Saturday, August 02, 2008


Branding Education

Branding Education and Educational Institutions

By Harish Bijoor

Q: What is the one big trend you see in the branding of educational institutions? And what are the mantras one must never forget in the branding of education?

- P Vasuki, Chennai

A: Vasuki, the one big trend I see is the verticalisation of what’s on offer. Take management education for instance.

There are programs that focus on Medical Management, Engineering Management, Construction Management, Petroleum Management, Technology Management and a whole lot of such stuff.

If I am to put down my mantras while branding the education segment, they would be the following seven sutras:

1. Integrity branding: say only what is true
2. Lack of hype: don't build your education brand as if it is a panty hose!
3. Do not advertise: When you do, it means you are touting. Don't tout
4. Follow Bottom up branding and not top-down: Let your work speak for itself
5. Invest heavily into the pedagogics...never mind the returns.
6. Patience: it takes all of 6-9 years to build education brands in India
7. Focus at two ends. The first must be the end of the Recruiter who will absorb your students. The second: the student population.

Q: There is a young and empowered segment of the population in ‘New India’ that is young, different and buying all the time. How would you typify them?

-JS Singh, New Delhi

A: Singh-'saab', typifying anyone and anything is a mistake we must never do in Marketing.

However, the segment you are talking about is really the cusp-generation between the 30 plus Gen and the Teenage generation of today. I call it the cusp-age group.

This group is essentially one that has not seen hardship at all. It is a group that was born into a reasonably comfortable era. This group is all about having seen a self-sustaining economy at large all around it. This group did not have to wait for their home phones to be connected after six years and their father's scooter being bought after a wait of 8 years in the queue.

I also call this generation the “Commode generation”. Particularly the young gen. in the twenties and below, in most urban areas is one that has never used the squatting type of Indian toilet at all. This gen. starts its morning sitting on the commode...without the strain and pressure that one has to take while sitting on the haunches.

This generation's world view is therefore of the Commode Generation, which is shaped by little or no discomfort at all!

This gen. of 21-30 is therefore a very hungry for achievement generation. Whether it be in urban areas or rural, there is a hunger to get going fast. Everything is also expected in a jiffy. Therefore, in my book, I call this gen. the "Scratch-card" generation as well. A generation of young people who want everything fast...even at the scratch of a card. Increments need to happen every quarter, and incentives must be on the spot. They do not know the joy of delayed gratification at all!

Some realms that distinguish them then:

1. Politics: This gen is politically insensitive. The key issues that haunted India, which actually engineered a high degree of political awareness in the past, have literally vanished here. This gen is not a gen that loves to vote even!

2. Spending pattern:
Very hedonistic in spends. Still value-seeking. This gen will buy their crystals from a Swarovski store...and then drive into a Big Bazaar to do the family's grocery shopping. It will splurge in some arenas and will not in some.

3. Consumptiveness
: Highly consumptive. Eat more brands, drink more brands and wear more brands. Labels mean a lot to this generation. It has convinced itself that the brand means high quality even. Never mind the price!

3. Films: Realism is in. Relationship spectrums are non-limiting in behavior patterns of this young gen.

This gen. operates on a reasonably quick swing on what I call the” love-hate pendulum” for brands and relationships equally. They will like a brand for a short while and then move to hating the same brand even. Much quicker in this movement than the generation before them. More mercurial.

There is very little patience. This young gen., by the time they have reached the age of 30 have an experience profile that is exciting in a multi-tasking life. They have been through thousands of emails, thousands of sms messages, many hundred hours of gaming and Internet experience on the whole.
This gen. wants to move fast. Things it likes, it refreshes. Things it does not, it deletes!

This is how much I will typify. No more. And no less.

The new Tata tea commercial is different. It is a take on social issues. Why?

- Rachna Sood, Mumbai

A: Rachna, tea is a fundamental and old category of beverage in India. The category of tea is quite like detergent, soap and sundry other old categories that have seen advertising inputs for decades.

Any category that has gone through the wringer of advertising for as long as these categories have, boredom sets in.

Tea is a mother category today which has tried advertising executions related to USP's that are functional, emotional and even surreal. Now, when everything is exhausted, it is time to try something new.

The "new" I am talking about is socially relevant macro advertising that has little or sometimes even nothing with the product at hand. In the case of Tata Tea, this macro stance is the heightened awareness of the Indian and his necessary involvement in how the land is governed.

The insight to understand is the fact that a people in society are largely concerned about themselves initially. As society grows in terms of economic upheavals of the positive kind, people get involved in issues that are of a larger consequence, such as socially conscious issues.

Surf tried this a couple of years ago with the "Do bucket paani bachana hai" campaign and later did an execution with Lifebuoy soap as well.

The advertising hopes to stir up a discussion...and the discussion is hoped to get a recall of the brand.

Such advertising is good for recall, but not too good in terms of anything much else.

Brands such as Tata Tea are essentially looking at maintaining their market shares with such advertising, and not necessarily increasing shares.

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.


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