Brands take centrestage at IMRB-Millward Brown seminar

By , agencyfaqs! | In | August 16, 2002
The seminar provided a peek into the life of a brand and its communication needs

"Brands are all about experience and meaning," said Neerja Wable, senior vice-president, IMRB and head of Millward Brown India, at a seminar organised jointly by IMRB and partner agency Millward Brown, UK (a WPP agency), on 13th August 2002 at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai.

Wable was speaking on the subject of 'Making the most of your brands' and during the one-hour long presentation she touched upon the evolution of brands, their future, and learnings from brand success through tools and applications developed by Millward Brown. She emphasised that on an average the intangible assets (read brands) of the world's top companies represent 70 per cent of their market value thereby emerging as the cornerstones of corporate wealth. She said, "When Ford bought Jaguar the physical assets of the company represented only 16 per cent of the value. When Vodafone bought Orange the physical assets were only 10 per cent of the value. Thus it is vital for companies to understand the current state of their assets and their future potential in order to manage their businesses profitably."

Through Brand Dynamics, a brand equity research tool, Wable highlighted that Millward Brown has identified eight broad types of brands through studies covering 15,000 brands across 30 countries since 1998. These include Olympic, Classic, Aspirational, Cult Brands, Little Tiger, Defender, Fading Star and Clean Slate. Tracking these brands provided some interesting insights into their growth and decline with two-thirds bucking the intuitive path of a brand life cycle, namely - 'Clean Slates through Little Tigers to Olympics before Fading away and passing on'. Also, nearly half of the brands changed their equity classification within a year.

For example, Tiger brands, which were expected to show an increase in equity, found it hard to maintain their position. Though more increased share than lost, many more became Defenders rather than stronger Classic Brands. Similarly, Fading Stars ended up as weak or Clean Slates but one in three clawed their way back becoming Defender brands.

Also, the research tool has identified four drivers or influencing factors behind brand growth or decline. These include, strong business basics, great products, clarity of associations and projected leadership. "By business basics we mean a sound organisation that can make decisions quickly, a flexible supply chain, appropriate pricing of offering, maximising distribution, all things that must be in place for marketing to leverage," said Wable.

Starbucks Coffee or Barista in India were cases in point highlighting brands influenced by strong business basics. Nokia, she emphasised was a good example of a brand with a great line-up of products (in 13 countries, Nokia is either an Olympic or Classic Brand according to a Millward Brown study) whereas the brand Lux speaks of clarity of associations. This implies there has been consistency in brand message and positioning over five decades of its existence, thereby building stronger bonds with consumers. Projected leadership on the other hand has two propellants - promoted innovation (Gillette, Surf Excel and Ariel) and brand visibility, example being Budweiser beer (the award-winning 'Wassup' ad a few years ago helped in building leadership and momentum for the brand).

Concluding her presentation, Wable had an important point to make, "Brands are here to stay. Companies want them and so do consumers. But the challenge is to be in tune with consumer needs and appropriately respond to them."

Sue Gardiner, joint managing director Millward Brown, UK, on the other hand, discussed the role of media in the communication process ('Making the most of your communications') during the second session of the evening, throwing light on each channel - be it outdoor, print, TV, radio or the Internet. Gardiner said, "Brand effect is reflective of weight of spend, channels chosen, creative power (both impact and persuasion) and brand elasticity. However, our learnings suggest that to complete the equation and to understand brand effect, we need to add the variable of consumer response."

Gardiner emphasised that strategy plays a key role in the process of communication with media channels differing in the way they generate consumer response. Outdoor media, for instance, has the power to create impact cost effectively through simple messages but its effects decay faster than TV. Print, on the other hand, is an active mode of consumption, thereby ensuring greater impact especially if the reader shows interest in the subject. In the case of television, however, category response is not a key driver, primarily because the tube is a medium of entertainment.

Gardiner also maintained that radio could boost awareness of TV campaigns and that online advertising could increase ad and brand awareness, improve perceptions and increase purchase intent even without click throughs. She reiterated that "copy has to be strong" to be visible in the clutter with the TV channel merely being the carrier. Her final words, "Copy counts in the long term." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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