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Passing the brand baton

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October 03, 2003 13:55 IST

What I liked

I have picked two ads this fortnight both of which are pretty good examples of ads that have created a strong impact on their respective target audience. Individually, they address two extreme ends of the age segment and are good representations of what sharply focused advertising is all about.

My first choice is the SBI ad for Lifelong Pensions. The ad has used a very simple visual device, and executed it quite charmingly with a strong spirit of positivity. Since retirement does conjure up images of life being turned upside down, turning around the symbol of old age to an icon of fun was a pretty clever.

It found instant appeal in the older age group, as it tells them quite effectively how retirement can be fun. It definitely caught my eye, not as an informed judge of advertising, but as a layman who is steadily progressing towards this target group!

My other choice is a campaign that is clearly targeted at the young Indian male. The Bajaj Windbiking campaign talks specifically to this segment and captures, quite effectively, the thrill of being a bike owner. Nothing original about it, but no one else has said it with as much impact so far.

What I've learned

The joy of continuity.
Back in the late 70s Vimal Sarees was emerging as a strong brand and the credit of making it so, goes to Frank Simoes and his team. The account shifted to us at Mudra in March 1980. Our first instinct as the "new agency" was to change everything that was so carefully built by the previous agency. We wanted to "prove" that we were better.

But fortunately for us, and the brand, better sense prevailed. And rather than wiping the slate clean and starting all over again, we carried on with "Only Vimal" theme for suitings and "A woman expresses herself in many languages. Vimal is one of them" for sarees.

And we all know what a wise decision it turned out to be. We created new frontiers in textile advertising, besides commanding a considerable presence both in market share and at the awards shows. I have no doubt in my mind that this could not have been achieved without the strong foundation laid down by Frank. Leveraging past strengths was, and still is, a surefire way of catapulting the brand forward.

The truth is, brand building is a relay race and not a 100 m dash. None of us brand custodians will be around forever and it is clearly an issue of baton passing. And when someone passes you the baton the point is for you to carry it forward and not run back to the starting line to rerun the race.

A brand has its own personality, which evolves over time. The consumers respond to this personality like they would to a person. They love its little quirks and dissonances. The beautiful thing about brand continuity is that you keep discovering its new dimensions. It is what I would term "creativity in continuity".

That's how great brands are built -- not by one visionary in one lifetime but by a team of them continuing to build, across generations.

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A G Krishnamurthy
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