When I think about the iconic consumer brands of independent India, there are a few names that have remained timeless.
Amul springs to mind immediately. "Utterly-Butterly Delicious" almost became synonymous with butter and the Amul girl was the first brand mascot that every Indian household could relate to. "Hamara Bajaj" did the same for the two wheeler industry.
I bet the mere mention of these punch lines spontaneously invoked a visual image in your mind. Have you ever spared a thought as to why that happened? Besides being pushed down your brain cells every 12 minutes on television, there is a far deeper reason why we these tunes remain etched in our memory. They come to mind because of the story that these carefully and professionally constructed ads told us. With a combination of melodious background music, scenic views and relatable visuals, these commercials were able to leave a lasting impact on us.
Building a successful and sustainable brand goes much beyond ads and jingles... It also includes telling your brand stories in a way that the customer identifies with.
In Amul's case, the story was that their product was a healthy food supplement with a taste that will make you fall in love. The image of the healthy and perennially happy Amul Girl reinforced the message the company was trying to weave. In Bajaj's case, it was important to combine the attributes of their product with the growing aspirations of the average Indian middle class in a way that also provided a connect with their day-to-day lives. The Bajaj commercials successfully portrayed the scooter as the new style statement, a cost-effective means of travel and a must for every Indian middle-class family. Perfect story telling!
Building a successful and sustainable brand however goes much beyond ads and jingles. It includes every little thing including the customer experience before and after the sale, presentation of the product or service, as well as consistent and structured communication in the form of advertising and PR. It also includes telling your brand stories in a way that the customer relates to or identifies with. In the above cited examples, both ads flawlessly told stories of two brands which care about you and therefore endure and evolve with you.
A compelling story which ticks all the above boxes has the ability to not only build your brand but also to transform it from a "me too" to an "only me" brand. With the dawn of digital consumerism, new dimensions are opening up in the form of communication platforms, tools and techniques. Though the basics of brand-building through compelling visual story-telling remain the same, the need to differentiate your brand from the rest has become more important than ever in today's crowded marketplace.
Although Amul and Bajaj initially never had to think about telling their brand stories through Facebook and Twitter, today they need to tie-in all their communication into various platforms to convey their messaging. A regressive organisation might look at it as additional work while a progressive one will look at it as opportunity to transform a legacy brand into one for present and future customers.
So will we see the Amul Girl going digital and responding to health queries through a dedicated Twitter and Facebook page? Only time will tell.
Traditional or digital, the rules of storytelling haven't changed much -- you still need powerful visuals and a notion that connects with the audience. Marketers even today need to focus on listening and accordingly designing their brand story.
Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words. Let your visuals tell your story.