Anna Brand: From Promise to Delivery (8)

There are top brands and then there are the also rans and then there are named commodities. The route to the top is tough and difficult. Brands are not ‘advertised products’. Advertising and other forms of communication is the essential first step in etching ‘what the brand stands for’ in prospects’ minds. It is an ‘imprinting’ process. The brand name is ‘burnt’ or ‘etched’ in mind space. Unlike a few who reach to the top, thousands of other brands just don’t. They end up confusing ‘essential’ with ‘sufficient’. Burning a brand name certainly requires establishing an invisible conduit between the brander on the one hand and the target customer on the other.

This invisible conduit (communication) conveys the brand meaning as a starting point in developing relationship. Brand Anna is very clearly and firmly etched in terms of its meaning (anti corruption). It does not mean that the brand is established. Right now only ‘name’ or ‘symbol’ is planted. Brand ‘performance’ or ‘delivery’ is yet to begin. The onus on Brand Anna is very high as a very high level of expectations (or ‘promising’) has been created. Normally cardinal principle in brand management is to always ‘under promise and over deliver’. What is next for the Brand Anna?

Consider top brands like:Toyota, Gillette, Disney, Nokia, Apple, and IBM. Clever communication alone has not created these brands to be what they are. The defining aspect of these brands is their ‘value delivery’. Hundreds of ‘commodity with name’ brands are launched only to fail because managers fail to attend to the delivery challenges. The superficial aspects take precedence over the substantive aspects. Having firmly ‘appropriated’ a concept (like Gillette razors- freedom from  dependence on barber or Toyota – provision of a ‘reliable personal transportation’) these companies invested in the creation of back end processes (manufacturing and supply chain) and ‘continuous’ improvements such that the ‘delivery’ at the ‘moment of truth’ does not fail the brand (‘brand is a promise’). The true brand never fails the customer expectations and wins customer confidence (‘brand as trust mark’).

Take a brand like Gillette to see how a razor has been improved over time by continuous improvements. Brand Anna now needs to move over from ‘awareness to delivery’ mode. It must create structures and systems that people are able to actually ‘fight corruption’. The brand must go beyond rhetoric which relies on an oath that “I shall neither take nor give bribe”. It is easier said than done. Bribe is ‘inconvenience monetized’. The system sometimes is systematically orchestrated to reduce the ‘choice’ for the hapless citizen. It is sometimes difficult to take on the system singularly. Hence this is the time for the creation of an ‘anti corruption system’ outside the system which is to be fought with.

All good brands start with a ‘narrow’ front. Toyota is still a car, Gillette is primarily a razor and Rolex is a watch.Toyota’s ‘relentlessly pursuit of perfection’ in automobile manufacturing, Gillette’s ceaseless perfection of razor and Rolex’s boundary breaking innovations in horology has made these brand a cut above the rest. Brand Anna has achieved a brilliant success at the first stage of brand building. Now is the time to invest in systems and processes which would allow hapless people to easily ‘plug and play’ into a structurally sound ‘counter system’. There can not be fair play between two unequal parties. The system of corruption is strong therefore the anti corruption must also take the form of an equally powerful ‘anti system’. Worldwide consumer movement could only become a serious ‘countervailing’ force only by moving beyond the ‘movement’ to ‘system’. In the US Ralph Nadar took head on heavy weights ofDetroit. In India Anna has done the same for corruption. In the absence of systems the brand has a risk become becoming hollow. Now is the time to give the brand a high performing ‘organization’.

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