Dawn News channel, since recently, is becoming a classic case of a mismanaged brand. Many a brand has made the mistake of faltering at managing its equity. Building a brand poses many challenges but managing a brand with reasonable equity can be extremely tough as well. Measurement of brand equity is the hottest area of research in marketing and is something that the best brains in marketing worldwide are struggling with. So measurement is tricky and challenging alright. But managing a brand with high equity is no rocket science. So why is Dawn losing out on its hard earned equity at such a rapid pace?
Dawn news channel is a brand that had become an integral part of our lives for some of us in Pakistan. Dawn is the oldest and most widely read English newspaper in the country. It was founded in 1941 by none other than Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah himself. In 2007, Dawn launched the first 24 hour English news channel. Interestingly 2007 marked my return from the UK and Dawn news channel was a fresh change from PTV News and all the other local news channels. I only remembered watching BBC and CNN in Pakistan to get credible news that is presented sensibly by professional journalists. Dawn news channel offered the best mix of well-balanced local and international news. The news casters, reporters, and hosts of programs had fresh and well-groomed faces, professional attire, and amazing accents. Everything about the channel from 2007 till sometime in 2010 promised class, truthfulness, a sense of uprightness, and taste. From the news coverage to a Taste of Fusion to No Reservations by Kamiar Rokni – the channel had a consistency which few brands can dream of offering to their customers. The harshest critics of Dawn newspaper referred to it as “boring” and the same for Dawn news channel referred to it as “elitist” in comparison to Express news channel, which was launched only recently in 2009. This perception was due to the fact that it seemed to cater primarily to the well-educated, urban citizens of Pakistan. Seemingly Dawn news channel had been struggling for sponsorships and some cable operators were not even providing Dawn news to their subscribers due to limited viewership. So clearly all was not well in the house of Dawn Group of Newspapers.
Dawn’s answer to some of the problems it was facing with its brand was rather shocking. In the summer of 2010, Dawn switched its English transmission completely to Urdu – everything from the news to the programs is in Urdu now. Dawn went so far in catering to the mass market that it even changed its morning show “First Blast” to “Mast Mornings with Juggan Kazim”. The two programs are as opposite to each other as they can possibly be. Mast mornings is as frivolous as the name suggests. Personally speaking, this particular program has changed the brand personality of Dawn for the worse. The print ad of the program with Juggan Kazim doing interesting antics convinced me to see the program. This is how watching Mast Mornings became an agenda on my already overwhelming to-do list. The first program was a shocker of sorts. Juggan was dressed for a wedding with earrings to match (http://plixi.com/p/55680158). The guests were none other than Syed Noor and Sana from the local film industry. No surprise there since Juggan will be appearing in films soon. The program was good at one thing. It was clear to me that Dawn channel had changed too dramatically, too soon and definitely for the worse.
Our company (Obscure) recently branded and designed The Coaching Doctor website along side other marketing communication material. Our client and subsequently his clients are thrilled by it. Our client’s Australian mentor has declared this website as a Gold Standard for her students (i.e. health & wellness coaches) in the sense that their websites should aim to meet the standards set by Obscure. That’s great news for Obscure and we are loving every minute of it! The visiting cards of the Coaching Doctor look so delicious in their warm chocolate brown – you are actually tempted to eat them if you could! You have to experience it to believe it.
Obscure Interactive is a user-centered design consultancy which I have been a marketing consultant for since the past 2 years. We have recently launched our new website (http://obscure.pk) with a new brand identity. The old logo of Obscure Interactive, which was a result of a brainstorming session, had an asterisk sign (*) and green and black were the corporate colours. The old brand identity of Obscure was stolen by a competing firm operating from Karachi as their own logo. Even their website seemed to have been inspired by our old website design. Lucky for them, we had already scheduled time to work on Obscure’s rebranding initiative. We figured that it was time to push things into top gear instead of taking action against the offenders – legally and socially.
We took the rebranding of Obscure as a full time project with identified tasks, milestones and deliverables. The brainstorming sessions which involved white boards, markers, good old multi coloured post-it notes, and many a piece of paper resulted in a thorough analysis of the market situation and Obscure’s position in it. We worked through it all – competitor analysis, SWOT analysis, the brand essence which involved heated discussions between the lead User Experience Designer and myself, and the brand personality that was initially quite hard to define.
Since we are a company which believes in creating meaningful user experiences in the online connected world, we were faced with the challenge of communicating the same through our brand identity. We chose a rather odd colour – a sunlight copper- to represent energy. The use of an arrow in the logo depicts goal-directed motion. Also, it symbolizes a human figure which shows the importance of people at each stage of experience design – the people for whom the experience is being designed (our client’s customers), the people who design it (a vivacious team of user experience designers + marketing strategists + architects), and the people who ask us to design in the first place (our clients). Finally, the use of a circle symbolizes completeness and implies a sense of security.
In terms of communicating the core message of delivering quality every time, we came up with the idea of documenting our approach (http://obscure.pk/whatwedo.php) and case studies. We still have to add more case studies along side adding a “Buzz about Obscure” section. So keep visiting!
User-centered design plays an extremely important role in branding a product. Once brand associations are built, they are difficult to change. Apple changed its logo quite successfully from a colorful apple to an apple in a solid color. Now that worked out just fine as they had reinvented themselves and the design philosophy went hand in hand with the much evolved product line. Not so much the case with Ikea (http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1919127,00.html). We are witnessing a font war these days as Ikea fans fume over Verdana.
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