Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Business Process Re-engineering to Branding Process Re-Designing

Business Process Re-Engineering to Branding Process Re-Designing – PART1
(There will be a series of three articles. This is the first one.)

Sounds cool or complex? But ‘kuch to hai’ (there is something in it). And by the way, BPR is not an old school logic or idea because it was born only in 1990 which is not very far away from us. The same time our country was waking up to reforms and liberalization. Children who were born then are completing MBA in a management school today, or have taken up their first job in the corporate hallway, or exercising their likes and dislikes on consumption from their own disposable income.
It’s been only 21 years since it was first coined, debated and consumed by organizations. BPR is not also one man’s idea or case, it was supported and propagated by established management thinkers like Tom Peters and Peter Drucker. Wow!
I am here just to re-engineer the abbreviation in an age and time where BRAND is the business, BRANDING is the process and DESIGN is the engineering. It is solely my view. So let’s begin and see if it is cool or complex.     
BPR (aka business process re-engineering) is a ‘set of logically related tasks performed to achieve a defined business outcome’. You will find many definitions of BPR and different ways to consider this idea and adopt as per need or individuals who propose and organizations who comply. It is actually about “where you want to apply it” for the favourable results.
My subject is BRAND and I want to see how branding needs re-engineering through DESIGN.
Normally the stakeholders of a brand and its branding are huge. In the earlier days there used to be very few stakeholders. For example, the brand owner, the brand marketer, the brand seller (sales), the brand advertiser and the brand customer. If these entities were in sync with each other and went about doing things as guided by each other, there were no problems. Each one would aptly deliver on the roles and acknowledge the outcome.
But today a brand does not have stakeholders. It has relationships. And hence the connections and associations it enjoys cannot be isolated into departments or organizational structures. I have seen people from finance in a company adding as much value to the branding as the R&D, and people from production aiding the brand building as much as the brand manager. You would not see this phenomenon in the earlier structures and processes of BRANDING.
To quote an example - I was once involved in the brand design of a nutritional supplement for toddlers. I found the brand in the process of being built (design & creation) exhibiting almost eleven relationships. Starting with the (1) Managing Director of the company who had approved the assignment and our agency, the (2) General Manager who had briefed us on their expectations, the (3) Brand manager who had put together and narrated the actual brief, the (4) Production guy who had specified the do’s and dont’s, the (5) Nutritionist who had worked on the product story, the (6) Research guy who had executed the research and study to find the insights, the (7) Creative director who was leading the design development process, the (8) Designer who was working on the graphics, the (9) Relationships manager of the agency who was servicing the account, the (10) Strategic planner who was decoding the brief and putting together a strategic framework for design and finally the (11) Printer who was supposed to bring the physical evidence into place. But strangely I did not find the advertising agency anywhere in the process. I won’t be able to say if this is the ideal mix of relationships for any brand design process but truly this team did wonders and the results were mind boggling. Once this team was ready with the delivery of the work in hand, then only the advertising people were brought in and briefed for developing a suitable and compelling communication in media.
We all know relationships cannot be manufactured. And there cannot be any engineering on that. It is like a software and not hardware. What brought so many people from such diverse roles and potential together is the relationship which each of them wanted to establish with the creation, the brand. Each one of them felt that their presence was significant while being critical and towards the end of the process had developed a very strong relationship with the brand even before it was available for the world to see and build on its relations further.
I am not trying to say that a brand built with relationships is a brand that will enjoy profitable relations or vice versa.
All I am trying to say is that very often the branding process engineering is done the other way round. And that is what needs to be re-designed. We start looking for ‘what communication should be done and so what relations can we develop’. We first pay attention to the communication, the ad, the campaign and based on that start engineering the brand design in reverse. But is that right, I wonder?
We often try to hunt for relationships first, spend fruitless time identifying who should we relate to and who can be avoided. We jump to decide what we are going to say and then hunt for words and then look at who is it all about. We first try to write the speech and then try to figure out how to make it relevant to the listeners. But this is not right.
If ‘Business process re-engineering’ is about “how can we make our brand profitable” then ‘Branding process redesigning’ is about “how can we make our brand lovable”. It goes beyond stakeholders, the people who are meant only to deliver a job.
It is about relationships and how the brand can earn from it in the process of development. The more relations are built in the inception and development, the brand becomes more admirable and likeable as it grows.
So if I may say, at the end of this part that today “BRANDING PROCESS RELATIONING” is BPR of 2011.