Marketing Mocktail: Branding with the enemy- the Enemy-Stand-Mantra construct explained

Products solve problems in our lives. Brands beat down the enemies that torment us every day.

By  Anand NarasimhaOct 6, 2023 8:28 AM
Marketing Mocktail: Branding with the enemy- the Enemy-Stand-Mantra construct explained
Take your brand to the next level by fighting an enemy. (Representative Image: GR Stocks via Unsplash)

Note to readers: Season-2 of our column Marketing Mocktail breaks down and explains the big ideas, new disruptions and old concepts and marketing practices that matter in the modern age.

What is it that motivates and unites human beings more - supporting a cause or fighting against an idea? History provides us with the answer.

During the French Revolution, the oppressed bourgeois’ united against a common enemy - the feudal and exploitative French monarchy and sent them to the guillotine. Soon after, once the enemy was dead, they were plagued with infighting and rivalry.

The Allied Forces were united against Nazi Germany, symbolized by Adolf Hitler. Both the capitalist and communist blocs came together, to demolish their common enemy. But once the Third Reich fell, the communist and capitalist blocks were polarized, leading to the Cold War.

Visionaries like Mahatma Gandhi (Quit India Movement against British colonialism), Dr. Martin Luther King (Civil Rights Movement against racial discrimination) also succeeded by defining an enemy to fight against.

So, fighting against an enemy generates a more powerful emotional response than just supporting a cause, which tends to be more reason led.

As the saying goes, “Reasons lead to conclusions, emotion leads to action.”

Battle for the consumer’s mind

In the world of brands too, there are stories of brands that have gone beyond product propositions, to define an ‘enemy’ (not the competition, but a belief, convention or behavior in society and culture).

These brands have taken a ‘stand’ against their enemy to unite their consumers, through an emotional turbo-charge.

When Steve Jobs launched the Apple Macintosh in 1984, the enemy was: ‘People have to be computer-literate.’ The stand the brand took: ‘Computers have to be people-literate’. This idea has driven the philosophy of Apple ever since.

Diesel, an irreverent brand that is counterculture came up with this idea. It took a bold stance in its campaign ‘Be Stupid’, against an over smart society that creates a safe, formula driven world which inhibits risk taking.

For Tang, the juice concentrates brand targeted at kids, Ogilvy created a powerful idea, ‘Long Live Kids!’, taking a stand against the enemy-society is pressurizing kids to become grown up too soon and behave like adults.

A new battle cry for brands

In a world of growing parity, where product performance is becoming table stakes, brands need to go beyond just talking about themselves, to propagating a larger worldview.

With consumers becoming smarter, cynical and information rich, brands need to evolve from conventional ‘points-of-difference’ (POD) to a ‘point-of-view’ (POV).

It’s becoming less about ‘what I do for you’ and more about ‘what I stand for and care about’.

The ‘Enemy-Stand-Mantra’ construct

Products solve problems in our lives. Brands beat down the enemies that torment us every day.

In this context, I have developed the ‘Enemy-Stand-Mantra’ construct:

·Enemy - a commonly held belief, convention or behavior in society.

·Stand - the brand’s stance against the enemy.

·Mantra - the brand’s defining point-of-view.

Let us look at a few examples.

DOVE

Enemy: Stereotypical beauty standards created by media and society that lower women’s self-esteem.

Stand: Every woman is beautiful in her own way.

Mantra: Real beauty for real women.

TATA TEA

Enemy: Apathy towards social issues.

Stand: It’s time to wake up and act.

Mantra: Jago Rey! (Awaken!).

SURF EXCEL

Enemy: Moms’ fear of kids getting their clothes dirty.

Stand: Don’t let dirt be a spoilsport.

Mantra: Daag Acche Hain (Stains are good).

ARIEL

Enemy: Women’s desire that their husbands should participate equally in household chores.

Stand: Why should household chores only be a woman’s burden.

Mantra: Share the load

It is important to note that the ‘Mantras’ of these brands are laddered up from their functionality.

Tata Tea’s functional benefit is ‘Refreshing’, which fits with ‘Awakening’.

Similarly, Dove’s ‘1/4 moisturizing beauty’ seamlessly flows into ‘Real Beauty’.

Surf Excels ladders up from ‘bright, stain free clothes’ to ‘Daag Acche Hain’. And Ariel from ‘super clean, fresh clothes’ to ‘Share the load’.

The war ahead

Applying this construct to your brand requires three key elements:

From product to people: You need to focus more on ‘what people care about’ and less on ‘what your product does’. Horst Rachelbacher, the founder of Aveda has this to say, “My brand is not interested in competing. It is interested in making a contribution.”

Developing sharp antennae: You must have an intuitive ability to pick up signals from society and culture. The founder of Diesel, Renzo Rosso says, “My first inspiration is always in the street. Listening to and watching people.”

Laddering up your functionality: Your brand’s mantra must be naturally in sync with its functional benefit (not a force fit) and ideally after the functionality is clearly established in the minds of your consumers.

So, the next time you think about how to make your brand famous, rich, and loved, try 'branding with the enemy'. It could be half the battle won.

Anand Narasimha is a corporate turned academician with over three decades of experience spanning Brand Marketing, Advertising, Consulting, and Teaching. He writes the column Marketing Mocktail for Storyboard18. Views expressed are personal.

First Published on Oct 6, 2023 8:28 AM

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