Brand Strategy Blog

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I had a journalist from Business Standard call me to ask – why do you think they have done this hoarding – in a plaintive voice. She had already asked many marketers, brand strategists and other sundry thinkers; and no one seemed to be able to give her an answer.

I confessed to being stupefied myself! What I told her is that when Fair & Lovely radically changed their packaging, they needed to tell the consumer about the change.

When Rin changed to Surf,consumers needed to know of this seminal change. But when 5 Star changed to more-of-the-same-5 Star, there seems no need whatsoever. Indeed, if you put the old and the new packs side by side, you really have to play the “Find the Differences” game.

New packaging rejuvenates brands. Makes them fresher, younger and more relevant.They make the competition look old and not ‘with it’.’ It is also an opportunity to correct old flaws and build great brand assets. The new 5 Star packaging under-whelms – specifically on two counts.

The first: The logo covers only about half the pack. This is an impulse category – and it has to shout out to consumers. The entire real estate of the pack could have been used for the branding. And dwarfed other wannabes on the retail shelf.

The second: The cross-section of the 5 Star bar has been dropped to show some drippy caramel. Consumers want to know what a product looks like when they are asked to put it in their mouths. Whether toothpaste, biscuits or chocolates. The cross-section is critical to cuing the unique 5 Star experience. Dropping it is dangerous. Brands – like people, grow old, atrophy and die – unless continually rejuvenated. A pack change is the most visible aspect of brand rejuvenation and is an opportunity to appeal to younger consumers entering the market.

Those readers of this column old enough to remember the launch of the ICICI bank will remember it as the challenger brand that shook up the bureaucratic world of banking. From long lines in a crowded sweltering branch, and endless waiting for a peon to carry your cheque from one cubicle to another before a withdrawal could be made, there came a banking experience so customer friendly and literally so much cooler, that an inertia-prone, low-priority decision of choosing your bank and going through the hassle of transferring your bank account, suddenly became top priority. That was some 20 plus years ago. The same bank has grown in size and done very well. But today, the service and ambience it offers is hygiene for the industry. And the same challenger brand appears old and fuddy duddy to the younger consumer. It is time for ICICI to rejuvenate the visible face of the brand. Otherwise, it could see its share eroded to challengers offering a fresher experience.

When Dabur embarked on a rejuvenation exercise close to a decade ago, it faced the same problem. How does a hundred-year-old brand become relevant to a younger India? And so, the old banyan tree was replaced with a younger fresher tree, the iconic Vatika packaging single handedly redefined hair oil as a category and over time a slew of old and new products made the brand relevant to the Gen X consumers. The rejuvenation helped Dabur stand up and be counted. And the rest as they say is history.

By Alpana Parida

DY Works

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