Apple Inc. A word enough to keep the techno savvy world on its toes. Innovation is what you look for after hearing the brand name. McDonalds’: I M Loving it – first thought in mind, a burger with cheese slice peeping out from the circumference, Coco cola – comfort, lifestyle, enjoyment! Nokia, Google, IBM, Toyota, Disney, Intel, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Cisco, BMW, Honda, Nike, Sony, Citi and I can go on and on! Yes, these are world’s best of the brands and the brand name reminds sweet memories associated with the products. It is about lifestyle. Happiness. Comfort.
Would you like to buy clothes from Tata clothes Limited or Tata Apparel Unlimited? How about Maruti Book store? Microsoft Shoes? Did you try new Bata Laptops? You must have tried Philips Jewellery? Oh, how can you miss Accenture watches? Haven’t tried yet! How about Colgate coconut Oil? Amul Dantmanjal? Very effective manjan and keeps your teeth utter butterly deliciously white! I bet you must have tried Birla Milky Bar? I know you are planning to give your girlfriend an Audi diamond ring! I suggest you rather don’t even think of doing that. Neither would you get the girl nor would you get your diamond ring back. So what exactly do I want to say? Why I am trying to tarnish some of the world’s biggest and bestest brands! The case in point is Reliance Industries (Mukesh Ambani) and its brand extension strategy. Out of place to say the least!
Brand extension is a marketing strategy in which a firm marketing a product with a well-developed image uses the same brand name in a different product category. A company tries to do this to leverage the already created brand image. For example, LG – Television, Refrigerator, Mobile phone. The company has an image of high quality electronic durables. So brand extension helps it in establishing products in different product categories. Another example could be Park Avenue: Shirts, After Shave, Belts, Soaps and Razor. Consumers associate the image of a new product with an existing product under same brand.
Now, Reliance Industries, which requires no introduction, is usually associated with Petroleum, oil and refinery. The solid brand associated with execution, efficiency, propelling high growth for the economy. The brand extension of Reliance to ‘Reliance Fresh’ is in itself diluting the value of Reliance Industries. Reliance Digital – doesn’t connect with electronics. The dot on the letter ‘i’ in Reliance symbolises a drop of oil. How would Reliance digital appeal to techno savvy youth of the nation? It is difficult to associate same brand with as diverse businesses as oil, books, clothes and jewellery. Each product has different emotional appeal which a same brand cannot address. When we say Airtel, the fantastic Airtel music composed by AR Raheman, rings in our ear.
Products name should have emotional connect. Emotions drive us to buy more. No matter how many Levis Jeans somebody has, he would go for one more. A Nike shoe gives satisfaction to my legs. Apple iPhone gives a style statement to the users. Would you ever leave your home to shop from ‘Reliance Footprint’, a footwear concept, ‘Reliance Jewels’, a jewellery concept, ‘Reliance TimeOut’, a books, music & entertainment concept? There are the Cross Words, Westsides, Pantaloons, and Mobile Stores! Why would you want to indulge in shopping that won’t give you ‘that’ satisfaction! And Reliance offerings dosen't end here. ‘Reliance Living’, a homeware, furniture, modular kitchens, furnishings concept, ‘Trends’, an apparel & accessories concept, ‘Reliance Wellness’, a health, wellness & beauty concept, ‘iStore by Reliance Digital’, an exclusive Apple products concept!
I respect Mr Senior Ambani for pure vision, planning and execution. If he wants it, he does it! The big thinking! But sometimes you need to put emotions into product apart from money, reach and power. The brand extension ‘Reliance’ to clothes and book store won’t ever allow them to emotionally connect with people.
fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: The process of creation of a brand image sometimes takes decades. Possession of successful brands give people confidence. They see their projections in the brands they hold or possess. If the brand extensions have no advantage over competitive brands in the new category, then it will fail. Hope somebody from Reliance Industries is reading this!