Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guerilla Branding (Post is work in progress)

Now that I am in showbiz and we have our own company Tangelo, I am trying to understand brands better. Read a few books on it and here is condensed version of all that I understood.
I would be concentrating on guerilla branding. Branding for small businesses or even industry professionals who are free-lancers like writers, cinematographers, directors.

It's a work in progress and I will refine it as I keep reading and contemplating :).  I will write it as a FAQ so that it is more precise and to-the-point.

First 2-3 days I will concentrate on basics so that when I reach guerilla branding part, the basics are covered better.

Why does one need branding ?
Before we talk about branding businesses or movies, one has to realize that every person is a brand in him/herself (whether they like it or not). Brand gives people around you confidence. And brand is bigger than what you do. It shows what you 'are'. A good brand indicates values like intelligence, responsibility and results.
I have always felt shy about these things, but even if you are not a pompous company/person, you have to realize that your brand is your credit for the value you provide. Your brand determines your perceived value.
An additional note is that branding is not a substitute for your strengths and innovations. But it certainly helps as your sphere of influence starts increasing.

What I have realized that consistency in communicating the brand and your behavior towards your customer is very important.
As it helps make people have a clear association with you. Inconsistency is one the worst brand your company can have.  Lot of times in hospitality and service industry, your contact person and service environment determines the brand. So it is very important to choose and train these contact persons correctly and invest in an environment that communicates your brand correctly. Or if you are the contact person yourself, it is better to take efforts to be be nice and courteous all the time.

What are brand components ?
We all understand what a brand is, but for precision people breakdown the term "brand" into the following components:
- Identifiers - Name (for products it can be logo, color of the logo)
- Attributes - What a customer thinks in response to the identifier.
A brand can represent
1) Need
2) Emotional Benefit
3) Functional Benefit
4) Economic Benefit
5) Feature
6) Product or service.
As you can see, for your brand to be effective, the higher you are in that list, the better.
- Associations - The wiring in the customers mind - what attribute do they give to your brand.
For example think of a few things you use in your day to day life. e.g Facebook - what attribute you associate with it (Is it a product for you, is it functional need or emotional need - every person's usage of facebook varies based how he/she associates with it).
 Or think of yourself in your organization. What attributes do you think your colleagues associate with you (are you their need?).

In a market, how do you position yourself effectively to create strong Brand Associations ?
Though you and your product can have lot of key benefits, start by choosing just 2-3. But before your customer is deciding whether to use your product/service the bigger challenge is will he even consider your product/service. Most young professionals in this industry face the challenge number one :).

To go about this, one should collect data and understand the market.
1) Do situation Analysis - Understand customers and competitors
2) Market Segment - What area of the market or what group of people will seek you e.g. Do you own a Pancake shop or a Gujju Thali joint. What appeals to whom. Someone says: "If everyone is your customer then prob noone is your customer".
3) Positions - This consists of 3 benefits that your market segment wants and how you can provide it better than the choices available to them.
4) Communicate - Now you need to find a gap between your brand position and customer perception. And work towards bridging it. This cannot happen over-night. Brand communication requires series of nudges and not a big violent push so this is a long process and happens over a period of time.

Now that I have positioned myself, how do I communicate ?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Perspective across Professions: The Best Lot

A long delayed post as it was on my mind for a while.

I have observed lots of people doing very well in various professions. Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to have experienced two diametrically different professions first-hand - Microsoft  in US and film-units in Bollywood.

Recently I came across a quote from Rahul Dravid (Indian Batsman) that stayed with me.
"I think we judge talent wrong. What do we see as talent? I think I have made the same mistake myself. We judge talent by people's ability to strike a cricket ball. The sweetness, the timing. That's the only thing we see as talent. Things like determination, courage, discipline, temperament, these are also talent. I think when we judge talent, we have got to look at the whole package"-- Rahul Dravid

I remember when I used to interview candidates for Microsoft, we used to be told that we need to evaluate a candidate not just for his coding skills but also for his core values- that included focus, personal discipline, being open to new ideas, ability to work as a team, ability to not give up easily on tough problems, ability to be accountable and take ownership, keenness to learn and grow.

And even when I work with people, in movie-making - I have felt that best people to work with are with these core values. Infact the best people who cut the clutter and have reached the top exhibit these values the most. As somewhere these core values help them constantly evolve their professional skills and ensures that they do not take any aspect of their work for granted. Moreover working with them is rewarding for others as well.
 Rajkumar Hirani (one of the most commercially and critically successful Indian Film Directors) for example meticulously works on his script draft after draft. He makes sure that he visits locations and does shot breakdown in advance, and works diligently in the casting of even small actors. He had years of experience as an editor too and directors who have worked with him confirmed that he tried his best to provide best editing solutions to their rushes. We can see that he really excels in his core values. Who knows, maybe Mr Hirani might have made a good software engineer too if he wanted to :).

 The technical skill-set of a profession can be acquired. I think rest of the qualities take years and is largely dependent on how you were oriented since childhood, or how you decide to orient yourself with time. How seriously you take yourself and if you believe that your work does define your identity. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Marketing Strategy Presentations for Films

I have been asked by lots of people - what is the marketing strategy of your film? Lots of investors/producers/dustributors expect a presentation from the director him/herself.

New/indie filmmakers, who are trying to prepare a presentation for the same, should try to cover the following points. You will see that thinking about these pointers will automatically help you devise a good marketing strategy.

1) Marketing Strategy
 - Target Group 
    Determine which age-group is most likely to watch your film. Kids, youth, adults. (Or as a distributor in Naaz will ask you: class ki mass ?)

 - Genre and Tone of Pitch to Target Group
    Now that you have identified your audience, what qualities of the film will you present to the audience. E.g Vicky Donor was a comedy-drama but they promoted it only as a comedy.

 - Creative Media Strategies for Brand Differentiation
   Incase you dont have stellar star cast, what strategies will you use to differentiate your promo from 1000 other promos. How will you excite your TG.
Personally I feel a good way to approach this is by being in the shoes of TG.
    a) What qualities in the films do they want to watch
    b) What are the locations/mediums where they discover a movie
    *c) How do they take that "decision" to go to the theatre and watch it.
 What hints will you plant and at what all places so that they are able to take that decision readily.

 - Choice of Songs to Release
   Songs play an important role in marketing. They play in radio, music channels constantly reminding people of your movie.  Delhi Belly is a great example. Hardly any of the released songs were used in the film but they were used to draw the audience to the theatre.

 - Pre-Release Word of Mouth
   What WOM willl you generate that people would really really want to see your film.

2) Release Strategy
 - Types of theatres (multiplexes or single screen)
 - Show Timings
 - The Date of release of the film. This timing is extremely important. Just the right timing can make your film a hit or flop - you need to do in-depth study to understand it.

Update: These are some of the pointers that I have arrived at after talking to various people and with time. If you have more pointers please add and help.
Any data that gives insight in Release Strategy would be really helpful.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Two secret teasers of my music video for Indian Ocean

I am really excited about the new music video I produced and directed for Indian Ocean. And it features Rajat who already published a newspaper article about us (Read it here) . Here are some of the teasers I made. A big shot out to my Co-Director Zain Matcheswalla and Cinematographer Vidyut Singh Jaswal.
These are still not final teasers but I just can't help share them in my chotu blog.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Basic concepts of Gravity, blackhole, wormhole

P.S: Just a change of mood.

Newton questioned why apple falls on the ground and deduced that smaller objects get attracted to larger heavier object. But he never explained why.

Einstein explained it as follows with a very simple illustration. Imagine space-time to be a  large white bedsheet (space-time fabric) and all the objects, our planets, suns be placed on that bedsheet.
Now if you place a heavy object on a bedsheet, it causes a depression and the lighter objects get attracted to it. So earth causes a depression and sun causes a bigger depression and earth gets attracted to the sun and spirals round it. We as humans are so light that we cause a depression that nobody cares about and we remain glued to the earth.

A blackhole is a very heavy object and huge depression in the bedsheet and anything that comes near it gets sucked in.

Now this space-time fabric will be infinite so spherical. A wormhole is a depression that goes from one end of the sphere to another end. So if you enter a worm hole you can reach the other end of the universe.