National Brand Summit 2007, organised by the All India Management Association recently in Mumbai, saw many eminent speakers discussing 'The Many Avatars of New Branding'.
Atul Tandan, director, MICA, and Suman Srivastava, CEO, Euro RSCG India, shared their views on the different branding needs of different categories, saying that clonal branding does not work across categories.
Tandan started off by defining a brand. He said that though he wasn't certain how he could define a brand, he trusted the definition provided by the famous copywriter and ad agency founder, David Ogilvy: "The intangible sum of a product's attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it's advertised."
Tandan talked of how film study has become an essential part of marketing and brand management. He gave the example of a popular song from the Hindi film, 'Bunty aur Babli', 'Chhote chhote shehron se', which conveys the idea that the youth are ready to get out from lazy afternoons in small cities. The young recognise their shortcomings and are ready to go beyond these and take the plunge. Tandan asked whether brands were ready to reverse the trickle down effect of a trend to a bubble up effect in response to the ever changing face of India.
Tandan categorised brands into alliances, hybrid brands, entertainment and celebrity brands, gender brands, art as a brand, commodity brands, cult brands and a few more. He elaborated further. Hybrid brands incorporate all tie-ups such as Maruti Suzuki, Hero Honda and Kawasaki-Bajaj. These brands are better known today as Maruti (for cars), Hero (for bikes), Bajaj (bikes). Entertainment as a brand has developed by leaps and bounds, he said. Bollywood and Bollywood celebrities are associated with brands. Television shows and television stars have also acquired brand status.
Tandan also talked of the gender association with brands. Fair and Lovely relates only to women, while Fair and Handsome relates to men. But certain brands, like Nivea and MTV Plugged, did not need to rebrand their identity in order to reach out to both men and women. Titan's Fast Track range, though it offers a very macho feel, had better sales among women.
Tandan explained clonal branding with the example of the latest Axe ad that has bikini clad women running aggressively towards a shaggy looking guy who is spraying Axe under his arms. Tandan said, "I don't think any part of India believes in this funda that a deodorant will bring women running towards you from all directions." He continued, "It's not brand building. It does not reflect the brands idea. In fact, in many countries, the ad could be seen as objectionable as it shows women in such a poor light."
Tandan endorsed the idea that a brand as an idea creates its own independent ecosystem. And only if the ecosystem is understood can one get through it. The ecosystem is rapidly changing. He stressed upon the need to keep up with this constant change. He summed up by emphasising, "The brand needs to go beyond a structure."
Srivastava of Euro RSCG India brought the talk back to 'Bunty aur Babli' by speaking about the Bunty syndrome, a study his agency unveiled earlier this year. The syndrome highlights the ever changing face of rural India - how their aspirations and passions are the driving force of today's brands. The study revealed that in comparison to Tier I cities, Tier II cities were responsible for a majority of the changes that are taking place among brands. Bunty, as Srivastava called him, stands for the remixed generation that wants it all and has the means of getting it all. "Bunty's family makes his world go round. He believes in a new system of arranged love marriages because family approval and love are important factors to consider," explained Srivastava.
Both speakers admitted that the bubble up effect of trends will cause most of the changes in a market driven by brands.