Branding Demystified: Plans to Payoffs


Harsh V. Verma

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    To my grandparents, who helped me learn the meaning of the Earth and the Sky.

    List of Figures

    • 1.1 Which Is the Best Perfume for You? 6
    • 1.2 Brands Help Develop Routine 17
    • 2.1 Role of Symbol or Word in Meaning Transfer 26
    • 2.2 Brands with Different Names but Similar Concepts (Parity) 32
    • 2.3 The Real Difference Lies in Submerged Portion 37
    • 3.1 Branding and Value Vectors 80
    • 4.1 How Vision Uplifts the State of Existence 90
    • 4.2 Brand Idea, Business Organisation, Business Activities 95
    • 4.3 Product Attributes Appeal to Reason 101
    • 4.4 Contextuality of Customer Values of Brands and Customer Behaviour towards Brands 106
    • 5.1 Product-centric Brand Development 118
    • 5.2 Brand's Evolution: Perfecting the Product Functionality 119
    • 5.3 Brand's Intersection with the Customer 122
    • 5.4 Brand Development Trajectory 129
    • 6.1 Branding Builds Switching Barriers 134
    • 6.2 Branding: A Process of Reductionism 135
    • 6.3 Product Life Cycle and Differentiation 140
    • 6.4 Brand and Consumer Intersection = Value Delivery 150
    • 6.5 Interrelationship of Brand Package and Consumer Values 151
    • 7.1 Leveraging Manufacturing Competencies to Tap Segments 158
    • 7.2 Brand Extension and Line Extension: The Starting Point 170
    • 7.3 Brand Meaning and Extension Spread 176
    • 8.1 Brand Strategy: Divergent Pull 188
    • 10.1 The Brand Vision Model 230
    • 10.2 Brand Building and Shifts in Demand Curve 232


    Success is alluring. Success also leaves footprints that often deceive the followers who blindly and mechanically chase the big dream of being successful. The phenomenal valuations that some brands enjoy fuel the aspirations of many who only end up as nonentities. In one of the recent surveys Coke, Microsoft, IBM and GE were valued at 67, 57, 56 and 49 billon US dollars respectively. Such magnificent monetary value attached to a name, sign or symbol is motivation enough for managers across all kinds of businesses to embark upon the so called ‘branding brand wagon’. But the very definition of ‘brand’ and the practices that emanate therefrom often lay at the heart of brand failures that are so common that branding is viewed with either scepticism or called a divine intervention that God offers to a select few.

    Brands come with all kinds of physical signs and symbols. The most ubiquitous of all symbols is the product or service that lies at the centre of the brand. And then comes marketing tools like advertising, sales efforts, distribution and sales promotions. The physical perceptiveness associated with these tools of brand building can confuse brand builders and make them trapped in the periphery, pre-empting them to reach and address the fundamentals of the brand. The foundations on which solid brands are built never catch the sight, but the tangential aspects that surround these become the insights for many brand builders. This myopic understanding of brand and brand building process floods the market with tens of ‘me too’ brands with every single brand trying to make it to the league of successful brands.

    Great branding is not simply confined to the glamorous and exciting product categories like fashion or cars or jewellery. The possibility to powerful brand creation exists in virtually every sphere of consumer buying space. Branding marvels belong to diversified territories like tourism, services, business markets, commodities and not-so-liked businesses such as waste disposal. Brand building is also not a game that only big companies can afford to play. There are numerous small companies which operate in a limited market area but have strong brands. Brands like Ghari and Priya Gold, Shree Leathers, Khadims, Action, Symphony and MDH have evolved from being regional players to national prominence. At the heart of every brand success rests intersection points between the values embedded in the market-offering and the customer-need spaces. Brands are created when these intersections create values that are unparalleled in the competitive space. Brand name is only a visible sign of the currency of communication. The brand itself is what lies hidden below the tip of the iceberg.

    The challenge for brand builders therefore is not to fall victim to the comfort that sight provides. Sight is mechanical. Thus mechanical observation of reality runs common across most of the people who take the mantle of brand creation. This book begins with the exploration as to why brands have come to assume such an important role in consumers' lives. Brands are valued for de-complicating human life. Brands act as short cuts or light posts that provide ease in negotiation through a complex maze of choices. For marketers brand and branding are important because these offer ways of achieving excellent performance on metrics that set the top performers apart from the also rans. The branding strategy in this context acts as a linking pin between the values sought by consumers on the one hand and the values defined and executed by the marketers on the other hand. The brand essentially germinates as an idea that seeks to uplift its potential prospects from a less-desired inferior state to a higher order state and finds expression in the product or service that is often mistaken as a brand. Brands involve transcendence beyond the functional utility embedded in the product or service component, thereby pushing the delivery to a higher value orbit.

    Branding is a voyage into the discovery of the not-so-obvious value intersection points that defy logic and forge deeper connections of the brand to bond with its customers for which rational explanations are difficult to obtain. If one thinks Nike is worn on the feet and Rolex is a time-keeping device that can endure shocks, then one's analysis is entirely off the mark. This book precisely begins here and takes its reader on a tour of brand building in the context that most marketers face these days. In developing the idea of this book I have benefited from the rich discussions that I have had with my students who have taken my Brand Management course over the years. In many ways I have benefited from Professor V.K. Seth, my senior colleague at the Faculty of Management Studies, whose observations and suggestions kept me stimulated and encouraged. All of my intellectual and academic pursuits bear my sign, but the true forces behind making all these a reality are my wife Renu and daughter Ishita. Hidden behind every single word that I write, they are equal contributors.

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    About the Author

    Harsh V. Verma is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi, where he teaches courses like Marketing Management, Consumer Behaviour, Marketing of Services and Brand Management. He has taught Services Marketing elective at the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow for several years. He is actively involved in training executives of both Indian companies and MNCs in the marketing area. Some of the companies for which he has conducted training include Nestle, BSNL, Siemens, GAIL, State Bank of India, Indian Oil Corporation, Taj Hotels and TATA Motors. His article ‘Packaging: A Magic Tool for the Marketer’ was reprinted in the World's Executive Digest as one of the best management articles worldwide. He has published books like Brand Management and Marketing of Services: Strategies for Success. His book Marketing of Services: Strategies for Success was among the first few in the area of services marketing and it won the DMA Escorts Book of the Year Award in 1993.

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