Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brand manager

It's often a well-placed misconception that brand manager means someone who takes care of the brands that you buy in the market place, the ones that make up your life style space etc. With the changing times and the eras, brand has extended its portfolio (Can I call it brand extension? I wonder!) and boasts of people too, under its umbrella. Brand Sachin, Brand Aamir, Brand SR, Brand Bachchan(How can I not write about him!) and on and on and on... The curious link up between a brand and an ambassador has moved up a notch and has now taken the proportions of branding at personal level.

Most of the so-called branded people have PR firms taking care of their activities. I do not specifically know how many of these actually take care of their branding activities but one such person is Aamir Khan. The self-styled, the marketing-savvy and the ever-changing unique actor of Indian cinema is for all reasons known THE potential brand of the Indian celebrities. With all due regards to every other celebrity, Aamir holds his own in this space.

How does he do that? Simple; he makes sure that he walks the talk. Aamir sports a Titan watch, drinks a Diet Coke, drives an Innova, watches a Tata Sky and of course sports a new hair style every day. It's not about driving the brand but driving the message. In an era of message clutter and brand-ambassador incongruence Aamir comes as a refreshing change. Samsung, another brand endorsed by him leaped from number 4 in the GSM handsets to number 2 after he started endorsing them.

Doesn't it send a subtle message to all the marketers around? Yeah it does. Choose your endorser who knows and appeals to the people. And by appeal, it's not just the visual appeal. The connect between the brand and the endorser has gone beyond the commercial; it's time marketers take notice!

Interviewer: Ruk Shan Khar ji you endorse Tepsi but why are you drinking Poke?
RSK: HHHHHey, in that case I need to bathe with a Sux, have a NairTel connection...I'm beyond all this...

Friday, March 6, 2009


Why did I name it in a way immortalised by a famous sitcom (The irresistable Jennifer Aniston is an off-the-cuff reason, but not for public revelation)? Simply because I believe a brand is a conglomerate of so many things immortalised by the letters.

B - Basic
R - Realistic
A - Appealing
N - Needy
D - Duly serving

People say different things about why they need brands - it reduces the time of search of a customer, increases the affiliation...blah blah blah. But, at the end of the day, it boils down to the basic stuff. Unless the product immortalises the basic thing what a customer is looking for, you cannot, absolutely cannot, hit the psychological levels with your product. And make no mistake, a product remains a product until it gets an attachment with the customer.

Try designing a funky product which is very basic but is far away from the expectations of the customer. No matter how well you stick to your basics, it is almost as much pertinent to cling on to the realistic expectations of the customer. The GOD of marketing (customer boss, customer...he is our GOD!!!) doesn't take any bull shit. (S)He just expects a real version of his needs.

There is already so much clutter out there. Even for a pen, I've so much to choose from based on various factors. And of course, there is the celebrity factor. Amidst all this chaos, if your product needs to hold its own and go on to become a brand it has to be appealing to its customer. Unless I find something very appealing, I won't change my usual buying decision (Of course, it's another matter that I rarely think while buying). In an era where it is very difficult to find and hold your customers, the best thing your brand can do (and may be the least, as well) is to appeal (to all senses, if possible) to the consumer.

Is that all? Am afraid not...it is almost next to impossible to make a brand in an area where there is no need! You can survive on fast-track sales for a day, a week and may be a little more if you pick on some clever tactic. But unless there is need on the consumer side your product can not think of the next step. Make sure that your product picks up all these attributes and duly serve the consumers; because the life of a product doesn't end with being a B.R.A.N.D, it starts with it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Celebrity Endorsements

It's still fresh in my mind...AB used to rule the world of television not long ago. It's not just with his amazing life-saving show Kaun bachayega Bacchan ko err...sorry...Kaun banega Crorepati but also with his innumerable ads. Any commercial break would be incomplete without the bearded face showcased more than twice. Every over of the cricket match would be quickly followed by a chocolate munching or painting or writing AB. I won't blame the person himself if he lost count of all the products he endorsed!

So, how good is this celebrity endorsement? As a customer, we look for a show of trust...either from the company or from someone we know. This lookout for someone we know almost always ends up with a celebrity. Why? because we give preference to an AB or a Sachin or a Tiger Woods than your neighbour who actually used the product. (Okay...I'm an exception. I always look for my neighbour's endorsement; after all she's of my age and still single...)

Does this mean any one can go on endorsing any thing? Hmm...may wll not be the case. You don't want Atal Bihari Vajpayee to be your brand ambassador of Nike Shoes. Poor chap! I pity the search for a body double who actually would look like Atalji and still can run...You don't want Ramalinga Raju to endorse your LIC policy (err...Raju and trust...that would be another heck of an endorsement). Your customer out there is a smart chap who looks for reliance and salience more than anything else.

The advantage that products get is the spill over of the celebrity aura onto your product itself. You want people to associate the product and believe that it's as good as your celebrity. Wish the world is as perfect! More often than not, you tend to over-estimate the presence of your celebrity and the effect (s)he is gonna get you. Classic example that comes to my mind is the Nerolac ad endorsed by AB (oh my God!!! not again :P) which ended up with greater recall of the Big B and his presence but no added value for the product. Again...people liked the ad, liked the celebrity(we can never get enough of AB! trust me...) but somehow the product was left in the vacuum. Another example was when Andy Roddick was endorsed in the US open by a company promoting him in a huge manner only to see him dumped in the first round...they had to retreat their ads

I know that we all still look and feel for celebrity endorsements. It's just that the adorable AB has been replaced by the (ir)replaceable King Khan who's gone a step ahead and started endorsing anything and every thing under the Sun. A day would come when someone would endorse every thing you and your girl friend are wearing. That would be kick ass na..

Guy: Look at my purple socks. Ain't it beautiful? It's endorsed by the hottest pair in the bollywood
Girl: Jaran Kohar and Rukh Shah Naak?
Guy: Exactly!!! The same pair who endorsed your peppy nail polish and the girlie handbag apart from the body lotion and hair spray that you are using.
Girl: Yeah!!! They are the talk of the town!