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The Brand That Spoke
by Dr Cedric Nazareth

There was once a Brand Manager. Sometimes, people called him a Product Manager, but he preferred to be known as a Brand Manager. Now this Brand Manager wanted his brand to be vibrant, with a new energy; he wanted to breathe fresh life into his brand. So there he was, peering through the window, pondering his brand. What should I do for my brand, wondered the Brand Manager. He thought he'd set about the task of carving a place for his brand, when all of a sudden, the brand spoke! Indeed, brands do have life (didn't everyone talk about a product life cycle), thought the Brand Manager, but a speaking brand...!

"You depend on me," said the brand to its manager, "and I on you - so maybe we should talk!" The Brand Manager needed a few seconds to regain his composure. "Well sure," he was able to say, "I'd like that!"

"I wonder if I could bring this to your notice, Mr Brand Manager," said the brand, "but you could be missing a point here!"

"Oh yeah, and what's that?" queried the manager curiously.

"Well," replied the brand, "before you make a plan, you really need to know me first!"

Now which brand manager does not know his brand, thought the Brand Manager. "But of course I do!" he protested, "after all, it is I who keep making you what you are!"

But the brand persisted. "Don't get me wrong, Mr Brand Manager, but do you really know me... I mean, know the real me? Do parents always really know their children? I'd like you to know that there's more to me than you think." And with that the brand proceeded to enumerate aspects of its personality that the Brand Manager had never applied to any of its advertising campaigns. The Brand Manager listened with rapt attention. There could be something to be learnt here.

"You've got to define my identity first," asserted the brand.

"That's simple," said the Brand Manager, "you are the top selling drug in your category in ten states of the country and the preferred agent to treat respiratory tract infections..."

"Oh yes," interrupted the brand, "I'm all that and more. But I was not referring to what others think of me, I was talking about my identity! My identity is what I am, the real me! It's my best profile that you'd like to project. It's you, Mr Brand Manager, who should decide on my identity, not the customer!"

"But surely the customer's point of view has some relevance?" questioned the Brand Manager.

"Undoubtedly," said the brand, "but customers' impressions of me would not be my identity; that would be my image. You see, my image is important too. It's what the customer thinks of me. But identity - that's different! Identity is what I stand for; what you want the customer to think of me.

"Now I get it," said the Brand Manager, "first and foremost, I'd need to be clear about your identity. For example, I could decide that 'Simply the Best' is a good way to spell out your identity. I'd then have to work hard at convincing customers that you are, in fact, simply the best."

"Precisely!" said the brand.

"Next, I'd have to check out your image vis-a-vis your identity."

"Yes, and bridge the gap! You can say that you are successful only if customers actually believe that I'm simply the best !"

"So it's clear that the identity should be correctly spelt out to start with."

The Brand Manager's thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice. "Thinking hard, Mr Brand Manager?" it asked. The voice was of his boss, the Marketing Director.

"Er...yes sir!" the Brand Manager was able to mumble.

"Thinking of your brand, I hope," prodded the Marketing Director.

"Actually, yes sir! I was interacting with my brand!" replied the Brand Manager truthfully. The Marketing Director looked doubtfully, but the Brand Manager continued, "I realize that customers do not recognize my brand as they should!"

"Now, that's honesty!" exclaimed the Marketing Director, appreciating the young man's sincerity. "Of course, you do know that the two crucial issues are the brand's identity and its image. Be sure to make the image catch up with the identity!"

The Brand Manager looked at his Marketing Director and nodded in agreement. He already knew.

Pharma Marketing Page.
This article was published in
Pharma Business 31st March 2000.
All rights reserved

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