World of Brands

A brand may be christened in many ways, such as:

An  Acronym: A name made of initials such as IBM for computers, GE for electricals.

Descriptive: Names that describe a product benefit or function like Airbus for airplanes.

Lyrical richness: Mickey mouse.

Evocative: Vivid images like Everest.

Foreign words: Adoption of words from another language like, Daichi.

Founders name: Tata, Bajaj, Oberoi.

Geography: Fuji film, Bombay dyeing, Gwalior rayon, to name a few.  

Attitude branding is another concept for high end brand, like Louis Vuitton, Pierre  Cardin, Versace, Jimmy choo, Armani, Dolce & Gabana, DKNY. It  is the choice to represent a larger feeling, which is not necessarily connected with the product or consumption of the product, but social stigma of one up man-ship associated with it.

The act of associating a product or service with a brand has become a part of pop culture and products develop some kind of brand identity. A brand name colloquially becomes a generic term for a product or service, such as Nirma for detergent, Apple for i-pods, band aid for adhesive bandage, Sunsilk for shampoo. This effective branding builds a connection between brand personality as it is perceived by the target group, with easy to remember brands, transcend trends & have positive connotations. Brand identity is basic to consumer recognition & symbolizes the brand’s differentiation from competitors. Though Nike & Rebook are both for sports shoes & have the same target audience but have different attitude, attributes, association, and authentic perceptions with different marketing communication for potential customers. They symbolize the brand’s differentiation from competitors based on the aggressive marketing approach fundamental to consumer recognition of the either /or brand. “A great brand raises the bar “– it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it’s the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness.

Another set of power branding is Iconic branding. This gives consumers self expression & personal identity/ confidence. Brands such as Harley Davidson/Viagra are examples of strong identity & myth making story.

Brand extension & brand dilution is another marketing strategy to encash the brand image; the existing strong brand name can be used as a vehicle for new or modified products. Gillette extended the brand from safety blades to razors, to shaving foams, to after shave lotions. But in some cases the original brand when extended to other products becomes a scape goat. If the variant is not accepted then the mother brand gets the beating in the market. Fashion & designer companies extend brands to fragrance, shoes, belts, cosmetics, bags.

Beyond brand extension is line extension; a line extension is when current brand name is used to enter a new market segment in the existing product class with new varieties or flavors. For example, Coca Cola launched Diet Coca Cola, Lifebuoy a soap well entrenched in rural India & best penetrated got extension to variants in soap bars to liquid soap for cleansing, talcum powder all meant for same target audience, Dove soap a creamy high end product got extended to Dove shampoo, Dove deodorant & today it commands more than a billion dollar market. Pernod Ricard seeing the mid segment of whisky’s buyers upgrading from regular to premium brands extended the popular brands Blenders Pride & Royal stag to Blenders Pride reserve collection & Royal Stag barrel select, priced higher than the mother brand, a risk-benefit proposition for line extension of brands.  

Dove Hair careDove skin care

A new category of branding strategy has entered into the market, coined as crowd sourcing branding. These are brands that are created by the people for politics or the business, which is opposite to the traditional method where the business create a brand. Mr. Anna Hazaare is a classical example of this category.

All large companies have multi branding in the same category, where one product cannibalizes the sales of others, but sum total the gain is to the company. Basically markets that are fragmented amongst a number of brands, a manufacturer can choose deliberately to launch totally new brands in apparent competition with its own existing strong brand (and often with identical product characteristics); simply to soak up some of the share of the market which will in any case go to minor brands. Like cola giant Coca Cola has two cola segments, Thums Up & Coca Cola , P&G has more than ten detergents in the US market, helping to get more shelf space for its entire detergent range. Similarly in India, HUL has a battery of detergent brands, these are at different price points with the objective to pre-empt others entering the market, making it difficult for local brands. In hotel industry, Marriot uses the name Fairfield Inns for its budget chain brands & Marriot for high end, like Taj hotels in India uses Ginger for budget brands & Taj for exclusive high end customer.

A brand identity /personality/brand equity is affected if the core value of the brand is left to play with the customer sentiment. The big case is Marlboro from the house of Phillip Morris. In order to compete with local  bargain cigarettes, lowered the price of the most popular well accepted /deeply involved macho brand. They cut the price by 20 %, lowered the stock prices of other brands too in the Wall Street as many thought the event signaling the era of brand blindness. As the connectivity, the image of the consumer associated with the brand Marlboro was hurt.

To conclude, the complacency in branding MTNL- the national telephone service provider is on top of the deck. It has still not thought on its branding & redoing the Logo- the logo has poor choice of color, the phone shown is not even produced anymore, the logo sums to product going to history. The state sponsored telephone network should have been the source of pride but it is more of embarrassment. The branding exercise could have saved the state sponsored network coupled with some R&D and marketing efforts.

MTNL logo

Thus, Branding Strategy is the key to open mass consumer’s wallet !

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