The PJ (poor joke) above might no longer remain a PJ if banana peel is replaced by a typical problematic situation one encounters in daily routine. The question remains unanswered then: Why do some people find it difficult to act beyond cure? They do think 'Prevention is The Best Cure' though! I was no different from them! But now my journey is gathering speed, hopefully in the direction that the blog is supposed to drive towards. Checkout my other blogs and work at

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Do you keep curing your brand?

I requested telephone company to shift one of my landlines to my old house. It took one week for them to respond.

On 'the' day of shifting, I told their lineman about the instrument being defective: "Sometimes outgoing calls couldn't be made". As usual the reply was "instruments in short-supply". Having heard similar replies in past, I had installed a cordless anyway.

"I would appreciate if you please try (to test) a few from your go-down  You might get a good one in the dump there if I am lucky": without any expectations very politely I made a request to the govt employee.

Next day I was 'awestruck'. I saw the lineman in front of me with the instrument without any followup.

When did you last have a WOW experience like that?

For me it was 'one of it's kind delight' experienced over a past few months.

In a high-mistrust society, where "I will meet you at 9'O-clock" promise might mean 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. or whatever the '9' means to the parties concerned, there are more chances of you getting 'awfully struck' than 'awestruck with a WOW'.

Although spiritual person in you may look for a positive awe even in an awful experience, in practical business sense what does one expect: A product to perform to it's specifications just as one would expect a person to perform his duty and fulfill his promise.

In real life, past experience about a product or a person does stay in mind making one knowledgeable about what/who does or do not fulfill a promise consistently and reliably.

To me such an 'experience' full of intangible feelings and associations created along-with it's delivered-tangibles is the 'brand experience'. And corresponding 'expectations' created in the mind of customer that linger longer is the 'brand image'.

Conventionally, a brand is recognized by a bundle of it's tangibles and intangibles delivered consistently over a period of time. The American Marketing Association defines brand as a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers ... A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller.

Companies do spend a lot of money and efforts on 'building a brand' but most of it on building it 'externally'. They spend a fortune on choosing 'right' name for the brand , an 'attractive' logo, 'look and feel' of the offering itself and that of the POS (point-of-sale) outfits.

Above all, apart from 'being' on multimedia and on eye-catching hoardings, etc., 'the brand ambassador as well as CEO' spends precious time on promoting it. Companies also ensure appointment of a consultant, a dedicated team, a marketing plan and budget for it.

Coming back to my experience in the telephone case, 'brand image of the person' who delivered telephone service appeared to be good at least on that particular day. Brand image of the telephone/service/company however was in general far below-standard. May be so because a system was not in place to make such 'good' experience repeatable in their day-to-day operations. In fact, the damage is so severe that it's beyond cure although it is still above water with gas-supply from 'motherly' government.

In short, with the help of marketing-efforts a brand may get born in the mind-space of a current and/or prospective customer. But in order that it 'lives (there) happily ever after', operations discipline plays a major role in maintaining it without which 'external marketing' to augment it's 'look and feel' stays superficial. Without improved-operations-combined-with-hearty-smile at each of it's touch-points in the process of delivery internal as well as external, it is like being indifferent to deliver customer's real needs, expectations on quality and differentiated experience.

I had not tried an augmented food-dish until the counter-boy at a fast-food-joint educated me on it the other day with a genuine smile. It was 'available' on the menu-card all these days. But it was not well-communicated. So it did not result into business due to ineffective communication. The dish did not go beyond staying on the shelf just as it did not go beyond at-most staying in the peripheral vision of the customer.

Marketing may move an offer to customer's mind-shelf but operations must move it off-the-shelf. Indifference by anyone in the chain thus is a sure way to 'kill a brand' each moment a customer is in 'touch' with it's unsatisfactory experience.

If you go by a finding that "every dissatisfied customer 'bad-mouths' a brand to at least ten prospective buyers", you will know for yourself whose speed will be higher; that of  the CEO promoting/building the brand or that of the dissatisfied customer destroying it.

Satisfying customer's eye-balls may bring him to water once but not often and surely not force him to drink it. Brand is not about 'showing' to his eye senses a couple of times & 'leaving' it at that. Brand is about 'leaving a lovely and lively experience pleasing customer's senses' and 'living it each-day-each-time throughout it's lifetime' at 'each of it's touch-points' right from the moment a prospective customer conceives a need and begins researching for purchase and then finally disposing it off post-it's-use.

I still remember the first Indian 3-D movie: Chotta-Chetan, for the snake that I felt 'touching' my feet forcing me to fearfully coil in the seat. Hundreds of other people in the theater wearing an embarrassed smile with special 3-D spectacles on them 'experienced' the same. Not only production and marketing of the film was excellent, but also the operations that perhaps blew an air-draft under the seat that created a lasting 'touch' effect. Anyway, the success was evident in terms of huge box office collection of around Rs 60 crore during 1984-85 and 50 crore on it's re-release (1998). The film that won President's Gold Medal created a no-disposal 'recall'.

Brand is about a customer feeling it, smelling-eating-drinking it, talking about it, dreaming it, and in-short breathing it with a lasting 'recall' as an advocate in front of other prospective customers.

Successful brand building is perhaps more about doing creative 'internal marketing' so that 'internal customers' as suppliers 'live it': smell-eat-drink it, feel it, talk about it, dream it. In fact, they even 'breath it' in terms of putting their 'heart and soul' while 'caring to make' the corresponding offering 'lovely and lively' for the external customers to truly experience it like done by the 3-D movie.

Branding is about 'Living' it, not 'Show'ing & 'Leaving' it at that!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! Nicely sums up the fact that 'Branding is not a function of Marketing dept alone!'