Why brands must have a point of view
Anton Reyniers, Group Strategic Director, Ogilvy Indonesia
Cast your mind back to the last social event you attended. There’ll be some people you remember instantly, and others who you just can’t recall. It’s quite likely that those you remember had something to say – and strong reasons for saying it. They had a point of view.
As simple as it sounds, successful branding works in the same way. A brand with a point of view cuts through, clarifies and captures the essence of what makes it memorable.
In a fragmented and hyper-competitive world, there’s an enormous risk of simply not being noticed. A brand’s point of view is essential to building its distinctiveness. It’s what Byron Sharp attributes in part, to driving penetration. In Sharp’s seminal text ‘How Brands Grow’ (an essential wake-up call for everyone in the marketing profession) he states, “Marketing should build distinctive qualities that increase the visibility of the brand in its competitive environment.” This isn’t new, but it is sometimes forgotten. We think of distinct assets as logos, colours and symbols. But what about the point of view? It’s the point of view that sets a brand apart from its competitors, and it should be regarded as an essential element of brand growth.
In my view, having a point of view is a pretty big deal. It’s a bigger deal than, say, just arriving at a brand idea, positioning or a nicely wrapped USP. No. A point of view is different; it’s an attitude. A way of walking and talking, possibly polarising. It’s the lens through which the brand sees the world. It gives a meaningful reason to buy into it and drives growth.
It’s a point of view that has set the greats such as Nike apart. Since 1987, the brand’s point of view that, ‘there’s an athlete in all of us’ has inspired everyone to feel that we can find our greatness. Look through Nike’s advertising in the 90s, 2000s and 2010s. You’ll spot this view as the red thread in everything Nike does. And when you’re a brand sitting on 17.2 percent global share of the sportswear market, it’s quite clear you’ve been doing something right other than distribution and design.
A point of view is something that should live deep within the cultural corridors of a brand’s office and employees. Advertising is a great way to understand what brands think. However, if we look around the advertising landscape of Indonesia we don’t see many home-grown brands with a strong point of view. What we do see are plenty of approaches to the framing-up of a USP or that ‘consumption shot’. It would seem that the eagerness to show incredibly linear narratives that depict predictable product usage have eclipsed the deeper and more meaningful aspect of brand building. Where are Indonesian brands showing us their view on the world? It’s quite disheartening to hear that “the consumer won’t understand”, because that simply isn’t true.
Indosat Ooredoo is showing that when brands do start to embody strong points of view, they reap rewards. Its IM3 brand has taken the view that customers should be liberated from the restrictive rules that other telcos impose. Whilst it’s early days for this refreshed view, IM3 has climbed from third to second place in its category.
So, where do you start developing an Indonesian brand’s point of view?
1. Look within
Usually, the founder or head of a company has a point of view on its purpose. Talk to the captain of the ship to get the purest articulation of what their brand is about. Without Soichiro Honda, the view that dreaming is powerful would never have been born.
2. Know consumers’ thoughts, needs and loves
People are motivated by their hopes, fears, reactions and desires. Without investigating people’s reactions to hunger, Snickers may never have found the point of view that you’re not yourself when hungry.
3. Find white spaces
There can be gaps on a category playing field on which a brand can build a point of view. The majority of telcos, by sticking to outdated practices, left the door open for IM3 to take a powerful position on “setting the internet free”.
4. Be a cultural commentator
Trends come and go at lightning speed, but big and meaningful cultural shifts can help you find your point of view. Look at Dove’s position on real beauty: a response to synthetic, over-produced portrayals of women.
Indonesian people have strong points of view; their brands need to have them, too. Turn your brand into the person at a party you’ll always remember. So, what do you think?