My Brand of the Week – is the leading Online Travel Community which gives millions of online travel bookers worldwide, an opportunity to save money on their hotel reservations through the uniquely designed loyalty program.

Great prices, simple site navigations, and community support to make travel decisions faster, which helps travelers to save not just money but also their precious time and effort on discovering a perfect place to stay.

Founded in the year 2000, today offers more than 45,000 accommodations from all over the world for  customers. Their offerings range from 1 – 5 luxury star hotels, B&B, villas, guest houses with reviews written by verified guests who actually stayed at the hotels.

(Text taken from the original site)

Green out and Red in….

Generally in the real world scenario, each and every brand face hyper growth and when time comes competitors as warmongers( aggressive attackers) always give them big challenges. It is always a challenging task to defend the strong competition even though you are a market leader. People sometimes get annoyed when they see their favorite brand being pulled out from the market. Not only these changes in the market but also changes from the brand side such as repositioning, re-branding etc may also upset customers mind set. Yes I’m talking about Dialog telecom.

As a hard core loyalist to Dialog, my story of adaptation was interesting. My mobile life started with Celltel ( now Tigo), Mobitel and in early part of my University life, I used hutch and then ended up with Dialog. For more than 5 years I am using the same brand and I would say I’m a hard core loyal to Dialog. Although I changed my numbers very often, I stayed with Dialog. The reason was their excellence customer service, CSR, the awards, the corporate colour (green) and innovation kept me as a customer of Dialog. Not only me but also my friends, family members were seemed to be more towards Dialog.

But the situation changed rapidly after the entry of Airtel. In my point of view it was started to capture the market and most of the Dialog users switched to Airtel. My brother and many of my friends also changed accordingly. I was too worried those days but I got a shock when I saw the change in Dialog corporate colour which I couldn’t believe. Earlier Dialog corporate color was totally positioned well in the customers mind set. Where ever people see a green colour outboard they tend to think about Dialog brand ( even I am also the same, if I come across a green board automatically I think about a Dialog outlet) . These days daily I come across complaints and comments about Dialog. What had actually happened to them?

I list below the regular complaints I receive from my friends

1 – Changes of customer care contact and quality

2 – Change of their corporate colour. I doubt very much that the current colour will strongly position in the customers mind set.

3 – Less marketing communication about the rebranding

4 – Unattractive commercials

5 – Recent asset write off issues – see one of a blogger comment and question regarding this ( he is my friend as well)

6 – Share price reduction in the market

Anyway my total worry is about the colour change. As a marketer, I know the psychological impact of color. Color is one tool in our branding toolbox to help express brand attributes and create emotional connections with constituencies, because in the real scenario there are many global brands which created success stories by associating their brand with colour. Although IBM is connected with the most common corporate color, UPS chose one of the least-used colors brown to help it stand out from the pack. The brown uniforms and vans and the tagline “What can brown do for you?” are crucial and effective elements of the company’s brand communications strategy. Global brand very often think on changing their corporate colur because they knew the danger of it.

It is clear colour can do the changes in the following way

  • Color supports differentiation – I cannot see many differences between Airtel colour and Dialog colour. For me both reflect in the same way.
  • Color can have a double effect
  • Color supports a renaissance

Even though there are many problems, I still like to continue my loyalty towards Dialog. I’m sure when times comes the new entrant will be taken out from the market because of their discount driven strategy and 0777 numbers always convey the professionalism. Although most of the people have switched to Airtel as their second usage still Dialog remains in the first position when it comes to professionalism. Let us wait and see the outcome in the future.

As a loyal customer I have given my views and comments and my only desire is to see Dialog in the first position as in the past.

Facebook Reaches 200 Million Users

It is really amazing. Just finished reading an article about facebook sent by our company corporate manager. The headline was “Facebook Reaches 200 Million users” . A site which was started for a student community now reaches its new era. In a switch above college age and older users are joining fast. (even in average my mother spend around 2 hours per day in facebook 🙂 ) So Thought to present the facts here.

According to e-marketer facebook added its 200millionth user on April 8,2009. To mark the occasion, Silicon Alley Insider noted that if Facebook were a country, it would be the fifth-largest in the world after China, India, the US and Indonesia.
The US had more Facebook users than any other country. However, the largest concentration of users was in the Eastern US and Western Europe.

From January to March 2009, people ages 26 to 44 made up the fastest-growing segment of the US Facebook population, and other countries will undoubtedly follow that path.

While users have been reluctant to click on ads, brands are still looking for ways to leverage the social networking space—and finding them.
Facebook and other social networking sites are providing opportunities for brand marketers to get feedback from users—and even sometimes engage in direct conversations.

Brand Value- Cash is King

Recently I went through my monthly marketer magazine and found this interesting article written by David Haigh. The points he mentioned here are simply suits to the current world and I also thought to share this with you.

Warren Buffett, “ the Sage of Omaha” once remarked that “you only know who’s swimming naked when the tides goes out”. Well, the tide has now gone out to reveal that many apparently reputable brands have been swimming naked for year. The banks, insurance companies and ratings agencies were the first to bare all. Cynical disregard for customers and staff have led to disaster, and many of these brands have paid the ultimate price.

Now brands in the “real” economy are also blushing. Over geared, over hyped and over priced brands such as Starbucks, Coke,BMW are all suffering as recession – hit consumers reappraise the benefits of conspicuous consumption. Their value has plummeted because they have fallen out of touch with consumers’ wants and needs.

In contrast, brands such as Wallmart, McDonald,Avon,Ford and HSBC are doing well.

Its no coincidence that they’re all middle of the road brands that have had to reinvent or reposition themselves in tough markets. All have re-evaluated customer relationships, products and services and the price-value equation.

In the last big recession many brands were badly hit as consumers switched to cheaper alternatives. In 1993, Marlboro realized it had stretched consumer loyalty too far and dropped its prices overnight by 25 percent.

While this caused short-term panic on wall street, a huge fall in Philip Morris’s share price and suggestions that this was “the end of branding as we know it”, it simply rebalanced the price-value equation and consumers flooded back. A salutary lesson for out of touch brands.

In recession, price elasticity curves shift. Functional attributes, including price, rapidly come to the fore. Image attribute decline in relative performance. Conduct attributes remain critical but not any price. Getting the balance rights is vital in a recession.

But in the struggle to adapt, only brands with strong values maintain their brand value. Consider Innocent- an expensive brand, but one that delivers on function, image and conduct. I expect it will adapt sensitively to allow for thinner purses, while maintaining its value system, and so hold up well in the recession.

There are a few simple rules to surviving the downturn. The first and most important is that cash is king. As one “witty” accountant once remarked “turnover is vanity; profit is sanity; cash flow is reality”. Without cash flow, brands will simply not survive.

This forces many finance officers to consider cutting marketing budgets. These are often poorly justified and so it may be the right thing to do. But when marketing communications are well defined there is strong evidence that maintaining marketing budgets in recession leads to greater value.

In 1998, consultancy PIMS showed that of 1,000 consumer brands surveyed, those that cut marketing spend during the 1991-93 recession made higher profits during recession but lost market after it. Maintainers ended up with higher brand value after recession.

Brands must maintain their values and investments if they want to emerge unscathed from the recession. Just be sure you have to cash to keep your brand live.

So marketer need to consider the following key points

1 – Make sure you keep in touch with consumers’ wants and needs

2 – Re-evaluate products, services and the price-value equation.

3 – Maintain band value and brand investment

4 – Ensure you have the cash to keep your brand afloat.

Thanks – themarketer.Dec-Jan 2009 p.p 15