The session touched upon the issue of ‘trust’ in brands, and how brand design and technology need to be harnessed to tap consumers
Neha Saraiya | Delhi | November 3, 2011
Living true to the saying ‘save the best for the last’, the concluding session of the day saw a healthy panel discussion on ‘Building brands in a trust deficit world’, with a high-powered panel comprising Robin Wight, President, Engine and WCRS; Vikram Sakhuja, GroupM, Chief Executive Officer, South Asia; Michael Boneham, President & Managing Director, Ford India, and Sandeep Ghosh, CEO, Bharti AXA Life Insurance.
Moderator Deepa Prahalad, Author & Business Strategist, opened the session with a presentation that summed up the two extremes of brand ‘trust’, laying emphasis on convergence of brand design and technology. She said, “Consumers are not looking for perfection, they are looking for decency.”
Then the session picked up momentum with Wight stressing on the area of ‘brain science’ and how it can illuminate issues related to brands. He asked, “What is the biological purpose of a brand?” and answered, “It is to enable consumers to make buying decisions.”
He elaborated, “The more you trust a brand, the less you need brain power to evaluate all the products.” Wight cited the example of the web, which he explained, was created by brains to find somebody else.
He also emphasised on ‘peer to peer marketing’, wherein consumers spread the message themselves. Then he showed a video, called ‘Awareness Test,’ that was spread by 14 million people.
Ghosh of Bharti AXA talked about different positionings, away from the clichés of advertising that the insurance player has imbibed in its marketing initiatives. He demonstrated the consumer insight based two TVCs of the company.
To make the topic clearer, Ford’s Boneham cited the example of Ford Figo. He highlighted two steps taken by the automobile giant to build the trust factor among its consumers. Firstly, he said, “The design element and the technology level are very important as we found that technology was a great differentiator.” So, the company has introduced Bluetooth in its products.
The second aspect, Boneham said, was the shift from brand ambassadors by the company. Citing the Figo example, he said the company had discovered drivers from Chennai who fetched a huge response, turning it finally into a TV commercial.
Taking the session forward, GroupM’s Sakhuja said, “Building brand trust in an attention deficit world should be point of the discussion. We have to start deconstructing what exactly brand commitment is about.”
Prahalad then flung the question to each of the panelists: “When does engagement lead to actual trust?”
Sakhuja respomded by highlighting the example of Pepsi’s various campaigns, and how the brand has evolved and experimented with the changing face of youth over the years.
Commenting about the bottomline, Wight said, “We should reposition ourselves as trust managers.”
Prahalad again quizzed the panelists on “What should brands never do to break trust?”
Wight suggested, “Brands should not make claims for what they are not.”
Boneham said, “It’s transparency and willingness to be open.”
According to Ghosh, “brands should remain humble. You should not lose humility.”
Towards the end, Sakhuja said, “The entire tool of talking to consumers has changed over the last decade. Integrate the old to new, don’t discard the old.”
Finally, Prahalad summed up the session saying, “We can see benefits of trust in terms of actual finance performance and preference of consumers.”