SPA in this context means - Salience, Performance, Advantage.
Marketing is not like mathematics. There is no set formula that will help you in arriving at a final answer and being able to prove that the theorem is right.
Marketing is a lot about trial and error, individual personalities, conviction and confidence, guts and gumption, risks and courage, fundamentals and basics, culture and context and much more.
There are enough and more books out there that promise you marketing knowledge and tips, with each one coming up with their own way of building brands. I have also read a few and I still intend to read a few more. There is no harm in getting to know different views and perspectives that exist for a subject as wide and as abstract as marketing.
But over the years, I have also picked up my own understanding of brand building and what works. Instead of a lot of theory, if I could offer you one tip on how to build a brand, then my suggestion would be that your brand can only be successful if it offers the SPA benefit.
Now stop scratching your head and wondering that if your brand has got nothing to do with salons or massages, how then, can it offer the benefit of the SPA. This SPA benefit that I am talking about is not what you are thinking.
SPA in this context means:
S - Salience
P - Performance
A - Advantage
Now that I have taken care of your doubts and you have stopped considering me to be talking like a lunatic let me elaborate. A brand has to offer the SPA benefit to become successful and stay successful.
Let us understand this a bit more in detail:
Salience - Irrespective of how big a brand may already be, it will lose traction with its consumers if it does not spend enough and be visible and salient in their minds. People often ask why big brands like Coca Cola or Nike need to advertise as everyone knows them and thinks about them when making a purchase. My answer is that as brands stop advertising, they start losing 'share of mind' and that is when their downfall begins. 'Share of mind' is a critical aspect as it plays a crucial role in the purchase decision at the store and salience helps in driving this share which leads to a share of the consumer's wallet.
Performance - You can spend millions of dollars on your brand across mediums, but all that is money down the drain if your brand does not perform in line with what it promises. The positioning of a brand must be chosen after a lot of consideration because the positioning it takes, forms the barometer by which a consumer judges its performance. This combination of positioning and performance then helps in forming the perception of the brand in consumers' minds. So, it is critical for brands to ensure that they perform what they promise.
Advantage - It is a competitive world out there and market conditions, like a monopoly, do not exist anymore. Sectors, industries and categories that see great growth and profitability will always attract more and more new players. Amidst such clutter and din, it is absolutely critical that your brand has a competitive advantage over the others and consumers should be able to feel or see that advantage tangibly. This will allow you to stay ahead of competitors who will always try to pull you down and overtake you.
So, brand building basically starts with identifying the advantage that your brand has over your competition. This advantage should then be converted into the positioning of the brand and monies should be spent behind that to drive the positioning in the minds of consumers and build salience. This would ideally lead to trials or a repeat of your brand and, over time, the performance of the brand will help in building its perception and thereby, the brand itself.
Once again, I would like to conclude by reiterating the fact that you can build a successful brand only if your brand offers the SPA benefit.
(The author is global marketing communications manager, DSM Nutritional Products, and former Nestlé and Britannia hand)