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.

Author: Sanjay Shah

Sanjay is the author of "Business Management Simplified" which provides Practical, Actionable Solutions for Entrepreneurs. It is an all-in-one guidebook to start, run and grow a small and mid-size business to the next level. He is also an SME Business Coach, Seminar Leader and Motivational/Keynote speaker, Sanjay is based in Mumbai (India). He advises many businesses on Strategy, Leadership, Marketing, Branding, Customer Experience Management and Organization Development. He conducts various self-help seminars and workshops for companies and groups in English, Hindi and Gujarati. For more info, visit : www.SanjayShahSeminar.com

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