Home >> GuestColumn >> Article

Tinkerers, Talkers and Bureaucrats: Marketing management in decline: Shubhranshu Singh

24-May-2018
Font Size   16
Tinkerers, Talkers and Bureaucrats: Marketing management in decline: Shubhranshu Singh

In the world of marketing bureaucracy, there is a large premium attached to ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’. These magic words can win promotions. At both the plan and execution stages, innovation work self-selects the elites of marketing management. It makes reputations for marketers. In the public esteem, the canals carrying credit run deeper when a marketer has ‘innovation experience’ written in bold on the resume.

But let us consider the brand for a moment, declutched from the stranglehold of these brand marketers. There is no life plan for a brand that insists on innovation. In fact, in a brand’s history, only a few major innovations make a difference of the kind that moves the business performance, share and equity to a higher orbit.

Often, innovations are urgent but unimportant activities made to seem necessary because activity often substitutes achievement. Nothing delights a corporate bureaucrat like endless meetings. Meetings where everyone’s opinion leads to a fission reaction of more meetings. Nothing is decided but everything is discussed.

The only thing that truly matters to a brand’s health is the source of value it brings to the consumers. Managing the core essence is important as this is what defines the brand and its business. The core essence of Nike is greatness through sports and endeavour. The shoes are secondary. The essence of Starbucks is a great experience while drinking coffee. Brands flourish because of loyal consumers, new willing acceptors and the adoption of it into their lifestyle habits. Brands get defined by rituals, stories and semiotics that signify their essence.

To put it plainly to the brand manager – Don’t chase the new and loud, but do more of what made your product successful in the first place. 

1. Don’t innovate beyond the cultural authority of your brand. But do as much as you can within the boundaries you have defined. Own the turf. Make sure innovations don’t distract but strengthen.

2. Creativity alone is no reason to do branding. Rather the brand should spur creativity.

3. Innovation is not about newness alone, it is also about business definition. You may find organic growth to be the mantra but new product myopia can make you lose the larger picture.

4. Quantity rarely, if ever, translates to quality. To grow brand equity and customer satisfaction by chasing more things is a surefire route to failure.

5. Focus on brand attitude, pricing, experience and authority. These things are far more important than the new kids you put on the block each planning year.

There is also problem in the fact that even in a large market like India, there are very few sovereign brands. By this I mean brand management teams empowered to decide what to do. The vast majority are tinkerers, word smiths, translators and multinational bureaucrats.

I call it ‘brand management by synonyms’. The typical MNC brand bureaucrat handles words and adjectives. For example, an MNC with a portfolio of hair shampoos has decided upon ‘glossy, shiny, bouncy’ as their three brands. The same shampoo brands then churn the same attributes and adjectives across the region as brand benefits. This is not brand management. This is at best in-house servicing.

Therefore, decide if you are a business or a franchise? Are you a sovereign source of brand action or just a design factotum?

The typical signs of tinkerers and frenzied action addicts:

1. They don’t track or look at comparisons from the recent past. They always make more forward looking statements.

2. They don’t focus on tracking return per unit of input. Therefore larger investments become justified as successes.

3. They don’t innovate to a business end. They do it to earn merit. Therefore, the innovations are
all over, not necessarily catering to the most valuable consumers as they ought to. Poor segmentation is a clear sign of innovation-frenzy.

4. They are on an activity treadmill. Since their esteem is built on having done many things, they must feed the boiler to keep up the steam.

5. Objectivity escapes the sharpest brains. In fact, vanity afflicts the smarter more readily. When it reaches the top, doom is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

6. French author La Rochefoucauld observed that ‘self-love is cleverer that the cleverest man in the world’. Therefore smart performers will end up justifying all their actions. Do not reward innovation activity alone. Reward the results of the entire brand business and health of its attributes.

French aviator, partisan and story teller Antoine de Saint –Exupery had said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

I think it holds for marketers as well. If you want to build a brand, don’t tinker with materials, designs and innovations but yearn to master the brand essence.

(The author is a Mumbai-based marketer)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

Stuart Bowden talks about purchase journey, the revised version of Cannes Lions, Wavemaker India’s performance and a lot more

Emery says everything that Unilever CMO Keith Weed says has a touch of genius. He also talks about his expectations from Cannes, WPP without Sir Martin Sorrell and his love for Mindshare India.

In an interaction with exchange4media, PC Musthafa, CEO & Co-Founder iD Fresh Food shares how the brand deals with competition and marketing strategies followed by them.

Varun Raina, Marketing Manager, Airbnb India speaks to exchange4media about the successful #LiveThere campaign and how Bollywood helps them connect with its young consumer

right
left
EXCHANGE4MEDIA’S LOUDEST.IN HOSTS INAUGURAL EDITION OF MUSIC INC. IN MUMBAI EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK IMPACT’S 40UNDERFORTY ACHIEVERS PORTER PRIZE & INSTITUTE FOR COMPETITIVENESS RECOGNIZE STRATEGIC ACUMEN IN COMPANIES DELHI AD CLUB-SAARC AWARDS 2018 RECOGNIZE EXCELLENCE ACROSS CREATIVE, MEDIA & DIGITAL AGENCIES BSNL & CALL2ACTION COMMUNICATION INDIA LAUNCH MOBILE ADVERTISING PLATFORM, INFOMO IN NEW DELHI CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST KAILASH SATYARTHI LAUNCHES BOOK ‘EVERY CHILD MATTERS’ SENIOR JOURNALIST VIJAY TRIVEDI LAUNCHES BOOK ‘YADA YADA HI YOGI’ BASED ON YOGI ADITYANATH EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK IMPACT’S 40UNDERFORTY ACHIEVERS PORTER PRIZE & INSTITUTE FOR COMPETITIVENESS RECOGNIZE STRATEGIC ACUMEN IN COMPANIES DELHI AD CLUB-SAARC AWARDS 2018 RECOGNIZE EXCELLENCE ACROSS CREATIVE, MEDIA & DIGITAL AGENCIES MARK TULLY, OTHER JOURNALISTS HONOURED BY MUMBAI PRESS CLUB AT ANNUAL REDINK AWARDS TALENTED YOUNGSTERS GET TO PRESENT THEIR WORK BEFORE STALWARTS IN THE AD INDUSTRY INDIA RADIO FORUM 2018 RECOGNIZES EXCELLENCE IN RADIO INDUSTRY OFF THE CUFF HAS JOURNALIST ARUN SHOURIE IN CONVERSATION WITH SHEKHAR GUPTA IN MUMBAI IAA HOSTS FIRST INDIAA REGIONAL AWARDS (TELUGU) IN HYDERABAD BREAK THE CEILING TOUCH THE SKY 2018 SEES OVERWHELMING INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION 10TH EDITION OF ABC EUREKA AWARDS IN MUMBAI CELEBRATES WORK OF PARTNER AGENCIES EMINENT JURY PICKS LOUDEST’S 100 MOST POWERFUL INDIAN MUSIC BUSINESS LEADERS MODE LOFT BY SABGROUP LAUNCHES SIGNATURE MENSWEAR POWER DRESSING CLOTHING LINE TOP MARKETERS DISCUSS ART AND SCIENCE OF EFFECTIVE LISTENING @PITCH CMO SUMMIT 2018, DELHI

A total of 183 advertisements were picked up by ASCI’s Suo Moto surveillance

Communication experts say that the recent Airtel controversy on Twitter is a lesson for consumer-facing brands to rejig their customer support and make it more apt for social media

The movie has been trashed by critics and movie-goers alike. We find out how this dents the brands associated with the movie.