Aligning the Brand Chakras

29 Jun,2022

 

 

By Sanjeev Kotnala

 

Sanjeev KotnalaDentsu Webchutney is the Creative Agency of the Year at Cannes Lions 2022. It makes all of us in the advertising and marketing industry feel proud. It deserves a round of applause for winning and raising the bar for others to follow. The creative for Vice Media’s ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ that led the surge is all about an innovative solution where the thought and execution have a complete brand alignment. Such a creative solution needs the client and agency’s alignment across Brand Chakras and commitment.

 

A Different Picture

In the case of regional brands and owner-driven organisations, a consultant needs to make a lot more effort to educate the client. There is a gap in understanding the science, art and craft of communication. The consultants often have to innovate the processes or create shortcuts to drive home a point. We recently worked with two clients to make a point on Brand Alignment. This is that story.

 

The Initial, Baby Steps

The client finally agreed to do a project, an experiment without expectations. However, as the data started coming in, we realised we were on to something good despite the unscientific process. The inferences were directional and of tremendous value.

It was an eyeopener for the client, who was wary of investing in extensive research. The exercise probed at Brand Archetype, Personification and Brand Alignment across critical stakeholders. The simple exercise helped top management rethink the brand image and the stakeholder perceptions.

The brand is a dominant regional legacy player in the FMCG category. The rising input cost threatened margins, and active competition finally made the client sign for the experimental study of brand perception and imagery across stakeholder groups at the budget was challenging, if not impossible.

 

Personification surprises the Brand Team

A detailed brand personification exercise threw some interesting results. The exercise involved a wide section of groups, including Top Management, Employees (10 years+ Less than 2 Year and others) cutting across sales, accounts and manufacturing. Additional external segments like retailers, distributors, modern trade and customers were also probed.

The personification cue card used Bollywood stars of the last 60 years, including actresses, villains, comedians, and character artists. Bollywood was used as respondents could easily associate with it.

We expected the dominant well-established brand to have some degree of uniformity in personification. However, the results showed how fragmented and inconsistent the imagery was. The brand team and the consultant had enough arguments and explanations for the results.

 

Brand Archetype

This was directional. So, we expanded the scope with Brand Architype. The respondents were unaware of the purpose, thus helping decrease the possible bias and noise in the analysis.

The team expected the brand to reflect one of the 12 archetypes as the dominant archetype in its core market. Surprisingly, the output showed two dominant archetypes and eight others registering their presence in stakeholders. Clearly, the imagery and understanding were not as sharply defined as the client believed till now.

Important was the spread of associated brand archetypes across segments. There was no consistency even in the top management, and it took time to sink in. The new employees saw it quite differently than the old employees. The sales, retail, and distributors had different impressions reflecting polarised archetypes.

 

Corrective Actions Need Time

Clearly, the brand alignment and imagery were not consistent. A result of past tactical reactions to market situations. It was easy to hypothesise possible reasons for fragmented impressions and somewhat unwarranted perceptions.

The brand team and management collective now focus on the brand to reflect the desired archetype through interaction, experience and communication. The management was willing to wait for results. Significantly, another client bought on to the idea and initiated the project to understand brand perception and imagery across internal and external audiences.

 

Organisation Brand Alignment Chakra

This experiment and the results were not unexpected. As the organisation grows, departments become independent silos of power, action and culture. Often, these are not aligned with each other, resulting in a defused image.

 

Brand Chakra

Most readers would be familiar with the seven chakras. Now, using it as a foundation and treating the organisation as a human being, we can interpret Brand Chakra differently.

1. CROWN CHAKRAor the Sahasrara Chakra is the Top management. It is the thinking area and area where strategic decisions are taken. Typically also, the head office with Lo and L1 leadership level in direct consultation with the owners.

2. THIRD EYE CHAKRAor the Ajna Chakra is the research and awareness area. One that scans the market for the probortunies, analyses the situation and feeds to the Crown chakra. This is also the centre that looks inward into capability and capacity build-up and keeps the organisation future-ready. It is also the innovation and product development centre.

3. THROAT CHAKRAor the Vishuddha Chakra is the Advertising and communication area. This develops campaigns and activities to help achieve the brand’s relevance and impressions.

4. HEART CHAKRAor the Anahata Chakra is the HR-policy-vision-mission defining Chakra. It is also responsible for the organisation’s culture.

5. SOLAR PLEXES CHARAor Manipura Chakra is the Power Chakra that comes on the performance of products and services and the financial stability area.

6. SACRAL CHAKRAor the Svadhisthana Chakra is the place for excitement and creation, including sexuality. The area of manufacturing or production departments are part of it.

7. ROOT CHAKRAor the Muladhara Chakra is about removing waste products. The power centre works on sustainability and the treatment of waste products.

 

Additional Chakras

In addition, there are three more Brand Chakras for the organisation.

8. SALES CHAKRA. The right palm is the giver area. It represents the sales department responsible for the experience and expectation brand chakra.

9. REVENUE CHAKRA. The left palm, receiving area. The accounts and finance department is responsible for the current or future brand revenue.

10. MOVEMENT CHAKRA.The legs. The logistics and service brand delivery centre. Also responsible for geographical expansion of the markets.

 

The Collective Brand Chakra Alignment

The collective perception is the final summation of the impression on the external audience. It get primarily defined by the interaction of the brand centres with the stakeholders. The Crown Chakra interaction defines financial market impressions. The sales Chakra and third eye chakra determine the consumer reaction, and the retail or trade will be represented by sales and the Revenue Chakra.

 

The Alignment Process

We tried to be extensive and inclusive. In addition, to knowing the archetype and related brand personification at the Brand chakra level, we also looked at how the departments saw each other and the competition. This gave us a matrix of internal and external imagery across power centres – the brand chakras.

Each department was taken through the findings along with the desired Brand Archetype and personification as agreed with the leadership team. It gives the team individual-level filters to evaluate their contribution toward Chakra alignment. The Idea Harvest workshop provided a platform for a detailed discussion and help determinen the  actionable.

The brand team is now entrusted with the task of cultivating a dominant brand Archetype reflected across the segments internal and external.

 

Net-net

The Brand Archetype and brand personification exercises are simple, and it is something people can understand easily. Hence, it can always help to define and direct activities.

A well-aligned active Brand Chakra ensures everyone works toward the same delivery and experience, thus streamlining/aligning their focus and being more efficient and effective.

I am excited about this low-cost exercise to help the brand re-evaluate and focus on future action lines. Am open to suggestions and interaction with Brands interested in doing this simple exercise.

 

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