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     Volume 6 Issue 14 | April 13, 2007 |

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What's in a Brand?

Elita Karim

Juliet has intellectuals and lovers swooning in agreement when she exclaims at roses smelling just as sweet with any given name whatsoever. “What's in a name,” as she voices out William Shakespeare in the famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet. However, there is definitely something in showing off those Nikes while walking back home with friends. Diamond carvings of all kinds seem like glass when compared to Nakshatra. Choosing between Gucci and Swatch sometimes becomes a mind-boggling task, while witnessing the 'cold-war' between Pepsi and Coca-Cola for decades.

In today's world where competition has seized yet another precious part of life, branding seems to be a concept that plays a very significant role in the choices that we make in our daily lives. For instance food that we eat, the newspapers we read, the clothes we wear, the accessories and electronic appliances that we use and even the car that we drive lead us to become players unknowingly in both the local and international markets.

In Bangladesh, the conventional trade mindset regarding running businesses has mostly been based on importing goods and selling them without actually creating any kind of value addition in the market. Therefore, consumers would naturally prioritise and focus on price of a product rather than need, quality and service. All one has to do is wait till the next player enters the scenario with products claiming to be of better quality and cheaper price and the market has a new ruler. Thus the beginning of cut-throat competition where there is always the risk of being driven out of the market.

However, the local market in Bangladesh has been conquered by the global market. For instance, through understanding the needs of the consumers, the Indian brand of Parachute took over the hair oil market in Bangladesh, where Aromatic ruled the industry for a long time. “However, if one looks in to the Aromatic or the entire soap market,” says Shariful Islam, the CEO of Brandzeal, a brand consultancy firm, “very few local soaps or similar products follow a proper brand management process and drive themselves into building a brand that would enter and thrive in the market for a brief period of time and then falter.” Even then, Bangladesh happens to be a haven for the international markets in terms of cheap labour and raw materials.

“Understanding of branding is essential as it is the starting point of building a sustainable business model,” says Islam. “Today we see only a handful of local brands which have been sustaining and growing in the last 20-25 years in Bangladesh.”

Brandzeal has organised the first Bangladeshi Brand Forum comprising of leading national and international brand experts, in partnership with the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and Global Brand Forum from Singapore and Grameen Phone as the platinum sponsor. The forum will hold a two-day long seminar on April 28 and 29 at Hotel Sonargaon where local and international experts will be brought together to share their insights and knowledge regarding the subject.

The speakers who will be attending the seminars are S Karthik, the Chairperson of Global Brand Forum from Singapore, Tofael Rashid, New platform Director, PepsiCo International, Steven Van Der Kruit, Creative Director of Firmenich, Argha Sen, Head of Marketing and CRM of Toys LiFung, the Asia franchise of Toys R Us, Sudas Roy, Professor of Marketing from, Rubaba Dowla Matin, Head of Brands and Customer Management, Grameen Phone, Ata Safdar, Managing Director of Reckitt Benckiser, Muneer Ahmed Khan, Chairperson and Creative Head of Unitrend Ltd., Mushtaq Ahmed, Managing Director of Marks and Allys and Professor Ferhat Anwar from IBA.

Aside from the seminars, a brand concept fair will take place at IBA on the same days where key marketing and branding techniques will be emphasised through concept booths, instead of company booths. “Each booth will represent an idea, its concept theory and a real life example,” says Islam. For instance the concepts of Segmentation, Planning and many other elements will be explained very graphically where students will enact parts for live examples.

It's time for Bangladesh to be heard in the global market. As a school of advertising says, "If the consumer has heard of us, we've done our job.”



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