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... much of the branding happens from consumers' observations of the actions of the company that are executed without conscious concern for the brand and ironically, hardly does it happen from the orchestrated communications companies customarily indulge in - - to objectively to impact the brand.

 

  11 June 2008

  Zapak - - the new slang

Zapak, whatever it means it sounds good. It is easy on the tongue, resounding in the ears and magnetic to the eye-balls. The name has in it, all it takes to become a big brand. As a virgin shell for a brand it can contain values for products that offer spice and thrill as core benefits. It fits the likes of wafer chips, digital toys, cool drink, pub, and disco - - fine and as well as it does for the gaming business of Reliance-Adag.

 

My questions are; is Zapak building up to take the Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd. to where it wants to? Is the worthy name defined to serve up as a source of influence and directions for sewing-up the business strategies? Do the company's beliefs about the brand and the consumers' perceptions about it match? Is it a source of entertainment, thrill, pass-time and brain-trainer? Is it for kids, boys and girls, men and women or for everyone? Or, is it a source in disguise for porn and sleaze drawing in curious tender minds, susceptible youth and habitual adults?

 

A brand reflects the core benefits charged by certain attributes playing on balance with varying impact, some even pulling it down. These values are ingrained, reinforced, or diluted or even altered through all kinds of business decisions and the way they are executed. Though it may sound strange, much of the branding happens from consumers' observations of the actions of the company that are executed without conscious concern for the brand and ironically, hardly does it happen from the orchestrated communications companies customarily indulge in - - to objectively to impact the brand. For branding progressively, it is crucial that those who manage the brand work with it in drawing support and directions in developing products, strategies and programs and work for it by causing reverse flow of values. Branding prudence demands managers to seamlessly validate business decisions by asking a set of fundamental questions, such as; is this in tune with the customers' expectations? Would this positively support the core offering? Would it reinforce the critical values of the brand? And, more importantly; would the decision in any way impact the brand negatively?

 

In the media and entertainment sectors attributes seem to overriding the core offering. Sleaze is the new tool thatís being recklessly used as a drive in the entertainment and media sectors. It works because it plays on human instincts. A situation which would eventually bring to relevance the need to have a brand document prepared to provide directions to managers, particularly on what is not right. Zapak has one, complete with the jargon and story and has even put it on its website for everyone to know. Ironically, the company does not seem to be guided by it. It appears to me like an advertisement copy that is false. Branding essentially happens out of elements of reality regardless of the psycho-trap tricks widely tried in advertisements. Evolving brands, unlike established brands, can become difficult with just a few mistakes and rarely can even get ruined out of just one terrible mistake. Zapak, I believe is in a spot to become a case to prove this.

 

Zapak is quite a sticky name. And wrong things stick to brands fast. Almost naked 'girls-of-maxim' aboard the website can possibly turn Zapak into a slang for barely clad girls and could be used in the collage campuses, offices and market places for teasing ladies. I am not triggering something. I guess it's stuck already. I too indulged in seeing the Zapak at the zapak.com beyond the need for writing this. Guess what!! I had to clear the history in a hurry before my wife was back, to avoid a possible spell of lull at home Ė for seeing the Zapak. I am saying this to prove a point. Think of the kind of apprehensions parents would have about their children visiting Zapak which leads them on a click to professional girls in bikini and spilling. The girls in strings in the Zapak TV would only tense the parents to scare their game-crazy children away from Zapak. And the smart kids who know the tricks would manage to click-in - - to see, not really to play.

 

I call Zapak's affair with Maxim, a suicidal branding mistake. Besides putting the venture at high risk it would devalue the group brand also. The needless association hasn't hurt the brand only yet, if at all it hasnít yet. The factors that are shielding the brand now are fundamental to marketing and can only turn against it in time. Positive aspects of a brand yield progressively in tune with the extent of awareness and by the same rule negative elements should hurt too, progressively. That would take some more promotions and worse for Zapak if they are effective.

 

The implications are more than business risks and branding logic. Zapak's strategic use of 'girls-of-maxim' hits out as a classic case of corporate social irresponsibility. Putting adult content into an easy-reach facility that's widely promoted and even perceived as one of active interest for kids and teens is sinful indeed. If brand value makes any sense in business, I believe the other group that shares the brand (Reliance) should be concerned.

 

Adve Srinivasa Bhat

Management Consultant

 
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