By Romana Aziz Khan
Mar 25 - 31, 2002
Companies spend millions building a corporate
branding identity. It's no wonder, then, that once they've established
a brand, their next obsession is protecting it.
Branding is the reputation and image of a company,
which is conveyed via names, logos, advertisements and word-of-mouth.
Corporate branding used to focus on logo and name, but today it has a
broader meaning. "It's the promise and how you communicate
Effective brand management requires taking a
long-term view of marketing decisions. Managing brands for the long
run involves reinforcing brands or, if necessary, revitalizing brands.
Reinforcing brands involves ensuring innovation in product design,
manufacturing, and merchandising and ensuring relevance in user and
usage imagery. Another critical consideration in reinforcing brands is
the consistency of the marketing support that the brand receives, both
in terms of the amount and nature of that support. Revitalizing a
brand, on the other hand, requires either that lost sources of brand
equity are recaptured ("a back to basics" approach) or that
new sources of brand equity are identified and established. Two
general approaches are possible:
1. Expanding the depth and/or breadth of brand
awareness by improving brand recall and recognition of consumers
during purchase or consumption settings;
2. Improving the strength, favourability, and
uniqueness of brand associations making up the brand image (either in
terms of existing or new brand associations).
The classic brand manager dealt with simple brand
structures in part because he or she was faced with a relatively
simple environment and simple business strategies. Today, the
situation is far different. Brand managers now face market
fragmentation, channel dynamics, global realities, and business
environments that have drastically changed their task. Besides,
today's customer has variety of choices available to him. His level of
loyalty is low, and he does not settle for anything less than the
best. He goes to whoever offers him the maximum value for his money.
So, it's essential to understand the consumer dynamics and present to
them a package that ideally fits into their lifestyles.
When PSO started revamping its outlets some two
years ago, the situation in the market was intense. Competition was
fierce between the Oil Marketing Companies and it was difficult to
carve a niche for ourselves primarily because the product line offered
by all the three major players in the oil sector was almost the same.
Differentiation was possible only in one area; i.e. how we positioned
ourselves against our competitors in terms of services offered and how
aggressively and successfully we were able to market them.
We took some bold marketing initiatives and moved
towards BTL activities along with heavy advertising in conventional
media like Print and on TV. We explored and utilized unique branding
opportunities and invested heavily in marketing and promotional
As part of aggressive advertising, we were the
first ones to introduce the concept of mobile hoardings in Karachi. We
branded small metro buses and large metro buses in Karachi and Daewoo
buses in Lahore in 2001. We also put up our logo on top of one our
petrol stations in Islamabad, the height of which is 80 feet. This is
the tallest tower in Pakistan, which not only presents a spectacular
view but also acts as a guide for the passing by vehicles.
PSO is the sole marketer of the world-renowned
Castrol products. The products are packaged here in Pakistan. They
come in attractive packaging and sizes to fit different needs of
different vehicles. These products are adequately advertised and
promoted by us keeping in view the local market needs and preferences.
Hoardings and billboards present a permanent tool
for the reinforcement of brand image. We have put up spectacular
hoardings in major towns and cities of Pakistan. The designs revolve
around corporate as well as product and service specific themes.
We offer the maximum number of customer services at
our stations. Our state-of-the-art New Vision outlets are equipped to
cater to the needs of today's generation. We run corporate campaigns
from time-to-time highlighting the fact that PSO is much more than
just fuel. We have the country's first and only automatic car wash
plant. We offer facilities like fax and E-mail at our Business
Centers, well-equipped Convenience Stores and the latest addition to
this host of services has been the provision of Internet facility at
our stations across Pakistan. This facility is also provided at
stations located in places like Gilgit and Skardu. This is a major
scientific breakthrough and we pride ourselves in being able to
contribute to bridging the gap between the urban and rural lifestyles.
We keep our customers abreast of our various
activities and accomplishments. This is done through various means
like advertisements, press releases, commercials, brochures, etc.
PSO can also pride itself in running the most
effective and volume generating sales promotion programs around the
year. We ran the ever popular Scratch a Match 1 in 2000 and Scratch a
Match-2 in 2001, which was not only extremely popular with the masses
but also helped us to snatch market share and give us huge incremental
sales. Specific sales promotion campaigns for various lubricants are
also run from time-to-time, which make us the favoured choice of our
We invest heavily in BTL activities, especially in
sponsorship of events like golf and squash tournaments. The most
recent example of sponsorship being that of the 9th SAF Games whereby
we are one of the title sponsors.
PSO, being a socially responsive organization,
strives to be as beneficial to the society as possible. We have put up
directional signs at all the major streets of Karachi and now are
putting them up in Lahore and Islamabad as well. This helps people in
locating the areas they are looking for. We also donate generously to
welfare needy and charitable organizations with cash and kind.
The worst threats to a company's corporate branding
image come from within. Brands suffer when there is a major disconnect
between what's promised and what's delivered. "That's a
self-inflicted wound". That is why our Mobile Quality Testing
Units conduct thorough regular checks at petrol stations to ensure
that our customers get accurate quantity and superior quality of
By undertaking all the steps mentioned above, we
strive round-the-clock to brand PSO as the preferred choice of