“Branding” has created a special brand inside my heart. The man behind instigating the brandophile (I am not a cigar band collector, but a brand lover) inside me is – I would call “nuts”. He is an IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and IIM (Indian Institute of Management) alumnus. In fact he is a gold medalist at both the top institutions. We call him “GB” and he loves the monicker.
There’s an interesting aura around him. Before he starts a class, he asks, “Does anyone have asthma?” If the answer is “yes” then he goes outside and puffs his famous “India Kings” cigarettes. If the answer is “no” then he apologises first and then starts smoking in the class itself. He smokes none other than India Kings.
When the class gets tough, he takes a break and sips few drops of “Chivas Regal” right from the small shiny aluminium bottle tucked carefully inside his coat. It’s the one and only whisky that he drinks.
He always rides an “autorikshaw” and asks the driver to wait for him till he completes teaching – it could even take more than two hours – till then the driver keeps waiting, and he pays the guy for the waiting.
His way of teaching is totally different from the traditional teachers who go by syllabus and lessons. He deconstructs the boundaries and creates his own interesting lessons via anecdotes and examples which create an everlasting impression in your memory. He is a strong brand himself and I bet most of my classmates and his students remember him – he has created a “top of mind recall” among the hordes of teachers.
Now you may be wondering why I am talking about the past and GB while sharing some branding tips with you all – well, GB is a live example of creating long lasting brands. Some tips to create lasting brands follow the first tip of going nuts (this is the term GB uses when he finds someone creative and crazy).
Think outside the box. To create lasting memories and lasting brands, you need to think outside the box. The top of the mind recall can’t be gained by thinking like what all morons do all the time. To think outside the box, you need to rise above your normal level and think crazy, but with strings attached to normalcy.
I have created many advertisements, but the one that emerged as an “Eureka” to my mind when GB asked us to create short commercials within a time span of 15 minutes, is what I always consider one of my best short and sweet advertisements.
It goes like this – my product is a boot polish and I create frames of black and white for the advertisement. First frame – it’s totally dark and black, a firefly whizzes past and in the glow of it’s tail appears an outline of a boot and the word “SHINING” appears in the background. Frame two – again the boot is shown, and a spider is shown crawling up the boot, but like King Robert’s spider, it falls down each time, and the word “SMOOTH” appears in the background. Frame three - black paint is being poured on a white surface from a paint can, an ant emerges out of the paint and walks tiny steps creating black marks as it walks by, and the words “PERFECTLY BLACK” appear in the background. Then in the last frame – “XXXXX Boot Polish” appears in the background.
Isn’t it interesting and outside the box? The advertisement has created a brand of its own in my grey matter. So can your ideas create a lasting brand in the minds of your customers.
Content is the king. You all know, consumer is the king, but I love to say otherwise. If your product is not up to the mark, then advertising and branding don’t make sense. The branding will further deteriorate its brand value. It’s like negative marketing – the word spreads faster when your voice is louder. If the product is good, it’s certain to create ripples in the market and create a known brand in its segment. However, if the product can’t meet the expectations, it will be dumped into oblivion faster than your expectations.
Spread your social tentacles. When I say tentacles, it’s none other than networking. It’s not only the social networks Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the whole lot of other social networking sites but the brick and mortar chain of associations, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and loyal customers. They are the ones who talk good about your brand, pulling more and more customers into your network. Networking is not only useful but essential in this world of competitiveness. Even the hundred year old companies are vying for respectable spaces and fan following in Facebook and Twitter.
Knowledge is never enough. Keep updating yourself with the new findings and theories in the field. Read, read, accumulate and spread the knowledge – because knowledge is power. Start from classics like “22 Immutable Laws of Branding” by Al Ries and Laura Ries, and I say sky is the limit. Devour all the interesting reads in branding. The ones I would recommend are “No Logo” by Naomi Klein and “Unleashing the Ideavirus” by Seth Godin. Browse the internet and choose the best ones, book reviews will help you sort out the best ones.
Revitalise the brand. Nothing is perpetual. You need to keep on adding fuel to keep the engine going. So is the branding. You need to keep on revitalising your brand periodically. If you observe the major brands, you will see that they have changed their brand identities over a period of time to keep up with the pace of growing competitiveness and keep them fresh in the minds of customers.
Wrapping up, you must come up with something intriguing, genuine, and unique to catch the customer’s attention. For this as GB says and I say, you must go nuts – the ideas will start unleashing and flourishing.