BRAND TOUCHPOINTS

Blackberry – the most preferred business phone

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 26, 2009

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!

Competition

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

Apple’s retaliation

Consumer’s views:

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.



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Powerful idea

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 21, 2009

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.

filmfare

  • 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!

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Voice of a consumer

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 18, 2009

“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.listen

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?

Microsoft goes cute!

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 13, 2009

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.

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If Starbucks came to India ..

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 12, 2009

I am a fan of Starbucks. A die-hard fan. As a kid, I remember climbing up on the bar stool, returning the smile to the lady on the other side and asking for a tall latte. They always gave me a free cookie! As a teen, I remember sitting in the corner with a borrowed book from British Council, sipping my cappuccino. The place was always warm, friendly and had a homely feel to it.

Its been six years and I live in India now. There are no Starbucks outlets here. But, there has always been a doubt in my mind. Would Starbucks work in India?

The Indian consumer

The Indian consumer is not pampered. He chooses from options given to him. No customization allowed. Most of the brands have now become me-too and the population is starved for a decent differentiator.

There is a rise of young crowd who belong to the nouveau riche segment. They are being exposed to foreign brands and will definitely want to be part of it when the brand is available here. High on awareness, the crowd is ready and all geared up for the foreign brands.

So, here’s my view of the Indian buying pattern:coffee-cup-cupper

1. Brand

2. Price

3. Value

4. Variety

5. Service

The CCD advantage

It is a place filled with coffee and conversations. Young people, colors and a lot of noise characterize every outlet. Friendships come alive here. The menu is standard and so are prices. It is an inexpensive place to “hang-out.”

CCD merely provides a nice, ambient platform to meet. It helps the young crowd express themselves. The biggest differentiator of CCD is the price. They bundle fun and coffee at an unbelievable price. It’s a mass product.

Starbucks in India

We definitely lack a nice upscale chain of coffee shops. Probably the CCD crowd will stick on, but this will attract the growing crowd who hunt every corner for a different coffee outlet.

Also, Starbucks with all its customization possibilities, warm service and options that are alien to the Indian consumer, they will love it.

One big problem would be price. To create evangelists in India, the pricing may be a problem. If they retain the same pricing, they will definitely begin with a bang. But, they should restrict themselves to the metros and not more than 4 to 5 outlets in the country. No way, can they capture a larger crowd. Starbucks will manage to be another café-at-the-Taj and not a product that becomes a part of everybody life.

In spite of everything, I am sure there are a LOT of people here who would love to stop for a coffee before /after work to enjoy the cuppa, ideate, brainstorm and more. Well, we are talking about a company which enjoys higher sales per sq. foot than McD and also cares enough to provide health insutrance to all its employees (YES !! even part-time).

I think this is the right time for Starbucks to enter India. Crowd with the right outlook for coffee culture is growing big.

I want them in India. Do you?

I live in India now. There are no Starbucks outlets here. But, there has always been a doubt in my mind if it would work?
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Branding & Religion

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 8, 2009

When rituals and superstitions have been leveraged by advertising and branding companies, a question popped into my mind. Is there any correlation between branding and religion? Is there any lesson to be learnt from religion for branding?

Think about this. Religion creates devotees. Staunch believers who do not question any aspect and follow it. Admirers. This makes me believe that there is some element that religion has instilled in us, which results in heartfelt devotion and complete admiration. What if branding recognized that element and nurtured it to create evangelists.

A large green field. Over 11000 people watching anxiously. Another 11 million watching from their television sets with the same anxiousness. Irrespective of religion, the mass prays for the same cause. Two men in blue with bats. Ten men around the field waiting and hoping desperately. One man runs down the crease and bowls. The man in blue strikes the ball, swings his bat and the ball goes flying out of the crease. Euphoria everywhere. Satisfied that their prayers are answered, the masses rejoice.

This is Indian cricket. I live in India and I believe that the biggest brand created, cared for and nurtured here is cricket. Cricket is a religion. Ever wondered why all advertisements for the Indian cricket always ALWAYS has people praying in it? Here’s why:

india cricket team

A research was once conducted to find out the activities in the brain while being exposed to images that form part of religion. The audience was primarily men and they flashed images of bible, rosary, sports teams, and more. One part of the brain lit up when images of religion was flashed. The SAME part of the brain lit up when exposed to images of brands they considered real close.

By portraying images of people praying and relating it to the Indian cricket team, brings people closer to being admirers. This automatically pushes the brand up in the mind.

Are there any more brands in the Indian context that can generate the same activity? Talk to me!

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Rituals & branding

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 3, 2009

When my black cat came back safe after running out of home on Friday the 13th, I touched wood.

This may sound bizarre to probably most of us, but believe it or not superstitions form a big part of our lives. We shun away from the number 13, blame everything on the glass that broke in the morning and try not to spill milk. There are so many rituals performed everyday that it has integrated with our daily lives and become a habit. Ever wondered why most people get out of bed from the right side or why they use a particular pen for important meetings?

Impact of rituals on branding

These rituals are viewed as opportunities mGuinnessBeerany times. Marketers take advantage of an incident/practice and give it a meaning and a reason to continue. Imagine after a hard day’s work you go to the pub. All you want is cold beer and NOW. You order for Guinness and the wait for the foamy head to settle seems worth it. Ever wondered why? Guinness was once facing major loses because the consumers were not willing to wait ten minutes for their beer. So they turned tables and rolled out campaigns like:

“Good things come to those who wait”

“It takes 119.53 seconds to pour the perfect pint”

A “right” way to pour a Guinness was invented and led to the birth of a ritual. This actually helped to establish an emotional connection with the consumers and suddenly the wait was worth it!

Marketers sometimes create a reason to go on following the practice or they begin a whole new action that becomes popular and stands out from other brands. This is very similar to brand personality. Life is either breathed into a brand by giving it a personality or the persona evolves and is then strengthened.

Corona’s success is a case of an accidental ritual. Two decades ago, a bartender sliced a lime and popped it into the neck of a Corona to see if the others would follow suit. Other bartenders not only followed suit, but this ritual helped Corona overtake Heineken in the U.S. market.

Rituals work on the brain

Why are we talking about rituals in a blog on branding? Brands that have a ritual attached to them have a magnetic capacity. They stick to the consumers and this increases the brand recall. We tend to remember stories better. Our brain processes links much faster than independent elements. When a brand has many links attached to it, even if we come across an independent link, we automatically are reminded of the entire chain which leads to the brand and many times stimulate purchase. A small toy car with an M on it will remind us of a big red arched M -McD – burger & fries – cheese – you are probably on your way to the nearest McD now!

More on religion & branding coming up.

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