Cities, Sports Leagues and their Brand Experiences

It was match day and not an ordinary one at that. Bayern Munich was scheduled to play in the final of the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League. This information was part of the briefing by the pilot of a Lufthansa flight that I was in. What stuck me was the use of ‘my team’ in the way he announced this. He promised to update us about match result later as well. That day his team won and I guess the team of many in the plane too because there was a loud cheer.
Match days on twitter tend to be interesting. Many people in the stream refer to a particular team as ‘us’ or ‘we’. Now if this was someone in europe referring to their favourite club teams it would almost be normal. It may be unusual for some to see people in India referring to European club teams as ‘us’. Perhaps it is not surprising either. These clubs have become global brands with merchandising and activities that extend well beyond their region and the league’s season.
The Riera Blanca area in Barcelona is home to FC Barcelona. The Mobile World Congress is a big part of the Barcelona experience but equally there is quite a bit of FC Barcelona in there as well. You check in at a hotel and they will tell you about tickets that can be purchased on your behalf. They will talk about their team but equally talk about the history and team musuem too.
This contrasts to how some of the new teams are referred here in the social stream. More people still talk about a city’s team in third person. First the cricket and soon after hockey, football, badminton, kabaddi and basketball leagues have started. Perhaps there will be more as well. Do you remember any of the players that represent these teams? Some cricketers maybe but others? If you live in Mumbai, are you an Indian, Master or Magician team supporter. The likely hypothesis is that it’s all a blur. The player, the team and sport are not quite connected with the city they represent.
Engagement with the league, it’s teams and players is linked to the actual days of the tournament. Yes one will see matches, remember an episode for a day or two and then there is the next match to consider. Maybe take part in some contests online or enjoy the game in the company of friends at an eating establishment. Players change every year and are signed on for astronomical accounts. Sporting expertise aside, they have little resonance with the brand name. The same world famous cricketer could have navigated 4 or 5 teams in as many years. So, do the citizens of Delhi, Mumbai or Calcutta think of them as ‘my team’ ? Not really. Its great viewing but not necessarily great brand resonance. Maybe most of the Indian leagues are young and there is much more work to be done.
So what’s the connection with the city?
Naming is emotive and the brand would have several ingredients that can be considered when one thinks about the future. These could be location and community, spirit, governance and more. Let’s say there are 3 teams that represent a city. Is there a common characteristic that connects the 3 teams to each other?
1. Does a city know the teams that represent it in various sports leagues?
2. How does the city connect with the teams? Do the know their players?
3. What’s the experience for a fan of the city?
4. What’s the engagement during the season?
5. What’s the experience after the season. Have these teams embraced the culture and the ongoing conversation of the city.
6. Whether it is CSR or cause marketing, most teams have linked to some cause. Maybe there is an opportunity to make it more credible and part of the engagement with the city.
What’s in it for the brands?
While I am not an expert on brand valuations, but I do believe that the customer experience is what really matters in building a long lasting brand. How does one value a team of a young league? By the value of its players or by the business they generate? or something else? I read an article on team valuations, and I quote it here.
The Forbes Fab 40 consists of the 10 most valuable sports brands in each of four categories–businesses, events, teams and athletes. How do you place a value on a brand? For sports business brands, this means quantifying the amount the business would fetch in an arms length transaction in excess of what a comparable rival would be worth.
The team needs to win and that ensures full stadiums. There is also the business aspect. It needs to be a viable venture. It needs to increase it’s fan base, build a community and identify sources of engagement and revenue. Conventional wisdom says that there are four ways a sports team can make money: tickets, sponsorships, merchandising, and licensing. Sometimes people might add player trading and prize money.
Perhaps one could also start to imagine new sources of revenue from the majority who do not go to watch games and love their sport. The elements of a sports team and its ecosystem have four main components and connecting these elements in fresh ways can create opportunity for sustainable business growth.
ports leagues table
In Summary, the experience framework would need to touch upon :
Clarity – Other than being the licensee of a city name, what does the team stand for? How are they linked to the city buzz? What do they offer a fan?
Conversations – The leagues need to get people talking about their sport in an active sort of way. Participating not just in entertainment centres and social media alone but in sports grounds, active lifestyles and more.
Connected – Thinking about the experience of a fan- On ground, Other venues, digital platforms and more.
Causes – Can the team do more for the cause they represent?
Capability – This is more a part of the team’s ability to win! But the fan should feel that they are part of a worthy team of their city.

Cardboard People, Photoshopped Beauty and Real Brands

This is supposed to be the age of transparency, empathy and connectedness. Can we please agree on what the real brand is?
Advertising is photo enhanced. Situations are all about perfect locations, beautiful happy moments or scary ones depending on product category. Advertising success invariably is shown as looking down upon someone else. Deviousness instead of playfulness gets you to the perfect family plan. All in the name of creative license. Fair enough.
You are after all an informed customer, making informed choices about your favourite brands. Yet you wonder about the intent of the brand?
Brand celebrities ask people to trust them. It’s known they don’t use the products they promote. They just hold them in their hands. So what if the customers lose health, money, feel vulnerable due to the dubious benefits of the product. There is always the exclamation mark in small print or spoken in faster language that saves everyone. Due diligence by the celebrity is rarely important. You are told customers understand that the celeb is play acting and it helps in sales. The big tick in sales is all that matters. Not what happens later. The mis-sold house, insurance or health product, the bad service is not something that concerns the celebrity. The marketing game is on.
You are told that the reputation management tools take care of customer concerns and everything is fine.
Shaving brands tell you how to treat women by shaving more. Yet are conspicuously silent on the biggest issues of the day. There is a perfectly better way to talk family products and plans. Devious methods is not one of them.
You are told that privacy is gone and that if you did not pay for the product you are the product.
You wonder about your data and your favourite brands desperate attempts to monetize your transactions even further. And even more desperate attempts to protect their corporate data. You wonder, did you have a choice. Would you like a choice? Then you wonder about products that you purchased, the price that you paid was it worth it.
According to the paradox of choice the customer will always be dissatisfied. Because of you see.. Choices!
You know that answer and yet you don’t want to say it. The choices are not that many.
Why are we focused on dystopian means and methods? Link baits, deviousness, hacking and so on. Where is the leadership that is focused on positive means and directions. Increasingly brands will need to engage with society, discuss policy with stakeholders and customers. If the brand wants people to trust them, then some methods need to change, because you see, trust means BEING REAL.
So, what’s the real brand? What does it really stand for?

Lighting Up My Life

In an earlier era, lighting was a much simpler affair. One went and purchased fixtures once. Light bulbs and tube lights were replenished, as and when needed, typically at the local electrical fittings store. The entire house had a similar lighting schema.
Things are different now.
Now, people experiment with lights. Lighting schemas for each room may differ, maybe it’s colour, maybe it’s the technology or maybe it is the visual impact of the room that they want to enhance.
The projects are not one off but instead an ongoing experiment with aesthetics and beauty in their lives. The brand experience then is about experiences over a lifetime of interactions.
Whether the customer is redesigning an existing space or working on enhancing a new one, the broad path remains largely along research, store visits and purchases. Perhaps in some cases there is an implementation partner (architect, interior designer, contractor) who is an interface. In the spirit of our times, the customer has choice. But does each choice offer an experience that helps the customers with what they set out to achieve? To create the perfect well lit room!
Brand choices in conjunction with services like Houzz provide customers many options to explore. What’s interesting is how things are noted for later reference. The photo of an interesting lamp, technology checklists, the link of an interesting site, the price details sourced from a friend, contact numbers of key people to contact may all make their way to Evernote, Pinterest and similar services. A quick mobile search for directions and the store to find the perfect lighting solution is invariably found. The ease of accessibility, parking options certainly make their way into conversations when shortlisting stores.
There are questions and expectations as the store visits commence. The customer wants an opportunity to discuss the big idea they have. Someone to guide them with tool kits that help make better decisions. One may not know the latest industry jargon but one certainly knows the importance of making a wise decision. Instead as with all technology products, one get informed by way of jargon.
We learnt the following on speaking to some customers :

  • In many conversations on this topic, a repeating theme was the not so well lit lighting store. The customer walks-in to a store with lights mostly switched off. Perhaps there was an effort to save light but then there are sensors that can easily remedy the situation.
  • One’s then faced with wall to wall fixtures. Do the excessive number of products without any visual segregation hinder or aid decision making or solution seeking? The book, Paradox of Choice comes to mind.
  • Company websites that could certainly be improved upon in terms of information, standards and toolkits

And yet lighting is a very exciting space.

  • While one wants to make one’s home bright with the right lights, one wants to be smart too. The right fixtures, technology that consumes less energy are the core basics of smart. What one may want to explore is the ability to link lights with sensors, link it to the smart phone and aim for even better energy management. Concepts like Hue, Nest, Homekit are in the minds of the customers. Would you get these experiences at your current store? What would need to change?
  • Smart is good but solar and alternative energy is certainly on the agenda of a few progressive customers. Finding information, experts, products and proof of concepts are very hard to come by. At the moment, it’s tough to find information on solar power backups like UPS/ Inverters.
  • Finally the partners, the people who help with ideas and implementation.
    What should they know?
    How can they be trained?
    How can the smart lighting project be an exercise in co-creation with the customer?
    What’s the digital toolkit for all this?

There is a lot more to do when lighting up someone’s place. The opportunity to make a difference starts now.

Brand Interfaces of the Future

The idea of a front-end design of the future is a very compelling. Currently, most would focus on responsive websites but if you look at the idea of front-end of the future, it is not quite a website but much more.

There are 5 points to consider.
1. Multiplicity of Screens – You are looking at a design that renders well not just in display but in relevant functionality across these screens. The screens to consider conventional desktops/laptops, tablets and phones, perhaps even your car dashboard.
2. Information/Experiences in Contextual Services – The content and design needs to focus on information that gets rendered in services like Google Now, Twitter Cards other contextual services which could be around voice e.g. Siri or Cortana. Imagine a fund raising promotional tweet with the Support button within the twitter stream. This would have rich content maybe even video, information to help buy, plus the standards of twitter cards. Imagine, Google Now displaying a reminder to a phone user about a show that is about to start.
3. Experiences in the age of Wearable’s, Continuity and Sensors – Smart watches are around the corner, notifications are not only getting smarter but you can act on them right in that interface. You do not need to open an app for it. Imagine watching something on your phone while in the car, reaching home and pushing that video straight to your TV via Chromecast. Imagine web experiences with integrated notifications, devices in the age of Continuity and similar services.
4. Social Platforms, Analytics and Delivery of Integrated Experiences – At a simpler level, what can be done with live experiences, customer sharing aggregation, on going social listening, promotional campaigns including programmatic buying and more. Given that social is also resides in the notification tab, how can one re-imagine it all. This could be personalised experiences that factor in not just past usage but also factors like where they are now. Imagine travelling to another city, where there is a performance and you get a notification that tells you about it. With the buy button right in the notifications tab waiting for you to pay with a biometric id on phone!
5. Content management takes on a different meaning. It is then not just about managing information and products and updating it from a backend. It’s about a tool and a process that streamlines information and delivers it as appropriate for the device, location, customer and the context. All in real time! In a sense that defines the meaning of responsive.
Today, this is one’s understanding of what the front end is likely to be. It’s a start and more options will emerge. It is going to be a mix and match of many services. All needing to talk to each other likely via API’s. So the front end is not just the 5 points above but the interplay between the API’s and what more we can do with them.
The experiences for a customer or an employee will have almost similar interplays across places, times and devices. Imagination, relevance and ambition are going to be key.

Automotive Companies – The Advertising and CSR Difference

Each time I feel the pain, I am reminded of an episode ten years back that has never been recorded as a statistic. The driver who accelerates sharply, swerves, breaks a light is a common enough sight in our cities.

What is not recorded often enough are the ’small incidents’ where someone is injured. They are advised rest for a few days or weeks and apparently life can go back to normal. Frankly, for a lot of people it never does. Something does change and those changes manifest themselves even more as the person gets older.
There is enough that has been said and written about the lack of infrastructure on our roads, bad designs and so on. I want to take this opportunity to highlight the role of automotive companies in this entire saga. After all, a vehicle is involved in such an episode. The darker ones make it to national news and headlines but most such episodes are not even recorded.
The first step in understanding what the automotive company talks about in safety is obvious. They talk about the safety features built in their cars. It is more a defensive measure, in the event of an episode, that assures vehicle occupants how they can expect safety. There are a large number of occupants of these vehicles who are responsible for such episodes due to actions that can at best be considered aggressive.

To better understand this, we started a study to see if there is any work being done by companies to promote safety practices. The corporate social responsibility study is at an early stage, and we have completed scanning the websites of thirty one car companies. After the initial web assessment, I plan to reach out to all car companies and understand their perspective on this issue. Even at this stage, there are some clear pointers that I would like to highlight.

Initiatives vary from company to company, and in almost all cases it seems they are implemented in areas where the company has a presence in the form of a manufacturing unit, office etc. Twenty-three companies have outlined corporate social responsibility initiatives and these have, for the moment, been summarised as follows:

  • Rural Development
  • Health care
  • Education
  • Community Development
  • Vocational Training
  • Environment
  • Women Empowerment
  • Road Safety
  • Traffic related activities
  • Safety or Training Related


Company Initiatives

Automotive companies and Safety Initiatives

Eleven companies have worked on road safety, traffic-related activities, etc., and of these five companies have initiated activities in India. Some of the pointers are global examples sourced from websites and need ratification and detailing.

Nissan

Nissan focuses on traffic safety education and have worked mostly in Korea, China and Middle East. The following is an overview.

  • Hello Safety – This campaign reaches out to children and their guardians, senior citizens and uses picture cards to communicate the “proper use of seatbelts and child safety seats in all seats of the vehicle,” “traffic safety education to raise awareness of dangers in daily life and ways to avoid them” and “eradicating drunk driving.”
  • “Be Safe with Nissan” – Nissan Middle East FZE produced a booklet to help children learn about safety on the road in a fun engaging manner. There is a website for this programme.http://www.nissankids.com/
  • Safe Driving Forum – A program to improve drivers’ skills and safety awareness, in cooperation with the China Road Traffic Safety Association. Programmes on learning braking, cornering and other driving techniques from qualified instructors, contributing to deeper understanding of traffic safety. Programs for eco-driving skills were also included.

Toyota

Toyota has been actively engaged in traffic safety activities which includes safe-driving courses for drivers and traffic safety education for children.

The company has also worked to increase safety awareness of everyone using streets and roadways, including drivers, passengers and pedestrians.Some of their recent activities in Japan are “Traffic Safety for the Elderly,” “Let’s Make Bicycle Safety Maps!”, “Traffic-Safety Web Site for Kids,” “Safety School for Parents and Children” and Toyota Driver Communication.

  • In India Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) has initiated theToyota Safety Education Program (TSEP) to educate children on basic road safety procedures and to create a sense of road safety amongst children aged between 6 and 12. The program was held in Bangalore, where TKM is located, and spread to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. 103,447 school children had participated.
  • Let’s Make Bicycle Safety Maps! – Toyota produced the Internet program“Let’s Make a Bicycle Safety Map” for students in the upper grades of elementary school, with the aim of“reducing bicycle accidents.”With use of both a program on the Kodomobilita Web site and Google Maps (a web mapping service), students create a safety map of the local area by marking places that they felt were dangerous for cyclists or where the students had themselves felt unsafe. The aim is for the participants to gain a better awareness of traffic safety through discussion and information sharing.
  • Traffic Safety for the Elderly – Approximately 800,000 copies of an educational leaflet were distributed to customers who visited dealers nationwide.
  • Driver Communication – This program was aimed at reducing the number of driver errors At the Toyota Education center drivers learn and safely experience the performance of vehicles at their limits through such exercises as high-speed emergency braking and driving and braking on a slick road surface.

BMW

As part of their Social Projects, BMW group focuses on Traffic Safety and activities include “Children in Traffic,” “Safe on the Street,” “School Route Maps for Primary School Children,” “Safely to School,” “Schools Environmental Education Development,” “BMW Welt Junior Campus,” “Educational Museum Program at the BMW Museum” and “Traffic Safety Education Programme.” The projects were implemented in Mexico, Argentina, China, UK and there are brochures for these activities.

  • School Route Maps – Together with the Traffic Safety and District Administration Department of the City of Munich, the BMW Group devised a “School Route Maps” campaign. Partners included, parent-teacher associations, accident insurance companies and the police. As part of the campaign, all first-year pupils are given a school route map to get them safely to school and home again. The maps show particular danger points and recommendations for a safe, accident-free walk to school, all individually tailored to the child.
  • Safely to School – The idea of the project was to accompany groups of up to eight first and second year pupils on their route to school and to familiarise them with the traffic. The children get to take turns to be “Jim Knopf” and lead the group under the supervision of an adult. Jim Knopf is the hero in a series of German children’s books.
  • Children and Traffic – Traffic Education in the Paediatric Practice – Children rely on adults as role models to provide guidance and support in road traffic situations. Paediatricians can play a very useful role here. The folder entitled “Children and Traffic” contains important information on developing a healthy road sense for those working in child medicine. The materials also support the accident prevention work carried out by parents. The traffic awareness folder has also proven to be an effective tool for teachers and teaching assistants.
  • “Safe on the Street” Online Website – BMW Group UK has developed a traffic safety programme in association with education experts, for use with children aged between 7 and 11. It also received the International Visual Communications (IVCA) Gold Award in 2003 for being particularly user-friendly (especially for disabled users) and for its innovative design.http://www.bmweducation.co.uk/sots06/
  • Traffic School for Children – A traffic school for children between the ages of two and six is regularly held at BMW Welt in Munich. They are taught the basic rules and potential risks of road traffic. The children can then turn their theoretical knowledge into practice on a special bike course. This teaches the children that it not only makes sense to stick to the traffic rules, but that it can be fun too. At the end of the course, each child taking part receives their own junior driving licence.

Maruti Suzuki 

Maruti Suzuki’s Road Safety initiatives include “Training in Safe Driving,” “Road Safety Awareness Among School Children,” “Institutes of Driving and Traffic Research (IDTR)” and “Maruti Driving Schools” (MDS).

PSA Peugeot Citroën

PSA Peugeot Citroën work is focused on Road Safety & Urban Mobility. As part of urban mobility focus is on smoother traffic flows, maintaining quality of life in city and promoting access to mobility.

  • Road safety initiatives such as enhancing vehicle performance to avoid accidents (primary safety), continuing work to protect vehicle occupants and pedestrians in the event of impact (secondary safety), deploying the emergency call system (alert and call-out of emergency services).
  • Promoting better behavior behind the wheel, contributing to improving interaction between the vehicle and infrastructure to limit accidents and their consequences. Road safety campaigns were carried out in China and Latin America.

Hyundai Motors

Hyundai Motors has two initiatives, Traffic Squad and Hyundai Driving Schools.

  • Traffic Squad: Students Traffic Volunteer Scholarship Scheme is an initiative by HMIF to sponsor the ‘economically backward’ college students and also help in managing traffic better. A group of carefully chosen students, after proper training by the local traffic police, work as traffic marshals at busy intersections in conjunction with the traffic police to control and manage traffic. This is running in the cities of New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.

Renault

Renault as part of Road Safety initiative has undertaken initiatives such as “Promoting safety with Renault’s expert knowledge,” “Renault Mobility Policy to prevent, correct, protect and inform,” “Expert knowledge of accident analysis and road safety deployed worldwide” and E-Safety: Europe’s drive for road safety.

Ford

As part of Environment, Ford India had undertaken initiative of Education on Road Safety in Chennai, India. Ford International also has initiatives such as “The Ford Driving Skills for Life program” in USA which is focused on educating school children on road safety.

Ashok Leyland

The company has started Truck Driver Training Center in Tamil Nadu, India. The curriculum focuses on the road and off the road aspects, over 1 lakh drivers have been trained so far under various courses. They have set up a Driver Training Institute in Burari‚ near Delhi‚ in partnership with the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Hero Honda

Hero Honda seems to be the only two wheeler company which has initiatives on Road Safety. Their programme “BE A HERO HONDA GOOD RIDER” focuses on Bike Education, Road safety, Driving Skills, Health & Environment and Social responsibility etc. All these programs have a list of Do’s and Don’ts in common/uncommon situations. They also have a product information safety module which gives information on various bike parts.

CEAT

CEAT does not have CSR information on their site. They have initiated “Be Idiot Safe” programme. There is a separate website dedicated to this http://www.beidiotsafe.com/ . The website features information on people who violate traffic and safety rules. The website also features real life traffic and safety violation examples in form of videos and pictures added by people.

What do you think of automotive advertising in India?

Advertising and communication will generally take the credit when it comes to success of a product. There are many successful products in the country in the automotive sector. So the question is can advertising and communication be responsible for some of the negative episodes of traffic in our country? I have been searching for relevant advertising guidelines for the Indian automotive industry.
For now, I do not have access to them and will be following up with the revelant industry body. I have, however, come across a presentation that details the deliberations of the Canadian companies etc. These points, taken from their presentation, are indicative and served as a guideline while viewing the ads.

Advertisements must not display a disregard for safety by depicting situations that might reasonably be interpreted as encouraging unsafe or dangerous practices, or acts
Does the depiction of the performance, power or acceleration of the vehicle convey the impression that it is acceptable to exceed speed limits?
Does the depiction of a vehicle?’s handling ability involve potentially unsafe actions such as cutting in and out of traffic, excessively aggressive driving, or car chases in a residential setting?
Would it be reasonable to interpret the depicted situation as condoning or encouraging unsafe driving practices?
Does the depiction appear realistic or does it appear to be unreal as in a fantasy-like scenario that in unlikely to be copied or emulated in real life?
Does the depiction of racing and rallies, and of other competition environments, taking into consideration the advertisement as a whole including visual ( both images and text ) and audio messages convey the impression that production automobiles could be driving like racing or competition automobiles on a public roadway.
Is the advertisement encouraging or endorsing automobile use that is aggressive, violent or injurious towards other road users or that denigrates or disparages cautious behavior when using an automobile.
So how have some of the companies performed with regard to safe practices in advertising? The following highlights the number of unsafe driving ads for each company.
 

Here is another thought: If celebrity sells vehicles, what about unsafe driving habits?





Or perhaps this ad, where the celebrity’s stunt endangers the crowd.
Should the Advertising Standards Council of India not be taking note of this?
If you have more information on this or any other input, please do share. I will, also be adding more information on the companies listed here as well as add information on other companies.
 

Is the Service Sweet or Fail ?

Do telcos still believe that irrespective of service quality, they will be able to get new customers and existing ones will not churn out?
Recently, a telco launched a “blazing fast” data card service. However the launch was truly noticed on twitter. It started with a seemingly innocuous but sarcastic message and turned into a torrent of comments from users of the service. The conversation stream is available here.
There are 3 points – Advertising, Service and Listening to Customers to consider:
1. Advertising – Think of these words from a popular song, “Words are all that I have, To take your heart away”. These words could well be true for smart copy and advertising and their role in the success of large brands. But it is not true any more. Smart words have to be backed with tangible service and a great experience.
2. Service – Why make a promise when it cannot be kept. A quick scan through the comments in the stream pointed to customers facing these problems:

  • Speed Issues – One cannot promise blazing fast speeds and then the top problem is also speed.
  • Billing Problems
  • Incomplete Documentation
  • Incomplete Information at the time of purchase

Service design and an emphasis on the complete experience have not been adequately factored in.
3. Listening to Customers – On the real time internet, there are two words that have come to define service, sweet and fail. There is no word called satisfied or some such measure. These two words can start an avalanche of conversations which must necessarily be addressed. There is no hiding from this and proactive and near realtime action is required from credible sources within the company.
Have you taken steps to listen to these conversations ?
Telcos, have placed bets on a certain point, that the demand from new customers will outweigh by a factor of 10 or more the customers who will churn out. In this scenario, less than adequate emphasis is paid on service and experience. With number portability soon to be launched and new providers innovating with their models, can incumbents continue to ignore service and experience aspects.
Finally, the song does have a line, Lets start a brand new story…

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Branded Chemists in India

Some observations on Branded Chemists in India, from the customer’s perspective:
1. None of the branded pharmacy chains have got their act together. They have gone about adding SKU‘s but in the process have lost their ability to provide the core service.
2. It takes far too long in such stores for them to fill out prescriptions.
3. Products are not available and thus requesting them to order it is a cumbersome process.
4Loyalty cards have been introduced but processes and experiences that would encourage loyalty are not there.
5. Staff more often than not keeps changing and thus the skill level or knowledge is generally low. Empowerment of staff is another issue.
6. One reason, one might consider going, is the promise of genuine medicine sourced centrally. It is however a concern that stores at local level procure medicines from other local non branded stores. So how does the customer feel they are getting what they paid for.
7. Branded chains also seem to be exploring some sort of private label approach for some products, which somehow worries me even if the product hypothetically is an ear bud. Is there a ?
 

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Notes from Brands Under Fire

I recently finished reading Brands Under Fire by Ivan Arthur & Kurien Mathews. Simply put, it is a must read. The discussions and essays are insightful and thought provoking. This is not a review of the book but instead consider the comments, extracted from the book, as my notes for further deliberation or action.

Advertising Agency

  • “And I think its rather unfair to condemn the advertising agency. Most of us do make a thorough study of what products we are going to advertise and to the best of our knowledge and belief, if the product is safe we do the advertising. And this happens in all forms of communication.” – Roger Pereira

Regulatory Standards

  • “One of the things that does strike me as salient is how murky the whole issue is – the debate or crisis about lack of regulatory standards, and so on.” – Rama Bijapurkar

Responsibility to the Customer

  • “Surely the responsibility of an organisation is to its customer. All these facts are actually making me quite annoyed because a company has to see to the well-being of its customer as a crucial responsibility.” – Dr Gita Piramal

Brand Loyalty

  • “All of us are familiar with the phrase, brand loyalty. And brand loyalty has always been seen as a unidimensional thing where the customer is loyal to the brand. We are increasingly approaching an era where the brand has to be  loyal to itself; the brand being  loyal to its meaning, the brand walking the talk.” – Kiran Khalap

Managing Risk and Responsibility

  • “And all these brands are coming under fire because at some level they were not managing risk and responsibility.” – Kurien Mathews

Integrity of the Brand

  • “So, how committed are you to the integrity of the brand? The number of brands that you see which are being built without a shred of communication is phenomenal.” – Kiran Khalap

Language of the Brand

  • “No, I think the language of brands, by itself, is inadequate to capture the stories. I think over time brands will be absorbed  in a new way and will need to reflect these new resonances of organisation, technology and integrity.” – Prof Shiv Visvanathan

Responsibility

  • “We have confused responsiveness with responsibility. Responsiveness is about speed. Responsibility is about owning up to a community in the future that has’nt happened.” – Prof Shiv Visvanathan

Brand Whistle Blowers

  • “The changing world gets brands into trouble, we need whistle blowers and the whistle blowers are already coming up, great. Thank you very much.” – Kurien Mathews

Hear the Customer

  • “But if we believe that customers count, then we must hear them – seriously, deeply, and from within their world.” – Rama Bijapurkar
  • “I think marketers need to see how they can set up a ‘murmur’ track to understand the unsaid issue that a brand may face in the future.” – M. G. Parameswaran

Delivered Experience

  • “Brands will need to attract believers and for that they must first believe in something. Advertising cannot remain a statement of hallowed intent and will need to become a vehicle of delivered experience” – Santosh Desai

Brand Loyalty

  • “Brand loyalty is mistaken for loyalty of consumer to brand. Well before this happens, the brand needs to be loyal to itself.” – Kiran Khalap

Social Responsibility

  • “As a result, the social responsibility of brands has not yet  been elevated to a strategic marketing decision.” – Pranesh Misra
  • “In a sense we are seeing unique expressions: brand as a social contract. The brand is created by the marketer, but is actually nourished and owned by the larger populace. And as we move towards a borderless world of interconnectivity, we will see consumers becoming an active player in putting out or starting new fires.” – M. G. Parameswaran
  • “We need to move from this to a point where the social as well as the physical environment is seen as a necessary contributory part of the total system (ecology if you will) in which the large corporation, by virtue of the economic power it wields , acts as the responsible custodian. It owes a debt not just to the debenture holders but also the rivers and the forests and the very air it breathes along with the people who live around it who may or may not have a buyer/ supplier/ employee/ service provider role in the business.” – Late Prof S Ramchander

Trust

  • “At the core all of successful brands lies that big T word – TRUST. When that trust is violated, the reaction is one of hurt and suspicion that can easily turn to anger and rejection.” – Shekar Swamy

Knowledge System

  • “Where does advertising as a knowledge system stand vis-a-vis science, theology, law, politics, ethics and philosophy? Eventually the future of brands as a cognitive aesthetic system will depend upon their interdisciplinarity as a knowledge system.” Prof Shiv Visvanathan

Think about it. Make changes to factor the above and more.
Will write more on this shortly.
 

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