Abrand thinker and widely published writer and columnist, Kunal Vora is the Co-founder and Partner of ABND, a Mumbai-based branding agency that ranks among the top mid-size agencies in India and was recently awarded the country’s Best Brand Design Studio 2019 at the Pool Awards.
CB: What lies at the heart of branding? What precedes or follows the other — brand or branding? In other words, is brand a consequence of branding?
KV: Great question. As people, what we say, what we do, how we behave, what we wear, where we go, whom we associate with, and who we stay away from is an outcome of two things — one, what we truly are, our roots, our personality, and beliefs; and two, how we want the world to see us.
The same holds true for brands and branding — at the heart lies a purpose, an essence or a philosophy which ideally does not change, that truly is the brand. The physical manifestation of this soul to the world at large is branding, which often roots from who your target audience is and how you stack up against the competition.
Brands come first, then comes branding. However, branding is tangible — it is what you see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. And just like how what you wore, how you danced, and who you came with to the party last night leads to building a perception amongst your friends, branding does the same for brands.
CB: Advertising is one act, marketing yet another, although advertising is one of the most vital parts of marketing. However, great advertising and marketing needn’t necessarily make for a great brand. What makes for a great brand?
While branding, advertising, and marketing are three acts, they need to work cohesively. Like you rightly said, great advertising and marketing needn’t necessarily make for a great brand. They can ensure product sales and momentary memorability but may not always help build brand equity. Over the years we’ve all witnessed brilliant campaigns, which may have worked at a campaign level but neither contributed to brand building nor sales over time. Great brands are created over time, when a strong brand positioning derived from clearly understanding consumer and competition, becomes the guiding force for advertising and marketing.
CB: Tough choice. Yet, to your mind, what 10 brands could make it to the Top 10 from among Indian brands as we speak? And what has worked for those brands?
Of course, the instinctive answer to this question would be Tata Group, Mahindra, Reliance, Infosys, Wipro, and HCL. Some of the legacy brands have consistently stayed on top, while there are some of the new-age brands that are aggressively moving forward.India is expected to emerge as the largest consumer market by 2021, and this will be clubbed with a business ecosystem that is capable of meeting these demands.
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