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Brand Owner's Summit: The aura of brands

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | February 13, 2013
Santosh Desai of Future Brands on how branding goes beyond selling of the product.

We live in a world where besides products and services, even people are becoming brands. However, are brands only a means to sell the product? According to Santosh Desai, managing director and CEO, Future Brands, while brands give an assured consumer base, competitive advantage and so on, its role is much greater than that.

Santosh Desai

At the Brand Owner's Summit held in Ahmedabad on February 8-9, Desai presented some useful insights on what constitutes brands, and the characteristic aspects of strong brands.

"Brands construct meaning, which aren't inherent. We need brands as they do things which society used to do - bridge need fulfilment. In fact, the aspirational gap is filled up by brands. A consumer feels he has the ability to use surrogate symbols to achieve his aspirations," Desai said.

He asserted that advertisements are 30 seconds of play acting; an absurd form, which people sometimes may take too literally. By doing so, consumers really try to decipher everything shown in an ad, even in the least meaningful things. So, by using a particular brand of toilet cleaner, a consumer may see herself as a champion of causes. This search for meaning takes many forms, so much so that everything is viewed in symbolic proportions.

Having said this, Desai added that powerful brands are important because of what the creator believes and his point of view, and not what consumers believe. "What you sell represents a manifestation of ideas. For instance, Apple married the notion of beauty with machine and individualised it. So, branding is being who you are and being true to the idea of your stand, not about selling," he asserted. Hence, strong brands define their own personal categories.

Even brands in the same category could be fundamentally different because a genuine brand defines the category in a unique way. But this shouldn't be mistaken for success. Desai explained that strong brands aren't necessarily the same as successful brands. "Powerful brands articulate the emergent in an exciting yet familiar way. They go beyond what consumers are saying and listen to the whispers of their soul, which even the consumers are not aware of," he concluded.

The event was powered by monster.com, supported by associate sponsor Bestow and dinner sponsor Khushi Advertising.

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