Friday, April 08, 2005

:: adgruntie :: Building brands or building parity?

+ Is advertising really building brands?
Today there are few companies that seem to focus on product differentiation and support it with brand communication. While companies think their products are well differentiated, very few consumers accept it. One reason could be that consumers don't find the differentiation relevant. Or the company may not be communicating this convincingly. Advertising that merely looks different from competition also is unlikely to succeed with the consumer. Which brings us back to the old maxim that for brand-building there must be a conceptual difference in the offering, which satisfies the consumer's latent or inner needs/ wants. And great advertising is one that clearly identifies this and convincingly conveys it to the consumer.

Great advertising may well be the only difference in a world of product and service similarities, the only difference between parity and uniqueness, between mediocrity and distinction, between failure and success. Great advertising may be the only real difference in a world where perceived parity has become reality.
In the article, Srinivasan K. Swamy, CEO of R K Swamy BBDO Pvt. Ltd. in India, uses life insurance as examples, but it is easy to see what he is talking about in almost every country and in a wide range of categories. Take body sprays for men for example. What's the difference between Tag, Axe/Lynx, and Old Spice Red Zone? The scent, most likely. And their advertising communicates only that it will get you laid- all of them. So the one thing that is different about them, is something they don't really discuss in their ads, which I suppose is understandable - it would be a hard thing to demonstrate or talk about.

But then shouldn't the concepts and the positioning of the advertisements be different from each other? Without the logo or mention of the brand, you should be able to tell one from another, and yet you cannot. Although it is easier to tell Old Spice from the others as their ads tend to be more tame than the other two. But it's still not different enough to make it stand out from the rest. And that in my opinion is bad marketing and bad advertising. Axe (and Lynx) was out first and so their strategy is ok. But for the other brands to make their strategy parity that of Axe is just not a smart move. All they are doing is increasing the parity of the brands...which even with parity brands advertising is supposed to help make them different and stand out.

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