Saturday, June 02, 2012


Branding Apartments

Branding Buildings

By Harish Bijoor

Q: I have put together a brand recently. This is a brand of apartments. The first set of 206 apartments is up and occupied. How do I build my brand further?
-Gopi K Geddam, Hyderabad

A: Gopi, the traditional in-the-box marketing and advertising guys will tell you to build a brand and advertise and advertise. I will not.
Instead, there is plenty you can do.  For a start get inclusive. Get inclusive not only about the community you serve as buyers and owners and tenants, but get inclusive about helping out and catering to the community around. Get green as well. Ensure that every opportunity to plant green and save green is capitalized upon. Embrace, adopt and propagate water harvesting with passion. Again not within your complex alone, but all around the local community you build in. Be the most benign name in a radius of at least 3 kilometers from your building for a start. Stretch out and reach out. I do believe the basic mantra of being inclusive, being concerned and being green, is a good universal stance to embrace.

 This will do you good. It will get you the blessings you deserve. In the beginning these are small and quiet little blessings. I know you are a builder or an apartment in business and not a builder in the realm of charity. But be patient. These small little blessings have a way of correcting your brand Karma. They have a sweet little habit of converting into what we call "positive collective goodwill". And this positive collective goodwill has a habit of converting into a positive brand appeal. Your future consumers will come from this very community. Today they may look poor and impoverished. Tomorrow is however theirs! Try it.

Q: In this day and age when your competition comes from everywhere, irrespective of geography, how do you compete?

-Mallika Pishe, Pune

A: Mallika, that is the new reality. Customers come from everywhere.

Customers, in the age-old days (and by that I mean fifteen years ago) had a geography. Today, all that is history. Geography is totally irrelevant as far as your customer is concerned. Your customer is your neighbor, the little-girl who lives down the lane, that stodgy old lady you don't know at all but who lives in your city, that goofy guy who lives ten thousand kilometers away, and whose only identity is his Twitter id and his credit card verification slip that says he is an ok customer to deal with.

Just as the very definition of your market has expanded exponentially, shattering issues relating to geography, access and distance, the very nature of competition has itself morphed. Today, your competition comes not from the neighborhood kirana shop, but might as well come from an e-Kirana on e-bay.  Technology in many ways has evened it all out. We are now nearly touching the theoretical state of Pure Competition all of us learnt in our early Economics classes.

The key prescription for getting customers is the ability to brand and stand out. The first need is brand image. Brand image in many ways is the window through which your customer will peek into your offering. Opening this window wide enough and keeping it open for enough number of customers to peek in, is the primary task at hand.  The prescription to sustain these customers within the brand is that much more complex. It is all about the excellent experience your brand will need to provide against any other. It is about the quality you offer, and the customer delight you wear on the sleeve of your brand. Your brand must not only promise this, your brand must deliver this as well. Not once, but every time. The best and highest norms of customer service excellence is the next cutting edge property your brand must develop, deliver and sustain.

Q: Can exclusivity help a brand? The strategy of making something limited and very inaccessible even?
-P Hari Madhavan, New Delhi.

A: Hari, exclusivity has a purpose. Exclusivity shuts out many from the buying class. Exclusivity creates snob appeal and literally bears a virtual signboard outside to many that says, "Do not enter". This is a tactic really, and not part of brand strategy. It works sometimes. But fails mostly. Gone are the days of snob appeal. Brands need to be as real as their consumers are. Brands cannot afford to alienate themselves into a narrow dark corner of their own creation.

Brands need to be more broad-spectrum and open today. Today is a different day and age. Even snob appeal needs to be broad-based.

Q: What will FDI in retail do to small Mom and Pop stores in India?

-Kevin Mendiratta, Mumbai.

A: Kevin, this is a big question and requires a big, deep and long answer. But I will not do that. Let me cut the chase head right to the end meat of it all.

Very simply put: there is bound to be a progressive aggregation of trade in retail. This means mom and pop stores that operate within a radius of 3 Kms of the big outlet will become non-competitive. But the biggest joy is that India is just too big. We are a nation of 14.6 million retailers. Mom and Pop stores will still remain relevant and will still remain the ones who reach into the gut of the Indian market.

Everyone will therefore survive. Some will thrive more than others, and some will be just snuffed out, but then that is Retail Darwinism at play. Ouch.

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3 Bedroom Apartments Chennai

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