Thank you for visiting. This blog has now shifted to a brand new site!
See you there!
Recently, I was privy to a conversation that made me cry. “Our client wants to reach out to a larger audience. Lets brand this cap and distribute it via an activation.” By branding, they mean stamping the logo on the cap. There are two words that are misused all the time. Used loosely in conversations. Research and branding.
Branding is like life within a body. Its the soul that gives a character to everybody. This is what differentiates one person from another. Branding helps build a character for a product. It defines even an inanimate object.
Remember that man who walked into your neighbour’s party? The blue-eyed blonde guy with a playful look? – Axe
Or that woman you see jog every morning. She’s fit and definitely looks like a go-getter – Nike
Brand planners possess the power to define the path that the product would take, the role that it will play in its consumers lives. Will the new bath soap end up in the perfectly manicured hands of a beautiful woman and be a part of her hour long bath or will it lie neatly packaged in every normal lodge’s bathroom. Brand managers are like guardians. They grow the brand.
Today, in many advertising agencies the word branding has almost lost its meaning. Merely designing a logo and affixing it to a collateral is NOT branding. What happened to all the thought that is supposed to have gone behind the process of branding. What about the research that should have been conducted prior to any action.
Research. Calling up ten people who belong to the target group and asking them 10 questions is far from research. One part of the world is busy working years to derive one concept. One other group is still basing many advertisements on research conducted in a day or two. Creative routes and stimuli are derived by asking leading questions to maybe five people.
Sad, but true.
What makes blackberry the most preferred business phone?
I was reading a book – Killer Differentiators, that talked about category leadership and first movers’ advantage as one of the strategies to grow a brand. Blackberry was cited as an example for one of the first smart phones developed. This was way back in 1999. It is 2009. Why is it still preferred?
Guaranteed – Its got many useful features that are completely business oriented, but what about other phones that offer equally better features and entertainment too?
They have built their brand around a very strong vision. Perception in the minds of the consumers is built so strong. A Blackberry owner is a true businessman/woman, elegant, sophisticated, rich and busy!
Apparently the sales is not so good this quarter. Profits have gone down, but they have managed to sell 40% more handsets than last year. The competition is building up. The new 3GS iPhone is growing strong and the Google android phones from HTC, Motorola releasing soon are sure to fight. Apple vs Blackberry war has been going on for a while now. This one is my favourite:
Blackberry taking a shot at Apple
Four years work experience
In my situation, I would simply go for a pda as its a sign of professionalism, seriousness, stature and being associated with those who are claiming responsible positions in the firm, even though I may not have the absolute necessity of having to regularly check my mails.
I have seen many people who own an htc cribbing about it. They have not synchronised outlook to their hand held device as it beeps every now and then and is disturbing.
One year work experience
I would love to own a Blackberry! It gives me an “I am important” feeling. An iPhone makes me look cool. Thats not what I want.
Twenty – two years experience
I have no choice but to use a Blackberry. I simply need it. I dont care much about music / games. I have no time for entertainment. The battery is not good. On my last trip abroad, my Blackberry heated up and exploded. I got it replaced though.
Thirty years experience
I work in a high stress environment with tight deadlines. But, I must admit, I dont know how to use all the features yet. My Blackberry gives me a status symbol. I am a page 3 celebrity and its important that I am in vogue. Sure, it helps me reply to mails the moment I receive them.
Blackberry has become an aspirational brand for the newbies to business, status symbol for the ones in it already. It has created a very high top-of-mind-awareness for itself which is going to be tough to break for any other brand. I phone is still looked at as a coolness device. Blackberry users identify themselves as a layer above. They express no desire outside to look cool. They would rather be the only-business type. It will be fun to watch other players try to break this perception.
My all-time favourite print ad has been Southwest’s retaliation- “Liar Liar pants on fire” to Northwest on their claim to be No. 1 in customer satisfaction.
Recently, I came across another ad that caught my eye.
- Today, where visuals dominate, this ad has reversed the process. An excellent portrayal of the cliches that are unfortunately true.
- A touch of humour in reality.
- This is an example of a powerful idea backed by an extremely simple, yet equally powerful execution.
From a consumer’s point of view:
Sans the advertising p-o-v, I wanted to find out if this ad makes an impact on non-advertisers. So I picked 5 people belonging to different industries and have nothing to do with marketing. I showed the ad to them individually. Here’s what happened:
3 of them found the use of colors attractive.
All of them had an immediate smile while reading the copy.
Most important, all of them could recollect the date filmfare was scheduled for, even 10 minutes after the ad was taken away from them. The ad has hit the target bang-on.
Most of the ads or even websites focus on design and colors. The cosmetic appearances are temporary. What manages to create an impact is always the content, communicated in a creative manner. Compromising on content is a sin. Ads like this bring out the power of ideation before getting into the visuals. They have their message right and the creative route chosen is excellent. Great work Mudra!
“I think corporations have become inhuman entities that merely regurgitate people and ideas and throw up on the unsuspecting consumer. They simply feed the consensual bs hallucination and suck everything in it’s path. ” – This is the voice of a consumer.
This statement kept me awake for many nights. Is this true? With neuro-marketing becoming more prominent, are we manipulating thoughts of a consumer? Especially, now that we have access to advanced scientific knowledge, are we extracting undue advantage over the consumers?
So, I asked this question to another consumer:
Q: Remember you bought that expensive chocolate box from Belgique chocolates the other day. Did you get back home wondering what made you buy? Its us! As marketers, we possess the power to influence your decision-making. Be it a necessary / unnecessary purchase, we drive it.
A: I would say “Good work!” If you guys made me buy that box of chocolates, you know what I want and I am glad somebody s paying attention to my wants.
This helped me realize that marketers are merely competing with each other for the consumer’s attention. He is still God. With the help of science and research, we understand what a consumer wants. What he needs are usually in the open. What he wants is buried deep within different layers like insecurity, sub-consciousness, financial stability, and more. A powerful want can snowball fast. Understanding this can also help in new product development.
What we do is uncover the hidden wants and make it a reality for the consumers. We give them what they want. Consumers are extremely intelligent and trying to manipulate one will be fatal.
But, what is really interesting is that there exists a set of consumers with the first mindset. How do we overcome this?
Here’s an ad that has created mixed emotions. Using the little girl and the dog sure worked for Hutch. It s working fine for Airtel too. But Microsoft????
Take a look at this.
This ad is definitely not stimulating me to even consider Windows 7. “Cuteness” is not for every brand. Sometimes highlighting the features and talking about what the product can do, might help.