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I want to thank my business associates and valuable clients and friends who have greatly helped me during my transition from an entrepreneur to a business philosopher. Above all I dedicate this book to my late mother Thresiakutty Paul, who instilled in me the habit of reading and respecting knowledge from my early age. I wish the reader of this book a great strategy building experience in the world of branding. I also urge you to continue your quest for knowledge. Let information guide you to make great decisions in the future. I am also eager to learn from your experience. Please send your success stories to email@example.com Paul Robinson Bangalore 31/7/2012
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Even though many of us do not acknowledge the power of brands but when it comes to making our most of unconscious decisions about buying something, we are taking brands into major considerations. Every single time we buy a product or service, we make a conscious decision to purchase one brand over another. The truth of the matter is that brands hold more influence over our lives than many of us would care to admit. Think of today's advertising and marketing scenario and they present a detailed landscape for terms like branding, brand identity or corporate identity and a host of other terms related to corporate brand building, finding their way into the jargon of nearly every businessperson on the planet, there's bound to be more about what it all means.
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A brand is both your presentation and public's perception of your business. It's the way that people think about your business. A brand is a company's first chance to make a good impression on the minds of consumers, investors, employees, and anyone associated with, or potentially associated with, a product or service. An effective brand tells potential customers what you do and who you are. In addition your brand image is how your business is perceived by it's customers. Remember this fact clearly; 'brands are in the hearts and minds of customers and nowhere else.' Therefore the power of branding is to connect a company, product or service with a specific clear perception in the mind of a consumer. Bottom line a brand is actually an identity of a company. It is the face of your organization by which your customers and prospects recognize you. The identity needs to be based on a unique idea and told through a compelling story. It needs to connect with potential customers and form positive emotional bonds. Brand is considered as a personality of your business. It also tells about the promises that your business make to your customers and prospects. The promise needs to be distinctive from the competition and relevant to the target markets' worldview. It also needs to be authentic, which means that it's not enough to simply make empty claims. The organization needs to actually live its brand. Let's go little more in detail to understand what brand means. Webster dictionary defines a brand as a characteristic or distinctive kind of mark. In contemporary society, a brand is the essence of what people believe or think about you, MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 6
your product, service or your company. "Branding is not about getting your prospects to choose you over your competition; it's about getting your prospects to see you as the only solution to their problem," says branding expert Rob Frankel. Your brand must say: who you are, what you do and how you do it; in simple term it says what is the ultimate benefit to its customers. The brand is what keeps people coming back to your business. It makes them feel confident, secure, trusting, and cared for. It builds loyalty, constancy, allegiance, faithfulness and name recognition. A brand can mean different things to different people but few things remains constant: the brand should be compelling, intriguing, engrossing, fascinating or interesting. If your brand cries BORING, DULL, TEDIOUS, HUMDRUM, STODGY or just plain BLAH, it is time to "transform" your brand. Brands must evoke a positive emotion in people. It must stimulate your customers to respond to your offer. Your brand must be kept in high regard. It must be respected, loved and appreciated. Your brand must be impactful and to do that you must build a power brand. Either you create a brand that can roar to command the attention of people or a brand that can whisper to the ears of its customers while making a purchase decision. In today's world, when so many products and services have been commoditized, having a powerful brand is more important than ever. A successful brand connects with its audience and strongly influences their buying decisions. Therefore branding is an investment in your company's future, and it is an investment with a high return. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 7
Building the brand will be the most important thing you do in growing your customer base. It will impact your business, your career, your family and your customers. Brand plays a strategic role in the success of any business. Brand is a valuable property of a company. It is for this reason that the brand is often registered. Once registered it becomes the property of the company. The trade mark is a very valuable asset of a company and companies spend valuable resources in legal fights to protect themselves when competitors create confusing symbols and trademarks. A good brand name prolongs the life of the product on sale for many years. It will also help the company get a good market share if the company's brand is well recognized. Brands increase consumer willingness to take the risk of buying even premium products if they are convinced that it is from a credible source and they trust the manufacturer. Consumer decision making is made simpler when the consumer is familiar with the brand because the consumer develops confidence and faith in such brands. Further, the company can produce more products under the same name and reduce the time and promotion expenditure in selling the new products. It gives a legal right for the company, making the company beneficiary of all the positive effects and also makes the company responsible for any damages or any negative effects that the brand may have caused. Developing a powerful brand is critical to every organization and when professionally executed, delivers a clear and measurable competitive advantage to your firm. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 8
Every company has a brand or simply how people would think of them whether they created it through design or accident. By creating your brand through design, you shape the way you wish your company to be viewed by customers and potential customers. This will remove some of the uncertainty concerning what others will expect from you and say about you. Remember your brand is your competitive advantage. Brands increase the value of products and services by differentiating them from the competition, creating positive mental associations and forming emotional relationships with the customer. Branding is not just advertising, nor is it simply a catchy name for a company or product. It is the perceptual equity of high value you hold in your consumerâ€™s mind. Your brand is your value proposition. The most important value in a brand is the value that it holds for actual customers. The irony is that this value is very difficult and expensive to build - and fragile and easy to destroy. Your company values are perceived by your customers through your brand. Your brand is how your customers or prospects perceive you ultimately. Bad brand communication gives wrong perceptions to your consumers. On the other hand a great brand communication evokes a strong position, unmatched by anything that other brands stands for. What you need is a powerful proposition. And for this very reason, your brands must roar. The following chapters in this book will guide through the process of building a brand that roars.
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Bernays' knew a great factual social mechanism that â€˜perception controls the reality of peopleâ€™. He also knew that perceptions can be created and manipulated to control specific social behavior. As an ardent believer in the power of propaganda he combined individual and social psychology, group behavior, public opinion studies, political persuasion and advertising to construct his idea of 'necessary illusions' or perceptions which filtered out to the masses as 'reality.' The 'necessary illusions', what Barnays once described has now become the reality that is created by media and advertising today. The techniques Banrnays developed were first adapted in creating political campaigns and positive image making for politicians in general but later it conquered other domains like Public Relations, branding and advertising. His theory proved that wide majority of people perceives reality as the way it has been interpreted to them rather than the facet of the reality itself. People view things and make sense of their world by viewing the world through a bunch of filters that are comprised of prejudices, preconceived notions, presumptions, assumptions and superstitions. "We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are." This is written in the ancient book of 'Talmud' and it provides the key foundation to Barnays' propaganda theory. Human beings can be conditioned and their perceptions can be shaped by external forces. Time and again, the world of advertising and its impact on consumer's purchase decisions and the rise of consumerism have proved just that. An average Indian, by the time he finishes schooling has spent more time, exposed to all kinds of advertisements than what is taught in school. Advertisers have learned the art of influencing people by MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 11
triggering their psychological needs. They have mastered the game of persuasion and influence like none other. The entire advertising industry is based on the idea that they can influence our internal references by triggering the twin motivating forces namely known as 'pain and pleasure' principle. This idea was first brought in to attention by the famous motivational speaker Antony Robbins who noticed how the advertising industry persuade and change human behavior. As a whole, the adverting industry spends huge money every year to motivate people to embrace pleasure and avoid pain, which is in fact is the very essence of human nature itself. They do this because their goal is to link their products to our emotions. Most of the advertising campaigns are specifically designed to create subconscious emotional associations or anchors (in Neuro Lingusistic Programming or NLP) in us without our conscious awareness. We are all emotional creatures and our decisions are emotionally driven. Therefore we believe in a propaganda that promises us to avoid pain and increase pleasure. Consequently we will respond to messages such as: “Hungry Kya? Call Domino's Pizza now”, “Do you suffer from headache? Take an aspirin now” “Do you feel achy? use Iodex” “Do you feel itchy? apply Itchguard” We do those things which bring us pleasure and we avoid those things which cause us pain. Both stimuli create action, depending on their intensity and marketers know that very well. Marketers can manipulate us to embrace on a short term pleasure by indulging on a chocolate or a long MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 12
term pleasure by motivating us to join a gym. They can make us eat junk food or they can make us think about health in a completely different way.Very often the advertisement campaigns of certain brands will associate pain to their competitor's products and pleasure to the products that they sell. In a different scenario the advertisement commercial will begin with a note of pain while there is an absence of the brand and then the pleasure is highlighted when the brand is consumed. By clearly associating with pain and pleasure, advertisers have successfully used the programming devices like television and other mediums to control human behavior and influence consumer decisions. One of the prime examples of this pain and pleasure experiment are the old advertisements of A&T Telecom Company. The company wanted to increase the long distance calls and they brought in a campaign that depicted an old couple waiting for their son's call from a distant region in the country. The pain of seeing the old couple alone triggered the emotions of a generation who immediately thought about their long distance parents. The campaign did successfully increase the long distance calls in the US. Later Indian Telecom company, Airtel adapted a similar advertising strategy to increase their call rate. Even though, not all marketers have a formal background in psychology, or an exposure to the learning of behavioral science, they are all keen observers of knowing what ticks a human behavior and what drives people to do what they do. Apart from the pain and pleasure model, marketers know that it is the human need psychology that drives human behavior as a secondary influencing factor. Therefore most of the marketers will MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 13
refer to Abraham Maslow's â€˜Hierarchy of Needsâ€™, a wellknown theory that explores the origins of human motivation. The theory outlines five levels of psychological needs of every human, from the most basic to the most evolved. At the most basic level, people need their physiological needs met; things like air, food and water which are basic necessities. After basic physiological needs are met, Maslow contends that the next most important thing to people is the need to feel safe. In human need psychology it can be termed as the need for certainty. In marketing terms, people are motivated by this need to feel, safe, secure and certain. Products like insurance and medicines are marketed this way. We also have a need for variety and we don't want everything to be too certain. We love the surprises and few moments of suspense as well. Our need for variety is met through entertainment, hobbies, adventure or any product or service that alters our state of mind like cigarettes, alcohol etc. The next level in Mazlow's Hierachy is the need for love and social acceptance. This need manifests itself in family and friendship connections, or any number of other affiliations with social groups to clubs to community affiliations to street gangs. People have a strong need to belong and they do not want to be left out. This need influences consumers' buying decision when they are viscerally attracted to brands that connect them to a group of like-minded individuals. This wakes up the conformity behavior of 'keeping up with the Jones's attitude' in people and we end up buying stuff what others have bought. Next is the self esteem need to feel good about oneself. In human need psychology this need is identified as the need for significance. People will buy expensive brands MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 14
and labels to stand out from the crowd and they will splurge their money just to feel superior and significant in their social standing. This is where expensive brands serve as status symbols. While many people justify purchasing luxury brands because they are of higher quality, often the motivating factor is the need to get respect from others. Expensive automobiles, watches, jewelry fulfill this need quite well because of their high exposure to other people. At this level, consumers will go out of their way to brag about the brands they love or own. They have a need to convince others that their preference is the best because they've attached the brand in some way to their selfconcept to feel significant. Once a person has acquired a stable self-concept, the next stage in their needs is to connect with the greater good which is in Abraham Maslow's terms known as 'self actualization'. The self-actualized individual is often contemplative and comfortable with some solitude as it gives them space to think, create, innovate and solve problems. It is the very human need to be a contributor or to be a giver to the society and working towards social good than mere self interest. At this level, a person is more likely to choose products with purpose and perhaps be willing to pay a little more, knowing that their contribution is making a difference to the society at large. Bottom line in every sense; brands take care of the emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of people (in the case of contribution to the society). This means that the psychology of branding is going beyond the parameters of the look and feel of a brand to emotional experiences and satisfaction that it brings to an individual at a deeper level. We choose brands just the way we choose some friends over others. Marginalising favoritism and MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 15
likeability factors aside, there are several studies that were done on brands in its context to colors, word associations, logos, mascots, celebrity appeal, jingles. The revelations on brand studies further confirm its effects on branding much more significantly than what we often think what branding consists of. On a psychological note strong branding is a sensory branding strategy that stimulates the relationship of the brand with its defined audience, triggering an emotional connection of fondness and loyalty to a brand. Neuroassociation with words is one of the primary factors in the psychology of branding. For example the Disney brand has strong word associations with words like 'dreams,' 'creativity', 'fantasy', 'smiles,' 'magic', and 'generation'. One of the major brand study conducted worldwide shows that over 80 percent of the world's population directly associates these generic words with Disney. Disney has achieved this task by constantly repeating these words over and over in Disney's advertising copy, song lyrics, and story lines and on Disney Channel. Another example is the company Volvo which has a strong word association with 'safety'. What Volvo sell is safety and their sales indicate that their primary customers are families who wants safety first above all else. The 'open happiness' campaign of the Coca Cola suggests that they want to own the word 'happiness', which again is the most sought after goal of the mankind. One of the most successful word associations to this date was the election campaign of Barrack Obama who used the word 'CHANGE' in his propaganda and American people connected the change they wanted to see with Obama. Positive word associations trigger deep emotional chord with people. Gillette brand is associated with masculinity MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 16
than a shaving aid as their advertising campaign suggests 'the best a man can get'. A survey conducted around the Gillette brand appeal revealed that Americans formed the strongest association of masculinity to Gillette, by an astounding 84 percent. Just like word association, jingle has been entangled with advertising since the beginning of the advertising concept. Advertising jingles are considered to be the most important factor of any ad campaign and ad makers have suggested that jingles should be added to advertisements to make them more attractive. But from a psychological with a brand and thus establish a strong emotional stand point, jingles (short pieces of music) create a strong anchor connection with its audience. Brands like Airtel, Kingfisher, Britannia and Intel have used jingles in their advertising campaigns and it has served them well for a brand recall. Celebrity association is another psychological trigger that makes people like a brand. If you like a personality, you tend to like what that person is selling. 'Being Human' is a growing brand in India and abroad, because its brand ambassador and the creator of the brand, Salman Khan has a massive fan following in the country. Market studies show that 'Being Human' is also the most pirated brand in India. Bottom line successful brand building creates neuroassociations that trigger a positive recall or anchoring in consumerâ€™s mind. If you can anchor your brand with positive associations to trigger positive feelings of your brand, you have not only struck an emotional chord with an audience but also left a deeper impact with your brand quotient. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 17
To better understand the word 'anchoring', let me put this idea in a story that you may be familiar with. Ivan Pavlov did an experiment with a bell and dogs back in 1904 to better illustrate the power of anchoring. Remember the story? Day after day, Pavlov would ring a bell as he rubbed meat paste onto the tongue of a dog. The dog soon began to associate the taste of the meat with the sound of the bell until salivation became the dog's conditioned response whenever they rang the bell. In psychological terms, this is known as "implanting an associative memory." or 'an anchor'. (according to NeuroLinguistic Programming.) Humans are no different in having associative memories and anchors. In fact a brand is the sum of all the mental associations, good and bad, that are triggered by a name. Just imagine some brand names and you will know the associative memory or the anchor you have attached to it.
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Now let us study in details about the five Ps of branding. 1. PERSONALITY
A company's brand, everything from the use of color, design, photographs, language style, personality, logo and taglines builds a specific and calculated image of the company it represents. These characteristics give a clear idea of how the company behaves looks, talks and feels. Just like a person, a company has a brand personality from which people make judgments about whether to use (and how often to use) their products and services. Many of the most powerful and respected brands today spend a great deal of time and marketing efforts to inject specific personality traits into their brands. For example, Appy apple juice wanted to market a cool drink you can hang out with. What is underlined in the branding is a positive yet fun filled emotional connection that breeds friendship and loyalty with the brand. What consumers like in a brand is a likeable personality consistent in its value, conduct and promise. They want a brand that can be loved and trusted above all. So however you package the story you choose to tell to sell your product or service, tell the story with personality and make emotional connection with an audience. Feeling is the key here. Famous poet Maya Angelou once wrote â€œI've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.â€? That is the essence of a brand personality. 2. PERCEPTION
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to do with perception. People tend to get attracted to the sizzle and they end up buying the steak. Value they perceive in what you offer is the value you want them to pursue and perceive. Since people buy everything to meet a psychological need, what is often advocated is how your product or service can satisfy that psychological need in a consumer. You create a perception in consumer's mind that what you offer can be best suited solution to meet that need for the consumer. As the saying goes, 'beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder' each of our perceptions may differ, but the irony is that the person who put that perception in the mind of the beholder is the marketer himself. For example when the makers of the Marlborough cigarette company Philip Morris want to market their tobacco products, they knew that they have major challenges with their product. First of all they have a product that kills people and the tobacco stinks badly. Instead of selling tobacco as a product, they decided to sell a perception instead. They started a branding campaign around 1955 and it became one of the biggest marketing success stories of the 20th century. The company's popularity soared in just eight months and sales shot up increasing by 5,000%. Instead of selling tobacco in their campaign, they sold the perception of a Marlboro man, a cowboy who embodied the masculine spirit and male confidence of an American man. Men across America wanted to be the Marlborough man and women also got attracted to the Marlborough man and they all consumed the cigarettes smoked by the Marlborough man. By 1980s the perception of the Marlborough man reached an iconic status. They made MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 21
country songs and released movies on the fictional character that was created by a bunch of marketers. This is a clear example of how perception is communicated and created in the consumer's mind. Therefore to build a successful brand one must invest in communications, by this I mean a strong graphic logo, a strong graphic campaign or advertising, a strong key message, a great consistent Public Relations campaign, quality representation and packaging of the product or service. We convey a brand promise through our communications. A brand promise is the value that it proposes its consumer or audience that your brand will deliver to them. When the promised value is actually delivered or experienced by a consumer, then the brand is said to have great integrity in consistency with the perceptions of a consumer. When what you deliver contradicts that perception, the consumer becomes unhappy and begins to bad mouth about the brand and a new perception is created. 3. POSITIONING Brand positioning is how a product appears in relation to other products in the market. It ensures that all brand activity has a focused, consistent approach. Positioning makes sure that a brand is unique and distinctive in the marketplace. It is sustainable and can be delivered consistently across all markets and thereby an organization can achieve its financial goals. The concept of brand positioning was first introduced in the late 1960s by Al Ries and Jack Trout, and to this day, still remains true. According to their article, â€œpositioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 22
do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect." The chief difference between perception and positioning is that in positioning, you study the competitive landscape and you make a special place in a consumer's mind by occupying a different category altogether. Here you make the competition irrelevant, because you have developed a niche in the market by positioning it differently than the completion. As Al Ries has so effectively documented in his books on 'positioning- battle for the mind'; that â€œthe only surefire, if not the easiest, way to win category leadership for your brand is to be first in the category'. That means you have to create a new category itself. More about this will be further discussed in the chapter about brand building strategies. Bottom line, to create a distinctive brand, it is crucial that you accurately define the market where your brand will compete. You must understand the product attributes that exist within the competitive landscape. It is critical to identify the differences and similarities between your brand and others in order to craft the right identity and image. Remember, a strong brand communicates its unique attributes, details and the reasons for purchasing your product over another. 4. PROPAGANDA In branding, there are several means and ways you can reach an audience. To reach an ideal audience or a targeted group of customers, you must prepare the right media plan strategy. Your brand presence must be felt in places where your customers are. Modern technology has offered innumerable choices to build publicity and the MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 23
medium for varied propagandas are many. The internet marketing and the rise of social media has changed the game itself. Marketing and branding changes when the media changes. Traditional medias like TV, radio and news papers are paving way to its digital counter parts like youtube, podcasts and ezines. When media changes the habits of people, the means to gather information will change for people. Chris Anderson, the best selling author of 'The Long Tail' says â€œYour brand is what Google says your brand isâ€? and it is very apt statement for today's changing times. Online reputation for a brand is essential for brand survival itself. Today the word of mouth happens in the social media like Twitter, where there is a conversation happening in real time about several brands. There is a new model emerging where interaction is happening with a brand with third party comments and review before the transaction itself. Therefore a strong positive internet presence and online reputation is essential for brands today. 5. PERSUASION Powerful brands have persuasion power. They not only create awareness but inspire people to take action. Apple is a brand that persuades people to buy without a formal sales pitch. People actually ask to be sold to and think it is their idea. Now that is what you call a persuasive brand. A persuasive brand has already communicated all the reasons to buy that brand and it has eliminated almost all the resistance and objections of a consumer. This process actually happens in the brand communication. Therefore instead of just focusing on awareness, focus on persuasive awareness. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 24
When you use your brand as a tool to communicate a brand promise rather than a brand identity, then you are using the persuasive branding technique. Persuasive brands have high convincing power because they stand for the brand promise and they have a great reputation for keeping that promise. Such brands have an inbuilt audience and raving fans. They know what to expect and they always get more than the brand promise. That is how you truly 'wow' your customers, 'Under promise and over deliver'.
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A brand campaign can be creatively designed and artistically presented, but if the consumer doesn't know what you're selling or can't identify with it, your campaign has failed. The art and science is equally important in brand building. If you ignore that fact, advertising agencies will come up with award winning ads or artistic creations but make no impact with its customers. Most often many companies look at the artistic side of a brand and neglect the science part and vice versa; creation is prioritized over application. It is very important to create a brand both artistically and scientifically. Brands are an extremely vital element in your product and corporate value proposition. Very often, most of the customers take diverse brands into consideration before they make any purchase. The stronger the brand value, the higher will be impact on the customers; the higher the value, the more likely they are to choose it, many a times, the choice could be repeated. The goal of power branding is to get the customers to choose your brand over your competitions. And that's where a strong 'brand value' can help. I want to give you few simple steps of strategies to building your super brand. There are more strategies as part of the science of brand building is concerned and they will be explained in the preceding chapters. Let's cut short the details here and get right into the fundamentals of creating a super brand. Step one is brand assessment. If you have a brand, then it is vital to do a Brand Assessment to find your brand's present position and its current market value. I recommend an in-depth assessment, more like a strategic survey to determine the MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 27
positioning of your brand. The Assessment allows you to accurately measure the present effectiveness of your brand. It also identifies your Competitive Value Proposition (CVP), if you have some clear distinctions to address to your audience. Your Competitive Value Proposition becomes your benchmark for future enhancement as well. By zeroing in on, which qualities and attributes of your products or services and company, make you different and better than your competition, you have clearly demonstrated your CVPs. Ultimately your competitive edge is perceived as greater value in the market place. Your competitive Value Proposition is the very reason why your customers choose to do business with you. The Assessment is more like making a personality profile for your brand. A thorough assessment helps you identify your competitive edge. An assessment also helps you to modify and align products, positioning messages and communications with laser point accuracy on your customers' specific needs and wants. There are two parts in brand assessment, one is internal assessment and the second one is an external assessment. An internal assessment is made after conducting interviews with management, marketing, sales and other key employees. It will uncover segments of company operations that can help to nourish the brand, helping you pinpoint areas ripe for improvement. The external research of an assessment includes surveys with clients, customers, prospects, vendors and key industry personnel. It is a process to create a "competitive analysis" which tells you how the targeted audience sees you, your products or services and how you are stacked up MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 28
against your competition. To build brand value over time, you must give careful attention to ongoing assessment and management of your brand, pondering on questions such as: 'Does my brand have a substantial and positive impact on sales? Are we growing our market share? Can my customer relate to my brand? Are we reaching out to our ideal customers? Are we communicating the right messages to our ideal prospects? Are we building brand loyalty with every customer interaction? Is our brand growing or dying? Is there anyone else in the market offering the same at lesser price? How can I refresh my competitive edge by offering more value to my customers? How do I constantly stand out from the competition? How do I reinvent my Competitive Value Proposition?' These questioning processes must lead you to developing an ideal strategy, very unique to your business. Your goal is to understand your current brand position in comparison to your competitors' brands. Additionally, you need to assess trends and emerging markets to predict how your brand and your competitors' brands will be impacted in the future. Finally, you need to understand how your brand is perceived within the organization and if the message is rightfully conveyed to the people. This process will help you to bridge the gaps in perceptions. Ultimately, the brand image should be unanimous. Let me help you with some practical guidelines to create this unanimous image. First describe your ideal brand. What does your brand ideally stand for? What was its ideal representation? What was the original idea, when you created that brand? What ideals did it stand for? MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 29
Secondly make an assessment for what your brands stand for currently, not ideally. What is your brand image? Talk about how the brand is perceived by your customers now. For example ideally the brand would have been targeted for youth and it meant energy and fun but in reality it may be standing for an older generation segment. Every brand is originally created with certain idealism but not all brands live up to its expectations. Remember the fact that a brand fails when the idealism fails. Know the ideal image and the current image and then discover the differences. If there is an image gap, it is time to redesign your desired brand. Based on the brand assessment, you should have a good idea of market gaps your brand can credibly fill. What is the market willing to let your brand do and what is its choice? When I mention market, I mean the general public, before they turn out to be your customers. From this, develop a complete definition of your brand of the future â€“ think at-least five years ahead. The desired brand image becomes your brand goals. All your brand building exercises should be evaluated on their ability to move your brand into the desired space. If you do not have a brand, and if you want to build a power brand, your first step would be to create a brand ideal. An ideal brand stands for certain perceptions. Before those perceptions are planted into your customers and prospects, you must create them. You must decide how your brand must be perceived. Then exact message should be communicated to your customers. It's your decisions as to how your brands must be addressed, felt, wanted, loved, enjoyed and looked up on by your consumers. Remember that you are the creator of the perceptions of your customers. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 30
First of all your brand must be manifested in the exact way you have perceived it. Let me modify the old saying 'The beauty of the brands lies in the eyes of its beholder, its customers.' A brand image is nothing but the public perception, not what the company, product or service is, but how it is perceived. Ultimately it is the public that decides the life of your brand based on a particular brand perception. What creates this brand image? Everything from your brand packaging to brand publicity, the messages and its messengers are affecting, all these sums up to the marketplace's perception of your brand. Public Relations and word-of-mouth are also soldiers on this battlefield for building your brand image along with other publicity campaigns. Intangible elements like brand image is created and it is manifested as brand identity which is the tangible elements of branding. The second step in brand building is to create a customer perception through brand identity. Before we create a brand identity, here is an important factor to remember. Know your customers better than you know yourself. Customers buy for their reasons, not yours. If you want to sell them your product, you MUST sell them to satisfy their concerns, not yours. Every piece of marketing copy must FOCUS upon them. If you don't speak their language, you don't get their money, it's that simple. The similarity between selling and branding is that if you don't understand your customers, you won't build a brand of which they want to be a part. Everything must be built around your customer, right MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 31
from your branding. Remember that your brand's life span is determined by your customer. So in the development of your branding strategy, it is absolutely imperative that you forget about your dreams, forget about your visions, forget about your interests, forget about what you wantforget about everything except your customer! Understand your customer. Crawl into your targeted customer's mindset. Understand what they think about the product, what they want from the product and the alternatives they have to the product or services you offer. Understand your market, your position in the market and deeply understand your customer. All brands should be customer-driven. Ask yourself these questions. What does the customer want or need? What kind of experience does the customer want to have with my brand? How does my product/service make my customers feel? What are the feel good factors about my products and services? Remember strong brands trigger hot buttons in their consumers. Hot buttons are the compelling reasons for anyone to choose your products and services over others. Your customer's Hot buttons are the emotional reasons why they choose your products or services. Hot buttons are the pressing reasons that motivate a customer to choose your brand. Hot buttons drive your customer's sense of urgency. The fact is that we all buy for emotional reasons, we may not acknowledge them but we justify our purchases with logic. We rationalize those purchases but we do not buy purely out of rationality alone. We buy for our benefits. People buy your products and services for their benefit. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 32
Therefore understand the primary benefits of your brand. Know what triggers your target audience. What stimulates your audience? What make them choose you over your competitors? What are the tangible benefits of your products and services that a customer want to see and what is your strategy to show them, inform them, educate them and serve them? Once you know what your customer wants, you need to understand your place in the competitive environment and to achieve this, you need to study your competitors. The second thump rule while creating your brand identity is to know your competitions. If you want to build a power brand then understand your stand in the Competitive market place. Your brand should stand out among your competitors. For this you have to market your products and services in such a way that it makes the competitive side of your business more prominent. This will help your business to move ahead of your competitors. Show your strength and brag about it. Make your strengths roar. Your competitive environment has a major impact on how you brand your products or your company. Brands exhibit the character of your company. It will make clear distinctions from your competitions. Customers will develop perceptions by believing in your brands. They will say 'here is a company that stands for quality', 'here is a company that is value for money', 'here is a company or a product that is very innovative' and the list is endless. Remember all these customer perceptions are created by you through your branding strategy. And now by adding few more branding exercises you too can develop a great brand that will roar. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 33
While creating a brand, the following questions should be considered. Find answers to these questions. Make sure you write your answers below. What is your promise to customers?
What can you offer to your customers that your competitors cannot?
What are your competitive advantages?
Writing your competitive advantage is giving your customers a reason to choose you over your competitors. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 34
What name, design and execution will make you stand out from your competitors?
What will capture your target market's or customers' immediate attention?
Ultimately what does your business stand for?
In one simple word what does your brand stands for?
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You can also ask questions to your existing customers; make them your best consultants. Ask them â€œIf you weren't working with us, with whom would you be working?" If you were not buying our brand what would be the second option you have? Identify the companies to whom you most often lose business. Learn as much as you can about these competitors, including how your customers perceive them, what makes them unique, and why they win in the business they do. The key is this- Study your competition as much you study your customers. Talk with your customers. Understand how they see your business, and what your brand means to them. Find out what is important to them about choosing a business like yours and what benefits they get from doing so. Define your brand. The whole purpose of this brand defining exercise is to bring clarity to your goals and business objectives. There is a lot of thinking and brain storming required at this stage. Think about what products or services you offer. Have a clear cut idea about its features, benefits and advantages. Features are the tangible components of your products and services. Advantages are the results produced by the product or services. Benefits are the emotional experiences produced by those features and advantages. A feature for example could be a four stroke engine to a bike, the advantages is its mileage but the ultimate benefit to a customer is the value for money. People buy for their benefits. Your brand must communicate benefits to people. The benefits must be its immense value to its consumers. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 36
Ask yourself these questions and write answers below. What kind of value you give to your customers through your products or services?
Who are your customers and why should they buy from you?
What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
What do you want your target market to think of your company and how do you want them to relate to your business?
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After answering these questions you should be able to write a summary that defines what you want your business to look like and be, almost as if it was a real person. The summary must consist of your brands core values and major unique perceptions about your brand. It must define its existence in a competitive landscape. It must clearly communicate your Unique Selling Point(USP) or Competitive Value Proposition (CVP) to its customers in terms of benefits. This is more like a brand discovery stage. Once you discover your brand with its competitive advantages, value propositions and customer perceptions, we move on to define a brand personality to your brand. That's the third step- define your Brand Personality. Brands are like people. They have personalities too. People choose brands based upon whether or not the characteristics of the product or company brand fit them. If you have defined your ideal customer well and understood your competitive environment, you can select a brand personality which will appeal to your audience in the most effective manner. Think of your brand personality just like any other personality. It will have character traits. They are more like brand attributes. Choose two or three personality traits to develop your business. Let's do some brainstorming. What kind of traits you want to attribute to your brand?
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For example, will your brand be traditional or modern, appeal to the masses or exclusive, adventurous or disciplined. Will it be fun, sophisticated and elite? Try to see your brand as a person and keep adding personality traits to your brand. What kind of a personality your brand must possess in order to attract its customers?
Examples of some brand personality traits are: warm, friendly, loud, corporate, casual, offbeat, innovative, sexy, genuine, flexible, glamorous, serious, no nonsense, fun, sophisticated, rugged, strong, contemporary, traditional, exciting, leading edge, hip, creative, practical, technical, athletic etc. Think of the customers you seek. Consider interesting human traits that will draw your customers toward your brand. Does your brand project warmth, fun, wit, efficiency, imagination, maturity or thriftiness? The human elements you convey in your marketing messages and branding will be a key to reaching your targeted market. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 39
For example investment bankers often use branding strategies that convey steady, mature, serious and bottom line thinking; because those are what their potential customers seek. Another example could be real estate developers who project trust, reliability, efficiency and timely competition. If your business specializes in a specific product area, such as sports equipment, build a brand of energy, strength, competition, and youthfulness. If your advantage is consulting or sharing ideas and information, make sure your brand is innovative, exciting, and cuttingedge. Define your brand attributes. Brand attributes can be compared to your skill sets. If I asked you to describe yourself in one word what would that be? Strong, emotional, trustworthy, honest, sincere, reliable, friendly. Well, that's brand too. Once you have defined the two to three personality traits that define your business, they must be visible in everything you do. All advertising, including your website, your emails and everything must be consistent with your brand personality. This also includes your collateral materials, the people you hire, and even the way you answer the phone when a customer calls. Your brand must come through loud and clear at all times. With a power brand also comes a promise and responsibility. A brand promise is more like a tagline or a mini USP. It will be used as tagline or slogan to accentuate your brand promise. For example the tagline of Aquafina mineral water is 'purity guaranteed.' For a brand like Lexus it is 'in pursuit of perfection'. For Domino's pizza, it is '30 minutes delivery or it is free'. That's a big promise. For MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 40
Gillet shaving products the slogan is 'the best a man can get.' That's a big fat claim! Bottom line your brand promise should be stated clearly, in concise language so that everyone in your organization and your customers understand that promise. Brand Promise is the underlying guarantee or benefits that you offer as part of all of your services. These promises can be of quality, service, greatness, affordability, or speed of delivery; regardless, every business presents a Brand Promise to the public, promising what the experience of doing business with them will be like or what benefits the consumer/client will get from doing business with that company. While your Brand Promise is often initially shaped by promises made in your external communications, it must be fully realized through the internal execution of your services as well. It does so by helping you establish a positive connection and a value-relationship with your customer, which, over time, will build brand equity and increase brand value. To keep a brand promise, the brands must have a positive and growing relation with its customers. Once this value-relationship is established, both internally and externally, it can be measured, monitored and enhanced periodically, as needed, to strengthen your brand's effectiveness and increase your bottom line, it could be for a new brand or rekindling an existing one. The final step to building your super brand is brand manifestation. If you are clear about your brand objectives, your brand ideal, brand image, brand positioning and brand promise, then you move on to MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 41
brand manifestation, that's the final step. This process of branding is making the invisible perceptions into visible promises. At this stage, everything is spelled out, expressed in tangible means, integrated and ready for execution. This vital tool empowers every person in your company to show the true colors of your brand. It gives form and unity to communications that differentiate your brand in the marketplace. It provides a rallying point for employees and provides a cornerstone document of all corporate resources to support your brand's core competencies. During brand manifestation exercises like publicity and promotions a brand is visually translated and coherently communicated in all what it represents. The visual translation phase takes all of the information gathered in the previous steps into a sensory form that people can see, touch, smell, hear, feel and relate to â€“ which is the visible brand fingerprint. A clear and accurate brand fingerprint can communicate assets like integrity, zero defects, and innovation and make them palpable, visible and understandable. Audiences will know at a glance "who" the organization is, 'what' it is communicating to them, and 'why' they should buy, react, or be moved by your messages. And it will be real, it will be authentic, and it will stand the test of time - because what people see and feel represents the synthesis of your brand. During the brand manifestation process all intangibles attributes; feelings and brand assets like integrity, quality and innovation are translated into a visual, tangible representation to which audiences can relate. Brand identity is an outcome of this process. Your brand image and brand perceptions are now manifested in creating a brand identity that will stick with its customers, associates, share holders and employees. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 42
How do we achieve this task in super branding? Well this process involves creating a Visual Translation of all the intangibles we have discussed earlier. Experts say that 80% of what we learn comes to us visually, and customers will most likely see brands long before they understand the strategy behind it. The visual translation phase takes all of the information gathered in the previous steps and translates it into a visual form that people can see and relate to it like logo, visiting card, website and all forms of advertisements and communication messages. Remember that brand manifestation starts with your company logo, the baseline for what your business stand for, which will be the mini USP of your offer, visiting card, letter head, and web site and then it spreads to all the other designs like packaging, brochures publicity campaign and advertisements and public relations. There are few things that must be considered pivotal as a strategy for brand manifestation in developing an effective identity for your brand. A brand is a company's first chance to make a great impression on the minds of consumers, investors, employees, and anyone associated with, or potentially associated with, a product or service. You do not get a second chance to make your first impression. As they say first impression is the best impression, so make a lasting one. The strategy is to make a great impression first and live up to it in everything that follows. Secondly brand manifestation in all forms that include print or electronic must motivate your prospects to buy your products and services. It must provide the market place with knowledge and benefits that will be useful for MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 43
them. When two companies are competing in the same market, then the company which is able to provide essential and useful information will be the first one to reach its customers Therefore make sure that your company is the one that not only reaches your customers but also the first one to engage them and retain them. Thirdly keep building your Brand Equity through constant brand manifestation exercises. Your brand strategies have to be strong and efficient enough so that it helps you to get brand equity over time. It must help your business to generate money and simultaneously your brand must grow. If you are not growing constantly, then you are sliding. All your brand strategy must help your brand grow as a power brand. Branding is not a one- time event. It is a constant and never ending improvement strategy of your business. As your brand grows your business grows. As your brand dies, your business dies as well. Brand in its growing stage build a magnetism that can attract more customers on to them. The brand magnetism is a strategy that can be developed to increase the brand quotient to grow over time.
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Branding is the most effective way of generating positive word of mouth publicity, making it both cheaper and more effective than any traditional marketing techniques. Most often the word of mouth spreads because of the strategy that you have used in popularizing your brand. For example people talk about unusual way of marketing, an unusual ad campaign, or an outrageous approach to its consumers. When your brand is talked about, it is known very personally to more and more people. Your brand becomes the most talked about when it is unique with clear distinctions. So your brand must be unique, authentic and should stand for the promise that you have towards your consumers. Brands speak a language of connecting with its audience. It conveys more than what it is spoken for. Your consumers can pick up the hidden signals in your brand. People often talk about the hidden attributes or character traits of your brand, be it for its innovation or superior quality. Therefore your brand must speak the language of quality, consistency, trust, dependability, value for money, status etc. If the consumers do not have the right perception about your brand, they are not going to buy. The truth of the matter is that, most of the unconscious decisions consumers make about buying a product or service is generated from the perceptions they have about your brands. Bottom line, all brands communicate. And one of the biggest challenges for building a brand is to develop the content for its communication and to define the market to which it should be communicated. Very often communication must be flexible enough to get the most out of your branding strategy. Effective strategies can be MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 46
evolved and adapted from time to time, and flexibility gives you that option to adapt a new strategy. If something is not working, it means you are not doing it enough to make the impact, or its time to take a different approach. To make your brand roar, we need to take a powerful approach, that is highly impactful and deep into the core of marketing. It must strike an emotional chord deep into consumers mind. How are we going to do that? Let's find out and learn from some strategic approaches that are time tested and highly effective in building brand icons. Strategy number one: Creating 'neuro associations' in your consumers mind. In other words position your brand in consumer's mind, with a subconscious association. Positioning is a process of how your brand must be perceived by its targeted audience. Your brand must stand for something rather it must stand out for something. It must find its immediate pseudonym if someone has to define it from a consumer's point of view. Here a clear strategy of 'connecting with audience'. In brand psychology it is called creating 'neuro associations' with your brand. For example, what does a brand like Kingfisher stand for? It stands for 'good times' as their slogan reads 'the king of good times'. Bacardi rum means party time, that's what their advertisements communicate, music and party. It's about having a good time, and not about drinking white rum. Axe is not just a deodorant, it's the ultimate sex appeal for its axe effects. Raymond's suiting is for a complete man, Kerala is God's own country. These companies and organizations have clearly positioned themselves in consumer's mind. They have succeeded in making clear 'neuro associations'. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 47
Remember the advertisement 'thanda means coca-cola'an example of clear neuro association, that next time you want to drink something in a hot summer, go for something thanda or cool- go for Coca Cola. As a positioning strategy your brands makes clear 'neuro association' with a feeling and that leads to its connection with its audience. This is when high emotional engagement occurs. Your brand must represent a feeling than a product. Power Brands use feelings like 'a sense of adventure, thrill, sexiness, prestige, significance, status, good time with friends or family, memorable moments with a loved one as cues to establish a brand feeling that will strike an emotional chord with its prospects. This is when "raving fans" and customer loyalty are created. This is when organizations gain sustainable competitive advantage. Once you have a place in your consumer's heart, you have well positioned yourself. Bottom line your brand must connect with its audience. What is it that makes some people connect so well with other people? In many ways, organizations are like individuals. Each has its own specific uniqueness in terms of its strengths, character, and personality - that makes it recognizable and lovable. We love to make connections with people whom we admire, respect and value and it is the same with brands as well. The basic human instinct is to connect with like minded people easily, we can relate to people who are like us. Brands must resonate with values that are deeply encoded in its consumers. This means that a brand must connect with its audience in different levels both intellectually and emotionally. An intellectual connection is made rationally when the MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 48
audience is aware of the features and advantages of your brand. An emotional bond is created with your brand when the audience resonates with your brand's dominant moods. A brand mood is the feeling a consumer will feel in response to your brand. Creating a positive 'brand mood' is essential for this process. Your brand must make its consumers feel very good. The whole expression of your brand must be conveying dominant positive feelings to its consumers. Think of certain brands when deciding to make a purchase as suggested by someone. Customers will make faces and give various expressions upon hearing some brand names. That is the brand mood. Think of Godiva chocolates for instance, and ask a chocolate lover how makes? Think of Ferrari and see how does it make an automobile enthusiasts feel? Think of an Armani suit, a Rolex watch, or a Louise Vouiton bag, and just imagine the brand moods. An authentic brand is capable of triggering positive emotions in consumers mind. The emotional bond with a brand will make consumers connect with brands even at spiritual level. This is when you become 'die hard raving fans' for certain brands. This is a stage when you want something more. A lady needs a bag but wants a Louis Vuitton , a man needs a watch but wants a Rolex, a teenager needs an MP3 player but wants the latest Apple Ipod. When brands connect on a deeper level we do not need them but rather we want them. Smart brand builders achieve this brand bond through effective brand communication. Brand should be communicated authentically, in other words it must speak the truth for what it stands for. Remember your brand is a promise and you must not over promise and under deliver. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 49
Instead you must under promise and over deliver to your clients. How do we do that? It's simple! A great brand throws surprises at its customers. They do it through their value additions, and that is how they are able to 'wow' their customers. Throw a pleasant surprise to anyone and you can see them experiencing a 'wow' moment. Bottom-line positioning is about finding a place in consumer's heart. A successful brand will always find the top position or priority in a consumer's heart and mind amidst all its competitors. Remember positioning is the perception of your consumer about your brand. You must position the brand from consumer's point of view. Not your point of view. You must create that brand perception for your consumers. Consumers respond to your value proposition but the values you offer must be of utmost interest to your consumers. The key is this, once you position yourself, consumers will view you from that exact vantage point you have created to view yourself. From a consumer's point of view this is how they remember the brands, 'The most preferred airline', 'the best a man can get'- in the case of Gillette shaving aids, 'the ultimate driving machine' in the case of BMW. These are brand perceptions created through a positioning strategy. If you are successful in positioning your brand using the 'neuro-association' strategy, you can also use the next strategy called cult branding. Cult branding or cultural branding is a strategy to connect with your larger audience more intimately and communally than anything else. Several multi- national companies especially few American companies have applied this strategy creating brand icons more like "brand religions" to establish and sustain brands which individual consumers can MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 50
passionately identify. Some examples are Harley Davidson, Apple computers, Vans footwear, Star Trek series, Oprah Winfrey, WWF etc. Cult branding is possible when a large mass of people or communities make an emotional connection with a brand. Here, the goal is to build deep interpersonal connections with each individual who interacts with the brand, so that you end up with a relationship partner rather than a customer. Every business has certain numbers of loyal customers. They are the real assets of every business. Your branding strategy should focus on how your brand can mean something to your customers. You have to use your branding strategy to interact with your customers and prospects. Interaction is more like listening to them, to know their passion, their expectations, and their idea of perfection from your brand. At this level, branding is not a one way communication, but a two way street of listening to consumer cues and tweaking a solution strategy to more pressing consumer issues. Being true to an organization's authentic brand is how trust, loyalty, and sustainable relationships are developed between an organization and its audiences. Great graphics and cool animation aren't effective if they don't accurately communicate the company's character or brand. Something's amiss if the organization is not clear and consistent about how it is presenting itself in front of its public. If the organization's brand and its image are not aligned, "brand schizophrenia" occurs, which significantly affects the quality of the relationship and level of trust with valued audiences, including customers and employees. Both lose trust in companies when they don't MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 51
know what to expect. With brand strategy and visuals clearly articulated in a unique brand positioning; organizations can make a real connection with their audiences. Once established, this connection enables them to communicate compelling value, promote longterm recall of brand messages, and foster the trust, loyalty, and emotional attachment that sustain relationships. Cult branding is achieved through an intimate relationship with a brand with a selective group. Try to build up a connection with your customers and prospects. Smart brands build customer communities. Social media networks like Facebook, Google and Yahoo groups are platforms to build customer communities on the web. These communities are like the fan clubs. Companies like Apple has Mac user's Club, Harley Davidson motorcycle have several fan clubs worldwide. When you have a large fan following, your brand will be elevated to a state of becoming cultural icons. The cult branding is more like how a rock star is connected to a generation of music enthusiasts. A selective audience large enough to get noticed must religiously use your product and services. They become your die-hard fans. All die-hard fans expect more from their icons. If your brand is not growing in its promise, then there wont' be any cult branding. A brand must not only live up to its expectation but also be more than what is expected of it. As a brand you must figure out ways to repeatedly interact with your audience. All relationships grow with constant positive and nurturing interaction between two or more parties. You need to touch the lives of your consumers on a constant basis. Sometimes you can send a news letter or product catalogue to your prospects. You MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 52
need to keep the communication alive. Remember, power brands always give back to its consumers. They are into the business of giving. They are generous and adamant about continually finding new ways to show their love and appreciation for the passion and devotion of their customers. The next branding strategy is creating brand uniqueness or creating your brand DNA. A brand's DNA refers to its Distinctiveness, Novelty and Attributes, as compared to those of the competition. A brand must be unique in its own way; it must have characteristics that make it stand apart from competitors, such that these characteristics become easily identifiable by the consumers. You need to develop a brand that is distinct from your competitors. Many people mistakenly think that by emulating a dominant brand, they will succeed. In reality, you don't have the resources necessary to duplicate their strategy. Marketers must then seek to discover or create their brand's distinct characteristics and communicate them to consumers; also any brand promise made must be constantly fulfilled and matched by their actions. Create distinctions. Create your competitive advantage, if you do not have a competitive edge then you cannot stand out from the crowd, let alone even to get noticed. The strategy must be therefore to tap on to a niche market. If you want to stand out, then the strategy is to stand apart. Do not join the crowd. Seek out a niche of the dominant business' market. You can successfully determine that niche by asking yourself, â€œWhere are your competitions vulnerable? Which are the areas where your competition is weak? What are the untapped areas in your business?â€? MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 53
Al Ries, who is an authority on branding, says 'Opportunities never reside in the mainstream. They always reside on the edges where the competition is weak or nonexistent.’ Creating clear distinction is a brand strategy. Making that distinction could be the result of a superior innovation, a better marketing strategy or reinventing your products or services. For example, Callaway Golf created a new golf club called the 'big Bertha' to become a leader in the golf equipment business. They used the inclusion of ‘big bertha’ as a competitive advantage to distinguish their product in a competitive market and it worked. Their product innovation was written in major sports journals and newspapers and it became an epidemic of information among golf enthusiasts. When you innovate something or when you create a new category as a result of that innovation, you not only get the attention from mass media but also from your prospective buyers. Remember the DNA of your brand is its distinctiveness, its uniqueness- its unique unmatched offer amidst the competitive landscape. To make this strategy even more effective, you can apply another strategy called the divergence strategy by creating a new category altogether. A new category demands attention. Would you go to a doctor who is a generalist or a specialist? I am guessing your answer is the specialist. So get as focused on one category as quickly as possible. According to Al Ries, an international authority on branding, he says “Branding opportunities do not lie in the pursuit of existing markets. Branding opportunities lie in the creation of new markets. A new brand is like a new species.” Creating a category is like creating a new species. If you are confused by MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 54
categories try this: What is FedEx known for? What is Gillette known for? What is McDonald's known for? What is Red Bull known for? Each answer is a simple sentence that tells you what category these brands dominate. Interestingly as well, these companies are the leader in their categories. They were also the first. FedEx was the first overnight delivery expert, Gillet created a new category of shaving products, MC Donalds created a category called the fast food, Red Bull made a new category called the energy drink. If you are the last to enter a particular market your strategy must be to invent a new category. Apple couldn't compete with IBM as a computer company, so they positioned themselves as the personal computer for everybody else. They not only dominated that market but also they forced the other manufacturers to follow their lead. Take another interesting example. 'Red Bull' is the number one selling energy drink in the world. It started in Austria in 1987 by Dietrich Mateschitz, and the success of Red bull over the years has made him the richest man in Austria. Mateschitz based his drink on 'kating daeng', a popular health tonic, he had encountered in Thailand during one of his visits. He made Red Bull very distinctive, packed them in smaller 200 ml cans, quite different from the cola market of 330 ml can packing and he called it 'energy drink'. From that date a new category was born all together. His strategy was creating a new DNA, distinct from all soft drinks market. This proves that you don't have to necessarily invent something to get rich and famous. All you have to do is to recognize a potentially great idea, invent a new category and a new brand name and get them into the minds of its consumers. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 55
The key is this, what is that you can think of as different from everyone else. Is there a new category that you can think of in your business? Is there something worth and interesting to talk about your business in a unique manner? Very often the business opportunity is not in the mainstream of any business, the opportunity lies in a new market which does not even exist. When you create a new category, a brand new market is untapped and you will be the leader in that market. Here is a strategy you can adapt. Open a new market with a new category. Position yourself differently from other players in the market. That is the key to be outstanding. In conclusion your brand strategy must define who you are as a brand and you must position them in a way your brand must be perceived and you must manifest the identity of your brand in conjunction with all your brand ideal of what it must stand for. Remember that brands are a key element of building profitable businesses with longterm sustainability. When executed well, they increase sales, add value to products and services and reduce marketing costs. They also give focus to a business, boost staff morale and increase share value. All it takes is the right strategy to grow your brand.
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Here is the truth. Good brands are built on good reputation. Good reputation is built on good publicity. And here is the twist, all publicity efforts are not conventional advertising methods. Advertising is only a small part of publicity. Publicity is the big picture. Think of it like a forest and treat conventional advertising as a tree. Publicity builds brands. Advertising does not build brands but sustains its very own existence. According to world's foremost marketing and branding expert Al Ries, he says â€œThe purpose of advertising is not to build brand, but to defend a brand once the brand has been built by other means like third party endorsements.â€? Let me explain further. Creating a brand and defending a brand are two major functions of a marketing program. Here is the difference. Publicity through public relation activities creates a brand. Advertising protects the brand once it is created. Advertising does brand maintenance. If there is no brand maintenance, a brand will lose its impact on its consumers. Remember the toothpaste brand called 'Cibaca'. They used to be heavily advertised once upon a time. Now you do not get to see any 'Cibaca' advertisements or Cibaca television commercials. Because there is no brand maintenance and hence the 'Cibaca' brand has lost its market share over time. The good news is that Cibaca is still available in the market. Brand maintenance is achieved through advertisements and the frequency of ads help in brand maintenance. There are many brands that have gone extinct today due to the lack of brand maintenance. Advertisements are used to maintain a brand from going extinct, but MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 58
advertisements do not create brands. You do not go and buy a Sony product for its cool advertisements alone. You buy a Sony for the faith you have in that brand and that faith has been reinforced by its satisfied users who happily talk about a Sony product. Bottom line, there are many marketing truths and strategies that go beyond just advertisements. The truth is that advertising cannot start a fire or a spark in consumers mind. It can only fan a fire after it has been started. To get something going from nothing, you need the validity that only third party endorsements like word of mouth can bring. Therefore the first stage of any new brand building exercise is ought to be public relations. Because, public relations can be the most effective strategy to pave way to viral marketing and third party endorsements. And above all PR activities validate information. Several researches now prove that, Public Relation is a more effective way to deal with customer perceptions than advertising. Stories of successful marketing deals and customer satisfaction reports create great perceptions in the prospects mind. Remember a brand is a name that stands for something positive in the prospect's mind. Public relations can do more than what advertising can do. I will tell you how. One of the primary objectives of an advertisement campaign is to increase brand awareness. What does advertisements do? Advertisements inform people about a company, its products and services. But ads cannot always motivate a customer to buy products and services. Advertisements inform a prospect, they can educate them but motivation is very deep. One of the reasons why advertisements cannot motivate a prospect is because ads MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 59
in general lack credibility. The weakest link in any advertising program is its 'credibility'. How many people trust advertisements these days? The fact is that an advertising message has little believability with the average person. Today, most of the advertisements are presented as exaggerations or unrealistic claims. Advertising is taken for what it is- a biased message developed by a company for another company with a selfish interest in what the consumer consumes. Ads cannot establish credibility. In order to establish a brand; the brand must possess enough credibility and dependability in consumer's mind. Brands must establish credibility for what it stands for. Exaggerated claims through advertisements may get initial attention from a consumer, but if you are not living up to the hype or the claims you preach in your ads, sooner you are headed for a decline. An advertisement must be consumer oriented and not one sided and biased opinion to gain its credibility. But that is something most of the companies are not willing to do. Public relation on the other hand has immense credibility. A third party opinion counts more than an advertising message. People believe what they read in newspapers or magazines or what they hear on radio or what they watch on television. So far this is the case. The right use of PR is to help a customer buy a product or service and not to sell. The use of PR is to help a prospect to choose something over another by providing truthful and valid information without manipulating data or any kind of biased information. Most often customers are cynical, suspicious and highly cautious to anything new. Well, advertising messages have MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 60
done its part to spread that kind of skepticism providing biased information. As the volume of advertising escalates day by day, they are turning to independent third party authoritative sources for recommendations and advice. Friends, relatives, neighbors and of course the media in all its diversity becomes influencing forces to form a consumer's purchase decision. Consumers seldom rely on the authenticity of advertisements. Think of these days, most of the people who decide to watch a movie; actually decides from a third party opinion or they make up their mind after reading through a movie review in newspapers, magazines, internet and televisions. Modern day life is getting complicated through the information overload. Today an average person is exposed to more than 100 advertising messages during an average day. We are bombarded with advertisements and its messages. And because we are interrupted with this information overload, we have begun to consciously ignore its messages. Most of the people develop a 'scotoma' or a blind spot to several advertising messages. People pay attention to messages they want to pay attention to. Our perceptions have become selective and mass media does contribute a lot these days to make those perceptions selective and biased. Who has the time to check the quality of features of the wide variety of products and services that one might want to purchase? We let ourselves be led around by the media. Let the media decide. Let those experts tell us what to choose and what to consume? We allow the experts decide for us. Compared to the power of the press, advertising has almost zero credibility. We tend to believe more of what is written about in a newspaper than what is advertised MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 61
about in the same news paper. Public Relation has now taken over advertisements and according to the industry growth, it is predicted that the PR is the next big thing in publicity campaigns. In fact many companies have already embraced Public relations as a brand building strategy. So, where does that leave the old age advertising methods? After a brand has been established, after the brand has credibility in the prospects mind, you can use advertising to reinforce and remind prospects about your brands. Ads become a reminder and PR becomes the motivator. So far, few things are clear that all kinds of publicity build brands. And PR is an effective medium. The question is how to get publicity? The idea called publicity leaves us with multiple options. The top choice for the best effective publicity is to build your brand with public relations. Here I want to share with you, how you can build a brand through Public Relations. Take for example, Microsoft is the most reputed company in the world. By the most reputed I mean, the most talked about, written about company throughout all kinds of mass media in the last two decades. Advertising did not build the Microsoft brand. Massive amount of publicity built the Microsoft brand. You and I have read dozens of stories about Microsoft and its products but we can't recall much of Microsoft advertisements. One observation is pretty clear from this, what build brands are media messages. Massive mass media messages build great publicity. But there is a huge difference in craving for publicity and being media savvy. Craving for publicity is pure desperation and people can sense desperate stunts. You need to become a MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 62
media savvy person, someone who is good with the mass media, its people and network and above all have a great sense for news. Getting the media to spread a good word about your company is not easy and at the same time it is not difficult either. All media houses love a great story, whether it is print or electronic media. Anything that is news worthy is worth getting reported, printed or telecasted. The keyword for getting publicity is stories. The media aren't often interested in factual information; they want a tale that can entertain their audience with. As your own publicist that is if you don't have one, your job is to turn a story into something that is newsworthy and report them rightly to the right media houses at the right time. Take an example, when the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer wanted to launch the brand called Viagra, they did not use advertisements to build a brand, instead they turned to publicity. It is a known fact that Viagra became the fastest selling new drug in history not because of advertising but because of its massive publicity. Firstly, the news was that Viagra is the first medicine to treat erectile dysfunctions. A new category of medicine was born. When a new category is created in any business, the media will talk about it. When you create a new category, your brands also become product pseudonyms. As a result customers will call commodities as brands and that's exactly what happened to Xerox and Bisleri. To grab media attention is not so easy, unless you have a big story to tell. Your story to the world can be your big fat claim. Start with a big fat claim if you have one. For example, Skyy vodka is one of the largest selling premium vodkas in the world. Skyy vodka made it into the media MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 63
headlines when they claimed that they are the only vodka in the world that does not give a hangover. Their gimmick was a four step distillation process that makes the 80% proof vodka so pure and its hangover free. Their claim got immediate media attention, and as usual the media ate it up. Well that's all good news; you may say 'but what about a publicist?' You may not be a media expert. If that's the case you can seek expert help. Most of the companies hire their own publicists or PR agencies to work as a mediator to spread their public marketing messages with the world. If you do not have a publicist, you too can become your very own spokesperson to your company. Products alone do not create publicity. People do. Apple iPod or iPhone did not just become famous all by itself. Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO went ahead and did product launches that were literally covered by almost all the media houses in the world. If you own a business, you can be your spokes person. As a spokes person your duty is to tell the world, 'who you are, what you do and why you do what you do'. A spokesperson is a great communicator who connects with a large audience, in most cases its prospective customers. The media wants a spokesperson that represents a brand, usually the creator of the brand, to interview and write human interest stories around them. The spokesperson is the face and the voice of the brand. In most cases CEO makes the best spokesperson for a brand. The last thing the media is interested is in making your company famous. But they are interested in a human who can tell a 'human interest story'. What media reporters are MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 64
interested in is a new idea, concept or innovation and how it affects our lives. When you promote a new concept, you are not only publicizing your brand but also steering the growth of your brand. Because you want to keep your company on the news, you will also constantly strive to create some good news for your consumers. That becomes a motivation factor to build your brand to even greater heights. You could use news stories about your product and services. No media will write about your company unless there is compelling news worthy story that has to be told. Your job is to turn your marketing messages into news that commands media attention. PR activities can also be done through the internet. A wide majority of population uses internet for information and that population is growing day by day. Internet is a useful platform to release your press articles or PR releases. Get a well written press article about your company, products or its services. There are so many web sites that publish free press releases. You can google the words 'free press releases' and you can find thousands of websites who will publish your articles for free. You can also go for a charged premium service that will cater to your market. You can also release 'blogs' written by your loyal customers. You can get the help of professional bloggers on the internet who will write about your brand as third party endorsements. Customers who write about your brand and praising it in all sense can become a live testimonial. This can boost the credibility of your brand. The irony is that companies totally ignore the power of mass media, because they are too focused on ads. Companies design products to satisfy customers. Rarely MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 65
do they consider the needs of the mass media. Yet if a new product does not achieve some media success, it's unlikely to become a marketing success either. Keep in mind that brands are built by publicity. Great publicity is achieved through the right use of mass media. Publicists are interested in what is new. A new brand therefore has more publicity potential than a line extension or sub brands of major brands. You can build a good brand on good reputation and a great brand on great reputation. Great reputation comes from great customer satisfaction. Remember a satisfied customer is an ideal customer. An ideal customer is your major customer, your cash cow who uses your products and services religiously. They are the viral marketers. They spread the good news. If you piss them off, they will equally spread the bad news. You and I, we are all brand messengers. We will either talk good or bad about a brand. Call them good mouthers or bad mouthers. Can't help it, it's human nature!
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The good news is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve and build up their skills and tell the world who they are and what they stand for. Everyone has a chance to be a brand, worthy of remark and fame. Everyone has an opportunity to build good reputation, which is the most important aspect for a brand; it's building a great reputation. It's not enough to be how good you are, it is more important to let the world know how good you are. If there is light in you, it must not be kept under the bushel; rather it should be kept on a table top. Well, that's a two thousand year old advice. So how do you make yourself visible? How do you build the brand YOU? And how do you promote yourself ? Let's find out how? I believe that you need to become a GRP before you become a VIP. GRP stands for Google Recognized Personality a term that I originally coined back in 2009. Remember the Hollywood movie 'Wanted' starring Angelina Jolie with James McAvoy, in which James' character does a Google search in the beginning of the movie and finds no result for his name. He is disappointed and later towards the end of the movie, when he does a Google search of his name, he is recognized with several hits on Google. Isn't it worth the significance if your name has a Google recognition? Well it does. Having a web identity is highly important today to tell the world that you not only exist, but also making significant contribution to the society as well. You can become a GRP that is a Google Recognized Personality and building a brand around that is quite MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 68
simple. I am talking about personal branding which is a must in today's world. There are over 6.5 billion people on this planet. These people are divided in to two groups, one small group is called the 'who is who' and the big group, the majority is called 'who is he'. Your job is to get on to the list called 'who is who'. Become a GRP and becoming a GRP is an essential tool for personal branding. It's important for you as an individual or as an entrepreneur to learn to promote and market yourself. You need to gain an advantage over the competition, you need to stand out from a crowd, you must be recognized for who you are and finally, you need to be sold in exchange of value you deliver to the market place. Good reputation is everything in social life. You need to build your most important brand that is 'YOU' to build that reputation. In business, people choose to do business with you because they like your offer, your products and services and above all they like YOU. Making a personal brand is simple and if managed and developed properly, this can become your greatest business asset. A personal brand is the perception of you, promoted by you for others to perceive you and understand you. It is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to you to create associations and future expectations around it. So, how do you build your brand? Well my personal secret is through building your GRP rate. There are few steps to become a GRP. At first you make your unique self-impression. Your unique self impression contains all the information about you. This includes your personal mission statement; what on earth are you here for? What do you hope to achieve in your lifetime? What are your goals? What is your vision? MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 69
What can you contribute? What is your value proposition? You need to identify your unique selling proposition or your competitive advantage. You need to search within to find answers to some questions. When you identify answers to these questions it will become a part of your self-idea,l which is your promise of the future. Your promise of the future is exactly what others are interested in. Remember you need to recognize yourself first before the world will recognize you. How do we recognize ourselves? Let's do some self discovery by asking few questions. What makes you different from everyone else? What are your thoughts, ideas and valuable opinions that you can share with the world? What is your offer? Why should anyone take you seriously? How can you enrich other people's lives? What contribution you want to make to this world? Remember GRPs and VIPs are inter-connected. VIPs are not only famous people but also great contributors who have largely given immense value to the society. They make a difference in this world and that is why they are recognized and remembered on the first place. Know who you are? What is your personal philosophy? What is your value system like? Find your strengths, your talents, your unique skills, your ideas and concepts you have developed. Discover all of them one by one. Once you have discovered your competitive uniqueness you move on to the next step of your brand discovery based on what you can offer to the world. After this brand discovery process you will create a portfolio for yourself. Your portfolio is more like your MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 70
talent sheet. You will have a list of things you can do and more of the things that you can do differently than others. Your portfolio will also consist of a package on your past contributions if you have made any. It could be shown as pictures, articles, videos or audio and in testimonials from people who have benefited from you. If someone were to be interested in your offer, it must be worth it. You need to establish your credibility in what you do. Credibility is very important. No one will trust your ability unless you have something to show or prove to them in tangible means. Credibility is the social proof of your authenticity and ability to deliver something highly competent in a market place. In whichever field or industry you're in, aim to be the best you can be and offer the best to your consumers. Life and business is about expansion. It is about growth and progress. Make use of every opportunity to learn and hone your skills. Become the expert with whom people in your professional field go for help and advice. You can become an expert in almost anything. How do you do that? It's simple. If you can devote two hours everyday for the next three years on anything, you can become an authority on any field. All it takes is consistent focus and commitment to learning and growing. Becoming a professional also requires practice. You can do the basics and be an amateur, but when you do the basics like an expert you become a professional. Your portfolio must speak of your expertise. There's literally no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile. Try moonlighting! Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills. Or, if MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 71
you can carve out the time, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people. If you can get them singing your praises, they'll help spread the word about what a remarkable contributor you are. If those ideas don't appeal, try teaching about your profession. Talk to groups that are small and large. It's when you leave a legacy, you will be remembered. Become a mentor to other people. Be a teacher and you will not only get credit for being an expert professional but also you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd. Bottom line be a contributor, be a giver; larger the number of people benefit from you, your reputation grows drastically. The next step is Brand visibility. As I said earlier the lighted lamp should not be kept under a bushel. It must be kept on a table top, so others can see its light. So the key is this, you become an important personality only when you are useful to the world. If you contribute nothing, you will not be missed. So your mantra must be 'Let my light shine'. Let my strengths be visible and bright. Visibility and prominent presence is essential to brand building. Building visibility is easy and thanks to all the greatest developments on the internet, where people are more connected and networked than ever before in human history. I want to give you some practical tools to become a GRP and increase your brand visibility. Through the effective use of these tools, people will not only know you but also seek to know you better. You will be more like searched and found. So here is what you do. First of all make a website. Make a personal website MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 72
about what you do, who you are and what you offer. You need to own yourname.com or a website that aligns with your name in some fashion. Once the site is made, register your site with all the top search engines. If you can't do that, make blogs which are absolutely free on the internet. Host a blog in Wordpress.com, blog.com, Blogspot.com or blogger.com. Your 'about' page section in the blog should be about you and your offer which is your product or your services. A blog must talk about ideas, experiences or any kind of your self-expression which is of interest to other people, generally the readers of your blog. Publicity is the art of making the world know who you are and what you do. You could write articles and get them published on the internet. Get your thoughts published. Get your articles or presentations published in w w w. s l i d e s h a r e . c o m o r w w w. y u d u . c o m o r www.scribd.com If you want to make your presentation and ideas visually appealing, make short videos and host it in youtube.com. Make some quality videos about what you offer and if you have thoughts and opinions, do express them to the world. Youtube videos will give you excellent GRP hits in google. If you want to take your offer and your ideas one on one, then start a group with whom you can share them personally. Start a 'meet up' group. Start a group committed to common goals and start networking with more people in person and on the web. Host events and have classifieds published about your meet up events. You can start a meet up group through www.meetup.com. This will help you tremendously in business net working or in developing your own mastermind groups. There are also community groups like yahoo groups or google MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 73
groups or you can start with social media networking sites like facebook, orkut, google plus, twitter or linkedin. Social media is becoming a personalized marketing tool that can help you reach out to specific targeted groups. Create your public profiles. Make your social networking profiles in Facebook, linkedin, twitter, orkut, MySpace, peerpower, ryze or google plus etc. You can also create a business page in facebook and build your fan base on the internet. Choose the right professional name. If you have a common name, then you can differentiate yourself by adding a middle initial every time you refer to yourself online. Omnipresence in the internet is the key to becoming a GRP. Once you become a GRP, begin to become a contributor of your products and services. Start sharing your ideas with the world. Become a generous person on the internet. The more you give the more you receive. Making money should not be your first criteria; giving valuable service to others must be your priority. When you give more and more value to others, you will become a valuable person yourself. People will develop a habit to be connected with you. They get addicted to your offers. You become indispensible. Remember, becoming valuable is the secret to become a VIP. The world must speak of your value. Your value proposition must be marketed very well. Make a list of every person you come in contact with, including friends, acquaintances, business associates and customers. The key to any personal branding campaign is "word-ofmouth marketing."(In todayâ€™s context it is word of mouse marketing) Your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is the most important marketing vehicle MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 74
you've got; what they say about you and your contributions is what the market will ultimately gauge as the value of your brand. So the big trick to building your brand is to find ways to nurture your network of colleagues, consciously. Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you're thinking like brand 'You', You're leading You! Your popularity depends on how you market yourself. Company or its brands become popular as the company owner becomes popular. British business mogul Richard Branson built his 'Virgin' brand using maximum publicity generating activities like his balloon expeditions and his adventurous rock star life style. There is more written about him more than the Virgin brand by the British media. Branson, whether he crossed the Atlantic or stuck in the middle of an ocean, they are all interpreted as news. Ask yourself this question, 'What is newsworthy about you?' Or ask a better question, 'What is that I can do that is newsworthy?' What is worth reporting gets reported in the media. Publicity is contagious. Real publicity not only talks about something but it also talks about what has been talked about, like I am talking about Richard Branson, quite anecdotally here. Getting publicity is not an easy one, but once you figure out ways and means you can connect with media houses and PR agents, they can guide you to build your brand in the most effective way. Start social movements for social causes that will be talked about by the media. There should be multiple MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 75
benefits to the society also. Publicity stunts are taken as sham by people. They will not take you seriously next time. Don't be drawn to cheap publicity and controversies. Some people go to the extent of cashing on 'controversies' to build their popularity quotient. This may have short time favorable effect but often ends with adverse effects on brand building. Another important suggestion, 'Do not shy away from publicity if you want your brand to become popular.' Whenever you get free publicity, just jump in; make use of it to the maximum. As brand builders, your primary job is to connect with as many people as you can to help you build your power brand. Here is what you do. Think of doing something news worthy like writing a book or article on the business you are in. All top CEOs in the world have adapted this strategy to build their personal brand. Just having good stories cannot guarantee you publicity, you need to build good rapport with media houses as well. Hire the help of a Public Relation Agency or a PR manager from time to time. You can use their services for product launches. If you do not have any budget to spare to an agency, then you need to become your own PR person. Become a talked about person or a company by all mediums of publicity. Brand longevity is established according to how often your brand is visible through the media. When you lose visibility, frequency and coverage, your brands will begin to fade in thin air.
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Brand management is an important process that has to be taken seriously when your company has a product or even a service. This is because it is the actual application of the techniques in marketing, associated with the company's product or product line. The main goal here is to increase the value of the product perceived by the target audience as well as the brand equity. Normally, when a certain brand is distinguished as something that is effective, it will be believed that the other products in the same name will be as efficient as well. This is why there should be careful considerations here in order for the public to fully acknowledge the product that you are trying to sell. This is why there are companies that create their own branding strategy map. This is their method to increase sales and recognition for the product or services that they are promoting. Bottom line a strong brand will allow you to build good credibility for your customers and even enable you to gain influence in the market. Have a brand objective in place then make a brand offer, live your brand, sustain it, grow it and make it invincible. Make the world look at your brand as a leader and not a follower. If you are in the 'followers' category, it is time to distinguish yourself and get a 'leader category'. Do not be a copy cat, and don't be a cat either, when power branding can make you a tiger itself. Why do 'meow' when you can roar. Go and make some noise. Make your power brand roar!!
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Some of the recent marketing successes of an unusual brand name is GoDaddy (domain registration company), Zappos (online shoe and clothing shop) and Skull Candy (manufactures headphones, earphones, hands free devices). Marketing experts say that unusual names have few advantages today, like getting a domain name and easier for consumers to find a brand in organic searches where conventional names get buried among a heap of search results. Unusual names also demand an explanation and curiosity and 'word of mouth' among other factors. Start with a WHY: The APPLE story Apple is a perfect example of 'purposeful branding'. Apple values innovation more than any company in this decade. In ten years time Apple created three dominant franchise in the world, namely a music franchise called iPod, a cellular franchise called iPhone and a mini tablet franchise called the iPad. No other company can boast of three powerful innovations, where most of them even lack a single new franchise. Apple branding and its communication was studied by Simon Sinek who authored the book, 'Start with a Why'. According to Simon Sinek, Apple's motto was to 'challenge the status quo and inspire others to make a difference in this world'. Apple took the leadership in 'thinking differently' and the brand was purpose driven rather than ambition driven. Apple wanted to simplify technology and democratize them from the day they introduced the personal computers. Apple wanted a phone that could be operated with a single button and they achieved that. They wanted a tablet so simple that even a one year old could use. I have seen children using iPad as MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 80
their favorite toy. Apple speaks the language of simplicity, elegance and user experience backed by a plethora of innovations like iTunes and iStore that changed the game along the way. Great companies start with a WHY. This is a transformative process of discovery. Ask yourself why your business must exist. Then find reasons that are beyond making profits. VIRGIN BRAND and the brand personality Virgin is a brand whose customer franchise is so strong that it can be applied to a vast range of businesses. The name has been applied to radio stations, record companies, retailers, airlines (such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue), mobile phone companies, broadband ISPs (Virgin Media), train services, motor vehicle sales, credit cards, loans, life insurance, car and pet insurance, home insurance, mortgages, pensions, savings and investments, music festivals, recreational experiences, space travel, network marketing businesses (e.g. Virgin Cosmetics), and much more. The Virgin brand revolves around delivering value pricing, high quality, great customer service, and innovation, and being authentic. Consumers find the brand fun, people-oriented, hip, and most of the brand traits are associated with Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and his personal reputation. Richard Branson's charismatic style and entrepreneurial flair is an asset that other organizations are unable to replicate, and it is his personality that is synonymous with the Virgin Brand and that makes the company unique. Similarly, the Virgin group attracts people who are only a certain type who share similar values. Virgin group brand MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 81
values are well communicated in all their campaigns that include the highest PR (public relation) rating of Richard Branson in the media. According to a survey conducted in the UK, the brand was recognized by 96 percent of UK consumers and is associated amongst consumers with fun, innovation, success and trust. Virgin has been able to sustain the Virgin identity across multiple businesses in a way that very few other corporations have, and the pervasiveness of the Virgin brand creates unique brand equity that is difficult for competitors to replicate. ABSOLUTE VODKA and its creative campaigns ABSOLUT is one of the top selling premium vodkas in the world. The Absolut Vodka bottle has become something of a modern icon. Its origins are found in a breakthrough that came when a bottle was finally chosen. Like many breakthroughs it came purely by chance when advertising man Gunnar Broman was looking through an antique shop window in Stockholm's "Old Town" and he saw an old Swedish medicine bottle. The bottle was elegant, different, simple and very Swedish. In the 16th and 17th centuries vodka had been sold in pharmacies as medicine to cure everything from colic to the plague. Several Swedish designers were given the job of helping the Absolut Vodka team further develop the bottle design and finally a unique design was born. It had been decided that there should be no label to hide the crystal clear contents. After much discussion and several prototypes the team came to the conclusion that some kind of colored lettering was required. Blue was decided upon as the most visible and attractive color, the color that is still used today for the Absolut Vodka logo. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 82
All Absolut Vodka sold in the world is produced in the same places, Ahus in southern Sweden and every bottle bears the 'IMPORTED' tag to emphasize it. The word imported is a fancy in all lands and this commands a premium price to the consumer. Absolut is not only known for its design but also for the creativity they bring into their unique Absolut advertising campaigns. Their ads are simple yet sophisticated. A picture of the Absolut bottle accompanied by a witty caption have not only broken advertising records year after year, but have captured the imagination of the general public. To boost its brand image and really appeal to its audience who are sophisticated people with an appreciation for art and creativity, over the years Absolut has commissioned over 300 people, who are leading artists in all fields; sculptors, glass designers, musicians and fashion designers. Harley-Davidson and the Community Branding Concept It takes a brand like Harley-Davidson motorcycles to make customers tattoo their company logo on their biceps and other body parts. That is extreme branding and truly they have built a cult across the world. In 1983, Harley Davidson formed a community of biking enthusiasts and the club was called HOG, for Harley Owners Group. Today, more than one million members and more than 1400 chapters worldwide make HOG rally the largest factory sponsored motorcycle organization in the world. The H.O.G. was created to strengthen relationships between customers, dealers and employees and also create an attraction for potential buyers. The company sponsored rallies and gatherings wherein Harley owners could MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 83
participate, share experiences and people could try the bikes out. These popular events strengthened the community, gave the owners a sense of belonging and became effective means of promotion. The company also used campaigns like Super Ride in 1983, where people were invited to test drive the bikes and about 40,000 prospective customers accepted the invitation. The feedback received from such events was used to design newer models and soon, they began selling customized motorcycles. This added an element of individuality into every bike they make. Oakley Sun glasses: A brand that cared for people Oakley makes stylized sunglasses. What makes this brand part of this discussion is about something they did in October 2010. It has been estimated that more than a billion people worldwide witnessed part of the live broadcast of the dramatic rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. These miners had been trapped in the darkness of the underground mine for many weeks. Oakley was approached by a Chilean journalist a few weeks ago to supply the eyewear that will protect the miners' eyes from the sun as they ascend to the surface. The rescued miners need the sun blockers to combat potential damage to their retinas which haven't been exposed to daylight in over 69 days. Upon social responsibility and out of pure generosity, Oakley donated the sunglasses that were retailing for $450 a piece to the miners. Thus many of those billion people who were watching the television across the globe also saw the Oakley sunglasses the miners were wearing as they emerged into daylight. MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 84
What is interesting about the story is that, in worldwide television impact alone, Oakley garnered $41 million in equivalent advertising time, according to a research done for CNBC from Front Row Analytics, a sponsorship evaluation firm. No matter how you choose to measure it, the benefit of such marketing coup is enormous. The sales of Oakley soared and consumers began to associate the brand with philanthropy and concern for humanity and the positive brand impression about the story filled news media and internet. The moral of the story is that, too succeed with a real time product donation like Oakley, you need to be aware of what is happening in your marketing category and be prepared to spring into action at a moment's notice. And most importantly learn the idea of giving before receiving anything. AMUL and the umbrella branding concept Amul is the common brand for most product categories produced by various unions: liquid milk, milk powders, butter, ghee, cheese, cocoa products, sweets, ice-cream and condensed milk. Amul has been a stellar example of rural development and has been at the forefront of the 'White Revolution' in India which has made the country a production powerhouse for milk and milk products. Amul is the largest food brand in India and has a presence in 40 countries globally. Everyday Amul collects 447,000 litres of milk from 2.12 million farmers, converts the milk into branded, packaged products, and delivers goods worth Rs 6 crore to over 500,000 retail outlets across the country. Amul follows an 'umbrella branding 'strategy. An umbrella branding strategy, is a marketing practice that MAKE YOUR BRAND ROAR 85
involves selling many related products under a single brand name. Unlike individual product branding, which uses different brand names for different products, umbrella branding uses a single brand name, and in some cases logo, for different products. Amul's most successful campaign is their mascot Amul girl, a cute and chubby girl usually dressed in a polka dot dress, is universally recognizable in India. And the tagline, 'utterly butterly delicious' is a catchy phrase. Unlike other brands, Amul's brand conversations take on current affairs. They take whatever is happening in politics, entertainment, sports and turn the situation into a billboard to tell their butter / jam / milk product story in a humorous way. They do this so restlessly that when something big happens, customers tend to think how AMUL would portray it. They have established a huge 'likeability factor' with their campaign and they have shown the human side of branding so eloquently well. While today's advertising revolves around creating stylistic ads and abounds in celebrity endorsements, Amul is like a breath of fresh air that has held onto its roots and yet managed to stay relevant over the years. This tells a lot about why big marketing budgets, huge advertising campaigns are not always necessary, what you need is a genuinely interesting way to interact with your customers, tell them your story and engage them in a conversation, even if you are selling something that is so commoditized like butter or other milk products.
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