Marketing Idea No. 220 – Positioning Vs Re-Positioning; Branding Vs Re-Branding – do it the Material Girl style!

We have been warned before in the management books – change is the only constant. So are we really caught off guard when the whole world all of a sudden started changing in the name of rebranding?

Maybe we are, because change is difficult to accept – no matter at what stage and situation of life we are. It has been even more difficult for pundits all over the world to understand, accept and get on board this rebranding bandwagon. Well they do have a case. Wasnt it the mantra of all branding to stay true to your positioning and deliver your brand message consistently through all touch point for a long period of time to build brand equity?

So the big question comes – in a game of change vs no change, position vs repostion – which one is the right way to go?

Like all things in life there is no simple and one-fits-all answer to that mind bending question. For brands like Anderson Consulting, rebranding into Accenture was the only way to survive. For International Business Machine to become IBM and then become a computer service provider is the only way to keep their business alive. For Airtel, changing their logo was the only way to show them as a modern, international brand rather than a local Indian brand.

So change is needed. Rebranding is a tool that we need to use, sparingly and carefully. But in the midst of all this changes, staying true your positioning may be even more important than ever. Does it make sense? Isnt that a bit contradictory?

Welcome to the world of branding!!

I guess Madonna did it the best possible way. Througout 80s, 90s and 21st century Madonna continued to reinvent and reposition herself from a symbol of raw sexuality to pop icon to fashion diva to spiritual maturity to controversy magnet. But through this entire journey Madonna didnt lose her soul which stayed consistent – which is the soul of a person who prefers to do things her way no matter what. That was her brand positioning. And through all the costume, cosmetic and genre changes; that positioning still holds true.

Marketing Idea No. 219 – Reality bites

There is an increasing tendency across the world to search for something “Real”. As an off-shoot of that we see a lot of interesting trends.

1. There is an increasing interest in spirituality. Phrases like “Searching for true self”, “Journey to find oneself” are becoming part of our vernacular. That also means movies and books like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray and Love” – not matter how vain it seems to an ordinary bystander, will have immense popularity in this increasingly spiritual world. The rise of increasing interest in eastern medicine, yoga and buddhism can also be traced to that.

2. Reality TV has been the “in” thing and its popularity is continuing to rise. On a general evening, regular people would rather watch other regular people crushed and humiliated by other reality tv judges and contestants than watch a soap opera or an award fucntion.

3. The popularity of Slasher and horror genre can also be attributed to this so called search for something real. As regular people got tired of underdog hero saving the day, they would rather watch the hero crash, burn and in this process lose a limb or two!

Marketing Idea No. 218 – What brands can learn from James Bond

Mr. Bond is not only one of the biggest icons of our world but also an amazingly consistent brand. Think about it. Every bond movie starts with a song in a husky female voice where the name of the film is embedded into the song. The film starts with Bond walking toward his right, then all of a sudden turning left, taking aim at the camera and shooting, then blood covers the camera. Then there is the signature tune, the gadgets, the larger than life villain who always wants to take over the world, the voluptous and often mindless bond girls, the catchphrases, the drink which is always shaken not stirred – all of these mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But to marketers, these symbolzes consistency. Its the kind of consistency through rituals and re-enforcements that builds super brands.

Thats why when James Bond wanted to redefine itself, there was a huge controversy. The hard core fans who followed the brand loyally for decades were aghast. This is not James Bond! Where are the gadgets? But with changing times, James Bond did change. I guess he had to. Cold war is no longer relevant. The new villains of the world are terrorists who want to blow things up. Spies are no longer suave and charismatic, but gritty and physically well built like Daniel Craig. Bond girls are no longer ornaments. They have an identity and they fight the good fight side by side with their guy. And then ofcourse competition was looming. Jason Bourne suddenly looked a lot cooler and realistic than the often over-the-top James Bond. So Bond changed.

James Bond changed and did it smartly. It kept its soul intact but redfined itself for the new age. So not only he held on to most of its old fans, but created a new sets of fan. And thats the whole idea of this rebranding/redefining saga. Brands should not wait till their appeal started to look old to change. They should change, while they are still on top of their game but when they started to feel a turnaround just up ahead in the road.

So there are two lessons that brands can learn from James Bond. They can learn that consistency, not swift changes, build great brands. But they can also learn that spotting when change is necessary and then acting on it is what keeps great brands great for a long period of time.

Marketing Idea No. 217 – How limited choice creates unlimited profits

A recent visit to your mom and pop shop might give you an idea what explosion of choices mean. It literally means that – an explosion. 

The general assumption of consumer behavior tells us that consumers prefer to choose. When the bakery has only one type of bread, thats readily termed as not a good bakery compared to the one down the road which has more than one kind. Hence the outrageous number of choices.

However, in recent times another assumption of consumer behavior is taking precedence. That is, when consumers are faced with too many choices, that is also not a very good situation to be in for the consumers. Simply speaking, too many choices confuse the consumers.

In Chicago, two of the highest selling restaurants give only two kind of options. One restaurant asks whether you want to take a vegetable meal or a non vegetable meal. The other asks whether you want X number of food items in small dishes or in really tiny dishes. Thats it. What food they will serve is limited to the chefs choice and that is only one type of food everyday. And believe it or not, that kind of strict adherence and stubbornness is whats appealing to consumers. Shouldnt be too difficult to fathom. Just think about the countless hours you have sepnt discussing and arguing your friends and family about what restaurant to go and what to order.

This kind of gentle nudge towards certain options is actually quite beneficial. And that benefit is not only limited to consumers (you are making a decision on hisbehalf) but also to producers. Think about how much you can save from limited inventory ordering and carrying cost.

Marketing Idea No. 216 – How to utilize default setting to create profit for your brand

Remember the last time you bought a mobile phone?

Of course you do. Human beings love affair with their cell phone can only be matched with that of particularly passionate pre-marital relationship within a 1 year shelf-life. Simply put, we love our phones, at least the one we spend a lot of money to buy.

With that established (throw in human tendancy to personalize everything), wouldnt it be natural that we change our mobile phone default settings like ringtone, sms tone, wallpaper etc.?

You couldnt be more wrong. Research shows that in most cases, people tend to stick to the default settings that manufacturer gives them.

There are two things to learn from this. One, never underestimate the power of inertia. Human being would do anything to maintain status quo and ensure things never change; even if that means not changing that irritating ring-tone that the handset manufacturer has set as default. Secondly, this way, brands can harness this human tendancy to stick to “default settings” and tilt the consumers to the choices that seller would want consumers to buy. Or, even more importantly, the one choice that is more profitable to the seller.

How can you utilize this?

Marketing Idea No. 215 – What we can learn from Bill Murray and Groundhog Day

Did the idea cross your mind ever that if you keep on doing the same thing over and over again, you will get it right eventually? Also, is that whats keeping you busy these days?

There is a famous movie called Groundhog Day. In the movie, actor Bill Murray had to keep reliving the same day again and again until he got it “right”; where right means getting his love interest, his way of life, his state being overall in right shape. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get it “right” by repeating the same obnoxious behavior.  The point to learn form this is that you can’t keep doing the same things repeatedly and expect your situation change; without making some fundamental changes within you.  You have to change your attitudes, behaviors, and methods (the input) before you can expect changes around you.

Many companies are trying a “Bill Murray””day in day out. Without changing the way their employees feel about their brand and company, they want to change the way the customers feel about it.

They stand as much chance of doing that as Vin Diesel does in winning an oscar. Just by doing it over and over again, doesnt make an impossible expectation to come true. So if you are trying to increase your customer satisfaction, try doing it after resolving your employee satisfaction issues.

Marketing Idea No. 214 – Why niche is the future mass

Why dont companies make jeans brands solely for overweight people?

Why dont directors make film solely for intelligent, matured audience?

Why dont hair salons exist that specialize in curly haired women only?

Thats because these are specialized services that is required by only a niche audience.  And knowing niche, there is not much number there – both in terms of addressable market and profit.

Which is why businesses would rather cater to a mass market where there are already 10 competitions, rather than catering to a niche market where there is no competition. Think big, they might say.

Is this a valid strategy? Absolutely. The big question however is not that. The big question is can businesses continue to do that as a sustainable business strategy. When everyone moves to live in city center, the city becomes unlive-able and people move to suburbs. In the same way, when mass market becomes overcrowded, margin becomes thinner. And inevitably business will move to niche, untapped segment.

So why not make a first, proactive and timely move, right now?