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Aug, 11 2014

Protect your investments via branding

Brands are intrinsically striking and that their role is to create an indelible impression. I am sure we will remember brands that are quite old enough in India which is still alive and some brands that would have been dead. Generation after generation br

The visual distinctiveness of a brand may be a combination of any of the following: name, letters, numbers, a symbol, a signature, a shape, a slogan, a colour, a particular typeface. But the name is the most important element of the brand and its use in language provide a universal reference point. The name is also one of the elements of the brand that should never change. All other elements can change over time. Companies generally change their names either because their function or their ownership has changes, or because their name is in some way misleading. Some time they revert to initials. NIIT is a good example of this. Much of the skill of marketing and branding nowadays is concerned with building “equity” for products whose characteristics, pricing, distribution and availability really quite close to each other. Brands allow the consumer to shop with confidence, and they provide a route map through a bewildering variety of choices.

The customer does not have to be an expert on the complexities of any technology, or services to choose the brand. It is the brand and consumers appreciation of its underlying app that will ultimately drive the purchase decision. It is the inculcation of these “underlying appeals” the bedrock of brand equity that concerns brand owners and has become the subject of unceasing attention and investment in the brands. Brands with strong equity embed themselves deeply in the hearts and minds of consumers.

How is branding vital for franchising? Franchising in the last two decades has grown by leaps and bounds in the country with 30 per cent growth Y-O-Y. However there are brands which came in to the market and have also disappeared at the speed they came. Many entrepreneurs who are looking for business do not look at the branding aspect before buying the business and finally feel let down by these franchising brands. Many franchisors do not spend money to build their brand. Once the franchisee has put in their money they struggle to promote the brand locally, since the consumer will not know the brand locally. Many franchisors thrive on other people's money (OPM) to promote the brand. Once you take a brand, the brand has to pull certain number of customers to the store/centre. The franchisee needs to do the marketing activity to promote the brand to the right target customers to ensure the walk-ins are adequate to ensure they achieve the monthly target to run the business profitably.

Brand is not only a symbol or a name it is beyond that. It could be an experience completely out of the world. A good experience gives a good feel about the brand; a bad experience leaves a bad taste of the brand which ensures that those brands die a natural death.

In the early 90's computer education was the best franchise business. Companies' wowed students who are their customers to join their brands by promising jobs, the term used was “100 per cent placement guaranteed”. If you look at those brands today they are not available in the market. Those companies could not full fill the promises and they were considered as cheating brands. Today, retail/service franchising is the in-thing. In retail the products and services are the ones which will ensure the brand recall. If poor quality products are sold and poor services are given people will forget those brands. Look at Honda; they are a brand to be really appreciated, there was a defect in the air bags and they have called back all the cars for a free replacement of the air bags to ensure the safety of their customers. This will go a long way for a customer to be loyal to them for the experience that they will have with the brand.

The same way an eating experience in a restaurant is measured by the brand experience.  Once I went to a KFC restaurant and the hygiene of that particular outlet was not up to the mark the day I visited. I came back and wrote an email on their website and in half an hour time there was a call from the GM of the outlet who apologised for the in-convince caused and asked me to visit again, this was more than enough for me to go back to the same store. This is brand experience.

Once the brand is built for example Tata, Reliance is a good example of brand extensions that we have seen in the country. Tata has Titan, Tanishq, Tata Motors, Tata Croma, Tata Automotives, TCS. Same way Reliance has Reliance Trends, Reliance Super markets etc. Brands are not building on a day they are built for decades together. NIIT, CADD Centre is a great education brand still standing tall. Our IIT's and IIMs are other brands in the education sector. The new brands in this sector are AMITY, VIT, SRM, Hindustan University and many more are being built. If you look at AMITY as a brand they had spent money and effort to build it as a national brand by spending huge amount of money in the media. They have opened many branches because the brand has been built, another brand which is to be looked at is TIME Education, a well know brand that has been built with good media presence with the TVC which talks about the no of students who are from TIME who have clocked the competitive entrance exams.

As a caution to all the prospective franchisees ensure you ask the right questions about the brand. What kind of support will be provided by the franchisor?  Brand support includes advertisement, training, marketing collaterals, new products launches all these are part of brand building. Buying a brand after all the investigation will be the best as you know you are getting in to something with a clear conscience. Branding is important for a long term survival of the franchise brand.

The customer does not have to be an expert on the complexities of any technology, or services to choose the brand. It is the brand and consumers appreciation of its underlying app that will ultimately drive the purchase decision.

Brand is not only a symbol or a name it is beyond that. It could be an experience completely out of the world. A good experience gives a good feel about the brand; a bad experience leaves a bad taste of the brand which ensures that those brands die a natural death.

If poor quality products are sold and poor services are given people will forget those brands. Look at Honda; they are a brand to be really appreciated. If you look at AMITY, they have spent money and effort to build it as a national brand.

Chackochen Mathai is the GM - Business Development with Trends Invogue Pvt Ltd, a CavinKare Group. His responsibility is to franchise two salon brands Green Trends & Limelite.  He is recognized as a franchising coach and a mentor, a regular writer and a sought after speaker in many franchising forums in the country. He is an M.A, MMM, M.A, MPhil a research scholar currently pursuing Ph.D in Franchise Management from Hindustan University and holds 23+ years experience in the field of franchising.

 

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