October 17, 2011

Choosing your Brand

Whenever I have debated what makes one choose one’s brand, I have often wondered at the different answers I myself have given at different forums. The one reason which makes my job interesting, day in and day out, is the fact that there is no definitive answer and the answer might contradict each other across categories. In fact, the answer might contradict even what I was thinking a few years back.

This weekend I tried to put myself under the scanner and tried to figure out what sort of a Brand choice I was making. I deliberately left aside any category where KSS is present so that there is no conflict of interest.

Let’s start with the laptop. My first laptop was a Think Pad and till today I swear by my Old Faithful. A fantastic product experience has not taken the shine away from the fact that IBM has since sold the business. I probably will look at ThinkPad as my first choice when I pick up my next laptop.

I will be posting this through Mozilla Firefox. Ever since Mozilla came to me in 2005, I have never let it go away. IE was for oldies. Chrome is for yuppies. The supporters for Open Source still swear by Mozilla and its extensions and add ons. That’s strange since Mozilla probably today is slower than Chrome. But every time I switch on Chrome on my screen, it seems to tell me that Google knows everything about me and I can’t let it rule my life. And again a fanatical love for Open source comes to the forefront.

This however is contradicted by my phone choice. Since 2004 Dec and my first phone, I have never strayed away from Nokia. Just a moment before, I was in the Ovi store trying to find a few apps. And I know for certain that an android phone would have been the smarter choice today or even an Apple but the strong loyalty I feel to Nokia just makes me pick one up every single time. When I hold a Nokia I know it won’t let me down. And it’s a brick and mortar Brand and probably has nothing to do with Open Source.

I could never figure out why I never pick up an Apple. I remember I was one of the first guys to own an mp3 player – those were the days when you needed a battery to power the music. Times flew, and ipods were everywhere but somehow I still love my Philips GoGear which was a very late entrant but the Brand was something that was familiar, being one of those MNCs which did not move out of India during the License Raj .

Same was the case with Airtel. Once they had me with their advertisement campaign, I have never moved away from them even though I was faced with horrible customer service. But I think when I move back to India, I probably will give it a long hard thought. Sometimes, you push the consumer’s patience just a bit too much.

Coming to more tangible product category, I had to move on to Branded Clothing once I started working. It was the first selling out of my life but I realized that since now I am being paid by someone else, somehow, it does put a curb on freedom of choice. Anyway, just to understand my wardrobe, I went back and saw a strong preference towards Louis Philippe and I have no idea why. Somehow the Brand seems familiar and close to me and it’s one of those indescribable feelings. Of course it does matter that somehow they have remained traditional in their choice of colours and designs and while choosing Office Wear, I still am a conservative.

It feels funny that my job is to make people prefer the Brand I work for and yet this exercise just made me realize that any normal human being might in essence be a combination of many faces, each choosing a life that it would like to live, along with a Brand that goes with the choice.

My work becomes even more interesting!

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