Marketing Idea No. 76 – Your recruitment should re-inforce your brand positioning

The problem with brand positioning is many perceive market communication as the only way of building it. But that is nowhere near what the truth is! In fact, mass media advertising plays probably 25% role in forming or solidifying brand positioning. The rest comes through brand experience.  And brand experience is almost entirely dependent on how your employees behave or react.   That’s why a radical way of creating, reinforcing or changing brand position is looking at all aspects of your HR issues. Hire, develop and fire your employees according to your brand values and desired positioning. More emphasis on recruiting.   The general criteria of recruiting is quality of the candidate. But very seldom ( in fact, almost never) we really cross-check if the candidate is fit enough to uphold your brand values. And that’s mistake no. 1.  So next time, hire properly. Understand what your brand means and understand how your brand experience is shaped by employee behavior. Then find out what is the desired employee behavior that is necessary for your brand’s desired positioning. Then, and only then, find out candidates that can project that desired behavior.

Marketing Idea No. 75 – How to create fame in 24 hours

As quoted from 

September 21, 2007, was a memorable day for the telecom industry in India. Not only did it mark the entry of the world’s second largest mobile firm, Vodafone, into India, but also a transformation of India’s fourth largest mobile operator, Hutch, into Vodafone. In an innovative move to mark this transformation, media agency Maxus bought the entire inventory on the STAR India Network channels (13 in all) for 24 hours (from 9 pm on September 20 to 9 pm on September 21).

Maxus followed the strategy of “repetition” to lodge the name change in the minds of consumers. Therefore, the agency inked a deal with STAR India that ensured no other commercials were aired (apart from in-channel promos) on the group’s channels for 24 hours.

Apart from its 24 hours of fame, Maxus and Vodafone decided to engage the viewers as well. This was done by integrating the brand into content: The first ad for Vodafone (the dog and the kennel) broke on STAR Plus at 9:04 pm on September 20 on the fiction show ‘Meri Awaaz Ko Mil Gayi Roshni’. The sequence had a contract killer at a restaurant asking the staff to switch on the television for him, which is where the ad played. Furthermore, the first ad breaks across all STAR channels after 9 pm happened simultaneously (at 9:09 pm) to ensure that viewers could not avoid the first set of ads.

To ensure no monotony in the ad breaks, Maxus and O&M devised several shorter 5-10 second spots that aired intermittently. Further, the channels ran a contest, asking consumers to SMS Hutch’s new identity to 57827. The prize was two tickets to any destination in the world.

Aston bands, too, were leveraged. As is STAR’s procedure, the time between the end of one show and the start of another is filled with a small clipping promoting another show. Here, the bottom third of screen was filled with the message that Hutch was now Vodafone, while the promo (which generally appears in a window on the screen) made use of a red background instead of STAR’s customary colours.

Further, the recap of serials had the Vodafone tune playing subtly in the background, while a part of the screen carried the Vodafone rebranding message. Every half hour of programming saw two exposures of the Vodafone logo on the top left hand corner of the screen for about 10 seconds.

Channel [V] even had its VJs commenting about the change and how it was necessary in the show, ‘Basement’, while the Vodafone message was displayed below on the screen. Further, VJs prompted viewers on how to download the Vodafone ringtone and caller tunes on their cell phones. There were mentions of the rebranding in shows such as ‘Did You Know?’, a show that primarily talks of Channel [V]’s achievements in the recent past. A super in the show read, ‘Did You Know? Hutch is now Vodafone’.
According to sources in the know, the STAR
India activity alone has cost Vodafone close to Rs 50 crore.  

Marketing Idea No. 74 – If your cause marketing is not “Hip”, its destined to die

Non-profit marketing now has a for-profit makeover. People finally understood that be it breast cancer or child labor, if you cant market your message properly by using the rules of the marketing game and not glamorize your cause somehow, you will never get the momentum that your cause deserves.

Global Warming was a household name for decades without much hype and hoopla around it. Add a charismatic ex-vice president called Al Gore, a best selling book, an award winning documentary called “An Inconvenient Truth”, a globe-trotting concert called Live Earth on 7-7-07 (7th July 2007) and thousands of workshops around the world – and suddenly Global Warming is more “hip” than Michael Jackson. And that’s the power of media and branding for you.   

Similarly American Heart Association also followed suit. On February 3 Empire State Building glowed red. Niagara Falls was red for one day. All this to create hype and consciousness around the risk of heart diseases.  So for the crusader who was dreaming to change the world through better causes, the only way to move it forward is to embrace modern marketing practices. It is only through proper marketing can we create necessary awareness for our genuine causes.

Marketing Idea No. 73 – Don’t brag your weaknesses

Hutch has gone around the full color spectrum. From Orange to Pink to vibrant Red, it may have gone the distance in terms of color, fantastic advertising (Thanks to O&M) and mindshare, but definitely not in terms of revenue or market share.

At the end of the day they have the cute dog and some fantastic visual images with cute music and great ads, but it didnt break for Hutch. Why? Because their claim may have been “Wherever you go our network follows”, network was the main thing that Hutch didnt follow up. While they bragged about their network coverage, their’s was the worst network of the Indian telco players.

Lesson to be learned – It may be the industry standard, but dont sell your weakness and brag about it. People will like your ads but buy your competitors products. 

Marketing idea no. 72 – Marketing power of corporate stories

Inspired by the writings of Evelyn Clark 

A picture maybe worth a thousand words, but the value of a good corporate story in driving internal branding and fire up employees is priceless.

Gone are the days when employees used to sing along the company mission statement and feel proud of it. After all, they are just a bunch of words jumbled together to make them look like any other mission statement of any other company. Thats why leaders of modern age use the hidden power of storytelling to make the employees inspired and motivated.

Nike leaders tell their employees about their founder Bill Bowerman and how one day his curiosity drove him to pour latex in the waffle iron of his wife – which evenually gave birth to the famous Nike’s waffle-soled running shoes.

FedEx employees are told about the heroics of an employee who, in one stormy night, was delivering a package in Hawaii. A strong wind sent a package from his truck into the ocean and the employee, without a moments hesitation, jumped inot the ocean, retrieved the package and delivered it to the destination in soaking clothes.

These are just the kind of stories that provides meaning to the employees and make them fired up for a cause greated than their mundane day to day activity. So if you are the 21st century corporate leader, you need to dig up such stories and use them to motivate your work force.  

Marketing Idea No. 71 – How adventurous are you?

For the past thirty years, customer service differentiated one brand from another, and companies that delivered the best service would rise above the competition. Today, the bar is being set to an even higher level, as more & more brands are beginning to deliver exciting, interactive, and compelling experiences. A new premium is being placed on venturing out into the world, collecting new adventures & memories, and pushing personal limits.

Today, world famous brands are incorporating adventures, games into their brand experience.

Nike Operation 6453

One such great expample is that of Nike, when it introduced the new Air-Force-X MID shoes, in 2004. Nike created an adrenaline-filled promotional event to infuse excitement and urban adventure into the official launch of the shoes.

Nike’s Operation 6453 was an on-foot scavenger hunt that navigated participants through the streets of New York to find sixteen different poster locations. To get involved, would-be participants sent a blank text message to 6453-NIKE and received registration instructions. Players sent text messages to Nike for poster locations, and in turn were sent cooedinates. The hunt took place over four days, and when players located posters, the messaged a code on the poster, to Nike. The shortest times between receiving and finding the posters received the highest scores. Winners bagged a limited-edition version of the Nike Air Force_X MID, designed by New York street artist Stash. Runners-up got a chance to buy the shoes at an exclusive prelaunch event.

Now, that’s the way to create a brand experience for the new generation of consumers who constantly crave adventure and something new in their lives.

Marketing Idea No. 70 – Silky Kumar and the scent of desire

For those who thought traditional advertising is the only way forward, Axe and MTV has shown a masterclass execution.

For a few weeks, people were intrigued by this “Silky Kumar” character. Here is this whacky looking singer, who is a self-proclaimed superstar, appearing in MTV singing catchy tunes and giving interviews. Media was a-buzz with intrigue, who is this Silky Kumar?

As it turned out, Silky Kumar is a fictitous singer / character created by Hindustan lever and Mtv, to create hype around their brand Axe. As we all so fondly know, Axe is all about turning the heads and hearts of the opposite sex. That is what their brand promise has been consistently for some time now. This great campaign just took that concept to a next level by creating a fictitious character and song, based on the same concept – creating appeal to the fairer sex.

For all those who want to study the effect of “branded content” and how its done – check out the music video of Silky Kumar called “Scent of desire” in Youtube.

Marketing Idea No. 69 – Connect your brand personality with your audience personality

Your brand must connect to the audience and your audience must identify with the brand. And that is where your brand personality can play a big role.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is brand personality?

Lets see an example of our favorite local super heroes and in terms of their box value. In recent times all 3 major super heroes – Batman, Spiderman and Superman had a movie released. But not all of their box office fate was the same. While Spiderman 1,2 and 3 all three of them have written and re-written box office records – Batman Begins and Superman returns have not reached the height Superman has set. Although there are many reasons behind it ( fantastic marketing super distribution of Sony pictures) – one stand out reason was how much the audience can identify with the characters.

 Superman is an alien from outer space and have problems with kryptonite. Batman is filthy rich and is trying to come in terms with his dark side. Both these brand characters have personality traits that mass people can never identify with. But think of your friendly neighborhood hero Spiderman. He is an average guy whose problems include conflict between work and social responsibility and frequently have girl troubles. Plus, he seems more like a naïve person who is trying to do good for himself and people he loves in his own way – rather than an infallible super hero. Now that, many people can identify with.

If your audience can identify and empathize with your brand through its personality – it only assures great success. That’s why its not a co-incidence that the success of these 3 movies are related to the brand appeal of each of these characters. They are very much related.


So now, on a scale of 1 to 10, how important do you think your brand personality is?


Marketing Idea No. 68- Use technology well

Are you using technology well?

If the answer to this question is an indecisive yes or a blatant no, then you should pay attention.While its often said that the rules of the branding game has changed over the past decade, few has gone on and pin-point the exact reason for that phenomenon. While the usual suspect is the growing reduction of customer time span and increase in the number of product and category choices – these are mere effects of a much greater cause. And that cause can be simplified in two words – technological impact.

If you are sitting in your ivory tower and plan that technology is for technical company only, then you are about to be condemned with “dinosaur” syndrome. Not only do brands, regardless of category or country, need technology – but they need to be on top of it.

Check out the movers or shakers in the global branding arena. Which names stand out? Apple, Google, Nike, Walmart to name some. And what do they have in common? A keen understanding and mastery of technology. What are the buzzwords of modern era branding? Customer Relationship Management, Ambient media, Web 2.0 etc. At the heart of all these revolution is technology.

What used to take 20 years to do, now it happens in 2. And that’s all due to technology. Take the example of personal computer category. We used to believe that a category leader can stay a category leader for a long period of time and its almost impossible to topple the leader from the number 1 position. But in our lifetime we have seen Dell passing HP for number 1 position in PC and then HP hitting back and tacking the number 1 position from Dell after a few years.

What we used to think is impossible, can now be made possible – thanks to technology. Think product customization catering to individual tastes. Levi’s is making jeans for individuals, customizing it according to their preference.So the lesson is, if you are late at the game  u need to push the accelerator because this is one game that is played at break-neck speed. Use technology, the latest ones; to understand, design and meet the demands of your customers. That’s a need to have, no longer a good to have. 

Marketing Idea No. 67 – What is the role of CSR?

CSR or Corporate Social responsibility is the “in” thing now in marketing. With everyone more or less going the same direction and thanks to awesome development in technology, product offerings are becoming similar day by day. With that in perspective, the company that stands out with great CSR activities scores big in peoples minds and pockets.

The trick to effectively use CSR as a brand building or a brand building support tool is

1. Focus on one initiative. Dont associate with 3-4 causes, because that will mean you are spreading your resources in 3-4 areas and not making maximum impact

2. Pick a cause that is closely associated with the business objective and brand strategy. For example – BodyShop is in the business of selling cosmetics made of natural ingredients. Therefore it makes a world of sense for them to associate with anything that’s related to nurturing of nature.

3. Pick a cause that does not already have a solid footprint in people’s mind with an association with another brand. When someone starts to fight BodyShop with ownership of nature protection CSR initiatives, its a losing cause. It would have made for sense for that brand to pick a cause that is still unoccupied by brands.

Dutch-Bangla bank showed how by consistently focusing on CSR, one can build a solid brand. Many should learn from such a great example.