Brand Summit: How to build brands on zero budget

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Others | June 18, 2007
Sanjay Behl of Reliance Infocomm presented the way to build brands without heavily relying on advertising

Brand custodians

spend oodles of money on advertising to create awareness of their brands and conveying the proposition. But the exorbitant amount of money invested does not necessarily guarantee returns. At the Reader's Digest Trusted Brand Marketing Summit, Sanjay Behl, head, marketing, Reliance Communications, gave a different perspective on building brands beyond the conventional advertising route.

Identifying two important facets -- 'brand' and 'advertising' -- he said that advertising is just one of the many tools to raise awareness and build brand trial. He spoke about working on 'zero budget' marketing. To substantiate this he presented a few examples of brands that were built on extremely low budget using unconventional marketing tactics.

He named brands such as 'Harley Davidson', 'Starbucks', 'G Mail', 'Red Bulls', 'Tupperware' and 'YouTube' that have been created on zero budget. Elaborating on the 'Harley Davidson' story, he said that this 100-year-old brand hasn't used the conventional advertising means. At a time when the company was almost bankrupt, it got back in the race by creating 'Harley Davidson owner groups', a community in an era when internet was lesser known.

'Tupperware', the household name, Behl said, used its own customers as distributors by making them sell products that they have tried and tested. Cosmetic brand 'Avon' too follows a similar strategy. Here, viral marketing and word of mouth play a very significant role.

Citing the 'Starbucks' example, he said it was the first brand to have built a different perspective around it, that of not just being about coffee, but about the experience. "Starbucks created a whole experience in its outlets with music, phone charging devices, hang out and reading areas."

Another interesting story is about Red Bulls, which believes in forcing trials. The company implements large scale free sampling of its drink at prominent places such as campuses, gyms, youth hangouts and adventure sports to induce trial, in the hope that the consumer would try it again. This energy drink brand fought it out with cola giants Coca Cola and Pepsi through the sampling exercise.

Behl concluded that all these case studies emphasised that brands are built in the minds of a marketer and then in the market. Weighing factors such as customer advocacy, customer experience, PR and viral marketing carefully, can help a great deal in lessening the dependence on advertising alone.

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