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Sometime ago almost all textile brands were advertising in a similar fashion and if one just changed the brand name and logo, it would be difficult to make out the difference. Similarity could confuse the customer and because of that the consumer could refuse the brand. However when a couple of brands are able to create a separate brand identity and are able to cut the clutter, those brands succeed and are well accepted.

Today many celebrities endorse many brands causing confusion.

Many years ago there was a race amongst the 2 wheeler brands, both scooters and motor cycles, to show that they were able to give better mileage. Such was the intensity of the competition and such was the similarity of the milestones being shown, that a normal viewer would make a mistake between brands and could easily get confused. This could lead to comedy of errors with one brand advertising helping another competitor brand to sell.

During the dot com era, there were plenty of claims which were made which looked and sounded similar and the consumer found it difficult to comprehend. This keeps the consumer away from participating in the segment leading to many dot com brands becoming full stops.

It is important to be distinct and unique if a strong brand has to be built. Any haziness or lack of comprehension could actually see a wastage of resources with no compensating revenue. Infact, the clearer the identity the better is the chance for the brand to do well and enter the mind and heart of the consumer, thus leading to good sales.

There are 4 ingredients which are important to be used so that the customer is not confused and a unique and distinct identity is built for the brand.

The first ingredient is the name of the brand. Similar sounding names do not sell. The first brand with the distinct name continues to be the leader and the follower brands actually spend their money on advertising only to help increase the sale of the leader. It is not recommended to have similar names.

The second ingredient is that of Brand Positioning. After perceptual mapping is done, gaps should be found in the market place to make sure that your brand has distinct positioning.

Recently there is a whole set of consumer durable brands, who are trying to use the health platform. The first brand to use that positioning is gaining while the later ones may just be wasting their adverting money helping the first brand to grow.

Thirdly, similar packaging causes confusion and the consumer could rush to the safety of the tried and tested pioneer brand, thereby ensuring greater success to the pioneer while keeping away from the followers. Sometimes it may even be seen that all later brands may be spurious.

Fourthly, a Me-Too concept usually fails. This is because anything that is fresh in terms of an idea cuts the clutter, but other brands which copy it fall by the way side.

It is important to understand that when there is non-clarity there could be the consumer shying away from participating in the brand. This is because a brand stands for trust and when a consumer is confused a doubt creeps in keeping him away from the brand.

Many a time brand marketeer take a short cut by trying to copy other brands and walk the beaten path. This may seem easy in the beginning but could be disastrous for the brand because it could lose its way, because of the consumer being vary of trying it out.

There is an attempt by many brand marketeers to create fusion rather than giving a simple offering and communication in a creative manner. Fusion usually leads to confusion. And if the consumer is confused the brand is refused.

Brand marketeers must look at offering benefits, concepts, brand names, positioning, packaging as well as communications, which has its own distinct brand personality. This way the brand will win and would cut the clutter above the din.

Confusion usually arises either from the brand marketeerís end or from the consumerís end. In either case the responsibility is of the brand marketeer to make sure that there is clarity and distinct positioning and communication that the consumer understands. The consumer cannot be blamed for misunderstanding. It is the brand marketeerís responsibility to ensure that his marketing plan and his communication strategy is such that it leaves no scope for non understanding or misunderstanding.

Simplicity in the strategy works well which should be based on a deep consumer insight and on a sound product and packaging strategy. Brands that succeed are usually simple to understand, easy to use and also noticeable to be remembered. Making it easier for the consumer to consume the brand is an important responsibility of the brand marketer. Any kind of copying or similarity with other brands could lead to confusion and make the consumer hesitate in buying or they may make the consumer postpone his decision till he gets clarity.

I would strongly recommend that right from the brand name there should be a uniqueness in the proposition. If the brand name sounds or looks similar it has less chance of success.

The packaging and the product concept also should stand apart from the crowd of brands so that it is easily recognisable and has a character and personality which cannot be mistaken for any other brand. This makes the consumer sure that the brand that he is buying is the brand that he desires.

The positioning and the communication must not only have the relevant and credible benefits but it should also have the evidence and the proof to ensure not only trials but repeat purchases.

Many a time brand marketeers are in a hurry to replicate someone elseís success thereby creating confusion and actually helping the brand that they copied, to do well.

Herd instinct is not necessarily a good brand strategy to build your brand. While the same product segment may offer great opportunity, it would be prudent to approach it in a unique and distinct manner so that the brand personality stands tall amongst the rest. It may begin small initially but later on could become a mega brand. Therefore remember, donít confuse the consumer or he will refuse your brand.

The author is Brand Guru Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. Tel: 022 28597700/7701 Fax: 28597699 E-mail: jkapoor@samsika.com

Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved with Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd. No Part of this document may be modified, reproduced, stored, deleted or introduced in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (Electronic, Mechanical, Photocopying, Recording or Otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of the document )