Axioms or Myths?

When we talk of brands that have been highly successful, we must not forget that there are a huge number of established and new brands that have either withered away or died an unexpected death. In many cases, this has been because marketers have believed in certain so-called axioms (or self evident truths). Unfortunately, many of them have turned out to be myths. Here are a few:…
• IF A PRODUCT IS GOOD, IT WILL SUCCEED. The better mouse trap myth is so strongly entrenched in the minds of marketers that this, they believe, is a foolproof way to success. Yet, there are innumerable examples of high quality products that has not got a brand anywhere. Sony Betamax and even Apple till about fifteen years ago are two examples.
• BRANDS ARE MORE LIKELY TO SUCCEED THAN FAIL. Not true! Brands fail every day and in looking at the success of some brands we forget ALL the others that failed. According to some estimates in the US, 80% of brands (new and line extensions) fail and a further 10% die within 5 years. So only one out of ten brands eventually makes it. In India (a high growth developing market), where there is still a huge demand in virtually every category, the figures may be different but failures are routine even here.
• BIG COMPANIES HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF SUCCESS. Well, big companies certainly have the resources and do have an unfair advantage. But that doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, some of the biggest successes in recent times (both in IT and otherwise) have been companies started by rookies. And strong companies have just not been able to compete. Hotmail lost out to Google, Bing is going nowhere and even Google+ hit a roadblock.
• STRONG BRANDS ARE BUILT ON ADVERTISING. Advertising can only support a brand. If the IDEA is weak, no amount of advertising is going to help.
• IF IT’S SOMETHING NEW, IT WILL SELL. Well, a unique idea has certainly a better chance of succeeding. But the idea MUST be relevant. And affordable. And become a standard.
• STRONG BRANDS PROTECT PRODUCTS. Again, not always true. In fact, in many cases, it is the other way round – great products support and protect brands. Apple was always a strong brand but was floundering. Till the funky, colourful iMacs, followed by the iPod (and then the iPhone and iPad) changed things dramatically for Apple.

Marketing and branding are not exact sciences and one must be careful in accepting things as truisms. For every strong ‘truth’, there is a strong example that falsifies it.

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This article was written by Joy

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