. .

It's A Brand's World

What do you need to be the best? Concentration. Discipline. A dream—Florence Griffith Joyner, Olympic Gold medallist

Apr 09 -15, 2001

Florence Griffith Joyner may have been in a rather sporty frame of mind when asked this question. What he may not have realized that his words of wisdom apply to a broader spectrum, and have a lesson hidden in them should be obvious to marketers.

Focus — is the key word. Focusing on the present enables one to predict the future. However, fact that is even more significant is that focusing on your present brand and narrowing down the product line helps marketers capitalize and specialize on their expertise. It is through sheer focus on donuts, their consumption patterns, their preferences and presentation styles, etc. that has led Dunkin Donut to become a global brand. At home, its focusing that enables Rooh-e- Afza do for Hamdard which other competitors still have not been able to do. Ever wondered why another line extension of Rooh-e- Afza has never been launched? Imagine seeing Rooh-e-Afza shelved as a yellow, green, orange sherbet? The brand has earned wide recognition among its contemporaries and consumers. Yet, the marketer never tried to play up on the brand name alone and adding extensions to it. A smart move indeed. However, perhaps that is not what marketers at Levers thought of while extending the Lifebouy to Lifebouy gold. Certainly not. It was like burning your own ship at the end of the stream. Killing your own defenses and instead of opting for a fortification strategy.

Line extensions are often mistaken for short-term gains instead of building the brand. Offering a variety of colors, sizes, fragrances, etc. to the customer may bring easy money in the short run. It often leads a brand to stand for many things or nothing that eventually results in a confused brand identity of the brand. Liril, has played the game of line extensions smartly however. Coming from the same house of brands as Lifebouy, Lever Brothers of Pakistan, the brand successfully launched Liril Rainfresh Pack in May 2000 under the master brand. The line extension has in fact given the brand a boosting in the freshness segment and has strengthened its domain of a segment — Liril is a sole player of so far.

As noted by Al Ries and Laura Ries, what branding builds, sub-branding can destroy. Marketers in their lust to enter new markets and develop new products to cater to those markets find it convenient to invent a sub brand. Ideal case in point is Suzuki Motors. There need to enter the upscale market led to the creation and launching of Baleno — the 1.5 liter car. Baleno being a sub-brand, the product had to be taken of the market days after its launch due to technical faults. Only to be followed by a re-launch of Baleno as the ultimate luxury car. However, even with their much hype entry in the upper scale market, consumers still associate the master brand, Suzuki, that offers compact and economical cars — which are value for money indeed!

The world of branding has developed over the years in Pakistan where this field was not much heard of. Typical marketing jargons such as brand loyalty, brand users, brand image, brand personality, etc. are widely acknowledged and talked of. Yet even today with a few exceptions in the industry, these concepts remain alive theoretically alone. The prime goal of a marketer remains adapting the business strategy rather than planning a brand strategy and ensuring that the brand should stand for something meaningful in the eyes of the consumer.

After all a brand could be a name, a symbol, a noun, an adjective, a sign only. But it has to be something that has a meaning attached to it and can be easily recalled. A meaning that the marketer can successfully communicate over to millions of prospective and present users. Many users of brands in Pakistan use the brand for reasons they do not know. Many consumers buying a brand out of habit rather than the brand influence. A major set back for any brand.

The term marketing can be used synonymously with branding. Brands can never be created in air-conditioned multi-storied buildings. They are created at the very bottom. They are initiated from the bottom as needs are monitored by active marketers, industries monitored, and propositions drawn. That is exactly how they should be kept alive.

By keeping in touch with how the end users perceive them and why do they perceive them in this fashion. Narrowing down the focus and concentrating on what the brand has to offer helps the marketers better utilize the resources at hand to cater to the needs and beat the competition. Companies need to realize that bigger is not always better. Above all, brand building is not a quantitative process, measuring its success quantitatively such as in terms of sales is not a bright idea at all. And this is the exact dilemma of many marketers. Since at the end of the day businesses are out there to make profit.

Then success stories of leading brands making it big and raking profits are substantial enough to shut those who believe in branding for short-term gains. Brand building has made Surf a generic product, and not just a name. You know its branding at it best when you want to get a few papers, "Xeroxed" or "FedExed". Imagine how stupid you would sound saying, "get a few papers Cannoned", you wouldn't dare would you?

The local economy may be in a recession. The disposable incomes low, living conditions deteriorating with the passage of time, the threat of Pakistan defaulting may linger on, but this has not stopped leading brands such as McDonalds, KFC, Intel, Toyota, and more recently Levi's and Nike from coming to Pakistan. P&G and Lever Brothers continue to invest and compete among each other. Launching aggressive marketing campaigns, introducing new products to the market that does not seem to have enough of everything and anything. An average Pakistani has his/her taste of preferences — brands that they prefer to use, can relate and associate themselves with. After all the other name of a brand in a lay man's language is trust. For some eating out Sabri's is fun, while other's prefer sophisticated restaurants such as Copper Kettle, TGIF, etc. Consumers may have their set of preferences for detergents. Here, too, Surf that was initially a brand name has successfully become a generic product (A classic case of branding at its best), a cola is a cola — be it Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola.

Lastly, branding is not just confined to huge organizations. It starts from a bookstore at the corner of your street to big brands that pay astronomical prices for airtime to create awareness among the target markets. As long as the brand is able to focus on the present product/service that it has to offer and delivers the promise it makes to its customers which wins their trust, an eventual brand image development and winning brand loyals!