Rejuvenating brands through design

Brands, like people, grow old and risk becoming irrelevant or less desirable unless they rejuvenate themselves continuously.

Trends change, fashions change; and a brand that does not change with the times ends up looking as out of place in consumer’s lives as bell bottoms are in a world of skinny jeans!!

Consumers are defining their selves through brands and their aspirations; their self-images are formed by the set of brands they consume. So, Samsung and not Videocon, FastTrack not Titan, Peter England and not Double Bull are choices made, to become symbols of self-expression.  Brands, therefore, need to mirror the consumer’s aspirations and needs.

When we worked on the Dabur rejuvenation, we reinvented an over 125 year old brand to make Ayurveda relevant to a younger Indian and lift it from the ‘brown’ ingestible powders and pills to other contemporary categories in foods and skin care. Himalaya followed in creating a more contemporary face of Ayurveda. As the younger Indian is looking to negotiate with tradition – a conclusion born out by behaviour:  through the cocktails and dance in the evening and the traditional wedding in the morning or the touching of feet of elders in the family and being on first name basis with their international bosses; both these brands have made space for themselves in the Indian consumers’ lives and shelves as they themselves have negotiated tradition as brands.

Another powerful brand – Vicco – has missed the boat entirely. It appears old and dated and its fortunes are reflected in its low market shares. In 30 years, it hasn’t changed much and its traditional roots do not appeal today. Nonetheless, it has great brand equity (PE firms take note) and a good rejuvenation exercise can make it a powerhouse once more to take on Dabur and Himalaya head –on.

While logos play an important role in how a brand is perceived, packaging can be an equally powerful tool to make brands contemporary.

Packaging, much more than advertising, is what causes conversions. It is what consumers pay for, and dictates actual brand experience closely. Fastrack has broken the mould on classic, elegant watches and has a very strong and distinctive brand personality. The difference between a Titan and a Fastrack is not just in the design of the watches. It is in the attitude and personality of the wearer as well.

The packaging plays a very strong role in driving this brand experience further. Fastrack packaging is a tin – that is not the traditional flip top box. At the very outset – it challenges convention. Secondly, it evokes a rugged and raw world, which is also part of the brand’s personality. Thirdly it borrows from the world of liquor (it looks like a cut off container of a whiskey bottle) – lending an edgier aspect to the brand.

In category after category, particularly in the FMCG product categories; packaging can play a very important role in building the brand.

See the two images below of Fem Hand Soap and Santoor Hand Soap – a structure we created as far back as 2005.  The Santoor packaging caused a disruption in a low engagement category (as compared to skin care) to drive sales and market shares.

The rub off of such packaging also impacted the parent brand – Santoor Soap positively. In some categories, packaging can drive innovations. The zip lock bag for namkeens or rice/ dal/ atta; the easy squeeze tube for glue, the hand pump for shampoos/ moisturisers, liquid soaps – all add to the functionality of the product and can add significant value to consumers. They are willing to pay more for this.

Categories such as tooth brushes – which are generally very low engagement categories after purchase see a disproportionate engagement during purchase. Here the product and the packaging win the day. The colour, the brightness, the shape are all features that directly lead to conversion. The behaviour at the time of purchase is almost similar to one of buying a ‘dinky’ car.  The role of product design and packaging in winning market shares is very significant.

In an era of highly cluttered media spaces and pressures on cutting costs and advertising budgets, marketers need to discover the power of design in building brands. There are true market opportunities to be tapped. The rewards are just waiting to be reaped.

Alpana Parida
President, DY Works

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