Catalyst

Winning with a brand

| Updated on January 19, 2011 Published on January 19, 2011

Winning formula: Celebrities are the most popular visual representationsof a brand. Actress Chitrangada Singh during the launch of a new collectionof watches. - Picture by SHASHI ASHIWAL   -  Business Line

Actor and brand ambassador of Lay’s India, Saif Ali Khan at a recentcampaign. - Picture by Ramesh Sharma   -  Business Line

An emotion and a value proposition that has very functional benefits for the customer.

You have heard of bread winners, but have you heard of brand winners? I believe that like trust, winning is a great value proposition to have!

In a brand workshop recently, I asked a group of marketing and advertising professionals what was the one value proposition every brand would like to have.

Unanimity among an otherwise argumentative set of participants created some ripples before came the answer “trust”.

Trust me, it is hard to say anything other than “trust”. That is the ultimate, right?

Your customers have trust in your brand — trust that it offers the best value, has the latest features and runs the greatest businesses.

A similar emotion is winning. Ultimately everyone wants to win. Win in the playground, at work, in the marketplace and everywhere else you can think of.

The definition of winning could be different depending on where Maslow places you in the pyramid of needs. Tag lines such as ‘ Dar ke Agey Jeet Hai' and ‘Winning in the Flat World' epitomise winning as a proposition. Another big plus for winning is that it is a benefit for the customer and not you.

An analysis of the positioning of Businessweek's Top 100 brands from Coca-Cola to SAP to Toyota through their campaigns reflect the use of winning, some obviously more obviously than the others.

So, why winning? Because it has emotional value with a very functional benefit. That is the power of winning.

So how does one build winning as a brand value?

Winning with superlatives: Be the biggest, fastest, first, greatest … to win. You have arrived at the chequered flag. You may, however, need to substantiate this intelligently and garb this cleverly with an asterisk and define this in a territory where you emerge as the obvious winner (might even be the only brand in that territory)

Winning with partnerships: Depicting the power of synergy. Of course, your brand provides the winning ingredient in that partnership. We can share success, but not the mantra!

Winning with technology: Hospitals position themselves on their ability to research, diagnose and treat using the latest technology — meaning sustained health and possibly lowest risk and cost for the patient. Nokia's latest campaign shows how a mobile phone can get you more business if you are connected.

Winning with expertise: Tiger Woods in an Accenture campaign positions the brand as an expert which can win. Expertise helps you win.

Typically, how is winning visualised as a brand value? Celebrities from films, sports and the social sector are the most popular visual representations of a brand.

The slice-of-life commercials use the common man and his winning against the strife of daily life, disease and the wrongs of society.

Some of the other value propositions of winning are that you are done with it and can now rest, a much needed commodity today! And you have beaten something or someone to it. Subtly (or probably not so subtly) you have positioned yourself against competition.

Winning is also fairly elastic — depending on the context, you can change what it means to your customers. Which means you decide the rules of the game (read — “the product attributes you want to pick for the consumer to rank your product”). Again like trust.

Winning brings in celebrations and the much needed entertainment essential to build a connect with the consumer going by current marketing thinking on advertisement.

Winning is in the past, present and future continuous tense. With due apologies to Wren and Martin. What this means is that depending on the context, you can talk about what the brand wins for in all the three periods of time — talk about heritage, being contemporary or crystal-ball gazing. Winners have a ‘formula,' a secret potion meant to win, always!

Winning need not connote that someone has to lose, lest there be a negative rub-off. It can be a win-win for all! It can be winning against an epidemic, a business problem, an obstacle, what have you.

If it were that easy to find an alternative to “trust”, I guess discerning brand owners would have found it long back. Winning probably ranks second to that.

(The writer is Vice-President – Marketing and Communications, SAP Labs India. The views expressed here are personal.)

Published on January 19, 2011
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