brand_idea

Arshad

  • Designing Good Brand Experience, Winning Consumer Mind

    Designing brand experience is an artistic approach to the brand purpose that can be an important aspect of winning consumer’s heart and mind and mapping consumer journey. In today’s brandy-brand world, like everything else in brand management designing purposeful brand experience is the most sought-after brand strategy. The process is intense and required well-designed game-plane because it is about how do companies go about designing experiences, as a way to differentiate their brands, it might be useful to think about how companies think of differentiation in the more traditional sense. 

    One-way companies have visualized is differentiation through performance curves, which is also known as value curves. But what companies are doing that they are going from the various attributes that their products and services have to the consumer benefits. And then they ask themselves for this consumer benefits. For example, how white is any company washing powder wash, or how reliable is any company’s service? And of course, the most important one may be or one of the most important ones is it is affordable. Companies must know what cost is offering it? Is your brand affordable to the customers? And the companies can kind of visualize that the value companies provide based on that. And companies can think about well how do they line up. Companies must consider the comparison to the competition and look for those points of difference. Now, these tend to be kind of measurable components of the companies offering, quality dimensions, and tend to be quite functional as a result. Now if that’s the spine that’s driving company’s differentiation that passed, things have shifted quite a bit. The spine for an experienced delivery is the customer journey. 

    What are the different journeys one company’s different customers go through as they interact with their offering over time, and across different parts of the organization? Whereas service in the old model tends to be quite reactive, problem-oriented. This is real events and experiences companies should have that kind of celebrate the brand, and maybe shine a bright light onto where the companies have a point of difference, in terms of the brand purpose or the brand positioning. And importantly, it’s also about making that journey as smoothly as possible. Just from an experience standpoint, and just to what any brand appetite is to think of the most mundane products or services and how companies can enhance them with an experience. And of course, for some brands, the experience is core to their brand promise. For Disney, the magical experience you have in their theme parks. For Nespresso, the experience you have in making coffee. 

    Of course, companies want to offer an experience which can benefit them in building their brand image. In very unsurprising ways, things companies don’t think or even observe as companies, they destroy the customer experience. Moments which we think are insignificant, like two staff members talking to each other In the store might be seen not as insignificant, but as indifferent or signally indifference towards the customer. So really nothing is neutral when it comes to the experience and it’s sometimes taking those very mundane aspects of the experience and branding them. 

    For example, Singapore, where the brand is about customer service. The flight attendant, which they’re called in the old days at least, Singapore girls, if you went to the bathroom, you would return and you would see your seatbelt folded in a certain way on the aeroplane. Which signalled the attention to detail, the service orientation, of the company. And many companies have also transformed themselves from being product providers to experience providers. 

    Another example from Hong Kong is Hong Kong Gas or Town Gas. They isolate. Now, these are monopoly providers. Their competitor is electricity providers in Hong-Kong and them kind of really went down that route of efficiency. So, how do I provide you with this commodity, the gas at a lower price?

    And the first app they produced was also to, you could read your gas meter by yourself. We didn’t have to invest in the cost of the person coming to your home and reading your meter. But then something happened inside the company, they asked themselves the question, well who are our best customers? Why are they using gas? And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our best customers are those who love cooking. They cook with a very high hit in those works, they use a lot of gas so they said, well, what is the purpose of us providing gas? And that purpose became very much around cooking. And rather than using the mobile app to reduce cost. They said, well how can we enhance that brand purpose? So how can we share with our consumers’ recipes, for example? How can we give them tips for cleaning their pots? And rather than preventing our people from visiting our customers. Let’s think about all the touchpoints we have and turn them into kind of the voice of the customer. They learn about the customer so we can enhance our services and customer experience. They visited their customers much more than the companies that made the woks or even designed the kitchens and they became such experts, that they have their range of kitchenware. They even have a restaurant called Flame, where they have cooking demonstration classes for their customers. And this permeates the entire organization, the senior management including the CEO will spend time visiting customers in their home to be reminded of the purpose, which is really about the customer experience around cooking. And surprisingly they’ve won major awards and they’ve continued to win major awards for their services going forward. They’ve also built such a strong customer relationship that they now have their credit card service and gas you might imagine is really about safety. They even offer insurance to their customers. They’ve gone from providing a commodity product which is gas. To a customer relationship around cooking and safety in the broader sense. They now own the customer relationship and it’s transformed their business.

    Companies can already see in that story from Hong Kong gas, their seven or at least seven stages in terms of designing and delivering on a customer experience that is on-brand. The first one starts by understanding what the brand purpose is from an experiential component. It’s about doing. Why am I doing this? Why am I buying this product? And that’s really, one can call it designing the purpose and if you think about it, well for Hong Kong Towngas, this was about cooking. For Nike, it might be about running. And to understand what that purpose is, from a doing standpoint, that already puts companies into the realm of experiences. And then companies think about that purpose. 

    The second step is to understand the customer journey, and you want to map that out. What are all the different “things” that customers are doing? Well, they’re learning about your product. They’re navigating the information. They are buying. They’re trying. They’re using. They’re disposing of. These are all different events, if you will, in that journey. And you want to map those out, not just from a basic service standpoint, but from a brand standpoint. Is it undermining companies brand promise, or is it demonstrating, delivering on the brand promise? Not like slapping your logo on something, but maybe like in the Apple store, the idea of creating, being creative, being evident at each of those steps and adding up consistently.

    Now to deliver on that, of course, companies have to map the various touchpoints of the organization against those different moments that matter in the customer journey, that’s the third aspect. Think about your organization, how it has all those various silos. And the customer is cutting across them over time. Across these different touchpoints. 

    The fourth step then is to think about, well how do I go from maybe a generic or poorer experience to creating one that is meaningful, rich, and on-brand. How do I express the brand experientially? That’s the fourth step. 

  • Building Brand Experience is the Winning Strategy!

    Worldwide companies can sometimes go wrong in understanding how brand value is created for the consumer. In other words, companies lack to understand value creation in branding at all. Instead of creating efficiency, effectiveness and experience, the most of companies have their good-for-nothing approaches without any insight that it is important to understand that experience is gaining in importance when it comes to creating value for customers and notion that brand image in the minds of consumers, not on shelves and other spectacle strategies. The very problem is with these companies that these companies have failed to illustrate the difference between what the consumers think that it might be quality and what quality is when it comes to products.

    Let’s put this theory into motion and before the reader of this blog goes further it is important to understand that every product is an experience in its way. For example, think of products like a Nespresso, which has taken the art of coffee making into a whole new dimension. Nespresso is a coffee making machine. Which has been ritualized compared to the solutions that were there earlier?

    Or you might think of any DIY brands where what they’ve done is that they’ve outsourced the whole production process. You’ve got unmake things to create a whole set of experiences, a whole ritual around making those things of your choice. Now imagine someone came to you, and said, you are doing all wrong, this is kind of cheating that you make people make their things and instead of giving them concession and comfort and for that, you are charging them, you would have probably laughed at vender. But it’s a very successful concept. Therefore, when it comes to products, there are experiences and everything that surrounds them, like, shopping for the products, using them, disposing of them, getting service, all of those are separate experiences which add up to an overall experience. Experience is an occurrence, an event, an episode. Something that happens to someone and that engages all of the person’s senses. Our senses are not just, sight, smell, touch, hearing. It’s also a perception of time. It is maybe how people relate to others, certain thought processes that might have. It’s how all of these add up together and these episodes, they leave impressions on people, sort of indelible impressions on the mind and that’s what really what the brand image is.

    If one can think about how to build a brand image, well, it’s that combination of many, many different experiences. It’s not how we thought about brand building in the old days with a mass advertisement, where you had a big bang about your product or service. It’s much more about that collection of many, many different experiences. Many of them might seem rather mundane. Experiences when it comes to building the brand image, are also very, very powerful, and they also are a part of the self-definition. If companies build a brand with which customers identify, those tend to be the more powerful brands.

    Let’s explain it with another example, some years ago, there was this movie called The Bucket List, and it was this movie about two patients with terminal cancer. They escaped the cancer ward and they create this bucket list which comes from the notion of you’re going to kick the bucket or die. And on this bucket list were all kinds of experiences. It was visiting the great pyramids, going to Paris, skydiving, all kinds of unusual things that people wanted to do. And that’s the focal point, it’s what we do rather than what we have in terms of possessions. When people look back upon their lives and when people think about what enriched them, it’s more the things they’ve done than the things that they have owned. There’s a lot of research that shows this, and many of you might have a bucket list too, and you might want to take a look at your bucket list. So, if the experience is so important in our lives, then the challenge is, well, how can we surround our brands with these experiences? How can we use experiences as a way to build our brand and maybe to prevent some of the not so good experiences from destroying our brand?

    Now marketers tend to know this and some research shows that experiences are increasingly the way brands are trying to differentiate themselves and that other levers like product quality or price are increasingly less effective at differentiating the brand. Similarly, if one can think about, for example, why does the person want to stay with a company, what drives that person loyalty? It turns out that experiences, by far, are the biggest driver of loyalty and this is across different segments, in business-to-business or business-to-consumer. They’re less the reason you might join a new company. They’re still important. But of course, customers would not have experienced the brand before you’ve tried it. Thus, switching is not driven as much by the experience, but certainly leaving a brand. Customers switch brands because of bad experiences and if companies think about, they might want to ask their customers what were the things that delighted them about companies’ brand? What are the things that are memorable and positively stick with them?

    What are the things that upset customers that made them switch brands, or consider switching? Companies should think about what kind of aspects those are and also think about who stands behind those aspects. They are very often people who stand behind those experiences. Not just products, but people. This gets into the realm of customer satisfaction and the way companies tend to think about satisfaction because satisfaction is actually when companies offering met their target expectations. Now customer delight or surprise is when companies exceeded those expectations and disappointment comes when they have failed to meet them. If companies think about that simple equation, that satisfaction is the difference between what customer expects and what customer experience, whatever that might be then thinking about the role traditional marketing plays in its communication to what degree does advertising build the experience versus the expectations? An obvious answer, it raises expectations. Companies should switch marketing, or brand-building, from focusing on building expectations, to building the experience because that’s a step change for the marketing function and the organization as a whole.

  • The Brand Purpose Connects Customers

    At times in brand building, it is very enigmatic when it comes to fulfilling customers’ needs and wants to match with the brand’s purpose. Peter Drucker who was voted as the ‘Management Thinker of the Century’ had a saying “the customer rarely buys what the business thinks it sells him.”
    Many brands don’t actually know what they’re selling and to get to the core purpose of the brand really means to understand the core driver of your customer’s behaviour.
    To understand the core purpose of the brand by the understanding of the core driver of customer’s behaviour lets create an action plan to cognize the concept. Let’s take Pakistani banks’ old age schemes deal with things like pension products as an example. Mostly their target is salaried class, who are worried about their old age and about the stable income pattern that they are used to it throughout their lives. What really trouble is that almost all banks in Pakistan haven’t done the appropriate research on the service.
    They have forced notion about the service without appropriate understanding about retirement means to their target group and they got monotonous and traditional notions of retirement like; two old people on a porch, looking at the sunset, smiling at each other with family pictures at the background. They could enjoy the later years of their lives together. But it didn’t quite seem right. The banks should realize that they have an understanding of their target and they have been doing the research in the wrong way. They should also realise that to get to the core sort of the purpose of the brands’ services, these banks really have to sometimes get to the more emotional side of customers and using language is often not that easy.
    In this case, these banks should ask the question slightly differently. These banks should simply ask their target group to keep on projecting themselves into the future. From where they are now into the future and when they do so they should realise that majority of customers are not worried about their retirement in any sense. What they have are big dreams. They wanted to start a business when the traditional time of retirement came or they wanted to progress to certain fields by gaining higher education or courses. Or they wanted to give back to society in terms of philanthropy or they wanted to live at some hill station in harmony and away from the worldly hustle-bustle.
    Now, that is a deep customer insight and it really changed everything that these banks are so far doing. It could change their products because most of the products in the space are annuities, they kick in when one retires traditionally maybe around 65 and then you get a steady payment over time. But these big dreams, do not have the format of a steady payment over time. They come with a big payment at the moment of retirement. These banks should invent products. They also have to change the way the financial wealth planners interacted with these customers. It is a known fact that these banks and their staff are not used to speaking to their customers about their dreams. These banks should create some sort of a dream book, where the customers, typically a couple, can fill out their dreams into the future, which then provide a basis for the financial planner to engage with their customers. This can be a very powerful change for them.

    Furthermore, yet another important example of brand purpose, created by Hilti, ‘makes construction simpler, faster and safer.’ Hilti Group was founded in 1941, evolving from a small family start-up to a trusted global business. Today, Hilti is still family-owned, with its global headquarters in the Principality of Liechtenstein, where Martin Hilti established the company more than 75 years ago.
    Hilti understood very clearly that in business-to-business companies often forget that customers are not buying products. They’re buying solutions, and that’s been a big shift in business for many years. Hilti, where their business is fundamentally changed from selling tools, like drills and other power tools, to actually managing the tools for the customers. The customers, not only buying tools but solutions. They also do not want these tools to sit on their balance sheet. They do not know how to manage these tools and, Hilti, because they provided these tools to so many customers, invented different solutions, different services around this notion of tools for hire. So fundamentally changed the business model of Hilty and provide deeper and more purposeful value to customers.
    It is important in brand architecture to think of brand purpose, starts with deep customer insight and it then means building a business around that deep customer insight that provides better value to customers.
    Finally, it is very vital that companies’ employees understand the purpose their company is engaged in because of their high motivation. A deep purpose motivates your employees to be more productive, more engaged, and to provide more value to your customers. This has been shown in marketing and branding study after study. All of this has been shown to fuel productivity far more than any inspirational kind of speech that might have been given by the gatekeepers.
    The brand purpose is what connects the brand to the customer, but it also connects the employees to the customer, through the brand

  • Brand Purpose is the Ideal Power Profit Growth

    I am saying it a loud, please do listen carefully, in branding being different is not the same as differentiation.

    By differentiation and by brand differentiation, we’re really talking about a difference that matters. That matters to consumers. A difference that’s relevant and it’s a difference that they’re willing to pay for and they are willing to acquire.

    When we think about brands and the purpose of brands, often communicated through things like slogans, it’s good practice to actually think about what these slogans or these brand positionings, their brand DNA, their brand essence, whichever term you might give it. What does it actually mean?

    It’s important for a variety of reasons. One reason is, that if your own people don’t understand what the brand stands for. It will not affect their behavior, they won’t know how to react.

    But the question then is, how will their brand shine through? Will the customers actually know what you stand for? And I thought I’d give you a couple of examples of slogans, which are not exactly the same as the brand purpose, but they can get pretty close.

    One of them is from United Parcel Service (UPS). Until 2010 the brand slogan was, ‘what brown can do for you.’ Now that’s a very internally focused slogan and part of their visual identity. That’s basically taking the brown of UPS and making it as part of their brand promise. It’s taking a colour, and that’s what the brand is about, the brand is a colour. And that’s not very powerful. This year they re-branded their slogan to, ‘united problem solvers.’ Now, that might seem a bit of an odd term, it sounds bit of like a labour union but what the brand is trying to signal is that the brand is about solving problems, not just logistical ones, but business problems overall. It’s taking their acronym UPS and given it secondary meaning.

    Very much like BP, which used to be known as ‘British Petroleum’ rebranded as ‘Beyond Petroleum’ when they focused on green energy. It’s a shift more towards the customer in terms of solutions for UPS and towards the value to the environment for BP.

    Let’s think about this in action for a brand which many of you will know, Pampers. These are diapers or nappies depending on which market you might be in. If we go back to 2001, they were by then the largest single brand for P&G. It was a $3.4 billion for P&G. The problem was, it was shrinking. And it was a drag on the earnings of P&G overall. And it was about to be, well, activists were asking for them to spin it off. Push forward 10 years to 2010 and it became a $10 billion-dollar brand. Entirely through organic growth. 

    It’s a story told by Jim Stengel in his book ‘Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies.’

    And it’s one of the chapters where he talks about the story. It’s a story which was also presented on several occasions by ‘Saatchi and Saatchi’ which was the advertising agency that accompanied Jim and his team on this journey.

    What did they do in order to gain more relevance for the brand? They did something very simple. They took a deep dive into the lives of their customers.

    They tried to figure out what motivate mothers? Not just to buy diapers, but in general. Especially first-time mothers because that’s when they make their decision about diapers. And they typically then stay brand-loyal. Is it just about price where Huggies had really enjoyed market leadership? As a matter of fact, Huggies had become the number one brand in the US, the home market for Pampers, which was very, very painful.

    It’s not just about that. If you think about being a mother or a parent, it’s about babies’ health. Babies’ development. That was the key consumer insight. And the question then was, how do I make these diapers relevant to baby development? The major commonality here was that most of these diapers, for them and their competition, it’s all about dryness.

    Now how does dryness help baby development? It turns out, and Pampers did these studies, it helps baby’s sleep. If baby sleeps, they got the little sleeping habit here, if baby sleeps, that’s when the baby develops it’s mind and muscles. And of course, the parents get a bit of extra rest as well. So, P&G turned that into the foundation of their Pampers brand. They went away from dryness to better sleep. And that was a fundamental change. It was a change that did not just affect the slogan, if you will. Before the change Pampers was a very male dominated engineering culture. People in white frocks focusing on dryness and dryness metrics, focusing on product attributes. There were very few women comparatively speaking to other P&G brands working for Pampers, which is a bit surprising.

    As part of this change, Jim Stengel and his team changed fundamentally everything about Pampers. The new headquarters became more baby and mother friendly, the colours were pink and apricot and the parking spaces close to the building were reserved for expecting mothers. The key metrics by which to evaluate the quality of the products went from dryness to better sleep. The values of the brand were aligned with the values of a parent.

    Literally everything changed, including something that was almost holy to a P&G, which were the two-year rotations that the staff went through going from one brand to the other.

    What P&G realized is even though it was a packaged product, they had to build the brand from the inside out. They hired people who had a passion for babies. Even if you’re in finance or if you’re the accountant, if you didn’t have a passion for babies, there are lots of other brands you might qualify for. But not so much Pampers. They also aligned the corporate social responsibility. Working with UNICEF about baby development, keeping babies healthy. That became the fundamental, and core purpose of the brand that also allowed them to move away from just dryness and diapers.

    They moved into baby development into wipes, into products where baby had its first soap. Where they could wipe themselves for the first time. Literally, anything that had to do with baby development was now a fair territory for Pampers to compete in. That also built a very different relationship with mothers. Mothers don’t want to talk about dryness with a brand. That’s just a product attribute. Pampers village, which is a new website they developed, they can now have a conversation with mothers. Another core insight was that mothers thought of developmental stages. P&G engaged with mothers before baby was born, when baby was born, when it was a toddler, and so on. They built a true relationship over time with the mothers. Which also fuelled the development of different stages of diapers. Training diapers and so forth.

    P&G have changed everything about Pampers, and it was driven by core consumer insight, which became the purpose of the brand that motivated the brand from the inside out, and even a packaged good category, it made it a huge success, so huge that it actually added to Huggies pulling out of European markets. With their lower cost diaper because Pampers had taken over that space.

  • Digital Experiences is a Consistent Way to Deliver on The Brand Promise!

    Like what Chinese proverb said, “If you don’t know how to smile then you have no right to open your shop.” Similarly, nowadays if you are not internet savvy then you have no right to be in the brand marketing business. Today’s brand landscape is about the digital transformation, the internet, the whole way the world’s been changing and the digital journey has been accelerating in full speed at the never-ending road.
    No matter if it is tangible or intelligible products or services, the answer is the digital journey to success. From online marriages to a slice of banana bread, the internet is playing a big role as a disintermediator.
    Whereas the internet is an essential tool of today’s marketing world, but the most important aspect of the internet is that it became an easy price comparison engine. So there were predictions made that basically, the internet is going to be this vast digital commodity pit. And it would be the greatest force of shifting value creation from experience and effectiveness to efficiency.
    But that’s not happened. Now, of course, efficiency is a great benefit. If a person thinks about some data show if he has a transaction which is face-to-face, the cost to the organization might be upwards even of Rs 500 to Rs 1000. A telephone interaction might be less expensive, it’s somewhere in the middle, maybe Rs 50 to Rs 150, maybe around Rs 200. And a digital interaction, often self-service, we’re talking about Rs 3-5. There’s a vast difference in cost between physical and digital experiences which has really kind of re-emphasized that efficiency focus. And taken companies away from thinking about experiences yet as we see digital data and digital opportunities of course exactly the opposite has happened. What has not happened as much, at least not for all companies, is to think about not just the journey as being one that’s convenient, smooth, easy to understand and intuitive. Which is kind of a generic way to make experiences that are digital and valuable?
    But to think about, how do we think about digital and the internet as part of the expression of any brand. Are there aspects of this journey that might be destroying the brand? Or are there ones we can use the digital aspects to enhance?
    Today’s brand landscape is part of that journey. If any company think about how do the company create a branded experience? Let’s go to Nespresso and their business model is not just about making high-end coffee machines and market it the coffee additive nations and in the non-coffee drinking nation like Pakistan whereas the trend is picking up among the middle-upper, upper and upper-upper classes of the country. But to Nespresso, it’s that whole club-like experience, where you’re a member of a club. And you get to have coffee advice on the telephone for example as in the West, and they spent a lot of money and they hired the right kind of people to deliver that experience. They’re part of Nestle and they really couldn’t survive and built that luxury coffee culture in their Nestle Headquarters. They created their own space, which was much more luxurious, wood-panelled walls, etc. they could have an authentic luxury experience over the telephone with their club members, their customers. Now when the Internet came along, this fed into Nespresso’s business model, they could enrich the experience even further. As a customer, you can now come and you can learn about the coffee in ways where you might not be so embarrassed to talk to somebody about coffee. They can provide a much richer interaction. They can show you where the beans came from, the way the beans are made through video and other sources. Therefore just learning about the coffee became richer. They also learned a lot more about you. What are the variants you looked at, they could update you in unobtrusive ways? Remind you of maybe when to order the coffee. They could invest in events like they invest in the events and amplify that investment by sharing that online. They could engage their customers. They have done things like your best golf shop for example. They are high-end customers many of them are golfers that provided a grand experience. And when it moved onto the mobile platform they’re in for quite a surprise, because it’s a massive investment for an espresso to go there. And they reached their sales targets far, far quicker, than they ever anticipated.
    It’s much easier for today’s consumers to grab their phone, to order it right then and there than to maybe go and boot up their computer and to follow the process to call, express on themselves. Brands in today’s landscape are spending a lot to enhance the brand experience, for examples, the Nike fuel band, the Disney magic band, the Lamborghini accessory. All of those things enhance the customer experience around what the brand tries to deliver, around the brand purpose if you will. Now it doesn’t look like branding like a logo would, but these are digital experiences that add up in a consistent way to deliver on the brand promise.

  • Brand Experience, That’s Really What Matters the Most!

    Today the brand landscape is not what it used to be some years back. Today the brand landscape is more complex, intense and highly competitive. Today the brand landscape can be economical theorised as “Perfect Competition” in which market rivalry is so ferocious that the players in the industry are forced in terms of their pricing down to their cost base. They don’t make a profit anymore. All the value that’s created goes to the consumer.   

    Now, what are the conditions under which you have perfectly competitive markets? One is you have a large number of sellers with low barriers to entry. The other is you have perfect information and the third is you have homogenous or commodity-like products. Well, have a look at Google and think of a product like the iPhone. Lots of retailers are selling the same product. Just consider the retailer profits, they’re basically under huge pressure because everybody’s selling the same products. What about the concept of perfect information, especially in a global environment? Today, you look at the internet. You look at Google. You look at Metasearch engines like Kayak, which is a search engine on top of search engines. In the UK, we have moneysupermarket.com. Consumers can even go to a store and use their mobile phone, and scan in the barcode, and find a better price elsewhere. And there are even some websites, like ratemyprofessor.com where you can get information on the people that teach you. So, there’s a lot more information consumers have. Not only do they have more information today than they had yesterday, but they often have more information than your very own salespeople at least about the products they are interested in. For example, if one goes and buy, let’s say, a television. One might have done his or her search online beforehand. The consumer has selected two, three different models and he researched them in depth. And when the buyer goes to the store, the buyer wants the sales person to help me make my decision. Now of course, they have dozens of TVs to deal with. They have lot of other electronics in their mind. It’s quite difficult to know more than buyer know, so that whole relationship in terms of information has shifted. The customer often knows more than the company.

    Most of them are very, very much alike between competitors. And even think about the iconic Apple brand in terms of the pad, in terms of the iPad. The lawyer when they were suing Samsung went to the judge and showed the tablet from Samsung versus the pad from Apple and said, look, they are so similar. They’ve copied everything we do. Competitive benchmarking and competition have commoditized industries, and one doesn’t have to tell those of you in business to business products how difficult it is to differentiate your products from each other. Not only that, but potential customers are driving this commoditization. In business to business, we’ve got strategic functions now, which are procurement and they are making products seem very similar. Why? Because they want to ask you to compete on price. They’re telling you as competitors, hey, you’re the same as all these other prequalified suppliers. Give me their best price.

    The question is what role does a brand play in this environment? Does it matter if the same product comes from one brand versus the other? If the oil comes from Shell or it comes from Total Parco, does it matter. In reality, it does matter.

    The brand is not a product or even a service, it’s an experience that happens over a prolonged time. There are many, many touch points and these touch points cut across all consumers’ different business silos. It can be the parking lot attended. It can be the ticketing person. It can be an operator of a little choo, choo train where you can listen to. It’s a small world and you’re in your own little magic bubble while you’re there. And you can think of even vendors who are constantly fixing and upgrading the shopping window, they have to disappear into the background. It’s very, very difficult to create a magical experience. It’s not the same as commodity products. This is the behaviour of dozens, if not hundreds of people that occur across this experience that you have.

    What matters is about the brand promise and delivering the promise accordingly which traditionally, marketing communications was about creating that promise. It’s creating those expectations and about the delivery of that promise. The brand is not just the icing on the cake, it’s the cake itself. It’s not an outcome, as in the brand image. It’s part of the process itself. It’s its inside the organisation. It fuels innovation. It drives your people’s behaviour who then deliver the costumer experience. Now, this is a real step change from the way we think about branding before. Before, it was very controlled. It was the visual identity. I could have advertisements, place them media, again, which were very controlled. Now it’s about internal to the organisation, engaging with different business functions that marketing traditionally has not engaged with. Operations, human resources, IT.

    And it’s about those functions, delivering the brand at many various touch points across the customer experience, that’s really what matters the most!

  • You just need a single word to build Brand Positioning!

    In today’s world, the environment for brands and their success is required upgrading brand architecture to a new level. The brand meaning to consumers and companies has been transforming into new dimensions. Whereas jumble of theories is in practices to create a web of confusion, but this is time to work smart by understanding approaches that are meaningful and easy to convert. Since ages, marketers are obsessed with the concept of brand positioning, but most of the time they have been overlooked the easiest way to sneak into their consumer mind. What they need to enter into consumers’ mind is a single word. Yes, a single word that empowers them to create a whole brand aura.      

    Just put the theory in motion; utter a single characteristic word to give someone a hint to recognize the brand. Here’s the word.

    ·     Safety

    Many respondents will have thought of the brand names those they think that are providing using word safety as category word. Like, Safeguard because safe is part of the word Safeguard. In Pakistan, the word safety is also being commonly used for disposable twin-blade razors. Some participants may have thought of Dettol and its related products to provide hygienic safety. But few participants would have thought of Volvo, even they have been little known in countries like ours. Volvo simply owned the term safety in people’s minds all over the globe. How do we think about that? Well, Volvo itself is the identity of the brand. It’s the brand name. It’s a registered trademark. Attached to that registered trademark are a set of associations. Some good, some not so good. If we think of the brand image, it is what do these associations mean to companies or more importantly, to their target customers? If you further said, Volvo and ask those people, who know the Volvo brand, to tell you what they think, some of them would’ve probably said, a bit boring even though they design some of the most exciting cars today. That image has stuck with them over the decades.

    Volvo’s challenge to build the brand is to protect safety for those consumers who care about safety, as their key purchasing criterion. It’s an image they’ve built over time with various advertisements, various images. And of course, they’ve invested in safety over the last 70 to 80 years. They’ve been consistently at the forefront of either inventing safety features or like the ABS brakes, which they did not invent, they made part of the standard car earlier than others did and it was still an optional feature for other cars. So, if you think of a brand, it is the identity, which is Volvo, its logo. The visual identity in many ways and its image this set of associations attached to the brand. And marketers think of their job is to enhance the brand image by negating negative associations and elevating positive ones. And of course, to protect the visual identity of their brand as well.

  • A Wonderful Advantage of Innovations in Market Research

    Pakistan companies are yet to utilise the marvel of marketing technology to explore the depth of behavioural sciences to hook consumers. In fact, ask any experienced marketer in the country regarding behavioural economics to sensory insight, programmatic or neuro-research is like asking a four-year-old kid about rocket science.

    Whereas the world achieving wonders to unlock the mystery of behavioural sciences to reach out consumers through neuro-research and behavioural economics to sensory insight and even programmatic, our marketer is still exploring the limit of consumer greed.

    Failure to understand or explore consumers’ cognitive theories that how the certain brand world affecting consumer behaviour and consumer perception regarding the certain brand world, the brands in Pakistan still religiously believe in forced marketing penetration theory of the long past and contributing nothing in the behavioural economics of Pakistani consumers.

    Marketing messages whether ATL or BTL of the local brands are still failed to interpret the core reasoning of the consumers’ actions as what they buy and when they buy under the effect of message decoding, causing uncertainty of rational decisions for them to modify their messages’ frequency.

    Similarly, by virtue of dead progress in the national behavioural economics technology, marketing companies have failed to prioritise marketing opportunities, incentives or offers are needed and what pain points that annoy consumers should be removed.

    To understand consumers and to reap better results modern marketing technology is indisputably enriching companies biggest assets, their brands. Researching consumers through latest technology with the core art of marketing is the best combination for any brand to edge over its competitors.

    In this cut-throat competition no one wants to indulge in wrong decisions so it is very obvious to set brands in the right direction by getting rid of assumption based data, generated by human suppositions.

    Contrary, while researching consumers the personal touch is not lost utterly. Whereas technology has improved successful understanding of the market and its ever-changing dynamics, the personal touch with evidence-based knowledge is the ultimate gain for the companies. The combination is lethal but required utmost precaution because after all, behavioural sciences are inexact scholarship.

    But again, technology is slowly overcoming inaccuracy of this unknown dimension of human nature. As reported part of marketing publications, the following are some example of technological approaches to understand consumer behaviour to make a better marketing decision that have a progressive effect on brands.

    Andy Smith, director of consumer insights at The Hershey Company, which owns brands including Hershey, Kisses and Reese’s, says neuro-research provides knowledge on why and when people eat confectionery. He works closely with emotional intelligence company RealEyes.

    “People are emotional creatures and by using neuro-research we can show that someone is feeling an emotion rather than just asking them about how they feel when they bite into one of our products,” says Smith, who is also a board member at the global Neuromarketing Science & Business Association.

    “We have discovered that consumers will eat chocolate as a small indulgence, so we have to be careful in our advertising about playing on people’s guilt.”

    In the field of Sensory Research, Shuttlestock, a picture library brand, had ventured that choosing the right images for online ads can double viewing time, particularly on the desktop.

    The brand carried out eye-tracking research, which reveals that images work best if they mirror the target audience’s demographic profile.

    For example, consumers who are parents will view ads featuring children longer. Also, using faces can grab people’s attention but ‘busy’ images can turn them off.

  • Back to the Future Branding

    From generation to generation consumers are in habit to recall brands of their time. Their emotional attachments to these brands are undiminishing. Name any of past famous brands to the older generation, their mood would change and one could visibly observe their immediate departure to their past. This emotional transformation is the most amazing aspect of any company’s brand world and not cashing such emotional appeal is the biggest mistake.

    If think strategically, companies that once enjoyed ownership of such brain-alive brands have fairly well chance to attain back brands’ equity in this cutthroat brand competition era, where a tiny recall factor can be a great benefit.

    Brands are spending hugely to build brand recall by positioning in the consumers’ mind. It is like building a nest, straw by straw with utmost care and alertness. The nest can be destroyed but the location is still not erased from the bird’s memory. In fact, seasonal migrated birds love to land on the same spot year after year. Dalda in Pakistan is one example of such. The brand’s famous line “Jahan Mamta Wuhan Dalda” is still the great emotional association for many in the country and core cause of the brand re-emergence to its brand prominence. Unilever with its all brand management might let the brand go in 2004, thinking that the brand is financially dead for sure because of intense competition from local and foreign ghee and cooking oil companies.

    In Pakistan, the demise of brands is mostly because of poor brand management from the parent companies. The companies’ incapability to understand changing marketing realities is the main reasons for their brands’ disappearance, demise and decline to extinct. There are also many other reasons for brands’ decline including:

    1. The parent company stopped investing in the brand’s expansion including product development, innovation and research. Furthermore, the parent companies’ mistake to think that the brands were infallible and “Lady Luck” would keep smiling on them. Paktel is one example in this regard.
    2. The parent companies started investing in other ventures by taking out money from core businesses and ignore their existing best assets’ development.
    3. Lack of consumer behaviour understanding has been a major cause of Pakistani brands’ falters. At the corporate level, the decision makers usually were not well aware of ever-changing marketing dynamics and reluctant to accept changes.
    4. Lack of promotion or stop spending advertising money was yet another reason for the local brands’ demises. It is like what Henry Ford said “stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”

    All the famous brands of past that vanished left behind strong impartialities and traces on that generations’ memories. Often, these memories are strengthened by famous taglines such as “Jahan Mamta Wuhan Dalda” or “Ah Khuda Meray Abbo Salamat Rahayn” or “Phaly Bata Phir School” or “Sub say Acha aur Sab say Alla Chanda Battery Cell.” The loyalty and trust engendered by those brands are still fresh in the minds their living regulars.

    In fact, companies with a fresh or altered approach can often capitalize on existing equities, overcoming past challenges with greater flexibility, or a fresh strategy, a new consumer target, different product or retail distribution, a brand repositioning, or a modernized version.

  • A brand name is everything!

    Selecting a brand name for a new product is certainly an art and a science. An art and a science have the prerequisite of memorability, meaningfulness, likability, transferability, adaptability, and protectability in the minds of consumers to recall brand names.
    A good brand name is a focal point for all other brand activity to build brand equity and retaining brand equity in the face of constraints and opportunities. For all companies brand name should be a primarily vital initiative because it is the thing to capture and flourish brand’s world imagination and help to create brand infinity.
    A brand name is the shorthand means of brand communication to consumers, which has a tenacity to permanent imprint into the consumers’ memory lane. A brand name is to stay in the mind of consumers and it can be consumers’ best-remembered brand element as other like URLs, logos, symbols, characters, spokespeople, slogans, jingles, packages, and signage tend to change with cultural change, but the brand name is eternal.
    A brand name is also the most dominant of all another brand element. Among brand strategist, it is widely accepted fact coining brand name required utmost consideration to make it easy but fun to pronounce, remember, central to all brand positioning, creative excellence, transferability to other following brands and desired infiniteness, never get archaic and not easy to counterfeit. But it is the Herculean task to coin brand name with all these standards. The biggest obstacle is to readjust brand names to unknown cultures and territories with indigenous pronunciations and meanings.
    Choosing brand name is also becoming a very difficult brand element as Ira Bachrach, a well-known branding consultant, has noted that although there are 140, 000 words in the English vocabulary, the average English speaking adult recognizes only 20, 000; Bachrach’s consulting company, NameLab, sticks to the 7, 000 words that make up the vocabulary of most TV programs and commercials.
    Although a difficult task but not impossible. In fact, the most creative task in the brand building if one can follow and ‘mix and match’ already existed procedures.
    First of all, understand the point of parity to create the point of difference, keeping in mind the concept of memorability, meaningfulness, likability, transferability, adaptability, and protectability. The name should be creatively simple and easily pronounceable, ease to spell and meaningful familiarity. It can be surname like Mitchell’s, descriptive like Pakistan International Airlines, invented Kodak, connotative, bridge or can be arbitrary like Apple or Yahoo.