. Brainwave


Dr. Hemant C Trivedi

Vivek Khandelwal

Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad.


“What is there in a name?” asked the famous playwright ages ago, but than the power of a name is vindicated in the strong brand names that ring through the populations across continents. Today nobody questions, what is there in a name! The very existence of major corporate entities depends on the power of their brand names.

Branding - A Strategic Tool

Amongst other things, branding becomes a strong tool for the development of a marketing strategy. JK Industries operates with the JK Tyre brand at the premium end with its radial, and the brand Vikrant at the medium and lower ends. Branding does not only help in giving an identity to a product, it also helps in developing a differentiation strategy; P&G offers thirty two different brands of detergents, each differentiated from each other on customer need identification. Thus branding decisions become a major component in marketing-man's arsenal. With a sound strategic approach a brand can signify many things at the same time. For example, Tata, a surname of Parsi community is an umbrella brand for a large range of products selling in myriad markets. While it is respected equally well in all product categories that it sells, it has a promise of freshness in Tata tea, and the advantage of iodine in Tata salt, while a strong contender for the most advanced wholly Indian car in Tata Indica. Marketers through creative message development and execution derive a lot of mileage from a brand. Maggi spends Millions of Rupees just to convince the customer that the tomato ketchup is ‘different'.

What A Brand Should Be

Observing and analyzing many strong brands it is evident that a strong brand should represent a strong value proposition, a benefit sought, a promise fulfilled. The recent sale of IBM's PC division to China 's Lenovo Group is a great example of modern day power of brands . The success of ‘Promise toothpaste in the early years is to quite a degree attributed to the promise of the age old clove oil remedy for toothache. Today Close-up still achieves tremendous score in the fresh breath promise, so much so that the number one brand Colgate has to devise a totally new campaign to beat the promise of fresh breath by their own ‘Talk to me' version. As a brand, Close-up sports a name with a meaning that's totally appropriate to the brand's own core benefit (the confidence to get up close with the opposite sex). Colgate on the other hand manages an overall top brand position in a vast, diverse market, through a common appeal. By defining it value set in universal terms. Colgate portrays itself with its protective ‘ring of confidence' as an oral health ensurer. Thus, the brand is ‘one thing to all people', and has not wavered in the single-mindedness of its proposition down the years, developing a high degree of brand integrity.

But brand integrity should not restrict strategic flexibility. So long as brand cohesion is not harmed, Colgate lets its sub-brands use numerous other sub-propositions too. Maruti while stands for the most modern technology car, has a fuel efficient small car luxury offering Zen, while the most economical large cabin space Omni, and the status enhancing Esteem, and then the common man's Frontie is for all. While not doing much for its all terrain Gypsy, Maruti has tried with the big-B-Bachchans to enhance the value proposition in its Versa model. While the same company does not need a brand ambassador for the recently introduced Swift nor did the company use a loud promotional effort for their more premium Baleno.

In being a strong value proposition a brand should also relate to its customer and his value system or culture. Dandi namak is a valiant effort, as also was the Ganga toilet soap, to en-cash the socio-cultural heritage of an Indian consumer. The brand needs to have a staying power in terms of being easy to remember. The symbol that goes along with the brand often does this job, as in the case of Wheel detergent, (A Chakra is very easy to remember for low literacy Indian population, and is also a symbol of power, cleansing the mankind), or Cadbury's Dairy Milk with two glasses of milk poured into a chocolate. For a better recall a brand should be a short word or combination of words, with the smallest number of syllables. Brands may also be derived from the key characteristics, features or ingredients of the product, Sofwash of Modicare, PUF – Cold Gold of Godrej and Meswak toothpastes are examples respectively.

If a brand is successful in making a connection with people and communicating its distinct advantage, people will want to tell others about it and word-of-mouth advertising will develop naturally—not to mention writers in the press will want to write about the brand. Once that type of differentiation is established in the consumer's mind, advertising can help maintain and shape the brand.

What is needed in branding is to communicate what the brand distinctively stands for, using as few words or images as possible.

Branding is all about creating singular distinction, strategic awareness, and differentiation in the mind of the target market--not just awareness. When the brand becomes successful, it will start building equity for the brand.

Brand – Loyalty!!?

While many may question the strength of a brand name in evolving the brand loyalty of the consumer, a monogamous relationship with your brand, brand managers seem to stand by their brands. But do the customers stand by their choice of the most recognized, respected or appreciated brands? Not always. When questioned about usage propagation and promiscuity, many consumers are found philandering, trying out other brands. This suggests that consumers while virtually brand loyal do still keep looking around for the best value for money delivered.

Since brand choice is supposed to reflect one's self-image or personality, the marketers need to pay adequate attention to the brand image; what it stands for. ‘Ruf & Tuff' stand out more for denim jeans as against ‘Blue Lagoon', (an old forgotten jeans brand). Consumers are observed to be offensively defensive for their choice of brand, which again is based only on the generated brand image rather than the actual product attributes. It is the marketing acumen of the brand marketers that leads to a staunch brand preference over a hairline differentiation in the tangible and the intangible factors.

Brand Community

In an advanced stage of Customer Relationship Management, and an application of the fan-club concept to a brand, we come across what is known as a brand community. Technically a brand community is a fabric of relationships in which the customer is situated. Crucial relationships include those between the customer and the firm, between the customer and the brand, between the customer and the product in use and among fellow customers. Marketers attribute the promise of long-term profitability and market share, to the brand loyalty and the customer retention. Consumers are observed to be forging and strengthening a variety of relationships. Many recent attempts at customer loyalty enhancement have led to a dependence on relationship marketing (Garbarino and Johnson 1999; Gruen, Summers and Acito 2000). As a new imperative in marketing practice (Berry 1995; Deighton 1996; Gundlach, Achrol and Mentzer 1995) a focus on customer relationship is presented as an avenue to competitive advantage.

Consumers and Marketers are now found jointly building communities, and in exploring those communities, loyalty can be understood in a new way. A community is made up of its member entities and the relationships among them. Communities tend to be identified on the basis of commonality or identification among their members, whether a neighborhood, an occupation, a leisure pursuit, or devotion to a brand. Through communities, people share essential resources that may be cognitive, emotional or material in nature. Communities can be identified, whose primary bases for identification are either brands or consumption activities, that is , whose meaningfulness is negotiated through symbolism of the market place. A brand community as defined by Muniz and O'Guinn (2001, p.412) as “a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among users of a brand” Their study indicates that inter-customer relationships figure importantly in the loyalty equation. They envision a brand community as a customer –customer –brand triad. A new customer-centric model of brand community is presented at figure 1.

Figure 1.


Ingredient Branding

Another important branding decision area is the logic of ingredient branding. A decision of increasing importance is how ingredient attributes that make up a product should be labeled or branded, if at all. Research empirical as well as experimental, has confirmed the effect of ingredient branding on consumer's acceptance of a novel line extension (or one that has been introduced before) as well as the ability of the brand to leverage that ingredient to introduce future category extensions. The huge success of Godrej's PUF (Polyurethane Foam) insulated refrigerators are an example to site as a successful ingredient branding strategy. The strategy is useful for both type of novel line extensions or brand expansions, one where the level of existing product attribute changes or where a totally new attribute or characteristic is added.

Ingredients of a strong brand

Some of the vital ingredients for a strong brand are-

•  Quality product or service that delivers superior performance.

•  Identify the brand's singular distinction (if not present then create one), define the message, position the brand.

•  Tap into emotion.

•  Build the image.

•  Live the message

•  Measure brand equity against the competition and review.


The power of brands is thus understood in a variety of ways and strategic alternatives. It may now not be the ‘eyes that sailed a thousand ships', but ‘the name that launches a thousand products'. Under a strong brand may flourish thousands of product ideas through a thoroughbreds' lifecycle, winning in multiple steeplechases of high competition global marketplace. Long live the brands, May a brand never die. Amen.

Thank you.

* Dr Hemant C Trivedi is head retail academic area at MICA

** Vivek Khandelwal is pursuing Post Graduate Programme in Retail Communications Management at MICA



  • Mayank M Singh, Rallying for Control, A&M Magazine, 15 th February 2002
  • http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_51/b3913153_mz029.htm
  • Mode-A&M, Top Brands Survey, 2001
  • McAlexander James et all, Building Brand Community, Journal of Marketing, January 2002
  • Bhattacharya, Rao and Glynn, 1995, Reicheld and Sasser 1990
  • Kalpesh Kaushik Desai & Kevin Lane Keller, The Effects of Ingredient Branding Strategies on Host
  • Brand Extendibility, Journal of Marketing, January 2002