Monthly Archives: August 2009

What is a brand ?

Of late I have been asked by quite a few people about branding and what are the steps to become a brand but today I was asked a good question, What is a Brand or better put Define a Brand.

Wikipedia says : A brand is a name or trademark connected with a product or producer. Brands have become increasingly important components of culture and the economy, now being described as “cultural accessories and personal philosophies”.

FreeDictionary.com says :

    A trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer.
    A product line so identified: a popular brand of soap.
    A distinctive category; a particular kind

apart from a 100 other definitions.

Let’s talk practical : Shahrukh Khan is a brand, Farhan Akhtar is not; Harsha Bhogle is a brand, Arun Lal is not; Michael Jackson is a brand (yes, he still is), Rakhi Sawant is NOT. Even though I did write about her sometime back and that too in relation to branding, but she never was and can never be.

Shahrukh Khan
In terms of product value, I will say they are brands because the first thing is that THEY SELL. Any Shahrukh film just sells, even though the promos have not been good, even though the film is crap, even though it may have no other superstar in it, what matters is it sells. Same does not hold for Farhan Akhtar.

If Harsha Bhogle is on air, everyone listens to him, his name sells there. The same is not true in the case of an Arun Lal or a Rameez Raja, even though they are seen commentating on all channels and are all over the place, people may listen but do not respect their commentary.

Brand Michael Jackson

Brand Michael Jackson


An MJ album used to sell without even people listening his songs, they just bought. His shows were a sellout because people knew its M-I-C-H-A-E-L J-A-C-K-S-O-N who’s performing. However old he grew, his shows were always a sellout. He was a household name, even my dad knows his name, even though he never heard a single song of him. On the contrary, even though Rakhi Sawant is a household name, but is her show watched on each and every person ? Though people like me watched a few of her tv appearances, but did we watch it because of Rakhi? No is the answer, and what’s more is that more people switched channels when they saw her on air.

So who is a brand ? Let me tell what does not define it. Any person/product/company which catches the eye of the people simply is NOT termed a brand. It is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. Something which fades away with time is NOT one. Negative publicity does NOT make one.

A brand is something/someone/product or company which :

    is famous (the primary condition)
    has earned respect in the society (society may be a variable term here, but constitutes of people who do not know or are NOT associated with the brand personally)
    has value (the product is good or the person has excelled professionally or the company has done exceptionally good business)
    which sells outright (does not need much of marketing)
    raises eyeballs every now and then, with positive actions or sometimes even with neutral ones
    no of people who love the brand >>> no of people who hate it (yes you ought-to/must have those who hate you)
    does not become news for negative reasons

May be you can add more points ? I put what I could recall of but I guess you may have much more to add, looking forward to discuss and learn more from you people.

The Internet is NOT Free !

Time and again I face this question or rather answer from reputed people that,

Things will happen after all the Internet is FREE

Ideally these people are rated very high in the business circles because of the success they have had in their various sectors but achieving success in one field does not make you a champion in all the other fields automatically. But how much does Sachin Tendulkar knows about the technicalities of the Ferrari F-50 Spider ? Probably next to nothing and that’s what my answer is to all those people who feel that “Internet Is FREE”.

Recently we have been meeting a lot of people, some of them high profile businessmen, some IIM-Grads and some of them who have non-Internet startups. Though most of them quite senior to me but some of them also also fall in or near my age group. Initially I thought that people in the age group > 45 do not understand the power of internet and hence they say. But when I saw that people even on the other side of the above mentioned age group not understanding the situation I had alarm bells ringing in my head that clearly said ‘this is not going to be easy’, in fact “it’s going to be very tough”.

I guess you are still wondering what that blog post topic means. Let’s get to it straightaway. Ok the internet for you is free in office, maybe at home you spend some 800 INR and get that connection working and since then you assume that it’s free.

Let me ask a very basic question, When we start our machines, what is that we do? Open our mailboxes, open some social networking sites, search for something which we require, a restaurant or a new mobile or some place or some person or anything of our interest. Now let’s say that there was no Orkut, no Facebook, no Twitter, no blogs and no Google. Then what do you do? No don’t say, if no Google then I use a Yahoo or a Bing. My question is if there was no website where you would find the information, what worth would the internet be to YOU ? If there is no content to read or browse then what do we do ? If there is no facebook or orkut then how do I stay in touch with my friends ? Obviously I can’t call everyone ! So no content results equals to no internet. Now even if you spend 800 bucks on that connection you won’t have anything to do over the internet if there’s nothing to read or see.

My point is that the Content is King, not internet. Internet might be free but it’s the content that costs. Any blog post that has been written, it requires time and effort to be written. And what I am trying to explain is that time and effort equals Money in the real world. The day labnol or mashable or chrisbrogan stop earning money from their blogs, why would they do it ? Why would starbucks do a twitter or a facebook campaign for their patrons ? Why would someone bother to answer a bad review for a Dell that a customer made on their website or somewhere else for that matter. All these things require time and effort to be put in and obviously TIME and EFFORT are equivalent to MONEY if spoken in the Layman Businessman’s language. So how could you term the Internet Free if it has no value without the CONTENT.

Well those are my views let me know what you feel, would love to engage in discussions.

How a bad Advertisement timing can spoil your Brand Value

I recently came across an advertisement in The Economic Times, a national daily newspaper arguably read by each and every businessman across the country. The ad started with the words :

Kind Attention CMD’s, CEO’s, COO’s and top management

Following the address, it had information regarding the program which was succeeded with a 2 line statement about advertiser’s background. Now I guess we can imagine how much information can be dispensed in a 3″x4″ ad. And hence as a result of which the ads are always suffixed with a website link, an email id and a contact no, assuming the advertiser and the addressed people have enough technology exposure. You must be thinking so what’s wrong in this ? Nothing ! Absolutely correct.
The website has a single page and that page contains nothing more than a 1 paragraph information of the company. There are 4 other links on the website, one of which links to a related external site, good enough. But out of the other 3 links, 2 do not work. The last one says “News”. Hoping that this will have information at least about the ad, I clicked that link. And guess did I see.

This post has been deleted.

I assume that, okay, the website might be having some problems so I pick up my phone to call on the given number. You can’t believe what reply I got,

Please check the number you have dialed !!!

What my first reaction was, I probably cannot write here.  Still assuming that IT’S OKAY,  there might be a printing mistake, I gathered  some courage and clicked on the only link that was working (the linking to an external site). That website, though functional,  also did not have any info about the advertisement. Somhow I found a landline contact no and I had full confidence that atleast this should be working. Alas! it was not to be. No, the numbers were correct, but none of them was recieved. I dialled both the numbers but to no avail.

Harms caused by bad timing

Harms caused by bad timing

Can you imagine what sort of impression would this sort of campaign do. It’s done more damage than you can imagine. The website’s not ready, has no information, the news section says post deleted, the mobile numbers don’t exist and nobody is bothered or responsible enough to recieve the landline calls. Waaaoow ! I am impressed. And in case you forgot, then I may remind you that the post was addressed to CEO’S, COO’S and CMD’S. No, I am not anyone of those, but yes I do own an organization or rather a startup I should say and the advertiser is connected to me due to previous background.

Things they lost from all this :

Trust :   Confidence :   Loyalty :   Growth/Business (for a short term and with some concerned people at least) : and the most important BRAND VALUE, if they had any.

Lesson to be learnt : If your soldiers aren’t ready, don’t FIRE !

This is a perfect example why you should synchronize your advertising and marketing/branding campaigns. Probably they should have waited at least till the date the website is ready. Since a bad impression lasts longer in the human brain, I guess next time such or may be any ad from the same organization, wouldn’t be treated trustworthy or would get the response it expects.

By the way, after all this, I didn’t bother to try the email id.

How to create your Brand-The Rakhi Sawant way

Update : I have intentionally put this update at the top. I have got a lot of people who have made comments on this article, no don’t look at the comments section, but to me personally on mail and calls, that they were not happy with this article. Let me be clear; I thoughtfully chose a topic which had a clear sarcasm in it. Rakhi Sawant is a gossip material and that’s what this article is meant to. In NO WAY do I promote the methodologies adopted by her to promote herself . The reading should be treated as things NOT TO BE DONE if you are a marketing or a branding person. For others the post is a pure fun to read.

I know I may be hated by the readers by writing about it, but believe it or not we can learn a lot of things from the Drama Queen.

All, ohk probably most, of us want to be a brand and become famous but are not able to do so. We have the skills but seeing this recent talk of the town I guess we have a point or two to learn.

First and the foremost thing is that talent alone is not the sole criteria, its publicity that plays a major role that will make you famous. Skill is a necessary condition but it is definitely not the sufficient condition. In my previous post I wrote about marketing your talent. Yes, that’s a very important point but I want to take your eyes to the tactic that Rakhi has used and used it better than enyone else. Get media publicity the WRONG way. Hardly people knew that the girl who did a couple of music videos and few movie item songs was Rakhi Sawant. But now, she’s a household name. Sometimes we have enough talent but don’t get the right/enough opportunities to show it. She made use of every opportunity. If I am not wrong, she shot into fame with the Mika Kiss Scandal. Got publicity on all those news channels who have more masala than news and eventually got more dance offers from movies and got a few TV reality show appearances as well.  Mission Accomplished I would say.

Result : Gets famous in a day all of a sudden, rules news channels for a week or so and in some cases gains public sympathy as well as anyone who cries on screen can easily get some emotional Indians sympathise her.

Second, if you can’t win, cry Cheating ! Everyone admitted that she was a good dancer, but when she was ousted on public voting in a reality show, she cried foul over the organizers claiming that the “votes were tampered”.

Result: Even though people like me who didn’t watch the show came to know about her and her dancing skills as it was again on all the masala-cum-news channels. Dancing skills proven, she starts getting more dancing offers in films, shows and no wonder her bank balance skyrocketed. Ofcourse she was famous by now !

Then comes third step and rather a mindblowing one. As people have a short memory and tend to forget things quickly, she comes with an ulmitate move, setting up a Swayamvar for herself. Marrying a person on a reality show! Who would think of that ? Are you Nuts , was my first reaction when I first heard of the show. Man, can you believe it ?  I don’t know whether it was all framed or real but bottomline is that the show managed to even get NRI’s to fight the others to marry her.  And guess what, the NRI wins ! Not sure whether the marriage will actually take place or not and the fact is who cares.

Result : Purpose of the show is solved. The show gets high TRP’s, especially because there were no cricket matches around the time of show being aired. Initially I also refrained from the show, but once when I saw it, I just couldn’t stop laughing. It was meant to be serious and emotional but it turned out to be absolutely foolish and idiotically funny and which was why even I watched it. But what surprised me more was that when I got back to work, logged into twitter, there were people who were updating about the show. News results all over the place. Ofcourse the masala-news channels had BREAKING NEWS. HAHA, I guess these news channels would run outta money if they don’t show this stuff. Everyone watched the show for various reasons and talking about her as well. Positive or negative but the point is SHE GOT PUBLICITY. I wonder what will up in those newspapers, but I guess being in Bangalore I can assume they won’t give her more than a small 5th or 6th page column.

Whatever ways she adopts, bottomline is she gets famous each time and does not let people forget her. Quoting a friend who just updated his facebook status which reads :

Rakhi sawant is a real celebrity , Hilton beware rakhi is coming, A real drama queen at it’s best on NDTV imagine ! don’t miss it

Update 1 : Latest news is that she even made it to the twitter trending topics.  http://bit.ly/12VWH1

Update 2 : Over 15 million watched ‘faisle ki raat’  http://bit.ly/1YfZ31