Harsh Pamnani is a marketer and author. He obtained his B.E. (Computer Engineering) from IET-DAVV, Indore and MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur.
In today’s world, there is a lot more awareness about the importance of brands as a subject. Businesses better understand that a great brand name creates trust in the market and attracts customers. But many people have thought about building brands through superficial methods, such as attractive logos, beautiful websites, the design of stores, uniform for the staff, social media marketing, advertising campaigns, and so on. Brand creation is beyond all these things. A few of the ingredients that help in creation of a brand are as follows:
Vision Vision is all about looking at your business beyond day-to-day operations, with a larger purpose. As a business grows, the vision of its leaders should also grow to achieve more. For instance, the journey of Zomato started with the purpose of solving the problem of availability of menu cards in one office. After implementing the idea successfully in their office, the founders expanded the vision to cover the Delhi NCR region. This was followed by a pan-India presence and in several countries across the world now. Today, Zomato is a global brand with over 1.4 million restaurants across over 10,000 cities listed on its platform. Over 120 million people visit the platform every month.
Scope refers to the number of market segments served by the brand, such as age groups, gender, price range, product categories, occasion of use and so on. For instance, with the campaigns “Kuch meetha ho jaye” (let's have something sweet) and “Shubh Aarambh” (auspicious beginnings), Cadbury increased the scope of its Dairy Milk brand liked mainly by kids -- its core audience for chocolates -- to a larger demographic by positioning it as a dessert that can be had at multiple occasions.
To avoid dilution, a business has to be selective while defining its niche and sacrifice aspirations to get into unrelated areas. For instance, once Videocon was a respectable name in the consumer electronics sector. Over time, the brand expanded into new categories such as oil and gas, telecommunications, and direct-to-home (DTH) TV, and so on. Currently, its core business of consumer electronics is struggling, its new ventures haven’t shown tremendous promise, and the brand has not been able to repay its debt.
The dynamics of running a million-dollar business are different from running a 10-million dollar business. Same for running a 100-million dollar business from a 10-million dollar business. As the business evolves, the number of customers, employees, vendors, partners, marketing channels, grow. To meet the stakeholders expectations and provide them consistent and better experience, it is important to evolve the systems and processes in line with the evolution of the business. A brand also has to evolve to remain relevant for its customers. For instance, if the fashion in the market is changing, but a brand is still offering old fashioned products even at the best quality, customers are most likely to move away since the brand failed to evolve and has lost its relevance.
Brand building starts internally first and then externally. An organisation’s culture is owned by everyone at the company—from the CEO to the salesmen to the receptionist. The brand’s promise to its customers can only be met when all its employees understand the brand promise. When employees take up the accountability of their work, they create unique, fresh, engaging, and constantly evolving experiences for consumers.
As the world is changing quickly, it has become important for organisations to keep on coming up with innovative ideas and efficiently execute them to wow their customers. To achieve this goal, organisations have to invest in capabilities represented in every aspect of the business, from its technology to operational systems to its business practices to performance evaluations to supply chain to distribution channels, and so on.
The front-end aspects of the business would not be helpful until the business doesn’t provide consistent experience to its customers. Customers visit McDonald’s in different countries and cities with the expectation that the burger quality and delivery time would be similar. To meet this expectation, back end operations cover the availability of the right burger ingredients such as buns, patties, and so on. Consistent frying time and order management also play a very important role.
A brand is viewed along with its associations. Association of a brand with reputed investors, partners, media publications, customers, awards and distribution channels differentiate it from its competitors in a crowded market. For instance, funding from venture capital funds like Softbank for a startup, favourable ratings for IT companies from analysts like Gartner, your brand as a case study in Harvard Business Review, founders getting awards like EY Entrepreneur of the Year, partnering with Google, winning a customer like Citibank, are some of the milestones that positively alter perception of the brand in the market.
A great product is the foundation of a great brand and best-in-class ingredients are the foundation of a great product. For instance, BookMyShow is in the business of selling an ordinary item i.e. entertainment tickets, but it sells it with an extraordinary experience. For providing this experience, the brand has worked to improve its product on multiple dimensions -- Search functionality, buying experience, frictionless payment process, relevant content, and so on.
Packaging plays an important role in creating the image of a product. It helps attract customers, protecting products, and so on. When a new beverage brand Paper Boat entered a market with much larger legacy players like Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Dabur, its unique packaging played a very important role in gaining customers’ attention. Rather than offering its drinks in cans or bottles, Paper Boat launched its drinks in Doy packs that look and feel like paper. This and the content on the packaging played a very significant role in establishing emotional connect with customers.
Every customer is first a human being and human being has emotions, needs, perspectives and concerns. To understand customers’ challenges, it is important for businesses to experience their customers’ world and empathise with them. For instance, when BYJU’S entered the K-12 market, the team enrolled students into multiple tutoring centres at Bangalore. Each centre gave opportunities to teachers to interact with students and understand their needs. After four years of research & development (R&D), the company launched its app for K-12 segment. By leveraging big data analytics, the app was personalised to style, size and learning pace of different students.
In today’s world, design is one of the factors that differentiate great brands from good ones. Both, design of the product and design of the business model play an important role in brand experience. For instance, from product perspective, design has played an important role in creating likability for the products of brands like Nike and Apple. From business model perspective, Uber and Ola with their shared cab system, and connecting drivers and riders through apps has made the business scalable at an exponential pace.
Branding is not a one-time project, it’s a continuous process to build value in the mind of stakeholders like customers, employees, media, shareholders, and so on. The end goal is to keep them coming back. A combination of the aforementioned ingredients, along with great storytelling and marketing campaigns can help create an admirable brand in the market.
Harsh Pamnani is author of the book - Booming Brands.
(Views expressed are his personal and don't necessarily represent any company's opinions)