Aishwarya Rao
These days on my way to office, I can’t help but notice a red board glow against the early morning sunlight. What was once unmistakably unnoticeable now forcefully grabs your attention every time you take the flyover opposite to Chola Sheraton. Ah! Yet another brand makeover!

Instead of following the irreversible brand life cycle and letting the brand fade away and die, here is an image makeover that will hopefully help 81-year-old LVB remain a 'vibrant' private sector bank. Especially with big players like ICICI, HDFC (respect yourself) Bank of India (We understand relationships) and co. riding on an emotional wave to sell functional accounts and insurance schemes, it was time LVB and co. started creating associations and a clear identity for themselves.
Yet what remains to be answered is whether altering the packaging will itself boost the banks business. While changing the brand image can help alter attitudes, a new and fresh look on the outside not necessarily implies a change in the inside. SBI's ambitious advertising might have won its agency an Effie but it hasn’t reduced the number of frustrated customers who walk out of an out-of-order ATM. Not surprisingly it’s SBI!
In any case I wish LVB's makeover initiatives are not restricted to the fancy outside. Hopefully it must achieve operational efficiency and the desired volume-led growth. An image makeover after all can only strengthen a brands efforts to remain relevant in consumer's life.
Aishwarya Rao

What is common between Don, Casino Royale and Dhoom 2? Apart from hot, shexy men in lead roles, it is Sony Ericsson. Yeah baby, Sony it is. (Before you throw your hands up in the air and scream that Don tied up with Motorola, watch carefully and notice the Ericsson handset and listen to the Sony Ericsson ring tone strategically dropped in an unmistakable sequence!). With marketers constantly trying to place a finger on the best way to capture a TG's attention,product placements that blend with a movie's story-line has emerged as one of the most powerful medium of reaching the audience.

2006's latests Lage Raho Munna Bhai (World Space, Go Air), Don (Motorola Razr,Mercedez), Casino Royale (Heineken,Sonly,Ford, Virgin Atlantic), The Departed (Budweiser, Chevrolet, Motorola, CocaCola) and Dhoom 2 (Coca Cola) are not only a treat for product placement watchers but have also reinforced several brand names in the audience's mind. And considering gadgets like mobile phones and laptops fit naturally in these movies, the audience have been thankfully saved of some on-the-face 'unwieldy' brand appearances.
However, as brands start integrating themselves with story lines and product placements get standardised, it is important that marketers avoid critical faux pas.A movie fanatic with an observant eye, a friend of mine noticed a Pepsi bottle on Abishek Bachans kitchen table in Dhoom 2. A sony ericsson ring tone when Motorazr pays through its nose to be associated with Don!
Yet for international brands, these integrations is one of the most effective ways to reach out to global audience without being too scrag about it. Call them advertainment, brand integration, product placement, the covert advertisment is the hottest kid on the block and a brands next bet to return on inverstment! Guys, any Indian agencies that provide movie-integration services as yet? Drop a line and we will place Navaratha Thel on Yash Chopra's head!
Aishwarya Rao
Continuing the discusion on identical brands, here are three sets of very similar logos that come to my mind. What irks is the fact that they belong to the same product category! I am confident there are quite a few prominent ones over there which I am missing out. Drop a line and let me know!

Lacoste, a French apparel brand was founded in 1933. Crocodile International in 1947. legal battle concerning the infringement of the Lacoste trademark by Crocodile International is still pending. In the meanwhile, in 2004, a Shangai court decreed that Lacoste had violated CI's trademark. The battles continue.
Honda, a Japanese motor company established in 1948. Hyudai, Korea's largest car maker was founded in 1967. Whats with the H? Really!

Audi, a German automobile manufacturer since 1964. Before, Audi merged with Horch, DKW and Wanderer to form Auto Union in 1932, Auto Union had used the four interlinked rings that to represent the four brands.
Technical Olympic is a group in Greece with diverse operations ranging from construction, tourism, wind energy, to wine. Its parent company, Pelops was founded in 1965 and it became Technical Olympic in 1981. You cant miss the pattern of the rings! Although they dont belong to the same category, theres an unmistakable similarity.
Aishwarya Rao

Last Thursday I blew what was left of my last salary on an identical hot-shot-GIORDANO corporate bag. On Saturday morning when I noticed that the leather skin had peeled at the straps, I rushed to their outlet with a puppy face and the copy of the bill. The very adequately trained staff explained that they would certainly do something about it. On Sunday afternoon, they called to say that I could visit their store and choose any replacement. When I walked in, they welcomed me with a smile and took me to their storeroom. The staff apologized about the inconvenience and explained that the company had decided to remove the entire line from display until the problem was solved. They didn’t want any other customer to face a similar problem. Jeez, was I stunned or was I stunned?

In Symbi, 'Customer Delight' was worse than profanity. It figured in every inane PowerPoint presentation and was the ultimate word to use in a marketing classroom discussion. Of course the term is not reserved for classroom discussions, with every press release and brand story using it like a preposition. Although today, almost every marketer claims that his focus his 'customer delight', very few live up to it. When was the last time a low cost airline lived up to its reputation for providing speedy and reliable air services? When was the last time India's second largest bank's customer care actually cared for the customer? A brand doesn't need an Aamir Khan or a Tulsi Irani to take you around a plant and endorse the safety of the drink. In my opinion what it needs is to live up to its values. This will naturally resound in its equity.

An international apparel brand, Giordano with a mission of making people "feel good" & "look great" has proved that words like corporate vision, mission and customer delight are more than marketing balderdash! At a time when Customer is the Queen, Giordano has truly stolen my heart!

Aishwarya Rao
"One of man's advatages over the lower animals is that he is the most imitative creature in the world"- Aristotle

It seems like copycat tendencies are not restricted to chick lit authors who are unconscious that they are plagiarizing. Look at how INTIMATE has imitated Herbal Essences.

I am amazed by the pains they have taken to be so sincere and perfect about the whole act of being identical or confusingly similar to competition. Rather uninspiring strategy to adopt. It is different from imitating the strategies of a market leader or even following the competitor in which case the company is at least trying to imitate success. This is simply cheap-jack behavior.

Herbal Essences must initiate legal proceedings against this guy. Imitation might be inherent to human nature, but infringement is certainly actionable.
Sadly, at the end of the day what rules is caveat emptor! Of course.