22 August 2007

The Prepared Mind: Insights are everywhere, are we looking?

INSIGHTS! Easily the most used, misused, abused word in advertising! Perhaps the one question most often asked is, "achcha, you have any insights on...?"! But where on earth do you find them? The question really is, Are you looking? All the time?

"In the Field of Observation, Chance Favours the Prepared Mind" said Loius Pasteur. It really is no different in the field of advertising!

We start a series here, The Prepared Mind, jotting down stuff we see today, for use some day.

To start off, a couple of scenes from Seinfeld: a delightful moment while buying something expensive, and some post-purchase satisfaction.

Why is a good insight like a refrigerator?/ An all time favourite piece by JWT creative legend Jeremy Bullmore

Here is an Insight: "Product satisfaction arises less from inherent construction and performance than from consumers' internalised perceptions of personal utility."

You may have found it faintly familiar; and - when you finally worked out what it meant - more than faintly obvious. What you won't have found it to be is exhilarating, inspiring, memorable, actionable, evocative. You will not have been tempted to repeat it to colleagues or include it in your next internal newsletter. Certainly, it contains a truth - and an important truth at that; but it just sits there.

Between 40 and 50 years ago, Professor Theodore Levitt famously told his Harvard Business School students: "People don't want quarter-inch drills. They want quarterinch holes." It's been quoted a million times ever since and enlightened generations of marketing people. But what if Professor Levitt had chosen to say this: "Product satisfaction arises less from inherent construction and performance than from consumers' internalised perceptions of personal utility." (Doesn't improve with repetition, does it?)

Whether from their research companies or their communications agencies, marketing companies today are unanimous in demanding insights. There seems to be no universal agreement on what an insight is but a reasonable definition would seem to be something like this: "A new understanding, probably of human behaviour or attitude, as a result of which action may be taken and an enterprise more efficiently conducted."

The call for insights is natural. To return to Levitt's dictum, marketing companies don't want research; they want enlightenment. Conventional market research, professionally conducted, can paint an invaluable picture of the immediate past; but companies also need help in forging their futures. That's what lies behind the demand for insights - but not all insights are equal. They come in two very different styles and with very different values. There are low-potency insights and there are high-potency insights. "Product satisfaction arises less from inherent construction and performance than from consumers' internalised perceptions of personal utility" is a low-potency insight. "People don't want quarter-inch drills. They want quarter-inch holes" is a high-potency insight.

Read the full article here, and find out why an insight is like a refrigerator, http://www.wpp.com/WPP/Marketing/Articles/whyisagoodinsightlikearefrigerator.htm

Planning For Good: Putting social networking to good use

Planning for Good is a brand new group on Facebook formed with the intent of picking up causes, and using collective intelligence to offer solutions to non profit organisations.

With over 300 members already and growing every day, the first brief is out: The Idea Village, a non-profit venture that supports innovative businesses, must now encourage, motivate and retain young talent to elevate the next generation of leaders to reinvent New Orleans.

If you are on Facebook, check this out. If you are not on Facebook, then this is a terrific reason to get on to it.

Planners as Idea Thieves: A new model for network creativity

Another recent Atticus winner, William Charnock, JWT Planning, New York writes about global and local creativity. "What’s wrong with global creativity is that we create a culture of can’t.The output of our process is invariably a list of reasons why creative ideas cannot work (a list of global considerations only the global team is aware of and can solve for). The victims of this process are the central creative teams who are fed a list of impossible demands. “No humor, it will not be understood in Germany”; “No use of language”; “It will not translate”; “No use of sports”; “No reference to numbers, as they have religious meaning”; “Colors too have secret meanings”; “Hand signals are out, as are animals”; “No sex, it will never be allowed on the US networks.” Anything people feel passionate about is deemed out of bounds for global creativity. But the internet and global communications have eroded the boundaries between local and global to the point where everything we create exists on a global stage. Whether we like it or not, advertising agencies are no longer in charge of what gets distributed to where—the consumer is. Global ideas are no longer the ones designated global by a global team; they are the ideas that have broad appeal and touch a nerve withconsumers in many parts of the world. Global ideas are simply the best ideas in the world that rise to the top and get circulated and distributed by the people who consume them. Global ideas are local ideas with world class potential."

He advocates a new model where planners should be ideas thief and idea modifier. 'Such a model changes how global teams work... their global role should be one of “idea thief” and “modifier.” As “idea thief,” the planner takes the best, most successful ideas and tries to identify why the idea worked so well locally and what it would take to replicate that successfully in different markets/cultures. As ”modifier,” the global planner takes local ideas and adds their own interpretation/execution of it, often merging or combining ideas from different markets that touch on a similar territory.'

Read the full article here, http://networkcreativity.com/

Unlocking Naturals: Shaziya's Recent Atticus Win

JWT Planning, Mumbai, Shaziya Khan’s paper on Unlocking Naturals - a point of view on the under-exploited potential of “natural” products - won an Atticus Certificate of Merit this year. She argues that natural products may have been discovered in the past, but natural brands can be new age, bright and potentially iconic if taken out of the dark. Deeply embedded meanings and associations of naturals could be an incredibly appealing new age choice that encompasses life choices, design philosophies and spirited individualism, giving a powerful resonance to what ‘being natural’ really is.

Read the article which first appeared in BusinessWorld here,

Or the Admap version here,

12 August 2007

Welcome to Coffee and Donuts on the Net!

To kick off Coffee and Donuts on the Net, we bring you Guy Murphy, JWT Worldwide Planning Director's post, "Objectives are for wimps" from the IPA Strategy Group blog.

And we marvel at the Atticus award winning paper written by Shaziya Khan, JWT Planning Mumbai, many years ago - see how what she said has come so true!

Objectives are for wimps/ Guy Murphy, JWT Worldwide Planning Director

Objectives are for wimps

Guy Murphy JWT Worldwide Planning Director makes a case for spending more time defining objectives before getting into strategy discussions.

“ Why do we spend so little time thinking about the objective for communication? And why, instead, do we plunge so quickly into strategy?” he asks. “Having an objective tells us how to evaluate strategy. It also tells us how to judge levels of success. But most fundamentally, having the right objective means you have properly defined the problem and are therefore more likely to be successful.

I will always remember the tale of the tomato farmer whose tomato farming machinery was too big to pick the tomatoes. But instead of defining the problem as having the wrong machinery (and having to spend millions to upgrade), he defined the problem as not growing big enough tomatoes (needing only minor investment). A problem well defined is an objective well understood.So, if it is so important, why do we not talk much about objectives?”

Read his article “Objectives are for wimps” here http://ipastrategygroup.blogspot.com/2007/03/objectives-are-for-wimps.html

The impact of media on identity/Shaziya Khan, JWT Planning, Mumbai

Way back in 2000, Shaziya Khan, JWT Planning, Mumbai, won an Atticus award for her paper The Impact of Media on Identity, in which she wrote about Imagined Communities and argued that the task of media practitioners should be to build communities around a brand. Something that has become the order of the day today.
This is what her paper said back then…

The Impact of Media on Identity

The media shape identity. Those working in the media business understand its impact in familiar but somewhat superficial measures like reach and recall. However, from a deeper socio-cultural perspective the media are seen to have a more fundamental impact - shaping collective identity. When we understand that, we become better media practitioners.

The evidence proves that the media impact collective identity in two ways:
1) The media create 'imagined communities': the media shape a collective identity that enables people to imagine a connectedness on a broader than local scale, linking people who may never physically meet. This is because the media afford a sense of participation, a celebration of the instantaneous 'this-is-going-on' culture.
2) Due to the media, our imagining is bifocal i.e. global and local: Global media events ignore geographical and cultural boundaries. This has led to this age being called the age of hyper space in which media events create new geographies of the world and its inhabitants. While I would not go so far as McKenzie Wark, who argues 'we no longer have roots, we have aerials', I would conclude that due to the media our imagining is increasingly bifocal - global and local.What does the impact of media on collective identity imply for media practitioners? Given that media technology is shifting rapidly and media habits of people are changing rapidly, there is a call for a more holistic approach toward the hugely expanded choices available to media practitioners. To add value from the centre and synergise the impact of diverse activities used for brand building, I believe that understanding the impact of media on identity provides useful applications. And these apply to all media businesses, helping us to become wiser media practitioners.

Creating Imagined Communities

If we accept that the real power of the media is to create imagined communities - then there is a paradigm shift in how we work in the media business. Let’s take a hypothetical scenario from a ‘brand communication company’ working on Pond’s talcum powder for modern Indian women.

Paradigm shift # 1: redefining our jobs
The task of media businesses is not merely to 'reach' or target a selected community but in fact to create this imagined community. In political and cultural spheres, the media have been effectively harnessed to create imagined communities. In our businesses we sit, atop the same power that created revolutions, gave birth to nations and changed cultural tastes. Are we harnessing it? In fact, before we do that, do we even understand what it is capable of? There is no community 'out there', the community has always to be created. For example, the communication for Pond's talcum powder in India is not merely targeted to the modern Indian woman. The task of the communication is to create this imagined community of modern women.

Paradigm shift # 2: redefining our starting point
If our job is to create an imagined community, then the starting point is identifying what values bind this community together. There are legendary brands that have already demonstrated this successfully. And achieved near cult status in the process. For example, Harley Davidson, whose values are freedom, individuality and respect. Identifying its core values and living up to them, is the key to building an imagined community around a brand. Simple. This means we don't start with a neatly defined target audience (though a likely target group is profiled at some stage) but we start with and focus on the values the brand wants to stand for.

Relatedly, a) These can be known or acceptable values such as 'eco friendly' is today or these can be unknown and radical values such as 'equal rights' was a few centuries back.
b) These values are going to be best articulated by leaders of the imagined community who may be inside or outside the particular media business. Their involvement at the starting point enriches the process of creation.

Paradigm shift # 3: redefining our measures
The measure of how well we do our job is what degree of connectedness or comradeship we build among members of our imagined community. This implies that measures of media effectiveness have to include more qualitative parameters. Using only quantitative measures, simplifies rather than manages the complexity of measuring media impact and effectiveness. If a handful of photocopied pamphlets can cause a revolution, we certainly have reason to believe that it is quality of involvement with the media in addition to size of audience that evidences its real effectiveness. And we need to figure out how to capture this. What the internet has taught us is that 'intrusion marketing' is going to die. 'Permission marketing' is in. Consumers will be part of communities that they like to be part of. Capturing people's imagination is a tough thing to do and a tough thing to measure. But we need to find out ways to do that.

Creating Bifocal Imagining
Since the media increasingly engender bifocal (global and local) imagining among people, this implies that potentially almost everyone can be well read and well travelled... just from sitting in front of the computer or television screen. Bifocal imagining holds rich promise for all our diverse media businesses - it simultaneously makes our canvass richer and demands that it be so. Creating 'killer content', providing the 'e' factor and other similar arguments build a strong case for 'content being king'. Of course, richer, sassier, friendlier, punchier content is always better. The concept of bifocal imagining provides an insight into how we can deliver it. In design and copy, there would be a need for richer and faster cross border flows of ethnic signs, symbols and lingo making for a more cosmopolitan creative canvass. To give a small example, today, guru (a Hindi word) and spiel (a Jewish word) are some imports into spoken and written English. However, in the future, copy and design, books and screenplays will be much richer due to increased "export-import" (a gem of 'Indian English', which is in itself an art form!) of cultural artefacts made possible due to bifocal imagining. The process has already begun. To quote Manoj Night Shyamalan, the 28 year old South Indian writer and director of the film 'The Sixth Sense': "I don't make choices that are just America, or just Philadelphia where I live, it's more about what my grandma is going to think, what my friends in Hong Kong are going to think. It's all a global feeling, [...] it's nice to think about that because it is a world audience."

A sign
These are exciting times to work in the media business. It's a business of ideas and of the imagination. And, as we've seen it can really have a powerful impact. A sign at one of the world's highest natural bungee jumps (111 metres) on the Zambezi river says: 'If you're standing on the edge you're occupying too much space'. It's a sign for media practitioners as well. Are they creating imagined communities and bifocal imagining or are they just occupying space?

The power and the glory: Coffee and Donuts/July 07/ Excerpts from JWT study on global Indians

The Power and the Glory
Highlights from recent JWT study on Global Indians

For the global Indian, work is clearly worship - at the altar of fame and money - and a stepping stone to playing God, some day soon.

• Work is worship
*Career is at the heart of life. * Work is an avenue for creativity and innovation * Independence, reduction of distance to the leadership and organizational backing of ideas are important values that companies must offer * There is a driving desire to have the power to take decisions and have people reporting to you * One must build one’s name to be bigger than the company one belongs to * There is growing unwillingness to work for others and need to get credit for one’s own work and not give it to the company * Younger men like the idea of having a hold on their leaders through being a specialist/expert * Dealing with younger, more talented people is one of the challenges for the older people.

• Globalness
*It is important to work for an international company * Ambitions must go beyond India. * Through work, they “want a name for boosting the country’s economy”. There is thirst to play a role in the global impact India is going to have; create jobs, wealth and technology * They feel a certain responsibility to make India a better place.

• Relationships
*All other areas of life stem from success at work and must contribute to the search for glory. * Family respect depends on career success * Wife must actively help and support the search for glory * Men feel wife is second to career, and she knows it and it is to her advantage, because his success brings her greater social respect * Friends and networks are important because “they come in handy”, “you never know who you will need, when” * Friends must help you with your ideas * Women want their spouses to be a source of inspiration.

• Money
* Money is a natural consequence of success at work * Money leads to better lifestyle, which again reflects success at work, and feeds back to climbing the social ladder, which is seen as an important part of work life rather than separate * Heightened personal confidence, ability to take risks, broadening of views and fearless expression of views, social and legal insulation, are some of the other payoffs of money * Relaxation is important but also a waste of time, the time is better spent making more money * Money is better spent, leveraged and shown-off in India rather than outside the country.

• Social give-back
*Extreme expertise at work and money allows one to transcend to social give-back, which actually makes you feel you are playing god. This benevolence too is a reflection of, and route to, glory.

• Spiritual liberation
* It’s the cushion of affluence that will allow and facilitate even spiritual liberation* Experiences * The value of life is now estimated in terms of the quality of experiences one has, and work is central to this too * Work itself is among the possible enriching experiences * Work leads to money, and money makes many new experiences possible – leisure experiences, tech experiences, entrepreneurial adventures as well as (supposedly) noble activities.

• Technology
* Increasing familiarity with technology and the fact that more numbers of people are actually involved in creating technology, means that technology products need to talk a different language – and this is not necessarily a marketing language * These workers take great pride in the ability of individuals and like minded groups to create revolutions; there is some disdain for large organizations even as they work in them * They see through organizations and “manufactured” claims very quickly * They demand proof, higher degree of relevance and demonstration of experiences.

• Masculinity
* Above all, the global Indian spirit is in fact driving the Indian male’s rediscovery of his masculinity, which was somewhat under question in the light of growing woman power, growing child power, and too much media talk on the feminine side of him.

• Implication for brands
1) Compliment, partner and further the newfound rediscovery of a high level of self worth.
2) Give him a role to play in shaping the brand’s success rather than be passive receivers of brand messages, co-custodian rather than consumer.
3) Stand for more elevated, inspiring, larger life purposes – brands that aim to transform economies, societies and the way individual lives are lived, will find greater relevance than brands that offer transient payoffs or operate in the area of just reflecting his personality, attracting female attention or being a statement of style and achievement.
4) Draw from the 16 hot payoffs that most resonate with this leading edge target group. Brands - with messages, products, services, activities and associations - should help to: look at life with courage, symbolise their influence over others, partner their goal oriented nature, reflect and reward their highly competitive spirit, make them feel more intelligent than others, bring out their creativity and innovative ideas, encourage them to do things that have not been done before, inspire them with wisdom for a higher level of leadership.

This study was done throught Brand Chakras™ - a proprietary toolkit of JWT India.

Brand Chakras is a strategic planning tool for brand development based on a 2,000 year-old system from the Indian Upanishads – the Chakra system as laid out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – the first system of understanding human behaviour based on the human body, that has never been applied to brands.

The seven major chakras are seven basic energy centers that create the seven driving life themes that we live by.These chakras correlate not only to levels of consciousness but also to archetypes and personality dimensions that shape everything from fundamental values and beliefs to fears, desires, motivations, habits and day-to-day behaviour of every human being.

Brand Chakras™ is constructed on seven different “playgrounds of desires” as it were.
The Brand Chakras™ toolkit spans quantitative and qualitative tools to understand and measure target groups, brands, as well as payoffs. This study used Chakra Payoffs Reading, which creates a battery of payoffs that brands can offer consumers and is useful for insight mining/qualitative research as well as quantitative analysis of consumer relationship with category or expectation from the brand.

Chakra 1: Muladhara:Urge for survival – Abundance and physical strength
Chakra 2: Swaddisthana:Pursuit of pleasure – Sexual vitality and physical creativity
Chakra 3: Manipura:Drive for power – Good will and right actions
Chakra 4: Anahata:Quest for love – Higher emotions
Chakra 5: Vishuddha:Voice of creative expression – Truth and higher creativity
Chakra 6: Ajna:Desire for transcendence – Active intelligence
Chakra 7: Sahasara:Surrender to spirituality – Mental and intuitive intelligence

This study found that the global Indian today is largely driven by:
* Manipura: the drive for power (solar plexus);
* Vishuddha: the voice of creative expression - in search of truth and higher creativity (throat);
* Ajna: desire for transcendence - active intelligence (third eye).

For more details on Brand Chakras™, see http://www.brandchakras.com/

11 August 2007

The performance matrix: Coffee and Donuts/April 07/Amit Sutha, JWT Planning, Mumbai

The Performance Matrix

Performance edge has always been the foundation of brand strength. Many of the world’s most successful brands appreciated and understood the power of their technical product difference (however minute it may have been) and were able to convert it into a mental distance, thus increasing consumer bonding with the brand.

Unfortunately, the more product parity increases, the more brands are getting dependant on either the much abused ‘emotional’ to create any kind of differentiation; Or it’s about the other brand buzz word: SALIENCE - Say the same thing but say it louder than any other!

So, is there a more rigorous way, or a thumb rule, or a quick ready reckoner by which we can build ‘perceptual advantages’ for brands on ‘functional aspects’? Turning technical product difference into mental distance?

The five mental fields of performance
These five fields are to do with the five different ways in which a consumer evaluates the claim of any brand or product.
1.Can I measure delivery in any way?
2.How do I reassure myself that it works?
3.What does it have that tells me ‘it works’?
4.Is there anything I can judge it against?
5.How does it connect to ‘my’ life?
The brand's ability to answer at least one of these questions unequivocally, credibly and better than competition, improves its chances of impressing the consumer and convincing him/her of the performance claim.

The Quantification Lever: Can I measure the brand's delivery?
The brand’s claim to be quantifiably and substantially better than any other competition or as evaluated against a pre-set category norm.
Xx% more…
• Pepsodent - Fights 10 teeth problems against five of any other
• Surf - Removes 99 stains
• Ford Fiesta Diesel - 32kmpl, 1570 km on a full tank

The Credibility Lever: How do I reassure myself that it works?

• Nothing works better than ‘word of mouth’
• Hearing someone who knows better than me
• By experiencing performance - seeing is believing
3 communication styles used - user testimonial, expert recommendation or performance
• Dove - Candid real user testimonials
• Colgate, Lifebuoy - Doctor testimonials
• Servo (2T Bike oil) - Performance demonstration

The Attribute Lever: What does it have that tells me ‘it works’?

What’s true about the product/brand that implies truth of its performance claim. The stories most commonly used by brands today are of an ingredient, a formulation or a technology. This ‘truth’ could be real (contains Aloe Vera) or could be created/branded (Quattro technology).
• VIM Bar - Lemon Power
• Samsung - NeoMosel LCD TV
• LG - Golden Eye
• Bajaj Pulsar – DTSi

The Judgement Lever: Is there anything I can judge it against?
This is all about comparing performance of the brand against an established benchmark. The benchmark could come from anywhere - technological specification, desired ideal, an icon of superiority, a gold standard, or a torture test… just about anything that is relevant to the promise.
• Bru Instant Coffee - As good as filter coffee
• Castrol Engine Oil - Performs even at 110 degrees
• Onida AC - Cools even in 48˚C

The Emotional Lever: How does brand performance connect to my life?
It’s about a promise that fulfills a certain need in ones’ life, it’s about building reassurance, trust, confidence…
• ICICI Bank - Hum hain na
• LG - Life's Good
• Asian Paints - Har rang kuch kehta hai
• Surf Excel Hai na

The Big Question

When should a brand use which lever to create mental distance in the mind? Needless to say, that will depend on how consumers evaluate a brand's performance. And at a basic level, consumers evaluate brand performance on 2 levels.
1. Extent of Technical Product Advantage.

2. Extent of consumer skepticism in category performance claims.

Based on how a consumer evaluates the performance of brands within a category; the category itself can be plotted on different positions in the framework. This framework can be further imploded. So each entry (category /sub-category) and the brands therein can be further plotted into another such framework. With TECHNICAL PRODUCT ADVANTAGE Perceptible/Marginal/None on one axis and CONSUMER SKEPTICISM High/Moderate/Low on another

But to create the ‘right way’ for a brand to arrive at an effective ‘performance position’ it is important to plot the five performance levers into the grid.


• Define position on the Performance Matrix Framework.
• Define position with respect to category, sub category and/or in the competitive context
• Given the brand's position on the map, framework will automatically indicate which levers work.
• And then, it’s all up to the brand team's judgment and creativity.

Ooh Aah India, Aaya India: Coffee and Donuts/March 07/Excerpts from article by Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT India

Ooh Aah India, Aaya India!
What Indian brands need to do to become global brands

In Nation Brands of the 21st Century, Simon Anholt says: “Fifteen years ago, who would have believed that we Europeans could be happily consuming Chinese Tsingtao beer or Malaysian Proton cars? That one of the hottest-selling perfumes in Paris would be Urvashi, manufactured in India by a company that previously specialized in hydraulic brake fluid?”

Whether it is the realization of the advantages of a large young population or the newfound confidence – epitomized by the "India Everywhere" campaign in Davos this year, the message that is reaching all Indian manufacturers is that it is possible to “go global” and that it is now or never. And the Indian media is further fuelling this by aggressively, reporting and reflecting the same with pride and optimism.

Consultants who were advising multinationals on their entry strategy into India are now helping Indian companies chart their growth in world markets. While Brand India itself may be gaining recognition, all manufacturers are aware that Indian brands as such are yet to make their mark on the world map – unlike Japanese and Korean brands or even the Chinese Lenovo.

In this moment of history as it were, what could be a best practice framework for Indian brands wanting to become global brands?

1) Indian brands must work from India’s own unique DNA.
While there are plenty of lessons to learn from global /Western brands, blindly replicating their templates really will not work. Indian brands that have become successful have picked an essential Indian truth: Gandhi: alternative to violence; Deepak Chopra: alternative mental health; Kerala: an alternative tourist idea; Bollywood: extravaganza; Indian fantasy: Indian IT: cost, willingness to work round the clock; Indian Managers: intellect.

2) Industries need to get together.
Davos, Kerala, Nasscom, Bollywood … More Indian industries need to come together with a larger purpose, think long term, learn to manage collective money, share risks and develop opportunities. Indian industries like leather, tea, spices, must examine the processes and practices of world industries like diamonds, platinum, Woolmark, and Country of Origin brands like New Zealand Lamb. Once Indian industries start thinking in terms of labels, quality standards and stamps, the day may not be far off, when LVMH bags will have a small tag that reads “Made with Indian leather” or Marlboro cigarettes have “India tobacco inside”.

3) Back evangelists to the hilt.
Indian IT is an example. A few people became heroes, but thousands of smaller companies benefited. The Azim Premjis,Narayana Murthys, Ratan Tatas of this world have deep-rooted greatness, be it humility, integrity or quality. It serves our nation well as it epitomises our quest, so while industry may judge them on profits alone, their genuine philanthropy and compassion is equally legendary.

4) Take global gatherings/trade fairs and presence in other countries seriously.
“We had a stall” is not enough. “We export to 13 countries” is not enough. Indian companies need to make their presence felt in the countries that they operate in. They must think spectacular. Aim to shock and awe. It’s the new way to battle and it needs a plan.

5) Don’t imitate products of Western design; make R & D fashionable.
Indian companies do not invest enough in product planning based on consumer behavior and trend forecasting. There’s a lack of “finish” in the manufacturing. India should learn from the Koreans; they have managed stunning design and technology. The good news is India can do it, and now. Kurkure, a totally Indian brand of snacks created and developed by Frito Lay’s India operations, is so huge and fast-growing that it might soon be rolled out as a worldwide brand. If India can do it with something as basic as snack food, the sky is the limit. So give R&D its space in the sun. Treat R&D chiefs the way gastronomes treat celebrity chefs - with respect and awe for the feast they can put out.

6) Get a better understanding of value propositions.
A Korean lesson. Earlier, most Europeans and Americans may have bought Japanese products because they were significantly cheaper; but now they consistently pay more for it. The same applies to some Korean products. So it is possible to shed the “cheap” image if India can get its act together on the design-technology-value combination. This is what has been the defense strategy of most Indian brands that have given MNCs a run for their money. They found a differentiation, innovated, tapped into a native habit, sensed a trend, cracked a value equation. From shampoo sachets to SUVs, this is something Indian industry will need to understand if it wants to compete with the Chinese too.

7) Execution, execution, execution.
The Indian psychological make-up is more inclined to thinking rather than doing. The size and scale of the country and the different strata that people come from, often makes perfection in execution next to impossible. India’s expectations of its own service standards are very low. Indians tend to be not very demanding and in fact often dismiss poor quality standards with affectionate forgiveness and a strange pride that says “we are like this only”.

8) Hear the distant signals and take serious action.
Child labor, animal welfare, environment, human rights: Maybe in the future India could build products around ideas in this area. In an interview on branding Web site AllAboutBranding.com, Martin Lindstrom commented: “Far too few corporates seem prepared to go out on a limb, take a position and voice an opinion. They just want to mind their own business. But as national reputation awareness climbs, and consumers increasingly factor nationality and more particular national attitudes and actions into their consideration sets, companies may find they have little option but to think through and articulate where in the world they stand on a whole range of issues. It’s a whole new take on globalization.”

9) Documentation, sharing.
India realized it could generate its own case studies only when Harvard Business Review sited a few. Indian organizations in general are still reluctant to share details for mutual benefit.

10) Understand that messaging is an investment, not an expenditure.
Indian corporations will have to stop balking at communication costs in international media. But more than conventional messaging, India in the early stages will need offbeat ideas to “implant” the Indian story everywhere - whether it is through connections in high places, talks in colleges, unique distribution ideas, or extravagant shows and brand ambassadors.

“Like an international traveler, at any given time a global brand is simply a combination of two things: where it is from and where it is going. Long-term success in a high-speed, multi-layered, unpredictable global marketplace requires a clear understanding of both.” Elliot Polak in Going Global: How Local Origin Affects Brand Strategy.

Indian brands know where they are from. They just have to decide where they want to go. And how fast.

Read the original article here http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/261098.cms

Pre Mature Adults: Coffee and Donuts/Feb 07/ Anupama WaghKoppar, JWT Planning, Delhi

Pre Mature Adults
Are we raising our child consumers right?

By 2020 50% of India’s population will be under 35. Already, one-third of our population is under the age of 15 - which is clearly the reason why marketers are both targetting and using children in communication.

Are we reaching out to kids with adult messages and adding to an environment that is pushing them to grow up sooner than required? Are we developing a generation of cynics – and consequently a trap for ourselves, as they will pose greater challenges to marketers than any previous generation?

A few basic psychological truths about children

§ They consume messages in black and white without deeper processing.
§ They live life in the present and do not think about the future.
§ They may desire independence, but they also like to have clear guidelines as they cannot logically prioritize their activities.
§ They learn behavior from observation and shape their attitudes from role models.
§ They learn and experience through all the five senses as the cognitive abilities are just developing. Over-exposure leads to sensory overload, causing confusion and learning disability.

Signs and symptoms in the environment

§ Spaghetti strap dresses, tank tops and low waist jeans are more desirable than flowery frocks and little smock dresses.
§ Beyblade and play laptops are more exciting than the winding of the humble tops.
§ Vindictive dialogues and steamy lyrics are more top of mind than nursery rhymes.
§ Winning the grand prize at the birthday party is much more important than rolling on the grass and throwing pastries at one another.
§ Unnatural expectations of being super all rounders
§ Too many activities, too many choices, too much competition, leaving little room for unstructured play.
§ Exposure to adult messages before they are far from emotionally ready to handle the responsibility that comes with it.


What is PMA syndrome?

When kids behave like adults or clearly beyond their age and are not mentally ready to handle the consequences of their behavior or rationalize the experience.

Children learn through the process of socialization of which purchasing occasion is also one. Whether they shop alone or jointly with their parents, such occasions lend to imparting experiences necessary for their growing up and upbringing. Positive experiences are critical as negative experiences can make the child cynical about brands.


§ Destruction of sense of awe: one that keeps the mind fresh and open to things. Knowing too much too soon kills the joy of discovering taking away the excitement.
§ Role ambiguity : conflicting messages from parents and society creates confusion in childrens minds about their role and how they should conduct themselves. This create loss of confidence and complexes in a child’s psyche.
§ Limiting creativity and imagination : doing all the thinking for them and making everything available on a platter is bound to slow down their mind.
§ Growing cynicism : becoming bitter from the experiences in the past and prematurely disappointed in the future (Sidney J Harris). The accessibility and sensory overload gives rise to cynicism. These children will struggle to find something that is meaningful in life.
§ Affecting sense of self-worth: having to be an all rounder all the time destroys the sense of worth and cause individuals to become disillusioned


§ Brands will find it difficult to become iconic, for this needs consumers who are positive, love themselves and find expression of their identity in brands.
§ Brands will find it more difficult to build credibility around their propositions.
§ Brands will increasingly face not just lack of commitment but indifference.
THEREFORE : The need to walk the tight rope between being strategist and counsellor.


1. Retain the innocence in messages – resist the temptaion to layer messages with implied meanings and depiction of grey areas.
2. Be simple in delivering the messages – simple words and message reduce the confusion and increase effectiveness.
3. Be truthful – compromise product truth, and risk being seen through.
4. Be contextual - set the context for claims clearly.
5. Use symbolic language carefully –colour, sound, dress or body language.Do not confuse or over sensitize the child.
6. Help them decide- rather than trying to lure them.

Let’s attempt to raise balanced and happy consumers just like we attempt to raise our children.

Planet kids: Coffee and Donuts/Jan 07/Suresh Mohankumar, JWT Planning, Chennai

Planet Kids
What appeals to kids and why ?

Why do kids act the way they do? Why do they love cartoons and video games? Why do they love horror movies? Why are they so captivated by negative themes? Why do some brands hold them captive while others do not seem to exist as far as they are concerned? Why do they wear different behavioral masks ever so often? Why do they keep changing all the time?

Why are gangs so big with them? Why do they love spending so much time outside of their homes? Why do they dig technology and fashion? Why do they love doing certain things and not others? Why do they like some people, while being totally cold towards others? questions that continue to plague parents, teachers, brand managers and behavioral scientists alike.We have attempted answering these questions through secondary research and by creating a framework that captures the key drivers in the life of kids.

Scientifically speaking
Brain growth, cognition, needs and success stories; Dan S. Acuff in his book ‘What kids buy and why’ offers tantalizing insights into these topics.
3-7 years – The Fantasy Phase
Brain growth
- right hemisphere development
- specialize on nonlinear, non logical abilities
- they cannot pay much attention to verbal communication
- they love accumulating; want ‘lots of stuff’
- spontaneous and illogical
- impulsive and reactive
- they think in black and white, right and wrong
- their minds tell them that virtually anything is possible, non human objects are given human characteristics.
- to be busy
- to be entertained
- to be safe and protected
- to have power and independence
- to be a super hero and super sports star
Success stories
Power rangers: Teen gang of do-gooders, they fight evil as they turn ordinary teens to super heroes
8-12 years – The Rules Phase
Brain growth
- left brain development takes place
- they can now think more rationally and logically
- in order to be perceived by themselves and by others as having grown up they aggressively push away the seemingly more childish concepts in toys and even apparel.
- they are now able to appreciate and pay attention to details
- social skills develop; they form groups
- they become brand conscious and discerning
- they get tired of simple communication and demand more complex reality based toys
- they have a sense of what is cool and what isn’t
- they develop an attraction for the darker side of life, there is also an increased attraction to the bad boys of the society.
- to be popular
- to be attractive
- to tackle rules
- to compete
Success stories
- Playstation, Barbie
13-15 years – ‘I am no kid’ Phase
Brain development
- mid brain development complete
- is able to go beyond simple black and white thinking
- starts challenging established beliefs and points of view
- can understand the subtleties of innuendo, sarcasm and irony
- this is the period of identity formation, opinion formation
- will have mood swings could distance themselves from parents.
- looking good, power and self esteem gains increasing importance
- peers play an enormous role in decision making
- a period of experimentation, they try on various faces before deciding on the one they will wear for life.
- an urge to push aside the status quo
- they crave for increased independence
- to be accepted by peers
- to have a self identity
- to experiment with adult programs and products
Success stories
- Nike and Levis
16-19 years – The End of Childhood phase
Brain growth
- prefrontal lobe development takes place giving them the ability to empathize and to control impulsive reaction
- The fully developed brain gives them the ability to act and react like an adult
- logical operations they are increasingly able to perform complex and abstract tasks
- subjects like career, future, relationships, identity will be of increased importance
- to be successful
- to be autonomous
- to belong and hang out
Success stories
- Pulsar, Axe

Kid Themes – A JWT Framework

Conceived as an alternative to the world of adults, but has much in common with it. Serves as a finishing school for the games they will play as adults. Gangs are an integral part of their lives; and is their attempt to run away from the world controlled by rules dictated by adults. There is an immense pressure to confirm within these gangs and they are shrouded in mystery. These gangs are run by a set of very clearly laid out rules and there is a constant tussle within the gang to figure out the hierarchy. Gangs intuitively seek out ‘autonomous zones’, places where the adult right does not run. Street corners, playgrounds, coffee shops and school after school hours serve as autonomous zones.

Technology serves as an important tool for distancing themselves from the world of adults. Adults are constantly fumbling with technology. It is something adults do not understand or are comfortable with. They take great pride in talking to parents about the Nokia N series and the features that it has. They regularly go online to chat, download music and play games. They may not all own cell phones, yet, however dads or moms phone is always handy to send SMSs or MMSs to friends. Playstations and X Boxes are what cycles were twenty years ago.

Fashion gurus
Fashion serves as a parallel tool for distancing from adults. Girls love pedal pushers, capris and sleeve less tops. Guys love coolers and jackets. They don’t like to go shopping for clothes with parents; they just cannot put up with adult chides to their fashion tastes. Fashion brands have noticed their love for adultish taste “We use a lot of sheer fabric, deeper necklines and more strappy tops in the kids segment because what looks
outrageous by Indian standards on an adult merely looks adorable on children” says Sanjeev Mohanty, Marketing Head Benneton India.

Thrill seekers
They love horror; the spookier it is the better. It is their way of saying “I can handle this can you?” Their heroes are no longer out there trying to save the world. Instead they kidnap and hold fairies for ransom in pursuit of their riches – meet Artemis Fowl the super criminal. They love stuff that can gross you out. Mock roaches, rubber skulls that ooze out blood when you squeeze them are the kind of things that drive them mad. Fantasy is still a pet love but it has to push every limit, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have done this with every sequel. They love speed and action. They love Vin Diesel especially in ‘Fast and the Furious’ Cruiser bikes and sports cars are high on their list of most admired items.

Cool and uncool
There are cool and uncool people and there are cool and uncool activities.Besides the strategies they have adopted to cope with authority figures and to be seen as more grown up is what really defines this tribe is their worldview. Cool people are those who don’t break into a sweat even when the world around them is going on fire. They never get tense or take things too seriously. Cool people are also those who enjoy every minute of their lives. In their world you are cool if you have style: if you dress right, talk right and act right then you pass the ‘coolness test’. Sania is cool not just because of what she does on the tennis court but also because of her glasses and her nose ring. Kareena and Salman are seen as uncools because they are rude and selfish show-offs. Linkin Park and Shaan are cool but anyone who tries too hard at being cool are definitely uncool.


They are cynical about brands and advertising. A brand can never barge into their world. It needs to be invited in. Brands need to go through the gang initiation process. The brand needs to come through as their ally,someone who has an innate understanding of what they are seeking, someone who would stand by them in their continued struggle against adults and their rules. They love advertising that is fast paced, interactive, irreverent and something that rivals Playstation and X box in terms of graphics and production values.

There are four major drivers in the life of pre teens

They want to be the only one in control of their life. Brands that offer them control albeit for a short while will be friends for keeps. Give them a sense of importance within their family and peer group and they will love you for it.

They are not the kid you were when you were of their age. They hate being patronized, they still enjoy going one up on adults but it needs to be handled with ‘mature’ gloves, forget all the over the top slapstick stuff.

They want it all and they want it now. They would surely appreciate anything that would make them a Bill Gates or a Dhoni or both.

Don’t try too hard to be their pal they will hate you for it. A slightly standoffish demeanor, a dash of mystery and tones of style is what you need to really hit it off with them.

But whatever you do never treat him like a kid and don’t bother telling him what to do.

Creativity today: Coffee and Donuts/Dec 06

Creativity today

There was a time when to be ”creative” was to sing or dance or draw or paint or at best, make films. Only a few could do it, you had to be born talented, and the rest of the world watched and admired. Newscasters were not creative, techies were not creative, engineers were not creative, cooks were not creative. Not any more!

* Today everyone is creative. And today everyone makes money being creative.
* Today creative is not appreciation of high art reserved for the few, but entertainment for
* Today you must teach, spread and share your creativity.
* Today you start being creative at a very early age.
* Today besides being creative, if you can link it to a cause, social or everyday health even better.
* And if you can “go global” with your creativity… well, that’s the best.

Democratisation of Creativity

Let’s take a look at the different kinds of creative people today. The young henna expert who charges Rs3,500 to decorate a bride’s palms. The flair bartenders who do elaborate stunts with fire and flame are creative. The participants in the Great Indian Laughter Challenge, the city rock bands, the theater groups. People who devise game shows. Jeeva the travelling storyteller - on a global platform, from Singapore to San Diego. The people who design scary experiences with disembodied hands, trap doors and screams in mega malls. The boys and girls who work in animation houses, that too for foreign films. RJs in FM radio stations who are auditioned for clarity and tonal quality of voice, musical expertise and “creativity”. Everyone who participated in the largest drum ensemble in Guwahati. Bhanumathi, the first woman puppet maker and performer of contemporary puppetry. She holds workshops for anyone between 8 and 80, gives you a kit, teaches you how to make puppets, helps you to learn how to write a script and songs besides finger movements, presentation and voice modulation. And all her scripts are about environment education. Women and children who learn Tanjore painting, radium painting, jewelry making, candle making. Every housewife, with her curtain ideas, her kitchen cabinets, her navaratri gift packs and diwali sweet packs.

With this “democratization” of creativity as it were, comes a certain “universality” which goes beyond “fusion” as we have traditionally known it.

Universalisation of Creativity

Post production, animation, visual effects, fine arts, software, animatronics, electronics, film, fashion, performing arts, art and craft, gaming… all merge. Art, technology and innovation merge. Materials, disciplines, influences and cultures are merging to create multicultural experiences that must surely make the average Indian universal citizens.

Anita Ratnam’s Bharatnatyam incorporates Chinese martial arts and Tibetan chanting. A review of Malavika Sarukai’s performance describes fascinating dances, but ends by saying you didn’t know which school it belonged to, was it Bharatnatyam at all? Another dancer conceptualizes an Indo Korean dance venture for the Seoul Performing Arts Festival. The November Music Festival in Chennai this year will feature Pakistani, and German music, Syrian hymns in Aramaic, in addition to Abhangs and World Music. Brhaddhvani, a research and training center for traditional Carnatic music has summer workshops with dances and music of South Asian countries and the valedictory function includes African dances. An English play is staged with Carnatic music. Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is enacted in Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Hindi – all at once, in the same play on the same stage. Another theater group presents a trilingual production – three plays in three different languages, a presentation of unusual short stories.

We hear of new materials and combinations and schools of art every day. Ajrak and Sanghneri block prints, embroidery styles like ari and rashida, organzas embellished with badla.A textile exhibition showcases 200 odd fabrics in varying combinations of cotton, wool, silk and jute patterns and textures. A furniture shop announces a new range of furniture which is a fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese and French if you please. Artists combine painting with photography, cartoons, linoloeum prints, sculpture, industrial junk for raw material, acrylic engraving, folk and kitsch.

The Socialisation of Creativity

The Neemrana quartet, a French classical band, performs to an enraptured group of slum dwellers. Playing Beethoven and Bach to coolies, washerwomen and children who, the news item tells us, hoot in delight.Werner Dornik, an Austrian artist, who has set up the Bindu Art School for leprosy patients who paint for four hours a day, some of them painting with brushes fixed to their fingerless hands with rubber bands. They then share the money and use it to help others like themselves. Then there's Art for Health. Sathya Narayana, of the Shrishti Institute of Dance Therapy, Bangalore, uses dance movements and mudras for therapeutic purposes. Different dance movements for bulging midriffs, spondylitis, activation of liver and pancreas, mobilizing insulin and even sexual dysfunctions.Yogasanas, folk dance and martial art based steps and movements that blend exercise and dance in whole new ways for a whole new purpose. Of course, much has been made of “music therapy” – elaborate how-tos in every other newspaper and magazine tell you to have a bath, put on a headphone, light candles, lie down and listen to music, and focus on the silences between notes. And in case you hadn’t figured it out, do listen to slow music to calm down and fast music for stimulation. An entire industry of CDs and cassettes is now flourishing on this.
An elaborate article by Rekha Shetty of mindspower.com interestingly advises application of the nava rasas in daily life. Become a volunteer, invest in healing relationships, develop family traditions and reunions as Karuna or compassion; for a dose of Shingara, be generous with affirmations of love; watch TV and films that make you laugh for Hasya; speak up against injustice - Vira or chivalry; enjoy a walk and marvel at nature, Adbhuta; confront your fears and invest in pranayam to tackle Bhaya…

And finally, the Corporatisation of Creativity!

Today “creativity” is an industry that generates business and capital and wealth. And this is not just about a few artists selling their paintings for crores of rupees but communities of artists finding avenues to create sustainable economies.

* The Creative Future School at IIM Bangalore calls for entries and 20 short listed candidates structure their business proposal and get a chance to pitch their idea to business investors in London. This is a mentoring programme that intends to empower idea generators with entrepreneurship skills.
* There is a global conference on Creative Economy where Rwanda pitches itself as a country where creative industries are going to be the primary economic activity. New native models of cultural enterprise are merging in Korea and universities curricula in the arts is changing everywhere.
* SG Vasudev and 69 others in Bangalore get together to form Anunya Drishya, which engages children in Indian contemporary art lectures slide shows and visits to galleries workshops; and has, among other things, initiated a health care programme for musicians. They report that corporate houses, clubs and colleges are beginning to ask for art appreciation sessions.
* KK Raghava establishes Raw Umber India, an art management firm to manage his art, promote his work and sales and service; and his art is sold with instructions manuals on how to take care of them.
* Art is becoming corporate gift and brands are striking up relationships with artists and their art.
* And the ultimate: Finance Minister P Chidambaram with Anjolie Ela Menon create a painting that will be sold to raise funds for an old age home in Gurgaon. Reserve price: Rs 20 lakhs.

Democratisation, universalisation, socialization, corporatisation!

It doesn’t get more creative than this!

The only question is: how is your brand planning to help the consumer express his/her creativity?

Read the original article here http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/432777.cms

Does your brand salsa?: Coffee and Donuts/Nov 06/Pragya singh, JWT Planning, Delhi

Does your brand salsa?

When audiences across the world watch Shakira on television, they sit spellbound as she lovingly
orders her body to do all sorts of contortions with it. They get similarly captivated every time Malavika Sarukkai performs Bharatnatyam or Beyonce grooves to hip-hop. But is there more to dance than being awestruck by such magical performances? Or shaking your own body once in a while? How does dance resemble branding?

• Brand, at its most fundamental level, is the functional and emotional appeal of a product. It is
then layered with both tangible benefits and an intangible aura. Every kind of dance is a combination of its technique as well as its emotional context.
• All dance forms, like brands are constantly evolving; never frozen in time or space.
• Any dance performance ultimately, is as good or as bad as the dancer. Any brand too, rests in the hands of its custodians.
• Every dancer has his or her own style and though she may be using techniques that are being used by other exponents of the dance form, it is her style that ultimately makes her appealing and draws her audience. All brands in a category may serve the same function but each has its own unique approach.
• Like foreign brands that adapt to local markets, dance forms too are doing so. Salsa, which originally hails from Latin America traveled to the US, where the locals retained the essential structure (of a 3 step legwork), but added new dance routines of their own to it. So now there is LA Style Salsa (Latin American style) and a separate NY (New York) Style Salsa.So too in India.The traditional Salsa is a hugely sensual and seductive dance, involving generous touching among couples. To be taught to Indians (given that many students who come for classes will have to partner with complete strangers) the dance has been modified. And is now gripping even smaller cities like Lucknow and Kanpur.

So what inspiration can branding draw from this great art form?

• Narrative dance forms are an exceptionally captivating means of storytelling. A performance can depict somebody’s life story from beginning to end (say, Lord Ram); tell the story of an entire civilization (the age of Mahabharata); or vividly evoke a moment in history (a Radha-Krishna raas leela scene). BRANDS TOO NEED EVOCATIVE STORY TELLING.
• Dance forms have perfected the art of using the stage space. A dancer cuts the space, expands it, contracts it, transforms it, manipulates it, controls it. BRANDS TOO WORK WITH SPACE. THE SHELF SPACE, THE COLUMN-CM SPACE, THE 30SEC/TV SCREEN SPACE.
• Dancing is an exercise in synthesis. Selecting the right song, choosing the right lights and sound to depict a particular mood, picking the perfect costume, matching the dancer’s steps to the beat of the musical instruments, utilizing the stage, emoting the appropriate sentiment - all this requires sophisticated coordination and needs to come together in one smooth whole. BRANDS TOO COMBINE MANY DISPARATE ELEMENTS.

By far the most important thing that any branding exercise can realize from a dance form is the skill of emotionally bonding with an audience or consumer.

Classical Indian forms especially have paid attention to the value of this bond and NatyaShastra describes nine rasas or NavaRasas that are the basis of all human emotion

1. Shringara - Shringara means love and beauty. The most popular form of Shringara is love between a man and a woman. This is the domain of most fashion, jewellery, cosmetic and perfume brands. None have tapped into this rasa as well as DeBeers. So also Lux, Liril, Garden in their early days…
2. Hasya - Hasya is the rasa used to express joy or mirth. It can be used to depict simple lightheartedness or riotous laughter and everything in between.From Centershock, Alpenliebe,Happydent and Menthos to Fevicol, MSeal, Asian Paints Apex… many brands are climbing the humour bandwagon.
3. Bhibatsya - Bhibatsyais disgust. The emotion evoked by anything that nauseates us, revolts or sickens us is Bhibatsya.Think of cockroach killers and potty cleaners; Bhibatsya is alive and kicking in the advertising world.
4. Rowdra - Rowdra is anger. Outrage over audacious behavior, the fury caused by an offense,the rage evoked by disrespect and anger over injustice are all forms of Rowdra. Naukri struck gold when they captured the Rowdra every subordinate feels for bosses like Hari Sadoo.
5. Shanta - Shanta is serenity and peace. It represents the state of calm and unruffled repose that is marked simply by the lackof all other rasas. The territory of retirement plans and financial brands -ICICI, HDFC, Kotak all have focused on the benefits of future-proofing finances and the peace that this brings. Brands like Dove and Pears too operate in this space.
6. Veera - Veera is heroism. It represents bravery and self confidence. Manliness and valiance are the trademarks of a Veer or a fearless person. From small acts of heroism like going up close to another person in a deodorant or toothpaste ad, to daredevilry in Thums Up, Mountain Dew and Red and White are all here. So also social heroism – like the beauty queen who chooses to speak in Hindi in an international forum and the Femina daughter who marries off her widowed mother.
7. Bhaya - Bhaya is fear. The subtle and nameless anxiety caused by a presentiment of evil, the feelings of helplessness evoked by an almighty and cruel ruler, and the terror felt while facing certain death are all aspects of Bhaya. Many brands are built on human fears - fear of social rejection, fear of ageing, fear of lack of money, fear of getting left behind, fear of failing health.
8. Karuna - Karuna is grief and compassion.Naturally, brands like CRY, UNICEF and causes like eye donation and cancer work with this theme. The Surf boy who hands over the scholarship to someone who needed it more, is a surprising example.
9. Adbhuta - Adbhuta is wonder and curiosity. Adbhuta is the curiosity of man regarding the creation of the world and all its wonders, the astonishment caused by seeing something unusual and magical. From X Box to Nokia N series, Adbhuta has been the driving force behind technology brand communication. It is useful to keep in mind that a rasa encompasses not just the emotion, but also the various things that cause that emotion.


Internal branding: Coffee and Donuts/Oct 06

Internal Branding:The marriage of Marketing and HR

The changing branding landscape
Traditional belief about branding - and the biggest myth in the world of business - continues to be that branding is for external purposes, for communicating to consumers and that it is the exclusive preserve of the marketing function.

Then came the belief that advertising, PR, database and direct marketing, interactive media must all create a consistent impression and thus was born Integrated Branding,360 Degree Branding, Total Branding etc. Not to mention PR agencies, direct marketing agencies and interactive agencies. But there aren’t as yet, organizations that specialize in what is called Internal Branding.

While Internal Branding is becoming an increasing imperative for all organizations, it is even more critical when people front the brand and need to display brand values in every interaction: like the service industry – retail, finance, insurance, hospitality, telecom, education, tourism and hospitals.Technology companies with long sales cycles and having people deputed and stationed at customer sites; industrial product and commodities manufacturing companies where brand consciousness may be low but will increasingly be the differentiator; and organizations that need to interact continuously with government bodies, export councils, importers and the like. Business leaders are increasingly acknowledging that branding today demands a certain kind of behavior and interface with customers and business partners.

Internal Branding: Whose responsibility is it?
There is no arguing that customer promise and outside messaging – typical brand strategy and marketing efforts, needs to integrate totally with organization vision and goals – typical organization strategy and HR efforts. The question is whose responsibility is it?

According to Hugh Davidson, visiting Professor of Consumer Marketing at Cranfield and author of ‘Managing the Organization Brand’, unlike a product brand, the responsibility for which may be with the marketing department, the responsibility for an organization brand is shared – finance handles shareholders and investors, external affairs handles media, operations handles distributors and suppliers, sales handles distributors, HR handles employees.
“I reckon about 20 percent of a brand is its physical attributes, like a logo, color, letterheads. The rest is all about behavior” says Ian Buckingham, head of Interbrand Inside. "Marketing is the custodian of the physical brand, but who are the custodians of behavior? If it is just HR, you've perhaps got a problem… The best sponsor for an internal culture is the CEO… Employees bring a brand to life; they are its ultimate custodians."

Internal Branding in Action

There are two consistent philosophies held by companies that have been most successful in building their brand equity
- They view their brand as a central organizing principle, which ensures that all practices and processes are aligned
- They recognize that, just as brands should be unique and differentiated, internal practices and processes that support the brand should be differentiated and unique to the organization

Nike, Disney, Virgin and Starbucks are companies that successfully ‘live the brand’. All three have their own language and modus operandi, reflecting the brand inside the company. This covers both symbols and practices. Employees at Nike’s head office are familiar with the ‘Walk of Fame’, which reminds employees of the company’s heroes and role models. Disney has its own language: customer facing staff are ‘cast members’ and shifts ‘performances’. Catherine Salway Group Brand Manager for Virgin says "We've always been clued up about getting the right people on board; the external brand tends to attract the right people anyway. We ask a lot of questions that aren’t traditional, to get a feel for what the person is like. We select on attitude and personality and a feel for whether someone's a bit different from the crowd, can cope with pressure and has a good sense of humor. That's what makes our brand come alive." Starbucks clearly articulated the brand promise as being “rewarding everyday moments”. Aligning of HR policies and practices to ensure sustainable delivery of brand promise. According to a published case study, the Starbucks plan to ensure this included: Focusing on Starbuck’s ability to attract and retain good people to deliver that critical brand experience; Employee policies drafted to clearly signal the critical role played by thousands of part time employees in ensuring the success of the organization; Starbucks became the first company in the USA to offer medical, dental and vision benefits to part time employees - It was also the first to offer them stock options; Starbucks recruitment philosophy was tuned to focus on people with outgoing personalities and high social skills; The recruitment posters put up at its outlets spoke only about delivering satisfaction; The training programs reflected the same emphasis – working in the people business serving coffee, not in the coffee business serving people. Starbucks thinks of itself as being in the people business serving coffee, not in the coffee business serving people.

Internal Branding: The Emerging Best Practice Process

1. Establish that Internal Branding is for Better Performance

Leaders need to convince the whole organization that vision and values are not a framed poster in their rooms but need to be converted into an actionable agenda for every individual in the organization and that this can make a tangible and measurable difference to the organization’s performance. The goal of Internal Branding is to orchestrate and integrate everything the organization does, to ultimately create lasting customer relationships with a positive topline and bottom line impact.

2. First Articulate and then Operationalise the brand

A well-knit organization brand is one in which every part contains the whole, where every action is based on the brand.To do this, the organization needs to clearly define its center of gravity, communicate that center and act upon it.

The best companies that have successfully done this are very clear that the brand needs to be "operationalized" into clear objectives and roles. While externally vision and values are converted into products and services that build customer commitment, internally vision is translated into strategies and values and into measurable practices.
Both are embedded in working systems – recruitment, appraisal, rewards, succession – they provide the substance to support brand promises, becoming a guide to drive everyday behavior, encouraging employees to live the brand. If necessary, the company needs to announce and implement any additional training or incentives that will be necessary to encourage, support and reward the required behavior.

3. Selling Internally: Inclusive, Consultative, Imaginative

Allan Steinmetz, CEO of Inward Strategic Consulting argues that communicating the brand values to staff requires the same methods as external marketing he says; "If you impose a brand culture it will fail. If you expect to change behavior without asking if it’s a good idea you will fail, you need to segment your internal population just as you would your external audience and communicate appropriately. Communication needs to be relevant, and in today's climate, experiential as well.They could be rallies, workshops, online training, even picnics."
Ian Buckingham head of Interbrand Inside says; "It's not good enough to run spin campaigns for staff,”.“The top team has to foot the bill. They need role model behaviors.You can't ask thousands of staff to behave in a way that people at the top won't model." Besides actively engaging the employees in discovering the brand, practitioners are clearly calling for the picking of Brand Champions to spread the word from within.

Hugh Davidson’s Seven Step System for Internal Branding

1. Build Foundations – Understand needs of key stakeholders, link them through vision and values
2. Turn vision to measurable strategies
3. Turn values to measurable practices
4. Communicate the vision and values through action signals and words
5. Embed strategies and practices through recruitment, training, appraisal, rewards, promotion and succession
6. Brand - organization’s branding to expresses vision and values
7. Measure - rigorous measurement of how effective vision and values are implemented

The point is, when marketing is trying to turn external customers into brand evangelists, shouldn’t SOMEONE be trying to turn employees into active advocates? Should HR be applying the principles of branding more actively? Should marketing widen its sphere of influence to create engagement internally too? Or should this programme be brought to you by the CEO?

Read the original article here http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/catalyst/2006/09/07/stories/2006090700130200.htm

What's your company's signature tune?: Coffee and Donuts/Sep 06

What’s your company’s signature tune?

One “vision” commercial on television or a “corporate campaign” in Business World does not a “corporate brand” make – any more.

The making of a Corporate Brand today encompasses the Vision Brand, the Product Brand, the Service Brand, the CEO Brand, the Employee or Internal Brand, the Stock Market Brand, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Brand, the Sponsorship Brand and even the Internet (Website) Brand. (And to push the point home, even the signature tune brand!)

While many Indian companies have indeed created new paths and tried new ideas, the totality still begs best practice, and surely calls for the CEO to take on the mantle of Marketing Manager, Corporate Brand. The key lies in finding that ONE WORD that’s at the heart of what your company stands for.

The Infosys way
The now omnipresent Infosys, if you think back, actually first captured our imagination with its Employee Brand and the Stock Market Brand by making potential crorepatis of its many twenty somethings. The CEO Brand came later, and it helped to have a wife who took on the building of the CSR Brand. The corporate “image” of Infosys has really been built without having to resort to corporate “campaigns”. The company keeps its advertising to the appointment pages, celebrating its Employee Brand.

The ITC way
ITC on the other hand has leveraged every building block. Working for you, Working for India says the Vision Brand. Enduring value – For the shareholder, For the nation… One of India’s Most Valuable Corporations says the Stock Market Brand. E-chaupal became the Service Brand. With ideas like Mera Gaon Mera Desh they spruced up the Employee Brand. Citizen First encapsulates the CSR Brand. Concepts like Triple Bottom Line build the CEO brand (if at all it needs building!). And of course, the lifestyle stores and the atta and the oil and the candies do the rest.

Corporate brand expressions:

Expressing the CEO brand: The Kingfisher way - Vijay Mallya signs a statement saying “I created a product for you that is better than what I would have created for myself”, unleashing the power of the CEO brand.
Expressing the employee brand: The Marico way - By showcasing the endearing young man who approves his own business plan, Marico enters the arena with the Employee Brand.
Expressing the CSR brand: The Mindtree way - By getting its logo created by a challenged child, Mindtree launched itself uniquely through its CSR Brand.
Expressing the activist brand: With ‘Narmada’,Aamir announced the birth a new celebrity activist brand.

Defining the Vision Brand.

When going in search of the Vision Brand, companies need to go beyond the Who We Are and What We Make, search deeply for a truth, and answer the question “what are we actually in the business of?” And find that single most important value, that one idea, that ONE WORD that captures their spirit.

Let’s take a look at a few of the Vision Brands that have managed to zero in on that one word. HP: invent. Microsoft: Potential. HCL: Guts. Honda: Dreams. Philips: Simplicity. LG: Inventive. These companies have looked beneath the “touching many people in many ways” theme, the “improving your life” theme, the “we have been around for 50 years” theme. And have gone beyond the many generic serving India, spreading India, changing with India etc themes – which is very tempting to do, specially when you have been quiet for a while and need to arrive like a leader.

Experts like Ian Buckingham, Philip Kitchen, D Schultz, J Walters, Tim Hazelhurst have written about the tenets of a corporate brand and the role of the CEO. A few quotes here from some of them.

Queries that the corporate brand need to answer in order to be perceived as authentic by consumers:
what the parent company does versus the promises it makes?
what it does not do?
what values it personifies ?
the culture it perpetuates
the personalities running the company
how they treat employees globally ?
whether or not they are good corporate citizens?

The top traits of companies that employees would like to work for are:
the promotion of trust
the empowerment of employees
the inspiration of pride.

Corporate branding tenets for the CEO
• Corporate reputation has increased and is still increasing in importance
• The need to systematise measurement of corporate reputation externally and internally is also
growing in importance
• CEO reputation and corporate reputation are increasingly intertwined. The CEO is, by definition, the chief communicator. The ability to engage stakeholders with the company vision and mission is crucial
• The need to manage reputation globally is a key management responsibility. Led by the CEO, it must also be
managed in an integrated manner throughout the business
• CEOs can epitomise social values that offer benefits to corporate growth and progression
• Internal communication should be considered a professional discipline of equal status to its
external counterpart.

Coming back to advertising,
When does the need for a corporate campaign arise?

Organisations planning quantum leaps in turnover.
Organisations that have aged and need reinvention or have been overtaken by newer entrants who have taken mindshare higher than their market share.
Organisations going through an emotional low and needing re-energizing.
Challenger organisations that need to be seen as better than the big, for being small.
Organisations coming together in mergers and acquisitions and needing a new anthem.
Organisations breaking away and creating new entities.
Groups of companies that together form another entity and want the advantage of belonging to a larger business house.
Multi product companies wanting to leverage the many parts to make a greater whole.
Business to business brands and technology companies that have long sales cycles.
Brands with CXOs as target audiences.
Companies seeking capital.
North India brands wanting to make inroads into South India. Or South India brands wanting to make inroads into the North.

In fact, increasingly, it looks like no one can escape this. Sooner or later, every company needs to take a good, hard, close look at its Corporate Brand.

The emerging Best Practice sequence

1) Finding that One Word. Being clear about the support, resolving doubts on the gap between vision and reality, if any.
2) Finding Brand Champions to spread the word internally. Not just announcing and “distributing” the Vision Brand internally, but involving employees in understanding and owning the business implications. Establishing that it is inspiring and actionable at the same time.
3) Incorporating and translating the Vision into measurable practices and behaviour, and performance metrics for every individual, group or department.
4) Being aware that you have to separately build the CEO, the CSR, the Product, the Employee, the Stock Market Brands. Find ways of running the same thread.
5) Finding ways of measuring ROI, in ways that go beyond run-of-the-mill qualitative and quantitative market research methodologies, and aim to integrate financial measurement.

Read the original article here http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/catalyst/2006/07/27/stories/2006072700150200.htm

Six deadly traps for global branding: Coffee and Donuts/July 06/Excerpts from Atticus award winning paper by Hamsini Shivkumar, JWT Planning, Mumbai

Six deadly traps for global branding and advertising
The challenge for global brands is to be internationally consistent while at the same time being locally responsive. The globalisation phenomenon of the last two decades has changed the landscape for brands, especially multi-country brands.

We may think of global branding as going through three phases.

The first phase
This lasted till the 1980's. Operating companies in countries had complete freedom in choosing positioning and brand names for globally sold products so that they would succeed in their markets.

The second phase
This phase started in the early 1990s, saw the creation of global brands as an idea, a vision of a global brand as one that would deliver a uniformly consistent experience to customers. Standardisation was the holy grail of global executives in this phase.

The current phase

Now most global corporations have abandoned the goal of standardisation. Instead, most of them have embarked on a search for the middle path, the right balance of global consistency and local adaptation.

The middle path is the new best practice in global branding.

However, this vision of the middle path is proving to be a mirage for many companies. The real challenge lies internally. Experience suggests that the internal challenges of culture, tools and processes are a bigger barrier to achieving success in practice.

There are six deadly traps that global, regional and local brand teams get caught in that keep them lost in the middle. For each trap, there are ways out that can help teams realise the vision instead of seeing a mirage.

1. The objectives trap
The objectives trap makes teams work at cross-purposes. Most global and regional brand teams are unclear about what their middle-path agenda is supposed to deliver growth or cost reduction or a bit of both? Global teams believe that local teams are suffering from not invented hereí syndrome, while local teams are convinced that global teams do not care about delivering business growth in their market.
Way out? Focus on growth, the only worthwhile business goal.
_ Global teams work with local teams in all key markets to understand the growth drivers in that market.
_ Together they understand how the new or modified brand concept will actually deliver growth.
_ Both teams work out an action plan to address the major issues that arise, including the extent and nature of adaptation required for that market.

2. The alignment trap
The alignment trap results in a culture of power politics rather than teamwork.
Success with the middle path, where brands get the benefits of both global consistency (scale, best practice transfer) and local connection (bonding, responsiveness), needs cross-cultural team work of the highest order. But, too often, alignment meetings turn into turf wars between country business leaders and global/regional brand leaders.
Way out? Create a culture of teamwork and trust, with a mindset that searches for and focuses on commonalities, not differences.
_ Senior management to lead by example.
_ Encourage countries to identify commonalities and up-sides to collaboration versus concentrating on differences and the down-side to collaboration
_ Global, regional and local teams need regular training and facilitation in the skills of effective team building and team working.

3. The rewards trap
The rewards trap results in teams chasing different goals. Quite often global and local teams are rewarded on different criteria. As long as this is the case, the teams will not work hard enough to get genuine alignment of goals.
Way out? Set up a shared rewards system.
_ Both sides stand to gain from delivering results in the market, in terms of bonuses or performance pay

4. The feedback trap
The feedback trap results in an elaborate charade of pretence. The world is a complex place, while most managers and workers have a strong desire for simplicity. But, consumers and competition around the world have a way of not fitting so conveniently into the boxes and charts that global brand teams have devised. This leads to a dilemma for global teams, should they listen to the onground feedback from countries and take it seriously? Or should they ignore it and hope it will go away? The country teams have their own dilemma;should they agree and align, and fail in the market, or disagree and be seen as a troublemaker?
Way out? Create an open culture with team custodianship of the brand and results.
Local teams need to feel free to air genuine concerns and issues and propose alternative solutions. Global teams need to feel confident that the global agenda is on course, even as they adapt to local conditions.

5. The trial-and-error trap
Global teams automatically start with the assumption that people are the same unless proven otherwise. Local teams start with the reverse assumption. Depending on who has more power at a point in time, that assumption prevails. Only when marketplace results show otherwise is there space for negotiation. Until then, both sides fiercely resist accepting contrary evidence. This approach has two big weaknesses; it is a slow and frustrating approach for the teams involved and it slows down the global competitor against nimble local competitors.
All team members understand that people and cultures are different, yet human needs are similar. While they are exhorted to search for similarities, there seems to be no systematic tool to identify the genuine differences that need to be addressed for success.

Way out? Develop tools for identifying similarities and differences between markets that are germane to the global brand concept, such as category, need and cultural conventions.
_ Global, regional and local teams to work together to identify the significant similarities and significant differences using these tools, and agree the extent of adaptation required.

6. The inconsistency trap
The inconsistency trap results in confusion and cynicism. This tends to happen due to the frequent churn in marketing executives in large global corporations. Each new team wants to reinvent or change the global brand concept. This creates confusion down the line because country teams are unable to understand the reasons for these changes as well as how they are now supposed to modify their in-market approach.

Way out? Ensure that global brand concepts are consistently maintained for a minimum of three years, without change, and up to five years with minor modifications.

Realising the vision of the middle path as the best practice in global branding is a complex leadership and managerial challenge. It is not easy, nor is it a task for the faint-hearted. Unless teams find ways to address all six deadly traps, they are likely to stay lost in the middle, facing the mirage of global branding.