Friday, April 7, 2017

It's time we do our own SWOT Analysis

Hey folks, writing after a long hibernation....... A post of one of my friend on Facebook prompted me to write few lines on this theme. In this busy hustle, specially living a hectic professional life, do we really give importance to our close relationships? When I say close relationships, I mean our spouse, children, parents, close friends (if any) or even team members at work. The equation we share with different levels of our colleagues at work occupies a substantial portion of our 'mind-space' as my blog is named. Sometimes we also bring back the memories of our relationship transactions of work at home and consciously or unconsciously we allow to create an impact on our close relationships. We need to work on our relationships, many of us do not realize; on the contrary we start expecting from each other. Sometimes success lead us to a certain level that we tend to forget our roots, ignore those close relationships who helped us in our struggle. We also come across different people in our lifetime,some we forget; with some we maintain friendship, with few others we try to keep touch and if there is no reciprocation, then the one-sided communication comes to a halt. A thought on which I often ponder.. Do we allow success to intervene our relationships? Are we capable of handling success? The recent brawl that happened between the famous comedian Kapil Sharma and one of his colleagues, Sunil Grover teaches us a lot about relationships. Success does not entitle us to live with a high ego. We need to respect human relationships. It is time we do our own SWOT analysis and identify our core competencies. Success of a project cannot be achieved single-handedly. It depends on the team members. Respecting the team members is one of the greatest qualities of a good leader, if not a good human being. In short life calls for respecting relationships. We cannot expect happiness, satisfaction or climbing the ladder of success all by ourselves. Life is good, life is beautiful, let's learn to respect and love each other instead of putting anyone down.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Game of Rebranding

One of the significant marketing changes in the past decade involves the dramatic increase in various ways in which consumers can express their identities. A key driver of this change has been the growth of one-to-one marketing and mass customization, which has not only expanded accessibility to traditional means of self-expression(e.g., hobbies, cheering for favourite sport teams and music groups, wearing iconic brands) but also introduced a variety of innovative self-expressive formats. This trend has led many organizations to rebrand and reposition their products or services focusing on functional attributes to focusing on how they fit into a consumer’s lifestyle. This rebranding exercise is welcomed by managers who believe that by positioning their brands as means for self-expression, they are less likely to go head-to-head with their direct competitors. Rebranding refers to repositioning or revitalizing a brand. It is also changing or reaffirming the existing marketing niche. It is different than the initial launch because the marketers usually don’t want to lose their existing brand equity with their current customers and clients. It is one of those terms that cropped up in the last two decades or so. There are many different interpretations of re-branding, and ideas on when it's needed and exactly how it should be undertaken. There are two divergent opinions about re-branding. The first is that re-branding is essential for business success; one needs to re-brand in order to evolve its brand so that it keeps up with the time and meets consumers' ever-changing needs. The other, that re-branding should be avoided at all costs; after all, if brands like Kellogg's, Kodak, Coca Cola and Gillette can still be market leaders in their categories as they were in 1925, then is re-branding really necessary? Rebranding can have a dual purpose; one, to assign a new name to a product or service and two, it can mean to reposition an existing brand. It can be applied to either new products, mature products, or even unfinished products. The process can occur intentionally through a deliberate change in strategy or occur unintentionally from unplanned, emergent situations. Rebranding is thus a process of giving a product or an organization a new image. Too often companies perceive Rebranding as just another cosmetic exercise. Adding a new color here, tweak of the logo there and putting up some nice TV commercials, but rebranding can only be successful when it is more than this. It signifies the second birth of a brand, so along with the outer look there also goes certain changes in the inner aspects of the brand, like changes in offering methods, changes in the product, changes in policy, etc. Rebranding is often necessary after M&A or if the brand has outgrown its identity / marketplace. When organizations have failed to establish a brand, or have been through any kind of scandal, total Rebranding may also be in order. In these cases, the intent is to erase any previous brand identity and replace it with completely new imagery and messaging. In the recent years, we have seen a growing trend of rebranding in our country starting with Vodafone, Airtel, to media channels, and many others. But the pertinent question that blogger seeks to find out from her readers, if any, is – “what is the end result of such massive and expensive exercise on the consumer? Was the change cosmetic only? Was the image of the brand affected in the consumer’s mind? What makes this affect positive or negative? What changes does it bring in the consumer buying pattern? How does the rebranding affect the bottom line (if any)?"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mind : The Best Charmer

Charm is magnetic…. It strikes the cord and leaves an everlasting impression in heart. Probably this is why it is said “first impression is the last impression.”

Recollecting my childhood memories.... when I used to accompany my parents at Ramakrishna Mission at Satribari- Guwahati quite frequently, once came across a very interesting read from the writings of Swami Vivekananda. Although I did not understand much that time what was written, but on the advice of the Maharaj present there I, very hastily noted down the same. Today, when I read and ponder, I could realize how valuable these lines are…

Few of the directives which I still remember are noted below that can go a long way in making one’s personality more & more charming and life extra worthy..

# 1 – One should have control on his / her mood; we must make a habit of breaking bad moods.
# 2 – We should offer understanding, empathy & help.
# 3 – One should avoid fault finding and spend time to analyze self.
# 4 - One must create his / her own influence and not be the center of attraction.
# 5 - Show interest, give encouragement & appreciation.
# 6 - We must be cooperative, helpful and generous.
# 7 – One must avoid desiring to be considered as superior.
# 8 - Be pleasant & look cheerful.
# 9- While speaking, one must be proactive and look pleased to see people
#10- One must be enthusiastic and energetic
# 11–Last but the most important, we must avoid talking behind the back of the people.

These may not be the standard set, but I am sure, it is definitely the basic primer for good life and healthy personality. We can all create our own laws as long as we keep on analyzing, learning and analyzing our own real self. The more we study our-self, we will come to know more about our-self. There may be many books which will help to be charming, but, yes, there is one perfect book which will help and guide us constantly to be CHARMING and that is our own MIND.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

We didn't have the green thing back in our earlier days

While checking out today at a grocery store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman standing next to me, that she should bring her own shopping bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

While the woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days." the cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care much to save our environment for future generations."

She was right – our earlier generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, I remember my Dad returned milk bottles to the milk depot/ store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so they could use the same bottles over and over. Yes, they really were recycling.

I also recall how we refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen; Dad replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. Yeah, we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up the stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every shop / grocery store and office building.

Back then, Mom washed our nappies because we didn't have the throw-away concept. We dried clothes on a line, not in an 'energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts;' wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got "hand-me-down" clothes from senior siblings, not always brand-new clothing.

We had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And, the TV had a small screen - (the size of a big handkerchief- hope we all remember.. ), not a screen the size of the county of Yorkshire.

In the kitchen, Mom blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. But, that lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

Bach then, we drank water from a fountain or a tap when we were thirsty instead of demanding a plastic bottle flown in from another country.

We accepted that a lot of food was seasonal and didn’t expect that to be bucked by flying it thousands of air miles around the world.

We actually cooked food that didn’t come out of a packet, tin or plastic wrap and we could even wash our own vegetables and chop our own salad.

But, we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the tram or a bus, and kids rode their bicycles / bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.

And we didn't require a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

It is sad... the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then..

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Emotional Branding: Way to the Heart of Next Gen Consumers

Over the past two decades, it has become resoundingly obvious that the world is moving from an industrially driven economy where machines are the heroes toward a people driven economy that puts the consumer on the hot seat. Airplanes are less about transportation vehicles these days, but more about travel organizations that enhances our lives in many ways through their elaborate bonus – point programs. Food is no longer about cooking or chores but about home or lifestyle design and most important sensory experiences. The universities are branded and more or less function as modular knowledge banks focusing on a new kind of flexible, global learning that caters to students all around the globe, both off and on campus, with differing backgrounds and agendas rather than the traditional structured UG and PG programs. To be relevant and to survive, it becomes important that the marketers understand the vast changes afoot and compete differently. Value proposition is changing. Speed has replaced stability; intangible assets have become more valuable than tangible assets. The traditional supply / demand economic models are being completely reevaluated. Corporations have realized that the new market opportunities are based on growing new lines of revenue with innovative ideas. Creativity is overtaking capital as the principal elixir of expansion. In this hypercompetitive marketplace, ideas are a new currency altogether, much more powerful than money. Goods or services alone are no longer enough to attract a new market or even maintain existing clients. It is the emotional element of products and their distribution systems that brings in the key difference between consumers’ final choice and the price they pay. Now when we say emotional, it means how a brand engages consumers on the level of senses and emotions; how a brand is created for people and forges a deeper, lasting connection. Cadbury's Temptations or the Surf Excel’s Daag Acche Hai uses emotional appeal in its TV commercial. Pepsi, another product in the sensory category, uses the feeling of belongingness through reference group appeals. In India, Coke too uses group appeals, which generally involve `groups and activities appealing to the target segment.

Hence, corporations must take definite steps towards building stronger connections and relationships which recognize their customers as partners. Today industry need to bring people the products they desire, exactly when they want them, through venues that are both inspiring and intimately responsive to their needs… well this is the world of emotional branding.... It is a dynamic cocktail of anthropology, imagination, sensory experiences and visionary approach to change. Bernard Arnault of LVMH, the hugely successful luxury group that own Dior, Vuitton and countless prestigious brands, lives by this credo. Given this emotionally driven paradigm, is it fair to say that consumers are thinking more with their heart or gut than with their head when choosing a product? Or that the public wants to be assured of a company’s unequivocal commitment to them? May be yes in both the assumptions. The largely unexplored territory of emotions – including how people feel about corporate world at large is an increasingly crucial part of the buying routine at a time when most products offer the same quality and are in danger of becoming mere commodities in an overcrowded market space.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Brand IPL is back and so are the Super Zoozoos

Greatest sporting extravaganza, Brand IPL is back and so are the Super Zoozoos . In a country with 3 Cs dominating (in order of popularity)- Cricket, Curry and Cinema..people are glued to catch up with all the antics of men in blue. Like all other cricket frenzy Indians, my 12 year old son Anuraag, who is yet to come over with the greatest sporting victories-World Cup 2011, is once again working out his schedules of school & tuition. The date sheet of IPL and the players’ memoirs are on the tips of his fingers… wish the 4th C- Curriculum also occupies some place among the new generation.
IPL, the ultimate brand wagon captures the maximum number of eyeballs in Bharat. Today cricket in general and IPL in particular are vehicle to escape--- to escape from the everyday life with its usual problems. However for the marketer, “passion for the game” is the catchphrase. Nothing excites in India as the game. Cinema in India has taken a back seat since little more than a month and the lull is expected to continue for few more weeks—reason the first C- cricket is the subject of animated discussion at corporate bashes or the kitties alike. It is an icebreaker. The marketing guys love to reap this zeal into their respective brands as well. It is said that in the IPL, everything sells. A quick rewind to recall some of the memorable advertising that punched the screen of World Cup-- the ultimate winners were the brands-Hero Honda, Pepsi, Sony Bravia, Adidas and many more. Few more brands that follow are MSD, Sehwaag, Kohli, the God of cricket, Sachin or Gautam Gambhir (one of the expensive most brand in IPL )

Next in line- the brands that is in question are whether it is Delhi Daredevils or KKR/ CSK or Mumbai Indians/ Rajasthan Royals or RCB? Well my son is lost in thought…..probably many of us !! Time will reveal …

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Logo Change :Is It a Mere Touch Up??

As the saying goes, nothing but change is permanent, change is continuous too in both external and internal environment of a business and there is a dire need for an organization to revamp itself with the changes in the environment. In today’s operating industry, external environment is volatile, competitors are shifting, new brands are approaching, business cycle is unpredictable, consumers are evolving all the way and there is a change in the industry dynamics. It becomes critical for companies to stay contemporary and connected. As logo with its visual illustration seeks to arrest the intrinsic values of the organization it represents, a change in the environment invites a change within the company and resultant change of logo. Corporate identity, specially when manifest in symbol, gives tangibility to the communication strategy adopted by a conglomerate. As a symbol, logo plays an important role in the overall marketing activities of a company and helps organizations in their brand building exercises.

A growing number of Indian companies are repositioning themselves to be relevant in a cutthroat market, a trend set in motion in the recent past by banks such as IDBI Bank, Canara Bank and Axis Bank and business houses like Reebok India, LG India, Dabur and Godrej Industries have gone for a major facelift to reach out to one of the significant customer base- young Indians and give their customers a contemporary feel. Hence to capture the globe-trotting new generation’s attention span which is otherwise growing thinner, the re-designing efforts of telecom powerhouse Airtel and now the Mahindra & Mahindra’s recently announced campaign ‘Rise’ is on the rise

But how far is logo change justified? Is it a mere image touch up or a serious overhaul? Does it impact their customers at all? In the recent past the logo change has become a significant area for business. There’s a lot of brouhaha, acres of newspaper columns and heaps of e-comments over the recent makeover of the Airtel logo. The brand still continues to be Airtel; the only thing they have done is to change their logo; its typeface followed by some new advertising and their signature tune. Customers are not led away by the way an ‘a’ looks on crimson background. Also the paid “ooohhs and aaahhs” of filmstars does not add to the customer experience. As long as they respond to customers promptly, maintain great pricing, have no call drops and their mobile service is of high quality, the story is all over. Infact that is why a customer purchase a service / product. Do people buy more or less Colgate because of the way “CP” is written or because of their prior association with the brand? If Tata were written with lower case “t”, would customers stop buying them? On the global front,whether the customers of Starbucks are equally excited when the lady (logo or the Siren) goes for seductive makeover?
Even a huge cutover from UTI Bank to Axis Bank failed to discourage customers, may be because they had very little choice. Earlier in the mobile space, Hutch became Orange became Vodafone. Sure they crafted the changeover beautifully. And to be fair – the credit goes to the customers. They figured it would be a bigger headache to switch numbers, as MNP was not available in those days and in any case the Hutch/Orange/Vodafone service is as good as anyone else’s. Hence there are many relatable factors which effect and impact Brand choice – the least of which is the way the Logo and symbol looks. Certainly it is recognition, it is an evocative shortcut to such recognition – but it’s rarely worth the effort spent on it. It has much more meaning for its owners than for its audience or customers. Customers are a selfish lot – they will pick and choose what they want, when they have the opportunity. If they figure out rationally or irrationally what they want then a fancy logo, logotype or symbol is hardly going to be a reason for or against purchase.