Maithree Venkatesan 22 July, 2022
What are the fundamentals of a brand? What does brand strategy entail? How can a brand communicate its story? Follow our conversation with Preeti Sawhney, a Brand Strategy expert (Principal Brand Strategist, BrandRx), as she takes us through what it takes to make a brand healthier.
We will be hosting an AMA session with her on August 24th. Stay tuned to find out more!
Paradoxically, though I never watched television programs, I loved watching the commercials. I used to step into the room when the ad breaks were on and leave, the moment the program began.
While studying at IIM Calcutta, I took several courses in marketing and consumer behavior. After that, I worked at an agency called Lintas (now Lowe) for over a decade. I began to do brand strategy for companies as an independent and eventually opened up my consulting practice. Since 2015, I’ve also been advising companies and sitting on the board of a few.
While in the advertising business, I got exposure to the brands we interact with every day. I learned what it takes to make a brand big and how to make it occupy a place in our hearts and minds.
Humans tend to impart feelings, human traits and attributes to the objects we engage with in our environment- called anthropomorphism If we walk into a door, we say, “it attacked me.”
The goods and materials we interact with daily are products and services delivered to us in the shape of brands. So these brands essentially reside as a concept we construct in our heads.
We also tag brands by the relationship we share with them. We either love a brand, and can’t be separated from it, have a nodding acquaintance with another, haven’t heard of a third, or have a negative impression of yet another. The feelings and sentiments we vocalize create an emotional angle to our interactions with a brand. Thus it is crucial for every business to construct a healthy emotional relationship between the brand and its audience.
While crafting a brand, one must look at everything from business needs on the one hand to the attitudes, barriers, opinions, and biases that make up our consumers’ mental real estate that we wish for our brands to occupy.
One of the critical aspects of brand strategy is identifying the problem that is being solved. When someone does something for themselves, it is a project or a hobby. But a brand is conceived when a need gap is identified, and a product or service is brought into the world to address it- commercially.
When entering a category that already exists, brands have to try and go one better than the competition; they must try to solve a known problem in a differentially superior way.
When brands are working to solve a problem in the impact sector, such as climate issues, waste management, child marriage, and more, people may first need to be educated about the issue. In such cases, the brands are marching to the drumbeat of a problem or need they see but others haven’t recognized. In this case, they are entering unaddressed market segments since they are nascent. Thus, while marketing their product or service, it is imperative for the brands to educate people about the existence of the problem and only then, their solution to it.
The brand needs to identify its target audience and the addressable market. They have to index the segments within that market and the customers within that segment. It is also important to know whether they’re talking about individual buyers, groups, or organizations.
For example, in the apparel market, it is important to create a portfolio narrowing down the choice and variety offered. This can range from style, color palette, country of origin, and more.
The pricing of a product can help place you in different market segments and allow you to penetrate more effectively.
Your brand’s name should be something that sounds good and is memorable. But more importantly, the brand name is the essential container for brand meaning. So, we should consciously ascribe meaning to the name that links back to the brand. Take “Lux” soap, for instance- lux being all about iridescence- a radiant, luminous, lustrous complexion. The agency linked the name to imbue “bright starry appeal’ into the brand.
These days we have to ensure the brand name is available to register in the online arena, so your brand can have unfettered access to its use.
The brand needs to structure distribution channels and decide how to be available in the online and offline world. These also include the partnerships drawn up and working with ambassadors who will propagate your brand.
I believe health is not a destination but a journey. I look at brand strategy as a fitness journey for your brand, as there will always be some health challenges. There’s always going to be a competitor who comes along, a new flavor of the season, price cuts that entice people away, and consumers moving to something new. Brands are like humans who also have internal and external troubles, where a muscle is pulled, some health metric goes out of whack, or they’re going through something mentally.
However, the vital step is to focus on working towards understanding, strategizing, and implementing so that brands are fit and healthy to meet their chosen destiny. It really is in their hands!
Brands can do this by getting into habitual good practices that help them get healthier and stay in great shape. And that is what brand strategy does.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our branding series!
Images credits: Unsplash