The most Infamous Promise: ‘Easier Life’

STC’s most infamous promise to their customers ‘Easier Life’ backfired as a Harder Life for them. This is a great Brand as well as a Branding exercise. Yes Brand and Branding both serve different purposes

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When the Saudi Communication Commission decided to merge all its services (mobile, landline and internet) under STC Corporate Brand, the company went through a full scale Brand and Branding exercise. 3 companies participated in both exercises, a Branding agency at development phase with several initiatives and 2 Communication agencies to roll out the promise. Through my findings, the communicated promise ‘Easier Life’ was developed by an Advertising agency and not by the Branding agency which initially had developed the strategy. This signals the disconnect between the Essence and the message

I have always wondered why would STC, after the merger of their services, embarked on a promise that is far impossible to achieve during the day to day operations. Secondly, did STC train their human resource prior to the launch? And if they did, how much was invested in their training? Third, was the organization aligned at all levels from bottom to top or from top to bottom on the promise? Last but not least, did STC hire experts on Brand and Branding as internal members to guide them through the journey? I doubt it. The deep understanding about Brand and Branding is relatively new to the region and very confusing, even to seasoned Marketers in the Middle East and business people in many parts of the world. Imagine a region that grasped business understanding out of trade, how will they perceive Brands. Most treat Brand and Branding as tangible deliverables such as logos, colors and fancy Taglines and in most cases the results are detrimental. STC ‘Easier Life’ Brand and Branding case is a perfect example on how things went wrong. In the following points I will illustrate what EXACTLY went wrong:

  • Clearly during that period the CEO,Board and head of Marketing had very basic understanding on Brand and Branding
  • The region’s culture on Communication is Advertising and seemed to be the most feasible approach to the management as Branding
  • STC’s positioning was clear: ‘Mobile, Landline, Internet everything revolves around you’
    Great positioning before other mobile providers had entered the market but the positioning failed on delivery
  • The Advertising agency developed Tagline, why? The head of Marketing at the time didn’t find the Branding agencies’ proposed Taglines fancy enough and decided to ask the Advertising agency to come up with a fancy one, what happened? STC raised their promise bar for an ‘Easier Life’ for their customers which became impossible to achieve
  • STC Operations failed to deliver the promise, a billing system with tremendous issues, customer were billed once every six months
  • STC retail experience was all about ‘Pretty Stores’ which were hard to produce emotional end benefit to their customers
  • STC decided to continue its promise even when customers expressed their frustration across all social media channels
  • Why didn’t STC hire an expert on Brand and Branding? Well, they depended on their head of Marketing to be informed on the subject, which is usually the case in our region. Most if not all heads of Marketing have a very basic Brand and Branding understanding and it’s clear from most launches taking place in the region apart from Brands straight out of Dubai

STC ‘s Branding exercise is a great case study for CEOs and heads of Marketing on how a good Brand strategy failed at implementation. I have many examples similar to STC, the misunderstanding of Brands on Value and Purpose can be very detrimental to any business

The heart of a Brand is the Promise and the Emotional Value the customer benefits from by using the product or service

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 25th December, 2014

Strategy vs Tactics

One of my crucial findings in the Middle East with Marketing professionals and CEOs is the confusion between the overall Strategic approach vs Tactical approach when it comes to Marketing. The struggle of knowing when the two are used and the values they bring. Most witness regional level Tactical Marketing followed by Tactical Advertising in which most are calling it Strategy. You can’t ‘Build Brands’ on Tactical Marketing, this why most are treated as Commodities

In FMCG sector, the constant use of tactical drives the organization’s mindset championed by the CEO or even the board in most cases to think tactical and extend the portfolio to enormous amount of SKUs only to achieve tactical goals (Seasonal Sales as they are known) but not to build sustainable Brands. If you look at the Brand portfolios of most FMCG companies, you’ll find two things:

  • Brand out of focus, ruined by Advertising that keeps reminding the audience about the Brand
  • These Brands are treated like commodities. The single reason for audience engagement is ‘Price’. Advertising benefits when Brands are treated like commodities (Price-driven)

To build GREAT Brands you need the entire organization to be of one single mindset and that’s rarely the reality with Family-owned or managed businesses in the Middle East

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 27th July, 2014

‘Create Your Space’

Soon I’ll reveal a Branding and Marketing strategy entitled ‘Create Your Space’. Every Brand can create it’s own space and revolutionize the category because in today’s competitive world, dominance is the word of the market

Brands such as Apple, Facebook, Google (Search), Starbucks, HSBC are great examples of ‘Create Your Space’. Every market space requires it’s own rules to guide the strategy and every strategy must be different to sustain growth and manage leadership

‘Create Your Space’ is an Evolution and Revolution strategy for those that wish to lead and not compete

Yes don’t compete, lead. I look forward to meet those that wish to make a difference and evolve from the repetitive ideas that every Brand shares in the Middle East

‘Create Your Space’ brings values you own in the hearts and minds of your customers. Today many of the local FMCG brands share common values and benefits and that drives tight competition and requires enormous amount of Communications budget. If you ‘Create Your Space’, you’ll eventually not only own the category, you’ll set the rules for the category

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Branding Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

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