Nine Lessons From Brand ANNA

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2385 , Published on 24 December 2011

"A real-life case study like this can be an eye-opener for today's marketers who tend to think of complicated solutions for their brand-related issues. The Anna campaign reminds us that simplicity is the key to successful branding."

The present study has broken down the elements of the campaign's success into nine lessons on brand building.

Brand Anna Hazare

A few basics

The case study first outlines a few fundamental premises before delving into the lessons. First, it states that 'A good product generates its own PR.' This, according to the study, is the success of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement.

Then, the study compares the Jan Lokpal Bill to a product that satisfies a specific need, namely, the need to eradicate corruption. Lending the product with clear messaging and communication is the man himself -- Anna Hazare -- poised as the victorious brand ambassador.

Further, the study is furnished with a detailed timeline, outlining the chain of events that transpired right from the very first anti-corruption rally held in Delhi (January 30), until the day Anna broke his 13 day-long fast (August 28).

The case study also addresses how the government sent out wrong messages in response to Anna's campaign, all through. It also highlights the overwhelming media impact of the campaign and its success on social media.

Lessons on the idea, symbols and consumer engagement

Lesson One is to have an idea that connects. A strong and independent Lokpal -- which could investigate ministers, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and even the prime minister -- was an idea that Indian citizens took to instantly. This was an idea that was overdue and one that all Indians could relate to instantly, given the kind of corruption the country has been riddled with in the recent past.

Anna Hazare Campaign

Lesson Two is about creating symbols and icons to support the brand. The case study cites names of some commercially successful brands that bear strong symbols such as Nike and its 'swoosh'/tick mark, and Apple and its bitten apple symbol. Similarly, every public movement has its own symbols and icons, states the study. Mahatma Gandhi's freedom movement, in part, rode on the backs of symbols such as the charkha, and Gandhi himself was an icon that symbolised non-violence. Anna Hazare and the white 'Gandhi topi' gave this campaign some essential symbols.

Lesson Three reads 'Offer a consumer experience'. Each brand has a distinct character, according to the study, and it is important to make the target consumer experience the same first hand. In Anna Hazare's case, he chose the Ramlila Maidan, in order to ensure consumer engagement. The venue was chosen for its size as it permitted thousands to participate and experience the movement first hand, experience their own power, and consequently mobilise change, states the study.

Lessons on test marketing, packaging and media planning

Lesson Four addresses successful test marketing of the product, prior to its launch. Anna's first fast at Jantar Mantar showcases that it is wise to test the waters well before the large-scale roll out of the product in question. The study declares that doing so provides the vindication for a larger movement.

Lesson 4

Lesson Five urges brand builders to package the product right, reminding us about the fourth of the four Ps of marketing, (the other three being product, pricing and promotion). Anna Hazare's white dhoti-kurta and squeaky clean image were the perfect packaging elements of his campaign against corruption. Intriguingly, these elements managed to rope in the support of today's denim-clad youngsters.

Lesson Six talks about a thorough media plan. According to the study, the Anna Hazare campaign was launched between the World Cup and IPL, thus filling the media vacuum that existed then. Moreover, team Anna was readily available for media interviews. Interestingly, Anna himself, was not over-exposed in the media; he spoke once from Tihar Jail, and addressed the media several times at the Ramlila Maidan. Another smart move on part of Team Anna was that it had very few voices in the media -- only Anna, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan spoke to the media, thus minimising the scope for distortion of the message.

Lessons on competition, imagery and taglines

Lesson Seven urges us to out-think the competition. In this case, the government is seen as the competing brand, one that Anna Hazare managed to stump.

Lesson Eight professes using the right kind of imagery to complement the brand in question. The image of Anna meditating at Rajghat, or lying down at the Ramlila Maidan, proved to be iconic. Similarly, when he broke his fast, he took water from a Dalit girl and a Muslim girl, an image that connoted so much, all at once. Even the large physical picture of Gandhi in the backdrop contributed to the imagery that accompanied Anna's campaign.

Lastly, Lesson Nine is about having an effective tagline. 'I am Anna Hazare' was more effective a tagline than 'I am for Anna Hazare' could probably ever be. It is personal, participative, and gave citizens a means to internalise the struggle. Consequently, it urged people to act.

This article has been authored by Sumit Sharma from LBSIM.


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