Brands today are confronted with the challenge of managing multiple consumer touchpoints and cutting through the clutter of communication and experiences. With factors such as standardisation of product offering, price point wars and alternatives due to digital disruption, there has been a decline in consumer loyalty.
So how can one still create an impact on consumers?
GroupM’s recent TYNY report stated that brands to gain loyalty need to go beyond traditional norms of marketing and create a culture around themselves. This can only happen when brands become content creators and start building unique IPs both in the online and offline world.
“The brand has to stand for some relatable values and culture. It should have the culture as the unifying theme across all consumer touchpoints and communication, thus building a relationship with their consumers. This though is easier said than done, building an IP surely allows the brand to create experiences and communication that can be controlled and built over time,” said Ashwin Padmanabhan, President-Partnerships and Trading at GroupM.
Over the past few years, a handful of brands have successfully leveraged their IPs, connecting with customers on multiple levels.
Whether it is P&G’s Shiksha or Lifebuoy’s Help a Child Reach 5, brands have leveraged the properties to reach out to communities building patrons for themselves. At the other end of the spectrum, Myntra’s Fashion Superstar or McDowell’s No.1 Luxury Soda’s No1 YAARI JAM are other classic examples of brands building their own circle of loyal audiences, online.
“To cut the clutter and be memorable and have repeat purchases and consumption, building a unique IP always helps set you apart, protecting your brand culture. You actually move from an undifferentiated commodity to a differentiated brand and can be regularly consumed across generations rather than occasional consumption. The consumers then live the brand and not just consume it tangibly but also intangibly,” said Jagdeep Kapoor, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants.
Brands need to create auras for themselves. This can be best done not through top-down advertising, but through the process of creating positions, stories, myths and cultures around themselves, suggested Harish Bijoor, Founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
Experts said that trust and loyalty for a brand is built on consistently delivering to the promise. Leveraging relatable values and IPs will build consideration and trials but of course in the end, it is the experience of the product or service that lives up to the promise.
Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, said that creating an IP increases the tangible value of the brand.
“Earlier advertising used to build the brand, but now in the physical environment where the brand is not in the control of its complete narrative, it is important to find that complete narrative. The fundamental focus of any brand is to create loyalty which creates a certain amount of affinity. If a brand is creating an IP, it is increasing its tangible value,” he said.
Building brand IPs requires a long-term commitment
“Culture and IPs take time to build and gain prominence in the consumer’s mind, and thus it requires long-term commitment and so it is always prudent to build the IPs on the brand’s core values,” said Padmanabhan.
Any brand-building exercise is usually considered to be for the long term.
“You want consumers to get married to your brand and not just flirt with it,” Kapoor said.
Sridhar Ramanujam, CEO, Brand-Comm, advised brands to have a long-term perspective while creating IPs having a customer-centric approach.
Such IPs are considered where consumers usually start associating themselves with. And, therefore, it is important for the brands to keep giving experiences one after the other, said Sujit Patil, VP and Head, Corporate Communications at Godrej Group.
As more and more brands are becoming socially aware of their environment, culturally responsible and investing in creating meaningful experiences for their consumers, experts feel more brands will follow this league.
The attention span has gone for a toss. It's really important to engage with people in an immersive, authentic manner through a set of communities which gives brands a better bang for the buck rather than just plain vanilla advertising. Thus, Patil said it has become more important for the brands to create their own IPs to better control their own narrative and build communities of advocates.
He added, “It is just not a fad or a trend, it is here for a reason and it is going to stay.”
How to find a suitable IP genre for the brand?
A few companies were already doing it over the decades but a lot many have woken up to this now.
Roshan Abbas, Managing Director at Geometry Encompass, said the brands that offer products with high touch and feel with high engagement are much suitable for creating their own IPs.
Apart from this, brands need to first find a purpose and if the purpose intersects with the culture, then there is something to create, he said.
Each category is different and, therefore, brands need to understand the unfulfilled needs and aspirations of consumers. Then they have to build a relevant brand culture through brand personality with a unique IP, suggested Kapoor.
But Padmanabhan believes that categories are not a barrier, all it requires is absolute commitment and complete focus on the values and culture the brand wants to create, which means discipline.
However, Abbas feels creating an IP is not the only way for a brand to create a culture around itself.
“Brands can also invest in people who are culture creators. This is the oldest form to associate with well-known personalities. Brands should also listen to customers rather than just going and creating IPs,” he advised.