Business heads are often obsessed with generating leads and making sales. They discount the importance of investing in branding. Neglecting to invest in this is often a mistake. An organization’s brand strategy defines what it stands for, how the organization’s products are different from its competitors and the personality it wants to convey. With changes in business environment, the definition of branding has also evolved over a period of time.
In the 21st century, branding is defined as an idea. It is the process of aligning all the actions and communications to that idea. Example: Flipkart is communicating the idea of genuine product quality and service while purchasing products from their website. It relaxes the customers on their anxiety of purchasing online products.
During the past few years we have witnessed dramatic marketing innovations. Due to globalization, large companies have reengineered their structures and it has become important to build and monitor brand in such a rapidly changing environment. Outlined below are a few fundamental mistakes that brand managers need to beware of.
1. Anchoring a brand to a particular category
A brand must be designed to absorb various future possibilities.
Competition in today’s time is not fixed and in such cases anchoring a brand to a product category is dangerous. Example: Nokia anchored itself as a cell phone manufacturing company. Over a period of time, there was a reduction in their design innovations and eventually the brand died. At the same time, Apple has always defined itself as a design company. It was never anchored to any particular category and thus, has been successful in all categories like computers, music devices, cell phones, watches etc.
2. Managing communication by stakeholders
Negativity, nowadays spreads faster than speed of light.
In the past, communication made by a brand was largely from company to consumer via mass media. In today’s technologically connected world consumers speak to each other just as much, or more than brands speak to them. Thus, brands are being continually shaped by stakeholders. Example: Indian Railways, is leveraging Twitter to provide prompt services to dissatisfied customers. Customers who face complaints with Indian Railways often tweet about the same. They are now receiving prompt response and delightful services. Other examples include Zomato or mouthshut.com where consumers are candidly communicating their views about brands.
3. Having a reactive approach
Brands are now expected to have a challenging attitude. There is no such thing as permanent market leadership. Tasty Treat, a private label brand by Big Bazaar, has displaced sales of established brands like Knorr, Kisan, Kurkure, Haldirams etc. All the later brands have been market leaders in their respective categories before the arrival of private labels like Tasty Treat. Another successful example is Patanjali, the made in India brand which has affected market share of large multi-national companies in many product categories. Such challenges should not come as a surprise to the organization and they should have well prepared strategies in advance.
4. Misbehavior by brands
With growth in retail, service, technology and lifestyle brands, the behavior of a brand is very critical. In fact it has become more critical than brand communication. Saffola cooking oil, which is communicating about healthy cooking and lifestyle, has been sponsoring and organizing marathons to display its value propositions. Ariel’s campaign of ‘Turn to 30’ has motivated consumers to change their laundry behavior for a positive environment effect. It has, since then, achieved a preference in a market where price, quality and convenience are important entry level factors. A negative example is of companies not paying their taxes like Google or when Cadbury reduced the number of their Crème eggs from 6 to 5, which resulted in a loss of over $7 million.
5. Not leveraging corporate branding
All brands have become corporate brands. Using the name of the parent company will additionally help brands associate with the promise of their parent brand. Example: Tata’s brand name is being used by its subsidiary companies like Tata Westside, Tata Star Bazaar etc. The promise of Tata, which is reliability, is now being prominently highlighted by associating with it. Other such examples are brands from the house of Mahindra’s or Future Group.
6. No online reputation
With increase in online media activity, it has become important for organizations to maintain their online reputation. Future marketers need to be more tech savvy. Marketers often ask questions like ‘what is our Facebook or Twitter strategy?’, whereas they should be asking ‘what are we doing with our brands, online?’ Example: Kellogg’s introduced ‘Special K’, a product for women to develop a healthy lifestyle. The offline communication revolved around cereals being a part of healthy diet. However, the online communication focused on helping women gain body confidence.
Overall, brand management has moved from a product centric to a consumer centric approach. There has been considerable difference in brand management strategies and usage of branding models. To get the above mentioned branding strategies right, organizations will have to ensure that they match design and implementation strategies with measurement and action. Successful brands are relying more on developing market intelligence and brand tracking systems to adapt to such changing market environment. Apart from the above recommendations, CMOs have to keep growing the idea. It is no more about having a big idea only; marketers need to nurture these ideas to grow in both offline and online space. This will help the idea to multiply as the consumers share it, shape it and at times, make their own ideas and pass it on.
To keep pace with the changing environment, now there is a need to develop the position of a Chief Brand Officer and elevate brand management functions in brand oriented companies. The concept has been introduced for quite some time but many Indian corporates are yet to define this position. The trends indicate towards a corporate level executive in brand management soon, where it has not already happened.
About this platform
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