Brands work with familiarity and consistency, with benefits and relevance and with emotional connect. They are just like human being. A set pattern of behavior and an accepted level of unchanged unmagnified performance bring stagnancy into relationship. It is like marriage.
A brand just like in a successful loyal marriage must strive to enhance the offered romance in relationship. It must rejuvenate the excitement before the inherent inbuilt natural urge of discovering alternatives take over. The brand-consumer relationship is like life, full of little incidents and episodes building the memorized and perceived aura.
Remember the bike you rode, kiss you stole, car you owned, hotel experience, delayed flights, emergency delivery, assistance from unknown people, cosmetic or grooming products and even the mobile you own. Everywhere there is an unsaid level of expectancy and in-built redundancy.
Brands use stories to justify their relevance and status. Consumer uses such stories to justify their choices.
Dove, which was the just a beauty soap with moisturizer, wrote a new chapter with the campaign for real beauty. Toothpaste industry writes a chapter every season. Pepsi and Coke – where products do not allow much flexibility use communication to write a fresh novel every year. Mahindra has been doing a great job of engaging audience with newer twist and turn in its ever growing brand story.
Brand like star performers cannot live on their earlier successes. They drop out of the audience’s present. The efforts required to get back in the system amplify exponential with the gap from the last successful adventure.
When brands fail to write new codes of memories for the consumer in B2C, B2B or B2I, the books and the stories start losing their sheen. They become old; they have been heard a many times. They are past no one wants to see because the present is changing rapidly.
Dell failed to write an interesting new chapter, so did Motorola. Kodak and Polaroid failed in their attempt, by the time they thought about it, the readers (consumers) preference for the genre had shifted.
Apple and Samsung are a classic case of brands busy writing new chapters even before the ink dries on the last expression. It is more than just planned obsolescence. Do not forget, to succeed chapters must find an echo with the consumer choices.
The game may be refined by the brand but is defined by the consumer’s willingness to accept.
Look at the media side of business. Star is regularly writing a new story; reorganization to sports to Hotstar. You hear stories with relevance. SRK, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and R Balki is few celebrities who are more than keen on writing a new chapter in their relationship with audience. Dainik Bhaskar has been attempting to write chapters after the hugely successful thriller of Rajasthan and Divya Bhaskar (Gujarat Launch) and now the revived Zid Campaign. Indian Express has been consistent with its investigative journalism and continues to excite its audience, though its story needs a lot more tweaking to interest many. Ariel is not just tweaking the story line and characters in its brand story but is busy making attempts to define the story sharing pattern.
Sometimes it is not just the chapter but also the construct skew and the genre of the brand stories that the brand needs a change. SAB has been one of the sharpest defined and positioned GEC channels with hardly any competition. Unfortunately, they were so wedded to the positioning that they failed to redefine their path when comedy and smiles started getting traded at News Channels and other GEC with larger pull and money. The SAB team failed to tweak their ware. Possibly it is still serving the channel objectives, but they do need a new chapter.
Possibly it is time to start looking at brands not as a treatise, series or even a novel. Maybe it is time to look at brand history and life through a series of short stories. It is something that will reflect brand’s adaptation to changing pace of expectations and desires.
Keeping the brand story franchise alive and adding new chapters is a role that the agencies must play while partnering clients and brands. They need to be the resounding echo of the consumer’s shift in interests. They need to be doing more than just amplifying the stories traded by clients.
You cannot keep enjoying the last successful chapter for long.
It is a fallacy that consumer with ever-increasing spectrum of fragmented taste and options is the one on the driver’s seat. If the brand with its new exciting relevant chapters can keep itself in-sync with the evolving consumer, the situation will change. It is time for brand-customer relationship to be mentored and not just sustained.
The brand and consumer are no longer a planetary system with one of then the center of orbit. They necessarily be like quasars or the pulsating twin stars, always in an undefined tango of excitement. Always in the act of writing a new chapter.
Sanjeev Kotnala with 28 years of corporate experience is the founder of Intradia World. A Brand, Marketing & Management Advisory. His focus area is Ideation and Innovation, a subject in which he conducts specialized workshops like IDEAHarvest, Liberate and InNoWait. For soft skill training, he follows SHIFT (Specific High-Intensity Frequent training), which is all about contineous frequent training with shorter sessions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org tweet @s_kotnala web: www.intradia.in www.sanjeevkotnala.com.