Thursday, 8 September 2016

6Es framework of brand building

Strong brands are assets to the business as they earn premium and create consumer preference. People trust brands which forms the basis of their purchase intention and loyalty over time.  Branding as a discipline borrows heavily from social sciences and psychology. Strong brands are not created just through product design and communication but by finding a place in consumer’s heart.

Marketers can follow a simple six step checklist to determine if they are nurturing their brands well and if their relationship with the brand is enduring enough

Essence: It is the intrinsic nature or indispensable attribute which determines the brand character. The essence is the core identity of the brand. It reflects as to what the marketer want their brand to stand for? For example, the essence of brand Fevicol is ‘sticking together’ or building bonds. The core essence of brand Google is ‘search’ and that is what remain indispensible to the brand.

Efficacy (promise): The unique and differentiated advantage of the brand defines the promise made by it. The promise that the brand makes and the value it bestows to customers signifies its brand positioning. The brand’s value proposition can be functional (when it is a new category, new market or significant competitive advantage in terms of technology etc.) or emotional (when product is a non differentiator, brand try occupying a share of heart). For example, the value proposition of Dell is its superior customer service and customization which is clearly functional. Dettol antiseptic on the other hand owns the proposition of ‘protection like that of mother’.

Emotion: Branding is a process of taking product from the left side of the brain to the right. Therefore, irrespective of the fact that brand differentiates itself on functional or emotional benefits, it needs to identity an emotion through which consumers can connect with it. For ex., Dairy milk owns togetherness and Fevicol has emotion associated with lifelong association (tone being humor). Today it’s not just the B2C brands but even technology and corporate brands that are trying to find an emotion to associate them with the consumers. For example, Cummins associates itself with passion to perform.

Employees: Before the brand interacts with the external customers, it needs to build association with its internal customers i.e. employees. If your employees do not believe in you, the customers would not. The people who deliver the brand experience or are at customer touch points need to be as knowledgeable and passionate about the brand as they actually make the brand. Ex. Ponds when launched their new range of anti aging solutions in Middle East, the launch was first done with Unilever employees so that their own internal customers could become brand missionaries.

Experience: This stage involves creating brand experience at every touch-point. Brand experience are created through appropriate communication mediums including mass media, activations etc. Distribution channel and intermediaries play an equally important role in creating the right experience for the consumers. This stage would hence include most of the steps in brand implementation plan including communication, distribution, packaging, promotions etc.

Engagement: To have a large base of loyal customers, it is critical to engage them with the brand. This instils a sense of co-creation as consumers feel a part of entire momentum. In socially connected world, companies do not adequately utilize the potential of social media by using it only as a vehicle for information dissemination. When you are engaging with your consumers effectively, you are building a sense of ownership for the brand and hence deeper commitment towards the same. As marketers we need to personify our brand and ensure that consumers find a friend in them. 

Building brands is like nurturing children. They require the care and passion of a parent and continuity of investment and efforts to ensure long term success.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Baba Ramdeva- the marketer

Baba Ramdev can be considered as one of the biggest marketing minds in India. He has built Rs. 2000 crore FMCG umpire in few years and has given tough competition to the big Indian FMCGs. Some factors which we can attribute to his success are:

1.     Great understanding of consumers
Ramdev knows his customer well. He acquired a huge fan following and loyal customer base by offering a service which was free of cost- the Yoga. Once the consumer trust was obtained, extension was only half difficult. He understood that consumers do not trust their current products (in FMCG space) and are somewhat unsure of their benefits. This gap was where Ramdev placed his Patanjali offerings. He started a range of ‘made in India’ ayurvedic products which could be trusted.
2.     Focus & consistency
The brand Patanjali forayed into ayurvedic medicine, food and personal care space as consumer scepticism is highest in these categories. Patanjali occupied this vacant space and positioned themselves as value for money natural products. Ramdev did not let the brand lose its essence- the greed which most other FMCG companies fall a prey to, i.e. trying to be everything to consumers.
3.     Value for Money
Ramdev knew Indians are value conscious and his marketing strategy was based on this- good quality natural products at lower price points. This was appealing because most of the natural, ayurvedic and organic products come at premium price points in India.
4.     Distribution strategy
He used his follower base and multi level marketing skills to ensure that his products are available in every city and town. Though he is still building distribution arm for Patanjali products and is having serious demand supply issues; the hybrid channel would be an advantage for Patanjali over time .
5.     Word of Mouth
Ramdev never hard sell his products or talk about them. He only points out deficiency in other available products and let the consumer explore their options. This subtle communication does not project bias, hence minimize scepticism in consumer mind. Ramdev leverages his huge follower base to spread positive WOM, and I believe that there is no other tool as powerful as WOM because it gets you consumers without you chasing them. And isn’t all communication tools also geared up to create strong and positive WOM? He has built the brand around very strong yet simple idea- “Product you can trust”. This beautifully bridges the consumer insight and the brand philosophy.
6.     Product portfolio
I feel that the product portfolio and phase out plan for his offerings has been well thought of. He started the brand with ayurvedic medicines and offered services and consultation on the dosage for critical ailments. The products were good and this built a positive WOM and trust among consumers. He is slowly leveraging this trust across categories and moving from low risk (oil, balms etc) to greater risk offerings (juices etc.).

I would say that he has a well thought of and focused marketing plan. He knows his segment well. (people who practice Yoga; are committed to well being of the self and believe that natural methods are the best way to heal and solve any problem). Ramdev follows the mass customization strategy. His positioning is simple and resonating and hence he is able to strike a chord with consumer’s inner feelings and fears. And obviously, he delivers to his promise as discussed above. Baba Ramdev’s story teaches us a great lesson that consumer is not necessarily looking for fancy and glamour. They seek benefit and want to feel assured after buying something. Also, Ramdev’s brand equity was build on ‘yoga’, the space which is considered as proactive wellness space. The products in his FMCG portfolio only complements this space and hence help the brand leverage on Ramdev’s equity.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Responsible Storytelling

Storytelling is becoming more and more important for brand building and is being used to stroke consumer’s emotions for deeper relationship building. Who doesn’t like a story? We have all grown up listening to one and hence we can easily relate to them.

Recently, Nestle used a stammering stand-up comedian as a main protagonist for this storytelling, focusing on the idea that you can overcome all hurdles if you have a passion to win and succeed. 

The brave coffee brand took the risk of using ‘physical disability -‘stammering’ as a context for the advertisement. It if not handled well; this could have alienated the consumers from their old trusted brand. But the brand true to its nature handled this very sensitively and rather than using stammering as a negative attribute brought about the humour and emotion beautifully in the brand story. The film was made in a way that consumers did not feel alienated at any point but was empathic to protagonist all through. They were not sympathetic but displayed empathy, and that was the winning proposition for Nescafe. Nescafe has served its coffee strong to audience while embedding a social message without being too preachy. The brand was just playing a role in the story without being ‘on the face’. They were careful not to make fun of ‘stammering’ because such treatment would have created more negative emotions around the brand. People don’t want to be laughed at their disability. If nothing else, they wish to be left alone. But brand was brave enough to take up the issue and say that ‘we can fight every disability if we have the will to do so’.

On the other hand I am surprised at the way Intex mobile has handled the same disability. They have made a blatant spoof of it. For the purpose of adding some humour to the story, they have handled the context arrogantly. How could they even imagine that consumers would like the brand which makes ‘fun’ of them? And it’s not that all their consumers stammer consumers show solidarity when being talked by the brands and hence such treatment would only attract negative emotions. Was it tactical polarized communication to draw some attention and generate content on social media? Then it was all the more a failed attempt as it would only spread negative comments. Consumers do not appreciate spoof which rather than making them feel ‘good’ makes them feel ‘shameful’.

Media and communication influence the story and I feel that it’s very important for brands to behave responsibly while dealing with such issues. Brands should ‘communicate for a purpose of engaging with the consumers and not alienating the consumers’.

6Es framework of brand building Strong brands are assets to the business as they earn premium and create consumer preference. People t...