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Goafest 2017: Laura Ries talks about brand building and need to stay focussed

The President of Ries & Ries said words are no longer able to get space in the consumer’s mind and one needs a visual hammer to make an impact

Laura Ries

Day three of Goafest 2017 kicked off with a session by marketing expert, author and the President of Ries & Ries, Laura Ries, where she talked about brand building. Talking about the need to stay focussed, she said a brand cannot be everything for everybody. In marketing, one wins or loses inside the mind of the prospect, not because of the product.

Emphasising the importance of having a ‘visual hammer’, she said, “Positioning is difficult today, there is too much noise in the market. You need a visual hammer.” Words are no longer able to get space in the consumer’s mind. One needs visuals and that becomes a visual hammer. Elaborating it, Ries said, “Positioning means filling a hole in the consumer’s mind and not just communicating.”

Giving example of a BMW ad by the brand long time ago, she said that the car company at that time tried to sell all the qualities by talking about having a unique combination of luxury performance and handling and being amazingly being on fuel. The brand could not perform well because it did not focus on one thing and sold everything. Later on, when it changed its strategy to become ‘The ultimate driving machine’, the brand became the largest-selling vehicle.

Ries said it is important to focus on one thing than talking about everything. “If you try to be everything for everybody you’ll please no one. Pick the one authentic thing about your brand.” Ries finds Kingfisher as one god Indian brand that has used the visual hammer in the best possible manner.

Ries said it is very difficult to enter the mind of the consumer and the best way to enter is “With a single word or a concept”. The danger with celebrities as visual hammer aids is that they are human and bound to make mistakes.

Further moving on, Ries talked about nine ways to create a visual hammer. By focussing on one aspect at a time and not talking about everything, a brand can become big. The nine hammers are shape, colour, product, package, action, founder, symbol, star and animal. She gave various examples of brands that have become big by focussing on a single point for years.

For example, National Geographic channel is known by its rectangular logo. McDonald’s is known for its golden arches. Absolut Vodka is known for its packaging, while one recognises KFC by the symbol that has its founder’s image on it. Like this, she gave a few more examples of all the qualities the brand should focus and concluded the session.

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