Saturday, September 7, 2013

The KISS that works...

Advertising and Marketing Communication often is expected to do wonders like we see in fairy tales. It is like the true loves kiss that breaks the evil spell and changes the life for the prince or princess or ogre in a way only imagined. It works much the same way with brands and their consumers. Brands are constantly in the search for those loyal customers who swear by their name and will never defect to competition no matter what. For consumers, from the wide variety of options at hand, is the basic need for the brand to serve its purpose as well as satisfy the need for association at a social level.
Like people, brands have personalities and much alike is also the fact that the less layered and complicated the brand personality; people tend to adapt to it faster are more closely associated. This is the reason why when we plan for the branding or communication for any brand, the governing fact has to be KISS (Keep It Short n Simple). The simplicity is a key here since layers not only distort the message but increase the number of time something has to be conveyed before the right meaning comes through. Shortness- well it is possible at times and most brands do manage to talk about their personality through a phrase and in around 3 words or less.
The basic purpose of branding was to differentiate one from another and somehow each time we talk about branding opportunities or brand manuals; it somehow seems dominated by visual aids.  I will not deny that the moment I think branding, my mind starts working on use of shapes, fonts, colours and trying to figure out a unique arrangement for talking about the brands persona. One possible reason I see is that an organisation needs to have an identity to start with business and the logo becomes the first point of establishing this. Another that shapes and colours are usually easy to identify. But once the brand has reached a level where it looks to hold a unique place in the minds of its consumers, other aspects like catch word phrases or audio mnemonics make more impact.
One problem I see with visual identities is the overcrowding of the space leaving very little scope for anything innovative. Indian or multinational large corporate groups seem to have sided with blue as a colour of choice. GE, Philips, Samsung, AT&T, Infosys, Tata, Ashok Leyland are just a few examples. Close on the heels is red. Coca Cola, 3M, Honeywell, Cannon, Virgin, ESPN, LG, Mahindra are just some who make this space. Not to mention how many use a combination of Red and Blue. So unless you have a yellow like DHL or the brown of UPS; the colour palette is running out fast. For symbols, the ‘H’ can be for Honda or Hyundai; the ‘T’ can be Toyota or Tata. The call is to make a breakthrough at some level.
If we look globally, most companies have picked up on catch phrases. The simplicity being that use of small words can have multiple meanings and endless possibilities to apply across the domain.  For instance Nike- They use the swoosh and ‘N’ as the identity on the shoes, but what the brand will today stand for is - ‘Just do it’. So what would be ‘Impossible is nothing’- the biggest competitor with the 3 stripes or 3 petal flower, Adidas. So why do brands so successful in their visual look for words as a part of its identity? I feel these simple words add in value. As much it works for brands abroad, it works in India as well. Things like ‘Utterly, butterly, delicious’, ‘Fill it, shut it, forget it’, ‘Taste the thunder’, all have a unique association in our minds.
Another sense which has been successful in terms of brand association is sound. Each time we switch on or turn off a Windows based PC, we hear a sound which we are so familiar with. We know what PC has an Intel inside it even on a radio ad. Nokia sound in a unique way; so does Samsung. It works so well that major phone networks in India like Airtel, !dea, DoCoMo all have a unique mnemonic sound to identify itself. Even Britannia and the corporate house like Reliance ADAG have an audio identity.
I guess these are a few brands where I felt it was just small and simple ways where brands have done things to just stand apart and make their presence felt. I’m sure there are many more- but then again; what works in my opinion is the simplicity in messaging to represent the brand in the most unique of ways and cut down the clutter. And more often than not the KISS works.