Archive for the ‘positining’ Category

Marketing lesson in RSS’ move from shorts to trousers

March 21, 2016
Kirit JAsani

Kirit JAsani

In their three-day annual meeting of Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the highest decision-making body of the RSS (The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), decision is taken to phase out their traditional Khakhi shorts. Now, Swayamsevak will wear wood brown/coffee colour trousers. The core reason presented for this change is to remain in tune with the time and trend. This decision also reflects that RSS is very democratic and accepts changes.

RSSWhatever the reason may be, let’s we focus on the marketing aspect of this development. Take a simplest form of exercise, what comes to your mind when you think of RSS? Khakhi Shorts or popularly known ‘Khakhi Chaddi’ would be the answer from most of the people. Whether anyone agrees or not, but these Khakhi Shorts are inseparable visual of RSS. It has stayed with RSS for last 91 years! Till 1940, the uniform of the RSS was all khakhi, both shirt and shorts. The khakhi shirt was replaced with white shirts and then the leather shoes replaced with long boots in 1973. In 2010, RSS replaced the leather belt with ordinary belt. That means the only unchanged element is ‘Khakhi Chaddi’.

Now try to think about other organizations with Khakhi Shorts. Hardly anybody would be able to recall another organization or institute, right? That means Khakhi Shorts are uniquely identified with RSS. It acts as a visual hammer for RSS. From marketing point of view, if the target audience can identify a brand with a particular visual, that brand would enjoy high mindshare and top of the mind recall. If you see someone dressed in White Shirt and Khakhi Short it may induce you to ask, ‘Hey, are you visiting any RSS Shakha? Likewise, this unique association has worked for millions of people in identifying Swayamsevak of RSS.

Now, imagine a scenario down the line six-month hereafter when around 50,000 villages, towns and cities of India have absorbed this change of Khakhi Shorts. Then, a person is passing by you in white shirt and wood brown/coffee colour trouser. Will he or precisely his uniform, inspire you to think of association with RSS? There is hardly any possibility. Because trousers are common in life, shades of wood brown or coffee are equally common. And normally, we do not notice common things. We are attracted to unique. We tend to remember the different one and Khakhi Shorts are different.

Here is the lesson. If your brand is identified with a unique visual or with a particular colour, think hundred times before changing them. The moment you change such unique visual or colour; brand loses its unique identity as well. This loss affects brand recall and ultimately sells register in a long run. Let’s wait and watch what happens with RSS decision?

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Is a good brief reason of good work?

January 11, 2016

Kirit JAsani

Yes, no doubt about that. You dig a little in any good communication piece and soon you will know there was a good brief, a clear brief from the client. But that is only one side of the coin; the other side is equally important, how agency worked on that particular brief.

The level of clarity in brief, most of the time gets reflected in the work. But, still from no brief to ambiguous brief incidences keep on surfacing. I believe, when a client shares a clear brief and agency acts on that brief, the resulting work would be very impactful. In another way, this justifies famous words of David Ogilvy, ‘Clients get advertising they deserve’.

Majority of those, who are responsible to give brief understand the importance of clarity in brief. But when Spotlight Communication was working with Italia Group, I found Mr. Nandan Deshpande (then brand manage) was exceptionally good in giving a clear brief. His brief for creative always intended to result in a piece of communication, which can connect the target audience in a correct sense. While working on Piccolo Porcelain Mosaic, Mr. Nandan briefed our agency for one campaign targeted to architects and Interior designers. He was clear; Architects and Interior Designers always need freedom in creation. We have 70 colours, 5 sizes and 2 looks in Piccolo Porcelain Mosaic. Essentially we offer a wide choice. If the campaign can connect this freedom with choice of colours we can expect a good result. It was a crystal clear brief.

Now, that was our turn to come out with a creation which stays true to the brief. We proposed a campaign with a line ‘More Colours More Freedom’. In this campaign all creatives were developed in black-white treatment, except the colour in core visual. Visuals were selected, which are normally seen in black-white e.g. Penguin. We changed the white part of Penguin with various colours and associated it with the headline More Colours More Freedom! This solution stayed on brief and worked for the client. I must say such an effective campaign would have not been realized without a clear brief by Mr.Nandan Deshpande.

Piccolo 01


More colour 3 ads

So, if you are in a position to give brief, be damn clear in your brief. If you are expected to work on a brief, justify the brief in totality.

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Should PR precede advertisement?

December 30, 2015
Kirit JAsani

Kirit JAsani

My opinion yes, PR must precede the ads. If you are launching a new product or service or enhancing an existing product or service with new and important features; public relation activity must be considered as an ideal starting point of a marketing plan.

Unless you are in advertising and marketing field, you would not pay any special attention to print or electronic ads. Rather it’s an intrusion to your activity of reading a magazine or watching a TV show. As a non-marketing guy, a person may wait for a morning newspaper or may tune the news channel before few minutes of news at 9 but would not be that eager to watch an advertisement. Any content finding its way to this news gains preference over the advertisements. News adds a dimension of authenticity. You are more likely to believe a piece of information, if it appeared in some kind of news medium, compared to an ad in the same medium.

If a product or service is a new entry to the market, PR will help in putting your message and brand inside the mind of your target audience. Further, such news items have a better potential to get shared by the target audience. Suppose, you are reading a newspaper article titled as ‘Protect your mobile even when it falls in a swimming pool’ chances are you would share that link or news clip with some of your friends and family members, which have faced such a situation. On the receiving end concerned person will take it seriously. So when your brand becomes a part of news, it automatically gains positive perception and it also becomes memorable.

Rather than releasing a newspaper ad, for Life Fitness Point, we released an article, as an impact feature. For most of the reader, it became a news item about having super human-like body. This article thoroughly described Spartan Workout, Superhuman Workout and High Intensity Interval Training programs. 11 faces used in a main image are real people who are trainer for body build program at Life Fitness Point. As these were identifiable people, it just added to the authenticity factor. All in all, people read the content and trusted the content. This way Life Fitness Point stays in the mind of a reader for a longer duration with precise differentiation.

Article in GS


Now, when Life Fitness Point takes a route of advertisement in print or outdoor or any other media, they will get a better response, as positive perception already exists inside the mind of the target audience. In this case, ad would be able to take the target audience to next step interest or action as awareness is already handled by PR.

So start your marketing plan with PR.


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Which colour should be selected for your brand?

February 10, 2010

Kirit Jasani

Article published in Marketing Master Mind – February 2010, written by Kirit Jasani.

Which colour should be selected for your brand?

When companies want to launch new brands, they normally select the colours which seems to go with the product category, or a colour which is being used by their competitors. By doing so, they underestimate the power of colour and miss the opportunity to be a unique brand. Here is a detailed guide on how colour selection should be done for a brand, as it forms a very important part of the branding element in the long run.

When you have to create a brand name thousands of ideas can be explored as there are innumerable alternatives. But when it comes to the selection of colours, the choice is comparatively limited, and some of them may be inappropriate for one reason or the other. In such a situation the normal tendency is to choose colours similar to those being commonly used by the industry or by other brands in the product category. And this is where a classic mistake of branding is done. The basic underlying principle of branding is that you have to differentiate your brand from those of your competitors. To understand this more clearly, let us explore further through a practical example.
Electrotherm (India) limited is a multidivisional ISO 9001:2000 certified company. it has a division, known as Electrotherm Renewable Division. The first product of this division is a solar water heater; and R&D is in process for other products related to wind energy, etc. This division was in plans to come up with a new brand of solar water heater. They had done all the home work. The brand name had been decided as “Electra” and the logo was ready too! But the colour scheme was in question, and the entire brand identity had to be reviewed again. This is not a good practice, as the time and effort required on the part of a brand management agency to rectify it, could sometimes exceed that taken for the original creation.

The Logic of Colour
What colour might the company have selected initially? Yes, you have guessed it right – ‘green’; and this is the classic mistake. You would say, what is the problem in selecting the colour green? It is very logical because the division is working on renewable energy, which is otherwise identified as ‘green energy’, and hence the choice of colour is quite logical and meaningful. True, very true, but branding requires focusing on consumer perception, rather than on logic.
The perception related to colours was inculcated in our minds when we were children, and began drawing and colouring. In the primary school the child at sometime draws natural scenery with trees, leaves, water, mountain, birds, the sun, etc., and the child is taught to colour the picture using the appropriate natural colours. If a child is applying red colour to leaves the teacher immediately corrects the child – “No dear. Always remember leaves are of green colour.” And the kid changes it to green. Since that time, green stands for leaves and trees, brown for mountains, blue for water, black for birds, orange and yellow for the sun, etc. Once the mind has accepted green for leaves, it is next to impossible to change the association. This logic is extended when the same kid grows up and becomes a business head of brand manger of a company. He would think leaves means green. Absolutely true!

Why not Green?
We had an opinion that Electra should not go ahead with the green colour. Because branding is a long run process and to achieve success in the long-term, you need to differentiate; stand for something specific and colour is one of the elements that facilitate the same. A new brand should generally avoid adorning the colours which are already put on by someone else. But this is, at times, really difficult to implement because there is only a limited palette of basic colours. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue are the basic distinctive colours, while black, white and grey are neutral colours. It is always advisable to select from among one of the basic colours, rather than going in for a mixed colour. But the question here is which colour should one select?

Each colour is different, and each one has a significantly different impact when it is viewed. Colours, which are at the red end of spectrum, focus slightly in front of the retina, and, therefore the objects in those colours seem to travel towards us. Colours, at the blue end of the spectrum, are focused slightly behind the retina, and objects in those colours seem to move away from us. Orange, being at the red end of spectrum, has got properties similar to red; and green, being on the blue end of the spectrum, behaves almost like blue. Yellow is at the middle of the spectrum and is neutral on this dimension. Thus, Red is the opposite of blue, and orange is the opposite of green. Red is considered the colour of excitement, and blue is considered to represent stability.

While selecting the colour for a brand name or logo, the brand manger or CEO normally aims to be in tune with the category, rather than creating a unique identity. Usually, the safe colour to select is the one that is symbolic of the category you want to be in. But, what if someone else has already occupied the space with that colour, much earlier than you? This hard truth is overlooked most of the time by managers and CEOs, and they end up selecting a colour which puts the brand in a cluster among others, thereby making it difficult for it to stand out uniquely and distinctively. This was the case with Electra too.

Why is Blue the best colour?
A new brand should not occupy the same slot already appropriated by the competitors. If you are trying to fight with the established leader, then the basic guideline is – “Always be the opposite of the leader.” When you look at the leading players of the solar water heater industry on the colour spectrum, what you would see is that ‘red’ is occupied by SunRay and V-Guard, ‘Orange’ is taken by Warm Stream and Gilma, and ‘Yellow’ is used by TATA BP Solar. Thus, there was no point in selecting red, orange or yellow colour for Electra as the objective was to have a unique identity. Among the prominent primary colours, the only choices available were green and blue. Electra had already prepared a brand identity using green, thought it was not entirely in green, but used a mix of green and black. (Exhibiti: 1)

Exhibit 1: The initial Logo proposed by company personnel


However, anyone entering the renewable energy business was likely to use some shade of green. Thus, it was possible that several new players would ahve green in their logo, packaging, in their collaterals, on their websites, etc. Therefore, by selecting green, Electra was likely to end up placing itself in a clutter of green, establishing a unique visual identity would become difficult. If the target audience is confused about the identity or cannot recall then brand, sales prospects would be vastly diminished.

And what is the probability that anybody jumping into the renewable energy segment will go for a brand identity in blue colour? It is obvious that the possibility is relatively quiet low. Therefore, here was a chance which was not affordable to be missed, and a chance to rectify the classic mistake made by company as the product and not yet been launched officially. Hence, it was advised that the company should have its logo in blue colour (Exhibit: 2)

Exhibit 2: Vaccant space for colour selection by Electra

But there was a question. Is blue a good colour for a solar water heater? Our honest opinion – “May be yes or May be no.” But what is more important here is the creation of a unique identity, rather than looking for what is good or logical. To look at it in another way, the blue identity helped in establishing the fact that Electra was distinct from the existing leading players, and thus avoided the unnecessary exercise of trying to attract people towards something similar to the others.

Font Style and Orientation of the Logo
Along with colour, the identity created by team Electra had a few other problems, such as font type, size and proportion. There is no doubt that it was preferable that the logo had a horizontal orientation (landscape), rather than a vertical one (portrait). However, it had to be of a suitable proportion. But the logo created by Electra was too stretched out horizontally, and was not visually appealing. The attractiveness was also diluted due to the slit font type used in the logo. To overcome these problems, a new brand identity was proposed and the same was accepted by the Managing Director of Electrotherm Renewable Energy Division. In this new logo, a graphical representation of the sun was also incorporated, and it was still in a single colour, i.e. blue (Exhibit: 3)

Exhibit 3: Logo created by agency

The change in the brand identity and its colour served two basic purposes, firstly, it created a different identity among the clutter of solar water heater manufacturers in the market and secondly, it solved the problem of visibility at the retail level. When both the identities of the same height are compared, the new identity turns out to be a clear winner in terms of visibility (Exhibit: 4). This is quite important, because barring minor aspects of some features, most solar water heaters are almost similar; yet, consumers are always looking for something different.

Exhibit 4: The old and New logos compared

The product with new brand identity
After creating a new brand identity, it has to be used to promote the brand in every possible manner, especially when one has selected a different route. All communications should highlight the colour associated with the brand logo, so that whenever a target consumer comes across the brand, he recognizes it immediately, and this provides an opportunity for recall and reinforcement. The brand should establish ownership of its colour.

In the case of Electra, change of colour identity had to start from the product itself, as the division was ready with 2000 pieces, which required a change of colour. The colour scheme of the product in stock was change and the difference in visibility and distinctiveness between the two versions is shown in Exhibit 5.

Exhibit 5: The product - with the old and new brand identities

The company had a positioning line called “the fiery sun”, which actually did not mean much and did not get translated into benefit for the consumer. So, this was changed to “the solar energy expert” as this brand – Electra of the renewable energy division was meant to operate in the solar energy segment only. It might be preferable to have other brands for future business in wind energy and other forms of renewable energy.

Consumers rend to associate with brands which draw their attention and position themselves in a unique way. Therefore, teaser ads were designed and utmost care was taken so that the brand comes to won the blue colour. The teaser ads were prepared with blue colour prominently in the background , and with a contrasting graphic of an orange sun. A set of three teaser ads were used, which said – “ Hum laa rahe hai, suraj ko dharthi par” (we are bringing the sun to the earth), and showed a young family stretching our joyfully to reach out to the sun. They were followed by the main advertisement, which revealed the brand name and logo and said “The solar energy expert, Laye hai Electra solar water heater, ab har roz surj uthar ayega dharthi par.” (We have brought Electra solar water heater. Now the sun will descend upon the earth every day) Refer Exhibit 6.

Teaser ad 01


Teaser ad 02

Teaser ad 03


Revealing ad

Brand colours should be selected considering what colours have already been used by the competitors. If any colours are strongly identified with specific brands, they should be avoided. Also, avoid falling in line with the common colours used in the product category. The purpose of branding is to stand our distinctively. It is advisable to use a single colour (one of the prominent basic colours) in one’s brand identity, rather than using a mix of colours. Once a brand colour is selected, it must be used in all forms of communication so as to establish ownership of the chosen colour.

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