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Your competitor can come from anywhere: Kinjal Medh

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | June 10, 2011
At the BrandWealth Seminar, Kinjal Medh, COO, Cogito Consulting, spoke about brand parity and differences, competitive insights, brand equity, and brand models.

Continuing with its golden jubilee celebrations, the Draftfcb Ulka group has organised a platform for learning and knowledge sharing -- the BrandWealth Seminar, held at the Welingkar Management Institute, and put together by Cogito Consulting, the brand consulting division of the group, in collaboration with Welingkar Management Institute.

At one of the sessions on the first day of the seminar, Kinjal Medh, chief operating officer, Cogito Consulting spoke about product/service interrogation and insights, brand parity and difference, competitive insights, brand equity and brand models in his presentation, titled 'The Brand Context'.

Medh began his discourse with the adage, 'Great brands are no accidents,' delving into the inherent strengths of a brand.

"Brands are not about advertising, but about interaction with the consumer. There is an inherent drama in every product," he said.

He talked of how brands were best served when people actually dug deeper into the company, looking for insights. He cited the examples of the Draftfcb Ulka work done for Tata Indigo, UTI and Tata Consultancy Services in the past, where the agency dug out hidden brand stories that helped the eventual campaigns to stand out, telling a unique tale about the brand that probably was always around, but was taken for granted.

In each case, the work broke clutter, built back credibility in a brand or narrated a story of a relatively low profile company that had a hidden tale worth telling.

For the work on UTI, Medh said, "There was latent goodwill in the brand. What was needed was to showcase the goodwill. We unearthed stuff that people at UTI had taken for granted."

"There are a lot of brands that have hidden stories that can be unearthed. The problem is if you don't ask the right questions, you don't get the right answers," said Medh.

He charted out the various sources from where insights for a brand could be drawn -- research and development, the design team, quality control, production, training, the IT/system design, and even the front desk of a company.

Medh moved on to talking about identifying the product/service advantage, where he spoke at length on Points of Parity. He pointed out the two kinds of the same, namely Category Points of Parity and Competitive Points of Parity.

While Category Points of Parity refer to associations that are not unique to the brand, but signify belonging to a category, Competitive Points of Parity is where parity is created to negate competition's point of difference and leverage the advantage of one's own differentiating factor.

To explain Category Points of Parity, Medh used the example of HDFC launching the first debit card in the market as 'An ATM card one could shop with', thereby providing a category reference; the launch of iPod as 'Music in every pocket'; and even Deccan Airlines' focus on low cost flying.

Medh also spoke at length on competition and the importance of keeping a close watch on competing brands and services.

"How you define competition drives your decisions," he said.

Herein, he presented Michael Porter's Five Forces Model that would help a brand identify its competing frame of references, wherein the existing players must keep an eye on new entrants, buyer power, substitutes and supplier power.

Medh also spoke on CHESS, a proprietary tool of the group used globally that helps make competition more predictable.

He used the example of Nokia which, according to him, was hit unimaginably in the recent times by competing brands -- both at the lower rung and the premium end of the market.

Speaking further on brand models and equity towards the end of his discourse, he stressed on the need to keep an agile eye on competition.

"You have to look at two-three competitors. Your competitor can come from anywhere. In an economy that is globalised, and with the entry barrier having come down so much, just about anybody could come in," concluded Medh.

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