branding/advertising communications

Turning Back The Pages

Recently and after a long time, the Air India Maharajah leapt out at me from an ad in the newspaper, which got me  a bit nostalgic and made me take a peek in the rear view mirror.

The Magic Of The Maharajah.

Time was when one spotted the AI mascot ever so often, in newspapers, splashed on hoardings, etc and loved him more and more. Belief had it that he was the brainchild of a genius, Bobby Kooka, though I am not too sure. Over the years, the pulling power of the mascot got questioned. I recall him at one time, on a flying/magic carpet, which the authorities pulled from under his feet, so to speak. It was also felt that he was too indianised and did not attract international audiences, so I think his posture/stance or some such element, got tweaked. And the process of tweaking his characteristics (and giving him a make-over!) went on, reducing his potency!  I think there was also a plan to withdraw him completely, but luckily common sense prevailed. The airline management retained him but instead fiddled around with the logo, brought in an international agency, had a huge launch of the new logo, at an enormous cost of course – some Centaur or some such element – don’t quite remember. But the magic of the Maharajah luckily outlived it all. And the irony of it, in the same newspaper, that I read,  I glanced at an article mentioning about a loss of approx Rs.30,000 crores incurred by the Airline! Sacrifice the Maharajah and red with turn to black.

Utterly Everlasting!

My mind also rolls back to the cute and beautiful Amul girl, attributed to Eustace Fernandes/Sylvestor DCunha (?). What a work of pure genius! Luckily the good old Dr. Verghese Kurien, saw sense in not tweaking the lovely mascot, who has retained her charm over the years! (Wondering why they did not make her younger, to appeal to the millennial, or some such crap!) Of course, ad agency Dcunha Communications, also deserves credit for not altering the mascot and in fact retaining her charm over the years.  Keeping the brand trendy and updated is a credible performance by the Agency. In both cases, I think the client has retained its Agency right through – JWT for Air India and Dcunha for Amul. I recall the words of one of my bosses – a client gets the agency it deserves!

Agency Envy.

Another super Mascot, if I may call it, would be the mischievous and evil Onida Devil, who literally created hell for competition, when the brand was launched. Created by the famous Gopi Kukde, the Devil was actually charming! Many fell in love with him! (Or is it her?)  And then with times changing, the client changed the Agency. As done in almost every such case, the first thing the Agency does is fool around with logos, mascots, etc. Am told huge research costs were incurred that revealed that the Devil was not in sync with the new age customer. And the Devil was banished to hell! But that did not get the angels singing at the cash register either. So again, if I recall right, the Devil was either brought back or some attempt was made.

It’s a pity that not only as a nation, but globally, we are so dependent on disciplines like research, although at the best of times, it fails us! If  a little more attention is given to the consumer’s heart and emotions, I think we would be much better off!  Which brings me back to reality! I have depended more on my failing mind than research for this. But it did give me immense pleasure to turn back the pages.

 

 

 

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branding/advertising communications

When the pupil is ready, the master….

I Stop Shooting in the Dark.

After spending decades in mass media, I began experiencing a fatigue and burnout, whilst simultaneously getting introduced to the online domain, which I found enchanting, to say the least. Mass media was like shooting in the dark, but the digital domain, besides being one-on-0ne, offered the high potential of engaging with the audience, which delighted me.

Getting More Exposed to Online.

So I decided to explore this medium a little  intensely, by getting more active on Social Media, content writing, etc. Each channel or platform gave me a glimpse of the other, thus increasing my quest for more learning. I registered for an online course in SM, but perhaps due to my own inadequacies or lack of exposure, did not find it Value for Money (VFM), and so was reluctant to add to my expenses. At the same time, the fire was burning.

Increasing my Network and meeting my Mentor.

Thanks to FB, my network increased and also got virtually connected to different individuals, all willing to lend a helping hand. That is how I first got introduced to Nevil Darukhanawala – as someone who was in need of content writing. Our first meeting was conducted, like many others, in a Coffee Shop, where I explained to him my journey and destination. Subsequent meetings led me to a branding/communications assignment for one of his to be launched Apps. I then discovered that Nevil himself was a digital expert, having learnt and practiced the profession in USA and had recently opened shop in India.

Getting introduced to the School of SEO.

His SEO business experience in India was not up to his expectations, so just recently, in 2015 to be precise, Nevil began conducting online courses in the digital domain. (http://www.schoolofseo.in/). Luckily for me, we did a barter with my content writing. So passionate and convinced is he about this service,  that he actually offers a money-back guarantee!  A student from one batch can switch or catch up with another batch -another unique advantage.

Once Darukhanawala begins, the passion exposes itself in his voice, articulation and gesticulations. So deep is his knowledge on the subject, that at times he gets carried away and tends to drift from the topic, and needs to be brought back to focus -time is not too consequential, but imparting knowledge matters to him.

Unlike many of today’s coaching classes, with just the basic infrastructure, Nevil’s class room is well furnished, with a huge monitor, and more than adequate air conditioning, which one has to at times request him to turn down.

I also “Spott One Consulting Pvt Ltd”

Darukhanawala has the good sense not to restrict himself to just preaching, but also practices. Thus he has some top corporates whom he consults with and conducts workshops for others. Besides, he also offers his SEO services, with a small and dedicated team to a few top corporates, under the brand Spott One Consulting. This ensures he is abreast of the latest trends in the market place.

If my exposure to SEO is beneficial, thanks to Nevil Darukhanawala.

 

This post purports an attitude of gratitude.

 

 

 

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branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

  A Peek in to the Cyber World of Millennial Teens

                                  

 

Refuel Agency, through Monkey Survey, conducted a study of “Millennial Teens”, aged between 16 to 19 who were born after the introduction of the Internet and Cells. What is it like to have been born in this generation? Some startling and some not so surprising revelations. The survey was conducted with a sample size of 684 teens as recent as June 3 to 9th, 2015. Can they be considered as “non-conformist trendsetters” looking for “instant gratification”?

 

Life becomes miserable without their Top 10 Products.

Besides the Cell/smart phone which expectedly, was on topmost of the list of things that the teens could not do without, surprisingly food, clothes and shoes ranked high in this list. Water, the essential zenith of life stood last at 10! The other items were Video game console, Tablet, MP3 player and Television. To put the items in perspective:

The Topmost Brands in their lives.

When asked to specify brands without which this target group could not do without,  Apple scored the highest, and surprise of surprises, the popular social networking site, which catapulted Mark Zuckerberg, as a household name, stood 10th or more specifically, last!

 

 

A good total of approx. 73% time in a day is spent on gadgets.

When asked how many hours in a 24 hour day they spent on devices, the computer and TV tied with each other at 3.5 hours, and again, (no prizes for any guesses), the good old, (or is it new?), smartphone was declared the winner with almost double the time at a good 6.3 hours! The Tablet was the poorest at 1.9 hours.

Focusing on gadgets that governed the life of Millennial, the Smartphone or Cell stood first at 55% and the TV as expected last at No. 5. The list as ranked:

Cell phone/ Smartphone 55%
Computer/ laptop 18%
Tablet/ e-reader 12%
IPod/ MP3 payer 8%
Television 7%

 

And pray, how does the young adult use the cell?

Again for sheer everyday usage, texting ranks highest at 66% (the contents of the text were not surveyed, but perhaps can be imagined!) Social media, games, camera and browsing approximating 50% each.  Emails and actual were as low as 33% and 24% respectively! (Surprising?)

 

 Does the Teenager make for a good Shopper?

So what does he or she look for whilst shopping? A good deal of research is done by the Millennial with 45% doing price comparisons to ensure the right purchase price. Reading Reviews stood at 44% whilst researching product details at 39%. (Perhaps this justified the 55% of the time spent on Mobiles?)

The Preloaded Browser makes a huge difference

Manufacturers and Marketers may be disturbed to note that 33% of the targeted audience is not likely to change the browser preloaded on their gadgets with a high 67% moderately or highly likely!

 

The Teen is sharp and wary with the browser

They cannot easily be taken for a ride with 70% and 68% of them wary about their security and privacy respectively. 54% considered web page loading speed as important to them. Social Integration featured at just 21%

Looking at Streaming Platforms

When it comes to Streaming Platforms, no prizes for guessing that You Tube scored the highest with 75%. This was followed by Netflix and Pandora with 55% and 39% respectively.

Time spent of Social Sites/Apps

Expectedly, 64% of their time was consumed on You Tube. But here again is an irony, whilst Face book stood 10th amongst favorited brands, 51% of the Millennial Teens time was spent on this site.

 

How “public” is the Millennial Teen’s Life?

65% of them are “very/somewhat willing” to “post something publicly on Social Media” – perhaps accounting for “In a Relationship” or it’s “Complicated”? “Not willing” were 23% and “Unsure” were just 12%

 

                                        

The Social Media used to keep up with the latest in Music, Games and TV shows.

 

With this background on the Millennial Teen, we can be assured the future is bright and exciting! Console

  1. Tablet
  2. MP3 player
  3. Television
  4. Water
  5. Cell/ Smart phone
  6. Food
  7. Computer/laptop
  8. Clothes
  9. Shoes
  10. Video game console
  11. Tablet
  12. MP3 player
  13. Television
  14. Water
  15. Cell/ Smart phone
  16. Food
  17. Computer/laptop
  18. Clothes
  19. Shoes
  20. Video game console
  21. Tablet
  22. MP3 player
  23. Television
  24. Water

 

 

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branding/advertising communications

Between Decision-maker and Consumer, is the Brand Influencer

The Hunt Begins for a TV brand.

We needed a new TV set. The Samsung LCD went dead on us for the third time in 5 years – but that’s another story, another blog perhaps!

Enter Vijay Sales.

The search for a new TV set first went online and some brands were identified, with Micromax in the consideration set. Then a visit to the Vijay Sales stores, where the family stopped at the TV section, and followed by the salesman. The brands suggested were Videocon, Vise (Vijay Sales self-label manufactured by Videocon), LG, Samsung, and Sony.  Having burnt our fingers with Samsung, the brand did not resonate with us. Sony was way above budget. This prompted the sales guy to push Videocon and Vise. Both came with a 3 year comprehensive warranty.  Price was  affordable. Vise came into brand consideration, but if manufactured by Videocon, they why Vise? Of course our previous experience with Vijay Sales had been good.  However we were not too convinced of the (cheap?) Videocon brand,  so delayed our decision.

Croma enters the Fray.

We then visited Croma in the vicinity. We got drawn to the Micromax set, when the daughter exclaimed, “Micromax in TVs? Thought they were only in cells”. That put an end, before the beginning, for Micromax. Other brands were the same as we saw in Vijay Stores. The sales guy tried pushing Samsung, so I inquired how long he was with Croma. About 3 years was the response. I then related to him my 5-year-old episode with purchase of the Samsung brand at his store, for which he was apologetic. Our past experience too with the service at Croma Stores, was not much to write home about. Strangely, he was insistent that the warranty of Videcon was 1 year comprehensive and extended by another 2 years for service, with payment for spare parts. Vijay Sales offered a different story.

Back we went to Vijay Sales, and confirmed the comprehensive 3 year warranty of Videocon. Having established that, swiped the Credit Card and came home, happy with the purchase, but not necessarily with the brand.

The Brand Influencers!

A little marketing knowledge told me the purchase decision for a brand depended on 2 sets of audiences: The decision maker  and the consumer/purchaser. Brand influencers were a go-between and not given too much consideration.

The past decade or so, has toppled this buying behaviour heels over head. I have always noticed that whenever we make a planned and considered purchase of a durable, almost always we returned home with a different brand. Not necessarily because of lack of homework, but most often due to the role of the third-party or influencer – most commonly the Sales person. Although we are aware that a particular brand is pushed due to better commissions, at the moment of purchase, we succumb to the Influencer.

Now that Social Media helps us connect instantaneously and gain brand knowledge, its role as a word of mouth vehicle and  powerful Influencer cannot be denied. However, the Sales person will always have the last word for our wallet.

 

 

 

 

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Journeying to the Online Customer

Recently accompanied a friend wanting to get into an ecommerce venture. Sharing some learning/experiences here.

Reaching Out to the Online Customer?

As the owner of a Mom n Pop stores/Kiranawala you now want to reach out to the online customer.

Before doing this let us define our business model. What kind or product or service are we offering? Durables, FMCG, or?  Are we accepting online payment or COD?  Will we be doing our own deliveries? Do we have an exchange or return policy in place? How important is the image or product picture to the purchase? Our e-commerce venture will need to take into consideration all such factors.

Get a feel of the Online Space First.

Perhaps we could get the feel of the online space first, without the expense of our own site, and transact business by becoming a vendor to aggregator sites like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong, Amazon, eBay, etc. For this we will identify one whose terms and conditions suit us best and register with them. Let us keep in mind that this arrangement can be a win-win situation.

We could take a slightly bigger step and register with some online shopping platforms like shopify.in, zepo.in, magento.com or a host of such. Platform dependent, the terms will vary –monthly rentals, software availability, etc which can be selected to meet our needs. All that we need do, is arrange a meeting with them and then need dependent, select a platform of our choice. The shopping platform is an intermediary between the pains and expenses of launching our own site and becoming a vendor to an online aggregator.

Or go the Vendor Route

In the vendor route the focus will be limited to sales, customer experiences etc whereas the online shopping platform is a closer step to launching our own e-commerce site, and therefore experience rich, but investment friendly.

A lot of technical issues will arise in the platform model like software selection, content creation, image loading, right sizing, etc for which technical expertise may be required. In most cases, they are available with the site authorities.

Driving traffic to the site

Presuming we have opted for the online platform route, we will now need to drive business to the site. As a startup on the learning curve, the promotion could be done in phases, beginning with perhaps our home page where content will need to be written. Experts are freely available for this either on assignment or contract basis. Remember we discussed product pictures earlier? These will now need to be uploaded. We will then need prospects to visit our site. One route is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is a very simple process, where terms or words that are searched by the potential customer are identified as key words and used by us so that our company website shows up on the google search engine. We can also create our own ads on google adwords. When a customer clicks on the ads, s/he is directed to our homepage or landing page.  The advantage of this approach is that we only pay if the customer clicks on our ad.  But there also is a small negative here. Often after the customer clicks, if we are unable to engage the customer to make a purchase, then we have lost that customer and the money paid to Google. Hence conversions become important, unlike SEO where no payment needs to be made. However expertise is required here for which many SEO experts or digital agencies are available. You can also pay for ads that will appear on different sites by bidding for the same based on the number of impressions or ad appearances.

Other routes for site promotion could be FB marketing, Twitter, Instagram, etc. which can be learnt on the journey ahead.

Till then, a happy journey!

 

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branding/advertising communications, Personal Life

Likes, Dislikes, Favourites and Followers

Instant Gratification and Instant Connectivity

We are in an era of instant gratification, which has given rise to instant connectivity, or perhaps I am mixing the cause and effect relationship. Whatever, it cannot be denied that the net besides offering instant connectivity, also provides:

1) Anonymity.

2) Free expression of thoughts, opinions and feedback.

It is the anonymity that offers so much liberty and freedom. Many exploit it to their advantage, whilst there are others who prefer to reveal their identity and speak for themselves on real terms.  Often online or net connectivity leads to real-time connections, which is another advantage.

A double-edged sword, for  attack and defense.

Today anyone and everyone can express their opinions, or feedback on platforms like FB, Twitter, Blogs, etc. Many take recourse to also correct the wrong done to them through the net and address their grievances.  And yes, violations, transgressions and attacks have also happened through the net, since free access is available to all, which is the very essence of internet.

 

Likes, Follower and Retweets – a measurement tool!

What amuses or baffles me the most, is this measurement of opinions, thoughts and feedback. “Likes” on FB, Linkedin, etc seem to become a  yardstick for popularity.  Followers on Google another means of evaluation of posts. How do such “likes” really matter? As a writer, I am happy that so many people like my posts and perhaps that increases my popularity rating. And the more followers I get on Twitter or blogs, the higher I am on the admiration list. So far so good.

But sadly, since this has become a measurement tool, most users today, instead of speaking out their thoughts, desires,etc  have lost focus on the essence of the platform and actually reach out to their friends etc to either “like” or “follow”, thus creating artificial or bogus popularity ratings. Their goal is directed towards promoting themselves, thus creating false or bogus posts and thus impressions. Hence users make false claims, share unoriginal thoughts, etc with a focus of rising on the popularity charts. Many so-called tweeples look just to be re-tweeted and often promote each other, favoriting them, etc not unlike some bloggers, on a different platform.

And since that has now come to be the accepted norm, most genuine users today, do not give the number of likes or followers too much emphasis or due importance, which is sad. So the entire objective of sharing, is losing its impact.

I thought I read somewhere not too long ago, that FB was planning on introducing a “dislike” button. I think this is a very good idea! So FB users would think twice before “posting” for fear of getting “dislikes”! But ironically, that may drop the number of FB users, which could be detrimental to the interest of FB, a catch 22 situation. Thus the thought of introducing “dislikes” in itself may have fetched many “dislikes” and the proposal dropped.

Am curious to know, how many “dislikes” I would get for this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The importance of Feedback

A couple of years ago, was leading the relationship of a new client for the Agency. When we were first introduced to the client team, the MD had designated a client manager.  However, the said relationship manager within the first week itself began deputing other assistants, thus leading to total chaos on the account. Several client visits, emails, telephone calls just could not set the tone right as every client individual brought to the desk, his or her own perceptions, tastes and beliefs. Since each individual has a different set of aesthetics, particularly in terms of colour and design, the clashes were many. So right from the word “Go”, a productive relationship could not be established.

Observing a 2 way process.

Then came a feedback meeting. The client’s inputs, as was expected, were very negative. Since I believe that to consolidate a relationship, there has to be a meeting of minds, explained to the client, the dire need for a single individual or at the most 2/3, who could be the interface. However, for cost saving purposes, this was not possible, and the Agency expected to coordinate with various individuals at different points in time. Every fortnight or so, a new individual would call, so a new name and contact details added to the Agency list. The game of “chinese whispers” continued.  Of course, the MD was informed that the Agency was provided feedback. (Without considering the Agency’s inputs)! So no 2 way process honoured.

Providing criticisms – positive and negative.

To be fair to the Client, the courtesies, response time, etc observed by the Agency, were appreciated and positive criticism given. A bond was formed, but at a superficial level. The big grouse and negative criticism was, the client’s taste and expectations could not be satisfied. How does one satisfy the subjective taste of so many different individuals?

Constant Feedback.

Since a 2 way process of feedback was not honoured from the beginning, constant feedback was not possible. I believe that, had that happened, as in many other earlier cases, the relationship would have flourished. Constant feedback and updating of information is important for the success of any transaction. And given continuous feedback, most relationships flourish!  

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