Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
American Marketing Association defines brand as a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition. According to Professor Kevin Lane Keller, Brand Elements are trademark-able devices that serve to identify and differentiate the brand. The most common brand elements are brand names, logos, symbols, characters, spokespeople, slogan, jingle, imagery, packages, colour, imagery, signage etc.
It is important for marketers to realize the potential of using all the brand elements while endeavouring to build a brand. Most marketers tend to concentrate their resources only on brand names and logos and thus losing an opportunity to create and develop other brand elements which can act as a powerful differentiator. Successful brands take advantage of all their brand elements there by creating various points of impact in the mind of the consumer.
Take the case of Absolut Vodka. This is a brand which used its simple trademarked Vodka bottle as a powerful brand element. Through consistent campaigns, the Absolut Vodka bottle was developed as a powerful differentiator for the brand. The trademarked bottle has become the most remembered and visible brand element for Absolut creating a distinct identity for the brand. The brand created lot of awareness, loyalty and consumer interest through the clever use of the vodka bottle in all of their campaigns.
Marketers should be able to identify unique brand elements that can break the clutter and create an impression. While most of the brands chose to invest in common obvious brand elements like the name, logo etc, it would be wise to look for something different. A classic example of that can be seen in the branding of Vanish – which is the stain removing detergent brand of Reckitt & Benckiser. The brand used colour Pink as the main brand element. Vanish uses the tagline “Trust Pink, Forget Stains “to promote the brand element. Vanish product is not pink in colour but the brand comes in a pink pack. The use of the “Pink” colour as the brand element acted as a powerful differentiator for Vanish. The association with Pink also increased the brand awareness and brand recognition in a highly cluttered detergent market
Another important criterion for effective use of brand element is that it should be easy to memorize. The brand elements should be easy to remember and recall. The consumer should be able to remember the brand element and the element should aid in the recall of the brand during the time of purchase.
Intel’s famous tagline “Intel Inside” is one such brand element which is easy to memorize and recall. The brand used this tagline and its logo very effectively in their promotions. ‘Intel Inside ‘tagline together the logo became a powerful brand element that created lot of brand recall and identity. Intel is also one brand that used its jingle (melody) as a powerful element. The five note melody has now become an indispensable part of the Intel branding. Intel carefully developed these brand elements through a 3 second animated jingle ( known as a signature Id, audio visual logo) which consisted displaying the logo and the five- note melody after every Intel ads ( Source – Intel Website). Over a period of time, these brand elements became so powerful that consumers will recall the brand once this melody is played.
The brand elements thus created should be protected by the brand owners. Trademarked brand elements become powerful differentiators over time. Since these brand elements are protected, there need not be any fear about competitors copying those elements.
Marketers should try to identify all possible opportunities to create brand elements. And while communicating the brand’s message, all these brand elements should be present in the communication. For example, Idea Cellular uses a wide range of brand elements in its communication. The brand uses its signature Yellow Colour, Taglines and slogans, brand ambassador and its signature melody in all their multimedia campaigns. All these brand elements have become popular over these years that consumers are now recognizing Idea Cellular when they see or hear any of these brand elements.
Having a basket of strong brand elements also helps in tapping in the various promotional mixes more effectively. For example a popular character or a mascot can open up opportunities of promotion through merchandising. A popular jingle or a melody can help to promote the brand through radio, TV or even mobiles. So it is the job of the marketer to constantly look for creating new brand elements and thus giving new promotional opportunities for the brand.
Brand elements have lot of strategic importance in branding. Marketers should take responsibility in identifying, creating and developing unique brand elements. Once created, these elements provide the brand with a powerful identity at a time when features and attributes are increasingly becoming commoditized.
Originally published here at adclubbombay.com
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
It is interesting to see how many companies realize the importance of marketing in their corporate strategy framework. Most firms have realized the importance of marketing as an important function in their organizational framework, but marketing has not yet being considered as an important part of the corporate strategy.
Marketing concept evolved through various stages. The first stage was where the firms believed that consumers want inexpensive products that satisfied their needs and wants. The emphasis during this stage was on mass production and focus was on efficiency and low cost. ((kotler, p. (2008). Marketing management. delhi: prentice hall.)
The next stage of the evolution was when firms realized that consumers are not just looking for low cost solutions to their needs but are also attracted to product features and new product innovations. During this stage, firms competed with each other in developing new product features and solutions.
Soon firms realized that mere product innovations and features are not going to lure consumers into purchase. Consumers needed to be persuaded to buy products. During this stage, firms focused on increasing their ability to sell the products in the market. This stage saw lot of investment in building sales departments and channel management functions.
Despite the success of the concept based on the emphasis on selling, firms found a gap in the consumer needs and the product being sold. Increased competition created a need in the firms to look at consumers for fresh ideas. Firms realized that they should be more consumer focused rather than focused on selling products. Firms also realized that it has the ability to shape consumer behaviour and create new wants. Rather than focusing on selling and producing, companies began to listen to consumers and adopt strategies that shaped new consumer behaviour and trends. Products became only a tool to realize firm’s objective. Consumer became the focal point of all activities. It was the beginning of the marketing.
From a function focused on moving the product from the warehouses to consumer, marketing has come a long way. It now occupies a significant position in a firms’ organizational structure. But it is time to reinvent marketing.
Although leaders of businesses emphasis on the importance of marketing in their organizations, the concept of marketing is constrained by the functional status bestowed upon it. Marketing is still considered as a function rather than a strategy. And by giving a functional status, the scope of marketing is severely blocked from realizing its full potential. It is time for firms to realize that business in marketing.
Marketing is not a function but a strategy. This is a matter that has to be dealt with at the board level. While financial performance and analysis is given huge importance in the annual report of publically listed firms, it is interesting to see how little information and analysis is given on the marketing side. I would like to suggest that firm’s should show courage to put their marketing strategy to scrutiny at the highest level.
The advantages of taking marketing strategy at the board level will have lot of advantages. For example take the case of a brand extension. Should this decision be taken at the board level or should it be dealt at the functional level. Is brand extension a corporate strategy or a functional strategy? In most of the firms, these decisions are taken at the functional level and seldom discussed threadbare at the board level unless it require huge capital expenditure. And it is often found that brands lose because of meaningless extensions resulting in a direct impact on its financial performance.
Take the example of positioning. Is positioning of a brand discussed at the board level or decided at the functional level. Should the decision of positioning /repositioning discussed at the board? If business is marketing, then the decision on positioning should be discussed at the highest governing body because the success of the product largely hinges on the effectiveness of positioning. When positioning strategy is discussed at the highest level, it becomes business strategy and not just another element of the functional strategy.
When a firm takes such a serious view of marketing, then branding becomes focused. Positioning becomes consistent, Managers think twice before venturing into meaningless extensions. Brand strategy will not be outsourced to advertising agencies. Consumers will be handled with care. Complaints will be seriously dealt with and monitored at the highest level of management hierarchy.
In highly successful companies, marketing is handled by CEOs. Brands like Apple, Microsoft, Harley Davidson thrive because they are looked after by the CEOs. When CEOs become marketing evangelists, marketing will achieve its true potential.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
When Tata Motors launched its sub 1tonne commercial goods carrier- Tata Ace in 2005, it created a huge change in the small commercial vehicle segment in India. After five years, Ace is ruling the new category of mini trucks in the Indian market.
India is witnessing a huge surge in the creation of new categories. As the market grows, marketers find new ways of identifying and satisfying needs and wants. With increased competition, marketers often look for creation of new categories where they can avail better share of revenue and profits.
The recent high profile launch of iPad by Apple Inc has put a spotlight on the strategy of creating and owning new categories. Burdened with competition from across the globe, category creation is the magic pill that marketers now look forward to for survival.
Need Gap and Price Gap
When attempting to create a category, marketers broadly look at two approaches – need based and price based. In the need based category creation, marketers look for unmet needs and wants. Sugar Free is the brand of artificial sweeteners which pioneered this category in India. The brand identified the need for such artificial sweeteners in the emerging health conscious Indian market and tapped it quite successfully.
Another broad approach is to look for price gaps in the existing category and carve out a new category based on the price factor. Tata Nano is expected to carve a new sub-category on its own at the bottom of the pyramid with its 1 lakh price tag.
Bundling Multiple Uses
Marketers also try to create new category by bundling multiple uses. While lot of debates are going on about the future of the Ipad, it is interesting to see the attempt to create a new category by Apple through this product. Apple Inc is trying to create a new category by combining multiple uses together in a single product. iPad can act as a eBook reader, play music, surf the internet, play games and perform office related tasks. Marketers can think about creating a new category of products that performs multiple tasks thus solving multiple needs of the consumers.
Emulating successful brands
Mahindra recently launched a new commercial minitruck- Gio which emulates the success of Tata Ace. Gio is a sub 0.5 Tonne goods carrier aimed at creating a new category of compact mini truck in the Indian market. Mahindra Gio is expected to carve a significant customer base out of the existing commercial three wheeler segments. Gio shows that marketers can create new categories by emulating successful marketing practices from other categories.
Break- Away Positioning
Marketers can also look for new category ideas from existing categories. When Swatch was launched in Switzerland in 1983, the watch market was categorized on the basis of price. Watches were perceived to be a functional product and were segmented as premium, mid-range, and low price range. Swatch created a new category within the industry by positioning itself as a lifestyle product rather than a functional product. Swatch adopted the strategy of break-away positioning where the new category is created by breaking away from an existing category Swatch was positioned as a fashion accessory by careful design of marketing mix elements which created an iconic status for the brand.
Think Beyond Products
In order to create a new category, marketers should be able to think beyond products. The focus should be on ideas rather than the physical products. The ideas will later transform itself to products. But to get the right kind of ideas, marketers should be able to understand the life of a consumer. Consumers may not always be in a position to give new product ideas to a marketer. But an observation into the life of a consumer will throw a million insights which can later be transformed to practical product ideas.
Look at the consumers
Consumers are always looking for ways to improve their lives. Some of their needs are hidden or even latent. By closely interacting and observing the consumer , marketers will be in a position to create newer product categories and thereby becoming more relevant in the life of the consumers. For example, Indian computer market is witnessing a shift towards laptops and netbooks. This shift has created a need for a mobile internet service which can enable the consumer to surf the net on the move. This need has enabled companies like Reliance Mobile and Tata Indicom to come out with a new sub-category of internet broadband datacards. The increased health consciousness of Indian consumers has created a huge new category of functional foods and healthy snacks. These new categories are being created only through careful observation of consumer needs and trends.
Consumers are constantly looking for ways to make their life better. There are immense opportunities for new categories that can make the life of consumers a lot easier. Marketers should be willing to experiment new products and categories inorder to cash in the abundant opportunities before them.