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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Communicating a Rebranding...

Bangalore was rechristened Bengalooru, Madras to Chennai and Calcutta to Kolkata. We do not know if this list is saturated. We do not even know if it has crossed the nascent stage. What we know is things have happened, and the transition has been gradual but steady. While we still struggle to acclimatise ourselves to Bengalooru, we are pretty ok with Kolkata, or so is the case with me!

These to me are all several cases of Rebranding. To build a Brand is one thing, and to rebrand it is another. It is like rediscovering self. It is like reinventing the basic premise of your product, and communicating it to the customer. The biggest challenge of a rebranding exercise, according to me, lies in the fact that the consumer must be communicated both the things that your product hasn't changed, but its name has changed. The consumer must not just realise this, but the earlier name of the product must be erased entirely from the consumer's mind.

Hindustan Unilever Ltd. did it efficiently for Super 501 and Rin Shakti. Both of them were big brands in themselves, but HUL used its trump card of Rin Supreme to erase these names from the consumer mindspace. But, that is an entirely different thing because Rin has always been lapped up more happily by an average Indian Consumer than Super 501 or Shakti. The garb of Rin Advanced meant Super 501 customers felt they were now buying Rin at the same price, which means a superior brand at the same old price and Shakti was anyway just a tag. Shakti or Advanced dint make quite a big difference to the product. To put it in a nutshell, Shakti and Super were brands, while Rin is a Brand. To understand this statement, you need to read Strategic Brand Management by Keller.

Coming to another end of rebranding, we all know Hutch was a big Brand in India, thanks to its advertisements and the curiosity factor they always maintained. Now, Hutch has been taken over by Vodafone. I would save the acquisition for someone else to post upon, and focus on their rebranding. I always wonder what it would take to reinvent Hutch, what it would take to erase Hutch from the minds of Indian consumer. This is more relevant because Hutch entered Indian markets not just as a telephone operator, but as an aggressive and innovative advertiser. Most of us know and prefer Hutch more for its ads! The Brand Hutch rang in the kid, the pug even before coverage and Value Added Services.

So, obviously when Vodafone wanted to change the name of Hutch to Vodafone, we were all waiting for the huge makeover, and it has finally happened. And how is it? Vodafone has gone on a 'no stone left unturned' effort to make sure Hutch is properly rechristened Vodafone in the minds of Indian consumer. Vodafone might be a great Brand globally, but in India, it is a newbie! To ensure they register themselves properly in the Indian minds, they have done something we have never seen. They have monopolised Star Network for 24 hours with their ads. The rebranding exercise is speculated to last another two months.

Is this costly? Something very much unlike what HUL did with Rin? The obvious answer would have been a Yes. But, according to sources it isn't. The expenditure is announced to be much lesser than the speculated Rs. 500 Cr. Given the multi billion dollar deal, this definitely isnt a big deal for Vodafone to come up with what it wants! The CAS rule that applies to Star Network could also be a reason behind this. Earlier, companies like HUL have demanded upto 35pc discount from Star TV for the same reason.

Now, the million dollar question would be 'Will the overkill of ads kill the brand?' I feared it would. It doesn't seem so. My mom, whose instincts I believe, told me today it wasn't too much of a burden. With her being a big fan of Star Network, am sure many others would feel so too! I haven't watched it on tv, so I cannot comment personally, but I look forward to what people think about it.

I have seen the ad though, on youtube. It seems interesting, and intelligent. If you ask me why, I would say it is because they have cleverly maintained the thread of Hutch in the ad. Hutch entered the market with a pug and a kid, with an orange color logo. When the logo was later changed to pink, the logo was subsided and the kid and pug maintained to keep the brand recall high. Now, to change it to Vodafone, they have maintained the pug, and focussed on it long enough for the customer to realise it is a Hutch ad, and then said 'Change is Good'. To a Manager, this is THE golden gospel. So, my ethics tell me it is good! :P Though the charisma of this ad doesn't match up to older ads, it sure appeals!

To what extent, to how many people and for how long is to be seen. Will the pug turn out to be the 'lambi race ka ghoda' for Vodafone?! Wait and watch...

PS: Will Vodafone cancel all the pending payments customers owe to Hutch? ;) Not to worry though, am a Reliance loyalist! :D

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6 Comments:

At September 23, 2007 1:20 AM, Blogger Saraswathi said...

Talking of re branding i remember recently the uti bank which re-named itself(if amn't wrong). Oh rebranding could be as tough as branding cos ppl have to get accustomed to the new name.

I dint know abt the Hutch-Vodafone deal. Watched the ad on youtube. Seems good!!

 
At September 23, 2007 3:14 AM, Blogger Joshua said...

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Some feel invaded and ofended that I present myself this way in their blogs and rudely insult me back or post a mockery post on me.
Some think I'm playing the smart guy who wants to profit, in my miserable and ridiculous gain with Adsense (go figure!), from and with others curiosity and benevolence.
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Some aknowledge that It's most important we all take notion that there's milions of us bloguing arownd the world and thus vital any kind of awareness such as I believe this my self-introduction card and insert apeal brings in.

May you be one of those open and friendly spirits.

You must not feel obliged to come and visit me. An invitation is not an intimation. Also know that if you FOR A SECOND click on one of my ads I'm promised to earn a couple of cents for that: I would feel happy and rewarded (because I realy unemployedly need it!!!) if you did click it FOR A SECOND, but once again you're totaly free to do what ever you want. I, for instance, choose immediatly to click on one of your ads, in case you have them. To do so or not, that's the whole beauty of it all, however, blogocitizens must unite also by clicking-helping eachother when we know cybermegacorporations profit from our own selfishness regarding to that simple click.

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Still I believe in my Work and Dreams and thus
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And of apeal.

So you think this is begging and begging is ugly?
So you think this is just copy/paste and ignoring what you've posted?
Think what you like: begging or not this is my form of self-presentation.
You can allways ignore me,
ignore this apeal and give me shit.

But do not bore to come and moralize me back.

 
At September 27, 2007 5:23 PM, Blogger Sangeetha said...

The Rin Supreme observation was very good. I feel re-branding is tougher than branding, since you need to replace people's mindspace with a new brand. And Vodafone did it really well. Ya, as Saras pointed out, even Axis Bank did a lot of Marketing for its rebranding, but might not have been as impactful as Vodafone.

One commendable thing is that the marketers don't take Indian consumers for granted anymore. They do make an effort to re-brand and communicate it well to the consumer. Earlier, it was assumed by default - like GTB - OBC(agreed it was due to other reasons, but still the consumer needs to be communicated!).

Another example of bad re-branding was Tata Indicom. They never really educated the consumer about the new name - Indicom. The consumer remembered the Mobitel for a long time even after the change in the name.

P.S. What is this blogg (the extra 'g' is intentional :D) spamming? looks like 69 marketing is really catching up :P

 
At October 01, 2007 1:27 AM, Blogger desh said...

nicely put up
anyway reliance itself had its rebranding exercise following the ADA swing...and i must say they have come a long way from sehwaag ki maa

axis bank campaign was noticable on our fav radio city, with a rajni sir copycat doin the same :)

rebranding is a tuff act, i am not sure thgh why did they go from orange to pink, and now its red...althhg ppl wud identify vodafone with man-u tshirts a couple of yrs ago, it still aint a knwn brand

pug ad is nice tgh

 
At October 01, 2007 1:40 AM, Blogger ~Amod~ said...

Yeah,all correct! :) Quite relevant points. Bengalooru sounds so weird but we don't have an option!

As UTI(or rather Axis) bank says, "Everything is same, except the name"!!

Will Vodafone cancel all the pending payments customers owe to Hutch?

I think yes! Why not?

 
At October 24, 2007 5:05 PM, Blogger Rahul said...

I don't like the switch to Vodafone :( now they don't make ads hutch style. screw the brand :(

 

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