What is this branding?
I am a consumer, have been one since the 80s. I have seen simpler times. I remember growing up with one simple bar of soap that used to come in our monthly groceries, and I remember waiting for those few special times in the year (mostly one or two) when I would sashay my way around shops and get to buy clothes. My breakfast used to be mostly home cooked meal made by my mum but in times of urgent needs I ate only one type of cereals (cornflakes) or bread with Kissan mixed fruit jam. Every week, I used to wait for that one day that my favorite show used to be aired on the TV, and for 5:30 pm every day, when I used to watch the show “Small Wonder” on Star TV if I was done with my homework.
Life was indeed simpler. One of everything.
Maybe I lived in a very confined environment, and maybe I speak for only a part of India, but still, life would have been simpler for all.
I come from a beautiful small city of India, the kinds that occupy majority of India.
Today my life is very different. I go to the supermarket and have choice of so many brands of even milk, even meat and don’t even ask about the shampoos. I am never able to figure out what works best with my hair. If one day you get sick and go to the medical counter to buy cough syrups, the salesman will ask you which brand do you want. Classic paradox of choice.
This makes me think — is brand more important than the product itself?
Without doubt brand does affect our buying patterns, even if not in everything we buy. None of us knows which soap is actually good for us, ingredients on every one of them seems Greek and Latin, and we have not used the product before, so how do we decide? We decide based on that advertisement that interrupted us while watching Youtube video. Whether we like the product later also in part varies how convinced we are of the brand image. But yes, to keep the consumers engaged the product should be at least good if not exceptional.
Volvo is reliable, Dove is gentle, Nestle is like family, BMW is luxury — every brand has a character, which the company tries to push through in every one of its marketing messages across multiple channels, to get the image and its association stick into the consumer’s mind.
Brand is the perceived image of an entity, true or false. Yes, Branding is not everything, but it is definitely something.