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’.

Anna Brand: The Ocean In The Drop (7)

‘I left the ocean, alone’

Said a drop

‘But you are me’

Said the ocean

‘Today you leave But tomorrow you will raise a storm’

He murmured in silence

‘But I am too small’

Whispered the drop

‘No, you are me’

Consoled the Ocean

It left…in a doubt So did others.

On the way Sun came across

‘You will rob me of what I am’

Reacted the drop in fear

‘No, I will make you ocean’

Consoled the Sun

‘But you will burn.’

‘I will burn…for my ocean’

It did

So did others

Then rose a storm

Only to rise as tide Upon the call of a tiny drop .



“Our top rival is planning to launch a product which would obliterate us from the market. It is a serious issue. How should we react?” said a junior executive.

 “Don’t worry. You don’t have to. We know how their Board operates. It is a highly intellectual group. We will use ‘intellectual paralysis strategy’, just leak the news and they would get diverted away even from their areas of strengths,” observed, the grand master.

 The company:

Board room discussion and voices of competent intellectuals-

“People are dying because of malaria and dengue. They need a cure. It is a golden business opportunity.”

“How can you have cure of malaria and dengue it is everywhere?”

‘Yes you are right but let me tell you it is not only everywhere but it is there from time immemorial”

“We already have a mosquito repellent product, so why a new one?”

“You are short sighted to focus on only one thing; people also suffer from typhoid, sun stroke, infant mortality, poor quality of water”

“How can a remedy be developed for malaria and dengue, we can’t control rain, water accumulation and bushes?”

“Let us make the existing product better?”

“Why don’t you call people from water harvesting, horticulture, aquaculture, marine biologists and entomologists?”

“Why don’t we try an ‘all in one product’ cure of everything?”

“We don’t have money, where will the finance come from?”

“Where are the suppliers, our current suppliers cannot supply required parts and components?”

“To be honest, how will we distribute the product?”

“Our engineers cannot design this product- let us outsource designing from the US”

“Why the US, your advice is politically motivated?”

“Why don’t we do a formal extensive research on what do people actually want, do they really want cure to mosquito menace. We need conclusive proof?”

“There are different types of malaria which one are you talking about?”

“We are a commercial enterprise we don’t want to get into welfare or betterment business”

 And the arguments go on and on…..

 Brand Anna stands for one well defined thing/meaning. There are two sides to this equation: the Brand and the Competition (or rival force). The forces internal to the Brand itself are degenerative. So called people who ‘in principle’ agree themselves seem to work counter to the brand driven by their own ‘territorialism’ and ‘tunnel vision’. This myopic territorialism first aims to create a ‘cocktail’ (a kind of ‘be all brand’) which appeals to none because everyone is ‘somebody’ but not a lousy mix of ‘everybody’. The global mission stands to get compromised by these doses of ‘territories’. Rather the territories should be viewed from the ‘brand’s lens’. Local territories in their bids to prevail, compromise the ‘collective’.

 The supremacy of the mission must prevail upon those who agree in principle. Refinements can be made later. First allow the brand to take off. Let the baby be born. Most of the brands start their journey as ‘imperfections’. Imperfection is real and perfection is surreal. Take Tata ‘Indica’ which was not best engineered car to begin with and see how P&G refined ‘Whisper’ overtime. The ambition to create the best solution sometimes leads to no solution.

 In the present situation the competition does not require a strategy to ‘fight’ if the tendency to ‘over analyze’ is fostered. The idea would crumble under the burden of its own arguments and counter arguments from within. Homogenization and convergence ‘within’ is the key to get the brand off ground. The real threats to brand building first originate from within.  There lies a beautiful opportunity for the competition.

 Isn’t it true for Brand Anna? It is weakened by forces within. It is falling victim to ‘analysis paralysis? The competition just has to buy time. Pick a newspaper and ‘dissent within’ in class which ‘in principle’ agrees emerges as a ‘the’ threat to the Brand.  The woods are being missed for the trees. Everybody seems to be springing up with a sapling.