If we strip it down, building big brands followed a similar path in the past. Its either through fantastic advertisements or through a fantastic innovation.
But if we want to build a big brand today, are these the two roads available to us?
Well, pinpointing the road is one thing. But taking that long stretch and inviting customers to run along with you enthusiastically in the same road is not only difficult, but at times impossible.
Suppose you take the first road – building big brands through big bucks and big advertising. There are some great obstacles to overcome
A. Customers are turned off by advertising. They filter out what they dont want to hear
B. Media is getting cluttered and fragmented
C. Making fantastic ads is not only difficult to the point of impossible, its also very expensive.
D. Among the Interbrand Top 100 brands, only 1 brand out of 100 has built a new brand through mass media advertising. Only 1. And thats America On Line (AOL) which itself is facing troubled times.
Therefore mass media advertising is not the road for us to build a big brand. Its official. Marlboro Man is going into hiding.
In the same way road 2 is also difficult. Creating fantastic products through innovation is highly expensive and a slow process. It takes years of R&D cost and time – something very few of us can afford.
Now if both advertising and R&D innovation is unavailable to us, what should we do?
The way out is just looking to add layers of value in the peripheral products. These are small additions or upgrades in the product that does not take much R&D cost, just a few idea generating sessions.
Through this kind of additions, you can create small incremental value which will differentiate you from the pack. If you are a candy maker, create a different kind of packaging that does not exist. If you are an airlines, introduce an in-flight entertainment service that will create a customer pull. If you are a radio channel, create programs that are not available in other channels.
None of these small, new things are hard to find. In fact, most of us are brimming with such resourceful ideas. In future, these small ideas will make the difference. Not Big Innovations. Not Big Advertising.