One of the most recent cum lucrative concept that has emerged in Marketing is Brand Management. While the traditional concepts like Sales & Business Development, New Product Development, Distribution Management will always hold the key in any business, Brand Management too is now a front-runner.
Ancient marketers believed in two simple fundas - Quality and Service. Several yesteryear brands like Bajaj Chetak, Ambassador, Maruti 800 (then the Common Man's car), Gwalior Suitings, Surf (which was successfully countered by Nirma), Godrej cupboards believed and flourished with these 2 very fundas. The guys sitting on the top of these companies (Karsanbhai Patel of Nirma, Rajiv Bajaj of Bajaj, A V Birla of the Birla Group) had a product with quality which appealed to their target audience, complemented by equally superior service and a customary TV Ad (and a Newspaper/Radio ad) The concept of Branding was invisible or of least significance. The only concept of today which was even present yesterday was Advertising to some extent. Again, non-conventional advertising hardly existed, TV Channels weren't in tones like today, promotional activities were unheard of. Ad Gurus and Brand Gurus hadn't incarnated as yet. The only time an organization co-branded itself with something unrelated is Godrej sponsoring the popular TV Serial 'Buniyaad'. Sports was sports then and not an entertainment industry like today, hence, no scope for strategic breaks or cheer-lead the product during matches.
But today, situation is totally different. Logos, colours, fonts, packaging, punchlines keeps changing every third day. Bolly Biggies, Cricketers endorse almost everything from Cars to FMCG to Insurance to Laptops. It gives an impression that marketing activities like Advertising, Sales Promotion, Brand Launching are primary and Products, Services and Sales are linked to it (Although I feel Sales is Primary and Marketing acitivity is just a supporting activity) A V Birla probably would have been in tears to see his son Kumaramangalam signing for the costliest TV Ad (costliest then, not sure about it now) [Here is the link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aUTHYGSt4] Ardeshir Godrej, whose signature is also the logo (textual logo) of the Godrej Group wouldn't have in his wildest dreams ever thought that the red coloured font/signature would one fine day be a multi-coloured one. Rahul Bajaj wasn't too impressed with son Rajiv's decision to take a 'strategic time-out' from scooter manufacturing, which the latter felt is essential to revamp the brand image of Bajaj Auto to a motor-cycle manufacturer from 2-wheeler manufacturer.
Branding can be a success, logos, punchlines, Brand Endorsers, colours will mean something only under 2 conditions -
1. Deliver what you promise or commit - One cannot have Anil Kumble endorse a Brand because of his integrity and then sideline Corporate Governance, Ethics, Integrity (simply put together as 'Values') Mind you, Anil isn't a replacement for 'Values', he is only the torch-bearer of 'Values'. Mind you, just before the scandal broke, Satyam had won a Corporate Governance Award. Could Tata Nano have been a success, if it had 'Common Man' as it's mascot but made available at a price-point between Rs. 3-4 Lakhs? It's the delivery as promised, which made it a success ("A Promise is a promise" as Ratan Tata said while launching it for the first time)
2. Quality of output - You better be a powerhouse of intellects if you claim yourself to be powered by intellects. When you promise fun, provide it, come what may! Wonder La has to be a 'fun' experience, it cannot cut down on that 'fun' by cutting down on water-games with power shortage in Bangalore as an excuse.
'Walk the talk' to make your Branding activity a thumbs up. Sales is a revenue generator, if it fails, all Branding and Advertising efforts are reduced to a fruitless activity EOD. This is why the above 2 conditions are to be fulfilled under rapidly growing competition and dynamic marketing environment of today.
Happy Branding and Happy Selling!!