Friday, 18 November 2011

Editorial

I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn't know how to get along without it - Walt Disney 

Gone are the days when a good product was all that was needed to stay in business. The changes witnessed in the business world occur not only because of the inventions and product developments in the R&D centres of companies but a lot of it comes from the new ways created by practitioners of marketing to look at the same old problems. We live in a world where the future of a brand is not left for the market to decide. For a brand to stand any chance in the market it has to go beyond the conventional realms of business practice. “Good Product” is a given, what is expected from the brand is answering the needs of its customers. This is why a lot of brainstorming, ideating, heated discussions of boardrooms, and tissue meetings of the advertising industry, involving millions of dollars and the best intellectual capital, is employed to arrive at strategies that can help brands rise out of the surrounding clutter. This seems a lot like what legendary boxer Muhammad Ali said - I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." 

To create a champion brand one doesn’t need a philosopher’s stone. Companies need to acknowledge certain simple facts and unhinge themselves from the primitive branding strategies that are well past their sell-by date. This is exactly what is happening in the Indian mobile phone industry, as challenger brands are bringing down established brands by providing solution based products rather than going for product attributes in their advertising trance. Brands are also finding that it is imperative to connect with their customers. Connecting with the customers has amplified by the sudden rise of social media. Social Media is not a formality on the contrary most brands especially online shopping brands have found it to be a great platform for addressing their customers’ needs, queries and grievances in the most efficacious manner. 

After all the sweat & toil of the day a brand needs to stand for something that is unique and belongs exclusively to it. This is why even after decades Amul stands for butter. We know that butter produced by almost all brands is similar, yet how is it that Amul has kept the branding bonfire going even after so many years. Amul didn’t invent butter but it was the first to create a butter brand, employing the simple concept of cherchez le creaneau. To maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace a brand needs to know its consumers better than its competitors. Consumers today relate with a product or service through their connection with a company's brand. This highlights why a brand needs to be unique, innovative, and mulish enough to not only grasp and hold customer loyalty, but also to assume a domineering position in the market. 

In a market swarmed with fierce competitors the best way to go about is by scrutinizing your competitor's strategies and then developing your own strategy that can buttress your brand despite competition. Being first is antediluvian; the history of brands shows being authentic is what counts. 

Brands are sensitive, initially they need care and attention but as they become strong they need their creator’s passion to keep them from falling into slumber from which it is always hard to wake. A marketer needs to be artful in picking up the seemingly inconsequential changes in the market and orient his brand in a way that makes it interesting to the customers. 

This journal is a salutation to all the companies that have got their marketing campaigns right. Brands that have carved a niche for themselves riding on the success of their advertising. These brands are well & truly ‘Thorns to Competition’. Hope you enjoy reading it!

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