product or service that this brand cannot venture into?

The process of creating enduring brands can be as simple as ABC by including three simple principles in your brand strategy.

Make your brand AUTHENTIC:
The measure of a successful brand so often depends on whether it comes across as honest and genuine in the eyes of the consumer. Overloaded by sales pitches, consumers toady are gravitating toward brands that they sense are true and genuine.
In an increasingly glitzy world of spun messages and manipulated experiences -where nearly everything we encounter is created to drive consumption - elevating a brand above the fray requires genuine creativity and discipline.

Hunger for the authentic is all around us. You can see it in the way millions are drawn to mission-driven products like Khadi. Fab India’s success emanates from here.
Authenticity is becoming an increasingly important point of leverage for brands that recognize and moreover respect their stakeholders. To maintain its integrity, a brand must remain true to its values. And yet, to be relevant - or cool - a brand must be as dynamic as change itself. An authentic brand reconciles those two conflicting impulses, finding ways to be original within the context of its history. At a human level, Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi are examples where authenticity, honesty and integrity merge.

But we know lots of brands can look authentic, and not be. Their identities are created to intentionally portray authenticity, while not being truthful at all. And then there are the brands where authenticity is at the core of their existence. Amul & TATA are two great examples as both brands command respect due to their heritage and history of authentic product delivery, yet always come across as contemporary by remaining relevant.

Make your brand promise BELIEVABLE:
The goal of any brand positioning exercise is to develop a unique, compelling and believable brand promise.

Believable brand positioning is based on compelling truths or pillars. The most respected brands are those that live their values and not just promote them.

Hyperbole has a legitimate place in the world of advertising but not all hyperbolism fares equally well. How often have we seen superlative claims that exaggerate to a point of absurdity - World’s most comfortable shoe brand used by 9 out of 10 film stars, etc? You are left wondering at the audacity and bravado of the claim. So even if the product is genuinely good, you tend to write it off as the claim is impossible to believe and relate to. So to make the brand believable, it is important that the story the brand tells through its action always aligns with the story it tells through its communication.

Financial brands have been viewed with suspicion due to the economic environment; however Max New York Life hasn’t had any believability issues. This is not because it has done anything unique, but because of the way it has behaved, functioned and interacted with its customers.

Drive CREATIVITY in Brands:
Everyone talks about creativity and its crucial role in enabling brands to grow and achieve success. But how can we make it happen? The trick is to make your brand interesting and exciting by doing little things all the time.

In the world of creativity, consumers control the dialogue; not the brand. This understanding simply implies that influencing consumers requires a new way of thinking. We need to get inside the consumer’s mind, understand their lives and identify the moments they will connect with various brands’ messages. Take Apple, for example. Apple simply motivates us to creativity. The company has attempted, since its inception days when it was Apple Computer, to foster a strong brand identity that’s associated with an image of creativity and now not only do consumers consider Apple creative, but the subliminal display of an Apple logo is enough to motivate them to be more creative.

Creativity creates attention for the brand. Attention is influenced by an element of surprise. It forges deeper connection and newer perspectives. When Richard Branson gets on an elephant, he understands that the media does not get too many interesting opportunities like this. In a more subtle manner, he has creatively attracted attention and excitement to add to the brand quotient of Virgin Atlantic.

A creative approach can provide an added reason to buy on top of an incentive. Most importantly, effective creativity persuades with increased conviction. It helps you get a breakthrough insight and creates a BIG IDEA.

(Anisha Motwani is a marketing veteran with strong brand management credentials. She has an established track record in building consumer brands in a highly competitive environment. Motwani has used her insight and experience of 19 years in marketing and advertising to create memorable and effective campaigns across a range of industries – from automobiles to beverages to life insurance. Prior to joining Max New York Life, Motwani was Director - Marketing at General Motors, India. In her three years with the automobile major, Motwani spearheaded the marketing launch of five car brands. Before joining General Motors India, Motwani was the Delhi head of Euro RSCG. She had a successful 15-year stint in advertising across India’s leading advertising agencies like Leo Burnett, Mudra Communications and McCann Erickson.)

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