[Part of ‘Marketing Tips for Small Businesses’ series started by Mayank, head of marketing at Redbus.in. This article demystifies the concept of brand property and Mayank has shared interesting case studies in the article. Do share your opinion/comments.]
Creating a brand property that sticks is probably the greatest communication strategy. A brand property is a very subtle art and it’s difficult to put your hand on the why and what of it because it deals with the way human beings consume communication. Let’s try though.
What is a brand property?
These are things that you associate with a brand. When you think of the brand these are things that you remember and when you hear/read/see these, you remember the brand. These go hand-in-hand. At least they are supposed to. It’s like a re-enforcing loop. They strengthen each other. But for that to happen, they have to be good enough for each other to start with. It could be a logo, a mascot, a color, a song, a classic ad or anything that associates strongly with the brand – even your brand ambassador.
“Vajradanti Vajradanti Vicco Vajradanti, tooth powder tooth paste”. This is Vicco Vajradanti’s jingle.
“Jab main chota ladka tha, badi shararat karta tha, meri chori pakdi jaati. Tab roshan karta Bajaj.
Ab main bilkul Buddha hoon, goli khakar jeeta hoon…”. This is the jingle for Bajaj Electricals. Remember the old man getting caught in his kitchen with the fridge door open?
“Tandarusti ki raksha karta hai Lifebuoy. Lifebuoy hai jahaan tandarusti hai wahaan.” The famous Lifebuoy jingle (if I remember correctly, it starred Ashutosh Gowariker).
“Lalita ji” of Surf fame. I guess everyone who was born in the early 80s or before would remember her.
I have a hunch that if Surf runs the Lalitaji ads today once again, it will be way more impactful for the brand than the ad they use today. I don’t know what it was about the old ads that just stuck in our head. My guess is that we hardly had DD and a few more channels to watch that made our attention more focused. It’s definitely not a matter of quality because we produce much better and strategic advertising today.
Think of brands that you love and you’ll figure that there is some brand property that attracts you to the brand.
Bingo chips had the “Boingggg” sound that it created as a strong property using TV and radio ads.
Airtel, Reliance and ICICI Bank use their jingles as their strongest brand properties. Their ads have them, their customer service numbers have them and employees use them as ringtones. Every touch point hammers those jingles into your head so that the brand stays alive even after the ad has stopped. You will notice many people singing familiar jingles in the morning at work. That’s probably because that’s what they heard on radio. A jingle well-made can be one of the greatest brand properties because of its audio nature.
Sony also uses an audio brand property in addition to the logo twist they create in every ad at the end of it. Pay attention next time.
Also, the jingle helps convey the features/values of the brand without actually saying it out loud and boringly.
I’m hard-selling a jingle because it makes sense for us start-ups. It’s a great thing to have because it can be used everywhere – on the site, on your customer service numbers, on radio (that’s the cheapest mass medium today) and it can be an instant glue if done well. It can help you differentiate very subtly.
It doesn’t matter what the brand property, as long as it’s rendered well using whatever media it is that you plan to use, it will help create an image of your brand and will hopefully stick increasing recall. I have taken the example of a jingle here and gone with it, but there are many other brand properties that can be used. Books have been written on it and it’s not possible to cover it in one article.
How redBus created brand properties
Instead of imparting gyaan about creating brand properties, I can share some things that redBus did as a brand to create some properties of its own.
Lucky for us, we created a logo and a brand name that many customers simply loved. To describe what customers had to say, “It is a simple and funky name with a cute logo”. The brand name went beyond the value the product offered yet had a subtle connect, and the logo stood out.
We also went ahead and created a jingle. We wrote it ourselves with the help of Susan, a copywriter friend, and provided Siddharth Pinto, an RJ friend the tune to go with it. He got it made and it hardly cost us 15K. The team loved it and suddenly it became a ring tone for most in our office. It went on to our helpline numbers as well. I’m sure it will be a great brand property going forward.
The other thing that a lot of customers remember from redBus is this link we created on the home page called “Boss is watching. Look busy.” We figured that many professionals log on to our site and bosses may consider buying bus tickets during office hours as personal work. So, just in case your supervisor were to walk past you, you could click on that link and it would open up a page that looked like an excel sheet that had graphs. It would seem like you’re working (but the title of the page was ‘I love my boss’).
Of course, it was created just to humor visitors and luckily most of them got the joke and we got tons of fan mails. People blogged about it, media wrote about it and we happily raked in the compliments. No travel site had done it before, and we failed to understand why. It helped us create an image. We moved from being a purely functional site to a site that had a personality. When we remove the link to communicate any important message, some old customers write back asking why we removed the link! You can look up the link on Google to read what some of our customers have written.
This is not the end of the brand properties we intend to create. We are looking at many other ways to differentiate and we will soon communicate it.
Create your own property
So, I suggest that you too create a great property that your customers can strongly associate with you uniquely. In our commoditized and over communicated world, we need these subtleties to help customers remember who they love most. You can give away reward points, discounts and points for referrals, but it’s these small things that customers will remember after a few years when they hear/see/read your name.
A related topic to this one is branding line and we will discuss that in detail in the next read.