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Of Marketing Strategy, Fads, and Consistency

Of Marketing Strategy, Fads, and Consistency

Look around you. What you see is a world- a world of brands! Right from the device that you’re reading this on, to what you are eating. You don’t call it a cereal; you call out a brand in the breakfast space. You don’t say I have a savings account. You end up saying I bank with “XYZ”. So much so that some brands have become verbs. And when Brands become verbs, they’ve arrived (Uber, Swiggy, Google, Netflix etc).

The world of marketers is split two ways – Brand and Growth.

Ultimately what brands yearn for, is to become a part of your life. So, what is it that matters to a brand? It’s not a customer. It’s you, “The Customer”. In a bid to become an integral part of your life, brands will pull out everything they can, to make you feel like you value them just as much as they value you.

But here’s the question - Does every campaign resonate with you? To my mind, at least a good half is just wasted on the core audience of the brand. Which is why brands must be very selective about what they do.

Ask most marketers what they do, and they will talk about user acquisition, P&L, Revenue etc. And yes, they are very important metrics. In an era where “Growth Hackers” are like the neighborhood dentist, very few understand the art of building a brand. Don’t get me wrong, the other end of the spectrum is the brand guys who will talk about how their social post is gaining traction. Their sole focus in life is “Moment Marketing” and Memes.

The Long Road to Brand Building

I was at a brand workshop a couple of years back where marketers across countries had shown up. The idea was to get a view on what kind of brands they liked, what they identified with. Unsurprisingly, a good number of campaigns that everyone chose was around Core Brand Building & CSR. The ones that spoke at a category level, rather than their own narrow view of the kind of work they were doing. In many ways, it was the kind of campaigns that laid out the problem and then made you ponder or the ones that told you the solution or the work they were doing to solve. Interestingly, that’s the kind of stuff that start-ups get funded for. The classic – problem and solution approach. So, what is it that stopped them for doing a similar campaign for the brand that they work on? Two-word answer – quarterly numbers!

Big brands become bigger only because their brand marketers build a vision that’s not solving for today afternoon. Yes, business metrics are important, but a brand is built over a period OF TIME. Truth be told, there’s not a single brand that’s hit a home run every time they’ve done a campaign. But they learn, adapt, optimize and scale.

Marketers today seek validation from their fraternity and friends and for all the wrong reasons. It’s great to see friends and peers tagging your campaign on a post but is that your customer? If yes, you’ve done well.

The Distraction

Every good journey is laden with problems and distractions. If you’re doing something that takes you away from the core journey of brand building, don’t do it. Just because 100 others are doing it, you needn’t. The idea of saddling your social agency to do a post every 2 days on topical themes isn’t brand building. It’s a distraction.

 A million people may like your post, but will they end up being your customer or consider your brand? If not, it’s a wasted effort. The logic that you need to be seen every day is fine but being seen in the right context and by the right people is more important. It’s like that inane dialogue in a Bollywood movie where someone says in a hushed tone that all publicity is good publicity. It certainly isn’t.

Here’s a hard fact- Of all the Mother’s Day and Valentine’s day posts that you see, how many do you remember. You may remember the brand that you bought on that day. Was it because of that post? No, it was because you thought that it fit nicely into that moment. If you’re a bank talking about why exercising is good during Covid, believe me, you are wasting my time and also your creative team’s. I can understand a fitness brand doing it or an insurance company for that matter. If anything, all that I’m interested in from my bank is whether you can take that interest rate higher on my Fixed deposit (that’s a bleak view, but you get my point).

Not everyone is Amul

Amul has been built over years. And the Amul girl in a polka dotted frock is sweet, smart, irreverent and yet likeable. She is cheeky and yet honest in a way that she captures the mood of people. The Amul Girl is also willing to say things that we may agree with and yet not voice out aloud in public. And that’s the beauty of it. It's honest and believable.

Long before the term, ‘moment marketing’ was coined, Amul was living it. Today, everyone wants to be Amul. And every social media manager and half a creative guy believes that if you don’t do moment marketing, you don’t know marketing. Marketing and brand building is an art and a science that has been there for ages.

My bone of contention with ‘moment marketing’ is the number of me-too’s - one brand gets it right and then 100 others just follow. And how’s its success measured? By marketers on social media.

A basic thumb rule of whether your campaign has worked or not is this. Ask your customer these questions:

Has (s)he heard of the brand? If Yes. Where and How?

What do they understand about your brand?

If the answers to these questions are clear, here’s what you need to ask yourself – do they remember that post that I did about some viral moment that everybody posted about? Invariably, you know the answer.

Think about it. Anyone who’s a 90s kid knows about the legendary “Hamara Bajaj” campaign or “Yehihai right choice baby. Aha”. Do I need to name the brand here? You remember. Why? That’s worth remembering.

 There is no 100% clear playbook on how to build a brand. But there are practices that may work and most likely do. Then, you tweak, adapt and learn.

Do less. Do something meaningful. It lasts.

About the Author

Mr T V Narayan is a content enthusiast and he loves brand building. His strength lies in growing and nurturing teams to deliver results at higher level. He has worked on fabulous marketing campaigns and large sponsorship properties, which have been awarded across multiple categories. He has well-rounded exposure in managing digital, on-ground and location specific campaigns, which would generate desired ROI. At present, he is a Head of Marketing at SugarBox.