Coca-Cola is, arguably, the world’s most recognized brand, although Google and Nokia will likely close in soon.And this 122 years old, it is definitely an iconic brand, defined for the purpose of this story as one that has simply stood the test of time.
Still—although it is valued at $65 billion (around Rs2.77 trillion) by UK brand consultancy Interbrand Corp.—Coca-Cola is not an iconic brand in India. In its present avatar, it is just 16 years old in the country, which it re-entered in 1992.
But CocaCola does own an iconic brand in India, Thums Up.
“Thums Up’s invincibility underscores the fact that while some brands are glorious, some are truly iconic,” says Y.L.R. Moorthi, professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
Parle-G, Amul, Lifebuoy, Dettol, and Horlicks are some other brands that enjoy the same inviolable rela tionship with at least some consumers. Age, competition, brand clutter and changing consumption culture have not been able to dent their equity among loyalists.
To be sure, every brand aspires to be an iconic brand, but only a few achieve the goal. “If there was a sure shot formula to building an iconic brand, every brand manager would follow it to the hilt,” says Nabankur Gupta, founder CEO of Mumbai-based consultancy Nobby Brand Architects and Strategic Marketing Consultants. After all, which company wouldn’t want its brand to live forever?
The process of creating an iconic brand is more intuitive than definitive, say brand experts. Yet, there are some attributes that are common to all iconic brands. They fulfil all the needs of their consumers—physical aspirations, functional requirements or emotional needs—and they do it with consistency.
In the process, their custody shifts from the hands of the company to their consumers. “Every iconic brand is perceived as ‘my brand’ by its consumers.
It is they who own the brand, not some branding whizz-kid,” says Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman of advertising agency McCann Erickson India.
Thus, even when a company that owns an iconic brand runs into trouble and finds itself in a position where it is unable to spend as much time, money and effort on the brand as it should, the brand doesn’t suffer much. Loyal consumers continue to relate to the brand even if there hasn’t been an effective advertising campaign that reinforces the brand’s benefits .And they continue to buy into the brand.
That explains why some iconic brands, such as the Ambassador, retain their lustre, albeit for a limited group of customers.