Wanna Avoid McDonaldization of Your Brand? Here’s the Trick…

Litmus Branding
by Litmus Branding  |  20th May, 2013 in Buzz

Use your knowledge of your consumer to expand your proposition, re-invent if need be, for a new consuming class

When O&M had to craft a compelling story for Tata Sky + HD, a set-top-box that comes with a recording feature, the creative team felt stumped with the viewers response – “But who has time to watch TV?”

That set them thinking – how were they to sell a recording feature to reluctant consumers who did not want to admit that they were consuming TV?

Hectic brainstorming later, the creatives decided to flip the proposition and shift the user imagery from ‘people who don’t want to miss TV’ (An image that today’s busy Indians do not want to be saddled with) to ‘people who don’t have the time to watch TV’ in order to create a positive image for the brand in the minds.

That’s how the new Tata Sky + HD TVC got to tell these busy Indians that if they didn’t have the time for TV, that’s exactly why they should have a Tata Sky + at home, so they can record their programmes when they are on the go. The insight led to the birth of Tata Sky’s ‘jail break’ campaign that introduces the concept of ‘appointment TV.’

Let’s face it – it never pays to argue with the consumer. He is always right. But you can still play the Devil’s advocate and flip the research to dig deeper into what the consumer wants, before you set out to pitch your brand to him.


Effective branding is knowing the consumer both vertically and horizontally

When you McDonaldize your brand, meaning you allow your brand to be influenced by the ‘sameness syndrome’ while refusing to bend to the needs to new set of consumers, you unwitting let it fall by the wayside and it gradually phases out from the market.

It’s good to have a steady, loyal consumer base but in order to grow out of a saturated market and take your brand to other untapped customers, you need to expand horizontally.

At Litmus, we do this in three easy steps:

• We acquire an in-depth intimate knowledge of the target consumer
• We use this knowledge to identify other knowledge gaps
• Translate all this knowledge into compelling stories, pictures and words for the untapped consumers

One example: In the 90s, Cadbury Dairy Milk was essentially a kids’ brand. It tried to woo adults but failed simply because adult Indians were more addicted to the sweetmeats of Haldiram and Ghastiram. The chocolate maker then tried to launch a ‘chocolate-flavoured’ methai but failed a second time.

Finally, it launched the famous “Kya Swaad Hai” campaign that had a pretty girl, slipping past the security cordon while dancing her way to her blushing boyfriend, who had just struck a sixer!

The spontaneity in the girl’s gig caught everybody’s eye and the rest was easy – “Kuch meetha ho jayee” – on Diwali and Raksha-Bandhan and the sale of Cadbury chocolates caught on like never before!

Stay salient; stay relevant

Fact is that with changing needs, brands need to change too. Staying faithful to the traditional core can make a brand irrelevance, while on the other hand; spreading itself thin can lead to brand incoherence. Sustained growth requires a continuous search for redefining your core; staying faithful to tradition, yet kicking in modernity to keep the brand fresh, relevant, well-differentiated and credible in a changed market.

A case in point is Krafts’ Oreo Brand. America’s “Best Loved Cookie” is not the same that you get in China; and the one you get in China does not taste the remotest bit like it tastes in India – the taste has been completely compromised to meet the demands of the local palate, i.e. make it less bitter and more creamy for two of the world’s largest consumer markets. Had they not done that, they would have been obliterated from the market, faster than they set foot in it.

Similarly, when Starbucks opened in China it was quick to realize that coffee was not essential to the brand’s core proposition in the dragon country, where they line up at Starbucks for cold refreshments. Quick to respond, the brand promptly dropped “coffee” from the Starbuck logo.

Likewise, NIL tried to introduce Maggi 2 Minute Noodles in 1982 but failed, until the apple dropped. Instead of pitching it as packaged food, Nestle started pushing Maggi 2 Minute Noodles as a ‘convenience product,’ or a ‘fun’ product for mom and kids, with the taglines, ‘Fast to Cook Good to Eat’ or ‘Mummy, bhookh lagi hai’ (Mom, I’m hungry), ‘Bas 2-Minute,’ (Only 2 minutes) – that goes pat with the new brand positioning.

The bottom line – brands must be elastic, like rubber bands and bend to the needs of the changing consumers if they are to stay relevant and grow in a saturated market.

Litmus Branding

Litmus makes your brand accessible to your target consumer. While retaining elements of mystique, we strive to build lasting rapport and trust between brands and consumers through strategic creative thinking.

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