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5 Sustainable Pillars for Building a Brand in the Indian Market How you define the core will impact the entire business ecosystem

By Ashwini H Pable

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The emergence of India as the fastest growing economy in the world has fuelled the Indian market place to become an even more vibrant and noisy space. Going by the Indian government's ambitious plan for India to become a $5 Trillion economy by 2025 means the frenzy is set to pick up more pace from here.

Innovations in terms of products and services flood the market every day. In 2018 alone Nasscom reports that 1,200 startups were added in India. This coupled with all the innovations driven by MNCs, makes it imperative to be able to stand out, be recognized and remembered in this hyper-cluttered space.

A strong brand is a valuable asset and the very reputation of a business. When built right, it can pull followers, great talent, innovators and brand champions in addition to revenues. It is important therefore to know how to build a brand and how to get your consumers to love it?

While mantras are many, the following 5 are sustainable strategies which form the bedrock of building enduring brands -

  • Defining your Brand Core

The most important thing in the branding process is identifying and defining a sustainable core for your business. How you define the core will impact the entire business ecosystem. It will have a direct bearing on determining who will be the competitive set and identify your target audience. It will clarify customer segmentation, marketing & promotion strategy and most importantly, will set the flow of your future products and services pipeline. This will act like the guiding path for sustaining your business over a period of time. For instance, if a company's main business is arranging a tour and travel itinerary, it will matter if they define the business core as "Holiday specialists" or "Effortless Travel experience".

  • Brand Responsibility

Asking oneself the question of "what responsibility will my brand own" Vs "what is my right to win in the market" is a more sustainable and purpose-driven stance that any brand can take. Effective communication of the same becomes the next important thing. It becomes the driving force not only for the external stakeholders of the company but also for internal stakeholders. Everybody is united in mind and spirit towards achieving that one goal which positively impacts productivity.

Consumers in today's information-driven economy demand greater accountability and are increasingly identifying themselves with responsible brands. Whether aligning with a purpose or demanding a great product, brands which clearly represent the value they shall deliver are the ones that leave an impression with the consumer. Take FedEx for instance; consumers see them as reliable and trustworthy with their promise, messaging and of course on-time deliveries.

Consumers, especially millennials in India, are driving the change towards reliable and conscious consumerism bending market trends towards businesses which stand for something, deliver on their promises and aim to make a difference.

  • Brand Consistency

Businesses must be consistent in delivering their brand stories across platforms, incorporating the messaging not just on their websites, but on digital platforms, personality and customer interactions. Having a strong Brand Promise and then consistently communicating it over a period of time, establishes the functional aspect of your brand. Finding a tone of voice and character for the brand and keeping it consistent, instantly associates consumers with your brand's personality. For instance Nike has aligned its brand with the spirit of sport. The company embraces this spirit in the world's great athletes and the average person alike, celebrating their struggle and effort.

The personality that Red Bull pushes is "energy". And that is what they consistently stay with whether it is their tag-line, advertising in mainstream or digital media, contests, associations or events. They have also taken this energetic tone of voice in how they engage and communicate with their online community creating conversations on Twitter and engaging with their community of brand champions.

In times of fierce competition in a tightly packed market, businesses may strive hard to portray themselves as a 360 degree solution, being everything to everybody. But this is confusing for the consumer. In fact, according to the Inc, consistent branding can boost your revenues by 23%. So an unflinching and consistent brand tone of voice is critical.

  • Building Iconic Assets

Visual assets like color shape and graphics help reinforce a brand's personality and become an identity marker of sorts. Take Heineken for instance. It's brand color, bottle shape and color and spark logo are great examples of building iconic assets. Consistency must be maintained here too so the visual identity perfectly captures the tone of voice of the brand. The meditation app Headspace is all the rage now, and despite meditation being a serious spiritual subject, the visual assets of this brand suggest a light playfulness about the subject suggesting mindfulness is an achievable goal for everyone. All aspects ranging from the logo, font, colors, voice and illustrated characters, boost the brand recognition further.

A good design strategy, building on the core values of the brand and infused with cultural semiotics, goes a long way in establishing the brand. A weak visual identity in the logo, fonts or colors of a business can negatively influence the brand experience or not have an impact at all. Most established MNC's see a huge value in doing this right and hence are able to capture better aspiration and imagery quotient for their brands. Homegrown companies and SMEs which lack this brand aspiration that the consumer now desires, stand the risk of becoming more value added offerings. Building iconic assets is directly linked with the brand profitability and its ability to charge that premium.

  • Revealing the Human Side

Consider your brand as a living being that your consumers interact and engage with and build relationships with. Being authentic and transparent helps connect with humans and helps build a more relatable brand. Communicating strengths and failures alike garner consumer acceptance because people identify with people more than any other strategy.

While building a brand is a continuous and relentless process, as long as the 5 sustainable pillars are standing solidly tall, businesses can build a unique value proposition for themselves. A strong brand not only delivers the benefit of business development, it helps a business stand out and be heard loud and clear regardless of the noise.

Ashwini H Pable

Brand Strategy Consultant, Bluemarlin – India & SEA

A Brand Thinker and Builder, an Innovation Catalyst and a Social Fashion entrepreneur…with 14 years of Brand marketing experience across categories of Processed Food, Personal Care and Lifestyle categories of Hospitality and Fashion.
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