Standing Out


We stand out

When everyone is self-obsessed, by being selfless

When everyone is shouting on roof-tops to be heard, by being silent

When everyone is trying to go fast, by slowing down

When everyone seeks scale, by focusing on that which can’t be scaled

When no one can be trusted, by being trust-worthy

When self-promotion is the norm, by shining the light on someone else

When everyone is trying to be interesting, by being interested

When everyone is running after the next big thing, by cherishing that which we  already have

When everyone is trying to fit in, by being comfortable in who we are

When we stand out not because we want to stand out, but because that’s who we are!

We stand out, when we are the exception to the rule!

This post was inspired by this post by Bernadette Jiwa

The First Rule Of Standing Out


Finally a Mixed Reality Tool That Has the Potential to Bring MR in Mainstream Use


Disney Research recently released a white paper on its experiment with Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality. They address the one challenge that was stopping the widespread adoption of Mixed reality in everyday business scenarios – the requirement that the user wear an expensive device on his self and thereby literally get transported to a different world and it was an isolated experience for this user.

They say:

We create a solution for multi-user interactions in AR/MR, where a group can share the same augmented environment with any computer generated (CG) asset and interact in a shared story sequence through a third-person POV. Our approach is to instrument the environment leaving the user unburdened of any equipment, creating a seamless walk-up-and-play experience. We demonstrate this technology in a series of vignettes featuring humanoid animals. Participants can not only see and hear these characters, they can also feel them on the bench through haptic feedback. Many of the characters also interact with users directly, either through speech or touch. In one vignettŠe an elephant hands a participant a glowing orb. ŒThis demonstrates HCI in its simplest form: a person walks up to a computer, and the computer hands the person an object

You can have a look at the video that was accompanied with the white paper here:.

As you can see, the experience with this “magic bench” is not only simple but also has the possibility for multiple people sharing the same experience.

Once the Disney team is able to build this to scale, I can see many applications of this in the real world.

Some of them could be:

  1. Customer Service: Augmented reality customer service engagement at different retail stores. This experience can give the consumers a reason to visit the store rather than buy everything online.
  2. Movie promotions: This will allow Disney and other movie franchisees to allow their customers to have an interaction with their favourite movie characters.
  3. Book Promotions:  Just like there can be an engagement built with the users favourite movie characters, people can also interact with their favorite book characters and maybe the authors themselves.
  4. Mass personalization of Brand advertisements:  Brands can use these benches to hyper-personalise their by immersing their consumers as part of the advertisement itself, there by creating stronger bonding with the brand.
  5. Stories abound: Add to this an AI bot that can engage with the user and have an improvisational dialogue and co-create a story with the user. This would just be amazing to see. We could have a “Whose Line is it anyway” with a virtual character in play (played by an AI bot).

These are just a very few ideas that I can think of.  I am sure you can think up a lot more uses for these magic benches.

I see enormous potential for this technology if this is developed and opened up to entrepreneurs to play with.

The question is will Disney make it available for developers and entrepreneurs learn and play with their creation?

What could Tiffany’s Do?


Last week the Wall St. Journal featured a story on Tiffany & Co’“midlife crisis.” The piece highlighted the jewellery brand’s struggle to regain its “cool” and improve recently tepid sales and profits. A few days later they announced the hiring of a new CEO.

Tiffany is hardly the only brand that is going through such a crisis. There is a lesson that all of us can learn from the experience of Tiffany and to a certain extent, even JC Penny. Steve Dennis on his blog talks about the customer trapeze. The customer trapeze is the idea of a brand hoping to reach a new, highly desirable set of customers while at the same time letting go of those with less favourable characteristics. Most often we see it at play when brands see that their most profitable demographic is ageing and at some point in the near future will start reducing their spends.

Knowing this, brands want to re-invent themselves to become more relevant to the new generation by becoming more hip or trendy.

The Challenge:

The challenge comes when they want to entice the new younger generation to engage with the brand, while at the same time do not want to alienate their existing client base, which is still generating most of their profits for them. This is a true catch-22 situation for brands. But is it?

Tiffnay has tried almost every trick that brands have in their sleeves – becoming more fashion forward, introduce less expensive items in their portfolio or attaching themselves to celebrities that appeal to the new demographic that they want to attract. What they are trying to do is to find the perfect moment when they can let go of their existing customers and take on the new ones. In Tiffany’s case, over the years they have introduced less expensive items and expanded their assortments in an attempt to widen their appeal to the new generation of shoppers. They have even taken on Lady Gaga and Elle Fanning as spokespeople and launched a new, more youthful ad campaign.

What could Tiffany’s Do?

I believe that this is a false dichotomy. I also believe that there is a simpler and a more easier way for brands to transition from one set of customers to another.

Option 1:

Create a new brand for the new customer segment. Let the old brand age with the ageing population cohort.

History reveals that very few established brands are able to successfully execute a dramatic re-configuration of their customer base–at least quickly. There is a significant risk in pursuing this strategy because, irrespective of what the brand does to do this switch, they will not be able to become attractive to both the ageing and the young cohort. In the process of trying this, they only alienate both the customer base, which ends up not so well with the brand and the brand dies a very slow and a painful death.

What is needed here is a mindset shift. What happens if companies create new brands for a new cohort of potential customers and continue to use the existing brand for their existing cohorts of customers. The existing brand can continue to remain relevant to their existing customers and even look at other things that the brand can do for the customers, keeping their brand values intact. In this case, in addition to creating beautiful jewellery, Tiffany’s could also look to create other items that an aging population needs – embellished walking sticks, reading glasses for the old. You get the flow.

What this approach does is allows a brand to live and stay relevant to a specific cohort of customers with their sensibilities. It is ok to allow a brand to age with their customers who grew old loving the brand.

Option 2:

The second answer is a bit more difficult.

Instead of trying to win the younger generation by themselves, allow their existing customers to do that for them.

What I mean here is the following: Instead of the brand trying to woo the next generation of customers and win them over, allow their existing customers (ageing population) do that for them. Then the question becomes what can the brand do for their existing customers so they can win their daughters and grand-daughters to their brand. This allows for two things to happen at the same time:

  • Strengthen their relationship with their existing cohort of ageing customers
  • Build a bridge for the new young customers to start engaging with the brand

This also means that the entire brand needs to go for a make-over and if done well, this can give the brand a new lease of life. The risk here is that if done badly, this could also very much fast track the death of the brand.


In conclusion, I will only say the following: how Tiffany’s and other brands in the similar situation handle it can have a profound impact on the brand – one way or other.



Lessons In Customer Loyalty

lessons in Customer Loyalty

The Offer:

I got a message from Raymond indicating that they missed me as I had not shopped with them for some time and that they would love to have me back to their shop. And that they would like to give me a  gift of INR 500.


It clearly says that the discount code is not valid for a certain items and end the message with T&C, with no further information.

I did feel good about this and decided to take them up on their offer. I visited their showroom and was in for a surprise. The first thing I was informed was that I can redeem the code only on a purchase of INR 3500 or more.

I did expect something of that sort but was still disappointed by this step taken by Raymond. The minimum ticket size of anything that I could pick up from the store was about INR 1500 and i was hoping that the brand would have allowed the discount to be applicable on that ticket size.

However, that was not be the case and that did not leave a positive impression on me or a few other customers who walked in using the same offer.

I did exit without actually doing any purchase.

My brand loyalty with Raymond did take a hit as a result of this transaction. The next time they send me a message like this one, the message most probably would hit the trash as I’ve lost trust.

Now lets look at another example of a similar exercise done by Amazon.


I also got an email from Amazon with a gift voucher for INR 50. It was simple, small and a sweet gift that was sent to me (and am sure to a countless other customers) just before their big festive sale is about to begin. This small little token from Amazon, while not very much in terms of monetary amount, but came with no strings attached. I could spend that amount on anything that i wanted (within a month of course).

I am sure that i will end up buying something from Amazon (whether or not I originally planned to) and more importantly my loyalty with Amazon has been strengthened as a result of this transaction.

Now lets try to decode what could marketers learn about customer loyalty from these two examples:

What could Raymond have done differently:

They used this as a tactic to lure me into their shop. It was all about the brand from thereon.

Don’t Trick Your customers. Its not good for business.

Ideally, they could have used the principle of reciprocity and not have the minimum purchase term at all. This would have created a more positive affinity towards the brand.

They could have mentioned that the discount is valid only on purchase of INR 3500 only in the text message that they sent out. They did mention that the coupon cant be used on certain things, they could also have said about the minimum purchase condition.

Alternately, they could have given a smaller amount as a discount and not have any strings attached on the minimum billing, similar to what Amazon did in the second example.

Be Creative & Use Psychology of Influence/Persuasion

The brand could have been a bit more creative and ask us to share the message on social media about the offer from the Raymond Shop once we bought something from there.

They could have also paired it with a voucher code that the customers could send to a few of their friends to use. This could have the potential of increasing the brand affinity of the people who buy from Raymond as they have publicly stated that they like Raymond and have invited their friends to try out as well.

In addition, this could also have helped in building a pipeline of prospective customers for the business who may or may not have been a Raymond customer.

Think from the Customers Perspective

It is important to put yourself in your customers shoe and think about your offer from their perspective. This is what allows you to think through the entire interaction with the brand and not just one off transaction. Had someone thought through the entire journey, there could have been multiple touch points where they could potentially have found ways to not only improve the brand affinity but increase their purchase and potentially create new customers as well.


So, if you are a marketer, where is your offer failing you?


PBTO44: Out-think, Out-pace & Out-Wit your competition with Lakshmipathy Bhat

Lakshmipathy Bhat

Who is on the show today

We host Lakshmipathy Bhat on this episode. He is a Marketing Communications professional, passionate about brands, marketing communications and new media. He is also a failed entrepreneur with some learning to show for it.

Why is he on the show

He is an avid blogger and early adapter of new media & tech. His blog – BhatNaturally ranks among the one of the best blogs on advertising, marketing and creativity.

He is a regular contributor as columnist and guest blogger at leading trade & business publications like Economic Times, afaqs, Financial Express and more. He was a visiting faculty member at IIFM Business School, Bangalore teaching Digital Marketing.

What do we talk about on the show

We talk about a wide variety of topics, some of which are as below:
How does one go about building a brand:
  • A product that meets a need..
  • A product needs to do something that is of relevance to a consumer and doing it differently..
  • Articulation of a belief and being consistent..
  • Instead of Outspending your competition, outwit your competition..

H0w to Protect and grow a brand

  • Out-think in product development and outpace competition in execution..
  • Putting the consumer first..

Difference between branding, advertising and marketing..

  • branding is personality that creates a preference to your brand
  • Advertising is showcasing the personality
  • Marketing is going to a place where you could find a date, exhibit your personality and get yourself a date (prospect), whom you end up having a long term relationship.
Relevance of Traditional advertising (carpet bombing):
  • certain categories for which the carpet bombing is fully relevant
  • the only reason for Advertising to exist is to drive sales
Start with a business strategy, which should drive marketing/advertising/digital
Differentiation could be done through brand personality…
  • Don’t be a me me me brand on social..
  • Showcase your human side and be of value to your customer (drool value)..
How to grow your brand
  • Telling a story through a free platforms
  • Post that explore all the other platforms..
What is so obvious to him but not so much for a lot of people:
  • If you build, they will not come..

Where can you connect with him

You can reach out to him on LinkedIn, twitter and on his blog BhatNaturally. I strongly recommend that you follow his blog for some great insights.