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Book Review: Choosing A Brand

The book tells us how desire is a constantly evolving sentiment, however, there are basic sources that are said to instill desire for a brand — sensuality, surprise, authenticity, meaningfulness and social identity

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Ever wondered how Baba Ramdev’s brand Patanjali became one of India’s favourite brands in recent times with a turnover of over Rs 5,000 crore? How does a brand generate a sense of desire in the minds of the consumer and uphold it? In Brand Desire, Nicholas Ind and Oriol Iglesias discuss the answers to these questions and more. Various brand experts and consultancies have contributed their views on the elements that combine to mould a strong foundation to build brand desire.

While it was ascertained that an emotional connect to the brand is a given, other attributes such as clarity and distinctiveness of brand positioning, nostalgia of family and childhood, sensuality of experience, opportunity of participation and, most importantly the way a brand reflects who we are and what we may like to become were reasons for choosing a particular brand.

The book tells us how desire is a constantly evolving sentiment, however, there are basic sources that are said to instill desire for a brand — sensuality, surprise, authenticity, meaningfulness and social identity. Unlike previously, brands have evolved and have to stand for multiple things. Earlier Volvo stood for safety only, it is unlikely that the brand will survive in such a singular positioning currently. Today it is based on audience psychographics. If I am looking for a brand like Ferrari, the brand also needs to communicate its safety proposition apart from the speed aspect.

I recently shifted to a Google Pixel after 10 years of being an iPhone user. Apple has now lost its charm — this, for me, has been replaced by Google, which has a more superior story to tell. Google is an ecosystem — I own the Pixel, Wi-Fi, Day dream and other Google products. And after four months of using the Google Pixel, I am a content customer. It induces a feeling of certain exclusivity and direct connect — the legacy, features, design, craft, innovation, touch, heritage — affirming a sense of being and social imagery, also allowing me to enjoy the ‘process’ as much as the finished product and be a part of a larger association.

I truly believe we undervalue the ability of brands to facilitate identity creation and cater to an emotional need. However, often a change in time and context also marks a change in the object of desire. The authors interestingly create an analogy between the relationship of an individual with an individual and that of an individual with the brand — citing a similar behaviour and expectation pattern. Ironically, the book highlights how we want the same entity to satisfy two contrasting needs — that of security and consistency, yet novel and surprising.

While many like Sharp and AIDA have given their versions of what creates brand desire, the one that really sticks with you is Keller’s customer-based brand equity pyramid model with four stages. The first stage focuses on brand salience wherein communication is used to create awareness. The second stage comprises the brand meeting consumer needs from a performance, psychological and social perspective.

The third stage includes the brand creating a positive customer response on basis of their rational assessment and feelings and lastly the fourth stage is about the brand creating a close relationship with the customer. The strongest brands are those that are capable of developing and reinforcing their position at all levels of the pyramid.

For me, a major personal goal in life is seeking joy. Any brand, be it a product or service, that is sure to make me happy is something I will not think twice before investing in. I also believe that desire is created for a brand that seeks to solve a problem. I started Communicate 2 in 1997 because I felt that while digital marketing was big in America then, it wasn’t in India and that was an opportunity. Later I sold my company to a like-minded group, DAN, which innovates the way brands are built.

As per the authors, any brand has to have a mix of six drivers to be desired, even if in varying degrees — principles, leadership and culture, storytelling, innovation, experience and participation. The book gives a great example of the company Lego. Other cases in point are Royal Enfield, The Body Shop and the Tata Group or Maruti Suzuki closer home. As we move ahead, what will be crucial is to build memorable experiences in a digital environment — I am extremely excited about the possibility of AI and VR.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Vivek Bhargava

The author is CEO of DAN Performance Group, heading all the digital performance agencies of Dentsu Aegis Media

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