Archive for September, 2009

Brand must stand for something specific learn it from spiritual guru

September 2, 2009

Brand must stand for something specific, learn from spiritual guru.

Kirit Jasani

Kirit Jasani


Advertising express August 2009, issue.




Today marketers are busy in finding out the new products and services where in they can extend their existing name. By this way they are trying to be everything for everyone. The article here discusses the practical aspect of extending the name on different products and services. Author has used analogy of spiritual gurus to make it easier to understand the process of marketing.

An army of manager –Marketing Manager, Product Manager, Brand Manager, Sales Manager, and Distribution Manager – is working on a brand to make it appealing to the entire market. They will add new features and benefits to the offered product or services just to target a new segment of market. They will extend the single brand name on number of product & Services and would be happy to say that ‘we have everything for everyone’. Our army of managers are trying to penetrate the single name in the mind of consumer for many things, by this way instead of strengthening the brand they are making it weaker and weaker with each addition of product or service on single name.  

Then what is the logic behind extending the same name to different target segment? The answer to this meticulous question will be explained by marketers as follow ‘if we don’t appeal to new target segment how we will grow? So it becomes primary need to appeal to the non-customers of the brand. And our X brand name is doing well so we are capitalising the name’. Great justification but the fact is very much different and in collision of truth and logic, logic wins.

When you are using the same brand name on number of product or services you are losing the power of focus, you don’t own any single word in the mind of prospects. It feels, instead of the army of mangers this is better understood by spiritual guru, and also practiced by them.

Swami Ramdevji Maharaj as a brand

Baba Ramdev2Think of Swami Ramdevji Maharaj, immediately you start thinking of Prayanam Yoga. His target audience includes those who are suffering from problems such as overweight, diabetes, blood pressure, joint pain, gas, constipation, cancer, asthma etc. To serve them Swami Ramdevji Maharaj is organising camps in different cities, daily he is giving demonstration on Aastha channel; people are allowed to stay at their ashram Patanajali Yog Peeth in Haridwar. He is the one who has revived yoga and spreading it all over the world with books and DVDs with title such as Yoga for Diabetes, Yoga for Asthma, Yoga for Spinal cord, Yoga for eye problems, Yoga for high BP, Yoga for skin disease and many more. His sheer focus is only on one thing and that is yoga to make you release of pain. When you are perceived to be a leader you make a long lasting impression in the mind of prospects. A perception says if you are a leader; you should be simply the best in given field. So Swami Ramdevji Maharaj is at a top of the position in the field of yoga.

 Sri Sri Ravishankar as a brand

Think of Sri Sri Ravishankar and art of living flashes in mind. He is a founder of the Art of Living, a multi-faceted, not-shri shri ravishankar1for-profit educational and humanitarian NGO. His target audience includes majorly those who are having stress, anxiety or depression. Art of Living comes with a USP of Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful rhythmic breathing technique that facilitates physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. Customers are always attracted towards something different and Sudarshan Kriya happens to be the different exercise. When a person is living a stressful life, he is just irritated over a very small issue his friends may recommend him the Art of Living course because perception says the best thing to eliminate stress is Art of Living.

 Pandurang Shastri Athavale as a brand      

Think of Revered Dadaji (Pandurang Shastri Athavale), and very moment Swadhyay image appears in mind. Swadhyay is a team of people who is working for social and cultural transformation of mankind. It is a network of interacting individuals and communities. Swadhyayees are those who contribute toward an alternative form of economic and social parity.

morari bapuSri Morari Bapu as a brand

Think of Sri Morari Bapu, and very moment Ramayana image appears in mind. Sri Morari Bapu is one of the great Ram bhakta in contemporary India. He has devoted all most his entire life for spreading the message of Ramayana to great number of people. His target audience is majorly comprised of mid age male-female, spiritual people and socially relation deprived people.     


 Stand for something

One common thing about these leaders is they don’t force any specific religion to follow and still they stand for something specific. Swami Ramdevji Maharaj means Yoga, Sri Sri Ravishankar means Art of Living, Pandurang Shashtri means Swadhyay and Sri Morari Bapu means Ramayana. They own a specific word in the mind of their target audience. As a result they don’t extend their name in other field; they don’t try to appeal to non-customers. It’s not that Sri Sri Ravishankar cannot explain a Ramayana but doing so will make his name weaker, doing so regularly will wipe out his image of expert in one filed. The other way, target audience for both the activity is different there is hardly any intersection between these two universes.    


If you take a close snap shot of human mind it reveals, mind rejects the most of information which is not matching with prior knowledge or experience. As a result when mind has accepted Sri Sri Ravishankar as leader of stress elimination breathing technique the Art of Living, a human mind will not accept his image as Ram Kathakar, even though he explain the Ramayana as good as done by Sri Morari Bapu. This fact remains still when it comes to product or services.


The saga of Nirma 

nirmanirma-washing-powderIt feels that our army of mangers are not able to understand this. Take a case of Nirma, a leading manufacturer of soap and detergent from Gujarat. Lucrative market vacuum in health care industry attracted the management of this company to launch a brand. They did it with toothpaste, what was the brand? Yes you guess it absolutely right, Nirma Toothpaste! The product went nowhere, because it was not that the products were not good in terms of quality but the sound of word Nirma was bringing visual of detergent and soaps in the mind of target audience. It was a branding problem rather a brand name problem in specific. The brand Nirma was considered to be a leading brand in detergent and soap, now imagine that you are cleaning your teeth with this new product Nirma Toothpaste, what you are feeling, horrible right?. And that is the reason it did not work. The company tried their hands on food segment by launching another extended product Nirma Shudh salt. Now consumers are expected to remember two names instead of one, Nirma and Shudh. Would you like to add detergent to your food for better taste? This brand also could not do much in terms of achieving reasonable sales goal. On contrary Dandi Namak, from Kuwar Ajay sarees got noticed, attracted consumers and did well in sales at initial period of launch, even though the brand came on shelf after few months of Nirma Shudh. With line extension Nirma tried to appeal to a non-consumer, the consumer of toothpaste and consumer of detergent or soap is fundamentally different then how a single name can appeal to both the audience? This should be understood by the company and their army of managers for their future foray into new category. 

 Bright and dark side of Xerox


Xerox Alto


Xerox Alto

Xerox Alto

Explore the story of Electrophotography process and same truth will come out. Electrophotography is better known as photocopy process invented by Chester Carlson refine and developed by Columbus, Ohio based Battelle Memorial Institute. In 1947, Haloid Corporation a small New York-based manufacturer and seller of photographic paper approached Battelle to obtain a license to develop and market a copying machine based on this technology. Finding the process name less attractive Haloid changed the name to ‘Xerography’ which means dry writing, in Greek. Haloid Corporation eventually changed their name to ‘Haloid Xerox’ in 1958 and simply ‘Xerox’ in 1961. That was a very good and bold move from marketing perspective. In 1949, Xerox Corporation introduced the first xerographic copier called the Model A, but the company came to prominence in 1959 with the introduction of the Xerox 914, the first plain paper photocopier. The result was undoubtedly a leadership in short term with market share as high as 80% of copier market and revenue of $60 million by end of 1961. Management at Xerox had a vision that in the office of the future, information would be stored electronically and they wanted Xerox to dominate the storing and reproduction of digital information just as it had dominated that on paper. And classic mistake of extending the copier name into computer was finally done in year 1973 with introduction of Xerox Alto a small minicomputer, similar to a modern work station or personal computer three years before the first Apple computer and more than eight years before the appearance of the IBM PC. In spite of being first in PC, Xerox computers did not receive reasonable market acceptance of product. Because the army of mangers at Xerox ignored the fact that people would like to work with experts only and Xerox is perceived to be an expert of copier and not of computer. Try and recall name of those people who are having Xerox PC at work or home in your own circle. Hardly anyone, right!

 First understand the disadvantages

The moment you extend the name from one category to second you are confusing your target audience. You are vanishing out all the benefits of name by your own hand. You are wiping out an opportunity to create a new category to lead. For example, along with other item put a word ‘Maggi’ in the list of your shopping items and ask or husband or wife to bring the stuff listed. As expected he or she will come back with Maggi noodles only, even though Maggi name is already extended on number of products such as, Maggi Bechamel Sauce, Maggi Cold Mix Mash, Maggi Denim-Glace, Maggi Gravy, Maggi Paste Boullion, Maggi Powder Bouillion, Maggi Seasoning, Maggi Soup, Maggi Multi use Tomato Sauce and Maggi Ketchup. It would be a rare case when someone raises a question which product in Maggi he or she is expected to purchase. This is happening because the average mind has been exposed thousand times to a message which says Maggi means noodles in 2 minute. And Maggi was the first brand to claim the preparation of 2 minutes and it is always easy to enter the mind of prospect when you are the first in particular category. So Maggi is locked against noodles. When you want to buy tomato ketchup there are higher chances you would go for Heinz and not Maggi.

Why line extension?

You would be wondering then why all this companies prefer line extension? The answer is very simple it is the cheapest way to introduce a new product. A separate budget is not required for launching and promoting a new product as well as management thinks they will achieve effective rates of media buying on single name instead of buying on different names.

Can line extension work?

We don’t mean that line extension never works. It can give result when the category in which extension is expected to happen has fairly low competition and less number of players. Suppose the launch of Red Bull cola (a soft drink by Red Bull Energy drink) will have tough competition with established players such as Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. In this fight it would be very difficult for Red Bull to justify, as the image of brand in the mind of target audience is ‘energy’ which means a strong drink. The other way by launching a cola product on the name of Red Bull they want to project the soft image of brand. In such a scenario line extension hardly works. Equally competitive product category is launching of toothpaste against Colgate, Pepsodent and Close-Up.

Our marketers are happy when their brand starts appealing to many segment of target audience. It brings short term benefits and long term losses. Our spiritual gurus are never trying to be everything for everyone, they have predefined target audience and they are appealing to those audiences only. They stand for a specific thing, they are focused, and they have concentration and that is the reason the moment you say the Art of Living and Sri Sri Ravishankar clicks to your mind. This should be better understood by the army of managers and marketers.    


To win the market share and achieve a long term success marketers need to focus as a result launching a new brand should be preferred instead of line extension. Before rolling out a new product marketers need to decide what it will stand for? Brand extension should be seen as a possible solution only in low competing category of products.  


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