Enfield 2.0 – Making of a Cult Brand (updated)

There are brands and then there are cult brands. While brands work hard to make their presence felt, cult brands defy all rules/norms of marketing and create a strong community which no other can match. Royal Enfield is one such instance.

Offering a uniquely masculine motorcycle with a signature ‘thump’ sound, Enfield has pulled off a legacy brand with its all-terrain heavy motorbike – Bullet (NB: Both Ashish & I ride bullets too). Royal Enfield has a very strong network of riders, service mechanics and of designers & modifiers who offer creative customizations on the motorcycle too. An ecosystem of its own. And a very social one.

Consider this: For bullets, root access to the machine is granted allowing imagination & development from the crowd to bring about new personalized offerings and thereby score upon individual’s talent. The process allows money generation too, for many businesses thrive on customization of bullet to instantly give it a retro & cooler-than-your-mate’s look.

Harley Davidson too is a cult brand with a similar business model that allows people-driven customization & word of mouth. In essence the “open-source” process between machine & man brings about a sense of pride to join the community of owners and yet present a unique identity which others could envy. It gives a feeling of having power – to display and control at one’s imagination.

So much application of social tools, albeit offline ones for the motorcycle business. And does social media form that essential ingredient in making of a powerful cult brand? One would argue that cult brands are built over long periods of time i.e. long term survival against the tides of time without conceding much to the evolving needs of generations  (i.e. retention of key elements in the identity of the product). And both Enfield & Harley Davidson have had a rich past of over 100 years with close association with the militarized era of World Wars too.

But then there are thousand other brands which too have survived well over a century without evolving much, and are not anywhere close to cult branding at all. One wouldn’t die to own packaged food by John Heinz (Heinz industries), for example. Another case to look at is that of Apple, which has existed for less than half a century. Yet Apple enjoys cult status, whose fan-boys would swear upon anything to own their piece of meat.

Is such a quick accession of Apple to cult be attributed to the convenience of internet? Interestingly, both bike manufacturers recognized social nature of internet long time back & hosted their own online communities almost instantly at the dawn of web 2.0. Owners of Harleys & Enfields can spot and display heavy gear, custom bikes, share rider experiences and tips into the community of bike owners. It simply inspires journey-takers by looking at each other.

One can liken the ‘cult-branding’ process to open-source development with premium price on mind. Cult products are normally priced well above the industry level. A Price which makes or breaks the chances of becoming the cult brand. It is damn easy to fall into a commodity group, but for the defense of price. I have a question for NextBigWhat.com readers? Do Facebook or Twitter stand a chance in becoming a cult brand (for they are social charged applications too)? Or is their any pure web-based product which is cult today?

I am yet to find one (although WSJ does ring some bells), for probably one reason: Money. It is difficult to offer a product for which one can charge premium money, and that such a product cannot be offered on freemium model by someone else.  And free approach leads to commodity status, and fails the test of achieving cult status.

In essence Cult Branding is achieved with following minimum attributes:

  • The user experience (Business Basics)
  • Promotion of Passion/Opinions (Social Media)
  • Listen to the users (Social Media)
  • Branding – build an experience around the brand (Business Basic)
  • Less is cool..More is uncool (Business Basics)
  • And finally, the product – Robust Design (Business Basics)
  • Involvement in the community (Social Media)
  • Show them what you do, how you do? Example: http://www.royalenfield.com/app/IN/company/Factoryvisit_form.asp (Social Media)
  • Ego – satisfy it (Social Media)
  • A daring price (The thin red line)

Have you got something Cult for the internet on your mind? It would not take a hundred years to do it, for sure.

Google India/Youtube Grabs 2 years Exclusive Web Rights to IPL

Google India, as reported earlier (Watch IPL – III on Youtube for Free [Live Streaming]) has signed a deal with IPL for exclusive 2 years web rights.

Worldwide, this is the first major sporting event to be live-streamed on YouTube and as part of the deal, YouTube will also offer users a exclusive unique feed not available on any other media platform of all IPL matches.

Youtube Google India IPL Rights
Now you can watch IPL for Free

A milestone deal for the Indian online world!

YouTube India is changing the rules of the game and will leave the ‘text’ content partners biting dust. For companies like Yahoo/Cricinfo, competing on pageviews numbers would be tough – as the world is moving to ‘real time’ live sports watching.

What do you think?

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Mobilize your website and add Interactivity with Audiencc

Bangalore based Audien.cc has launched toolbar for website owners to easily mobilize their site, as well as bring social interactivity to one’s website/blog.

Essentially, Audien.cc creates interactive, social media aware smartphone optimized sites on demand; and the on-site toolbar lets your visitors interact with the site.mobilize your website

We earlier covered the list of wordpress plugins to build mobile friendly blog and the irony of all the existing plugins is that most of them don’t work as-promised. Audien.cc’s current offering to mobilize one’s site is limited to iPhone and Android devices (i.e. doesn’t work with S60 phones), but it does bring in whole lot of interactivity and awesomeness to the mobile site.

As far as the on-site toolbar is concerned, Audien.cc has a tough competition from Wibiya and meebo toolbar.

At Pluggd.in, we have tried all of the toolbars and finally settled with Wibiya – it offers a good number of apps to play with and plethora of options to customize the toolbar.

Moreover, Audien.cc is working on two challenging statements – one to mobilize websites, and the other to bring social media interactivity to one’s site – and ofcourse, reaching out to global audience from India just adds to the fun.

If you are on wordpress, do give Audien.cc a spin (plugin link) and share your comments.

Monitor Online Advertising – Vizisense Launches AdView Tool

In an attempt to build more authority in online advertising space, Vizisense has launched an online advertising monitoring and analysis tool, AdView.

AdView provides critical insight into the online advertising landscape by tracking online spends at multiple levels:

  • Advertisers, brands and product categories.
  • Publishers and online verticals.
  • Display ad creatives (i.e. static banners, text, rich media, video ads, etc.).

Vizisense Adview Tool
Vizisense Adview Tool

AdView is targeted at agencies, advertisers and publishers seeking to gain insights into online advertising trends, competitive benchmarking and campaign-level execution.

Vizisense’ AdView aims to be one-stop shop for viewing creative units that form a part of online campaigns.

AdView provides an easy-to-use snapshot of the most active online advertisers and brands – including their share of spends across the top 1000 publisher sites. With over 100 industry categories, AdView users can analyse data by volume and type of ad inventory purchased, as well as performance of various types of creative units. –details

What’s interesting about Vizisense is how Komli is building it’s authority in Online advertising space and is building a competitive edge over other ad networks who are too busy running after media buying agencies and publishers.

What’s your opinion?

SMSGupShup Raises $12mn From Globespan Capital Partner, CRV and Helion

SMSGupshup has closed funding for a $12 million (Series D) round led by Globespan Capital Partners and additional financing from existing investors Charles River Ventures and Helion Venture Partners.

SMS GupShup now serves 26 million users in over 2 million sms communities and claims to grow userbase by 100% just in the last 6 months – company claims to account for 5% of all SMS traffic in India.

SMSgupshup earlier raised $11mn in July 2008 and also partnered with Facebook for it’s sms service in India.

Last year, company (Webaroo) closed down other products and decided to focus on smsgupshup – the core money making unit being selling bulk sms.

To date, SMS GupShup has raised $37million in funding and the current funding will be used for global expansion.

Recommended Read: The hype and fall of SMS ads – Substitutes and Alternatives