Category Archives: Brand Identity

Branding lessons by example: Why spending big money can’t save a weak brand?

Slide48Snapdeal’s recent 200 Cr rebranding exercise “Unbox Zindagi” during 2016 Diwali and other festivals is yet another example of the marketing myth that spending huge money can make or remake a brand.  

With a lot of fanfare, it was announced that Snapdeal’s co-founder Kunal Bahl and some other seniors personally visited a number of customers’ homes to get an insight into what is the customers’ experience when they shop with Snapdeal. 

And…. they found out that the best moments occur when the customers open the box which brings the merchandize. And hence, a 200 crores brand repositioning exercise of “Unbox Zindagi” involving new box logo and new colors.

I think the copywriters and the creative directors at the agency must have patted their own backs for coming out with such a brilliant term “Unbox Zindagi”, and for their profound practical genius in using the word “Zindagi”. So Indian, you know?

Seedfund founder Mahesh Murthy, described this exercise as “Rs. 200 crores for a new paint job on the Titanic”. He said that this expensive exercise will not save the sinking ship called “Snapdeal”.

He was so right. The paint job has not worked. The ship continues to sink deeper.

In my opinion, there were two big mistakes.

One: Lack of differentiation. 

The joy of opening the box of the newly shopped article is same regardless of whether it was purchased from Snapdeal, Flipkart, Amazon or some nearby shop. What is so unique about the joy of opening a Snapdeal box versus other boxes? Nothing really…

Two: Bad copy

If only the founders, senior managers and creative people had confirmed with the people whom they met about the meaning of the word “Unbox”, they must have realized that the majority of them really don’t understand it correctly. The English copywriters failed to understand that 95% of Indians don’t understand English as well as they themselves do.

Brand managers live in their own worlds. They think that their own vision of the world is the only true picture and they have figured it out so correctly.

High vocabulary, creative copywriting skills or linguistic abilities don’t compensate for lack of common sense. If it would have been, all the authors and poets could have been great brand building wizards.

Brand communication is a black hole. If used unwisely and without any strategic thought, it can suck a lot of money. Snapdeal’s failed, expensive English extravaganza has proved yet again that marketing and branding are majorly responsible for destroying many companies and people don’t learn. 

Many brands fall prey to such wasteful and poorly thought-through branding initiatives and burn big money.

No wonder, in the sea of branding more ships sink than those which sail through smoothly.

How can Patanjali be even more successful?

Blessed by Baba Ramdev, Patanjali is really a great Indian brand. I admire the brand for its quality, honesty and the spirit of Indian nationalism behind it.

Patanjali’s products are excellent, even superior to its competitors. But, having excellent products alone does not promise success in consumer markets.

Proper marketing and branding has to match. With great products which compare with or surpass their MNC competition perfectly, Patanjali needs to work on its customer experience side as well.
Even though I am its customer and want to remain loyal to the brand, there are some problems which disturb me. Here are some weak customer experience aspects the brand must improve upon.

1) Good products must be made available consistently. Out-of-stock products give a window to competition to win our customers. When we go to a Patanjali outlet, we are not sure whether we will surely get a particular product or not, because one or the other product is out-of-stock regularly. Patanjali needs to stengthen its supply and distribution chain.

2) The stores are cramped. They look like a shop-cum-godown. A customer has to struggle her way through assorted items, cartons, boxes etc. spread across the store. The stores must be designed for a pleasant shopping experience. A revamp is a must.

3) The stores are under-staffed. The customers have to wait for a long time for their turn to be attended. Whatever staff is present, it is indifferent at best. They are like MTNL employees in the midst of the efficient telecom industry. They need to be customer friendly.

4) The stores have very restrictive timings. Also, they don’t give any carry bags (plastic, paper, cloth – nothing). Again, customer-centric approach is required.

Overall, the customer feels less than happy shopping at a Patanjali outlet.

This is typical of many Indian enterprises, which make great products but fail miserably in marketing, branding and customer experience management. This gives room to MNCs to succeed in the market with aggressive marketing even though they have inferior products.

I wish that brand Patanjali succeeds by being relevant to the largest customer base. In its today’s avatar, it is just another incarnation of a Khadi Bhandar. If it wants to compete successfully with the HULs, P&Gs, Nestles or Britannias it will have to shape itself up appropriately.

My swadeshi feelings may help me tolerate or ignore bad experience. But I doubt today’s younger generation will have patience to do that.
Either Patanjali should tighten its retailing to be more relevant or it should get out of retailing and get distributors who can sell it aggressively and appropriately in the manner the customer expects.

It is time Khadi Bhandar grows up. Or risk becoming overshadowed by swanky, modern malls.

Only name does not make a brand

Kutch Mandvi Dabeliwala.
New Mewad Icecream.
Shankar Vilas Hindu Hotel.
Kanifnath Rasvanti Gruh.
Udupi Hotel.
All these are popular brands in Mumbai. Each one of them has multiple outlets, across the city.
But, you can’t be sure about what will be the product range, quality, price, taste or service at different outlets of the same name.

In fact, other than the name, there is nothing common among them.

That is because these brands are not owned by any one person or company. There is no thought behind these brands. There is no soul. No cosistent brand proposition or personality.

These names are a classic example of brands which have no identity of their own. Because of the absence of the self-concept.these brands don’t have any definite image. Nobody knows what these brands stand for.

It is like naming a girl Aishwarya does not make a girl as beautiful as the Miss World or similarly, a boy named Sachin does not become a Cricket legend.

Names fail to create an image if they are not supported by an appropriate identity.

With the right combination of talent and identity, a Priyanka can come and eclipse any existing beauty queens, by creating her own image.

Or. a Sachin can do a better job at batting without calling himself Sunil.

Rather than copying names, the brand should focus on creating and nurturing a unique identity.