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

Snapdeal’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.

Should you hire relatives or friends?

Do not hire friends/relatives

A business tip from the book “Business Management Simplified” Author: Sanjay Shah (SME Business Coach)

I think we should not hire friends/relatives

  • I call this “Ration card employment.” It is advisable to desist from this practice.
  • The main reason is that bringing some friend/relative or their children in the team skews the balance of the team in a very weird way.
  • It curtails our freedom to deal with the individual at par with others, which creates a lot of unrest among the other employees.
  • There is always a conflict between the relative importance to be attached to the relationship or the job.
  • It is also observed that in the end, such an assignment ends bitterly or in the end, either the work or the relationship suffers.
  • Hiring of any person must be done only on merit.
  • If some relative or friend asks us to “do a favor” by hiring somebody known to them, you should politely tell them that you can only arrange for an interview and the selection will be based on merit only. This may offend that relative or friend, but if you can’t say no, then you may have to hire an unsuitable or incompetent person and your business will suffer for a long time.
  • Remember, you should keep charity and business separate. Hoarding incompetent people only because they know you or some of your friend/relative, sends a signal about your own weakness and lack of clarity.
  • Also, if a person is good and competent, he/she will not need any recommendation only.

(Excerpt from “Business Management Simplified”)