Brand association has been on since times immemorial – if not biding by the examples of your favourite stars, then counting on the reliability of your friendly neighbourhood aunty for her delicious homemade food, or your elder sibling for their experience in academics.
Brands count on these personalities, to be particular – on celebrities – to help gain the confidence of their market. You wouldn’t mind picking up a chocolate Amitabh Bachchan is associating with or a young, happy, peppy cola because the generation’s heartthrob, Ranbir has some too. Think Pepsi, think Ranbir Kapoor. Think Tag Heuer, its Shah Rukh Khan. Think Deepika, and you’re speaking of Lux, Fiama, Axis and a long list of brands that have fresh ideas and rejuvenated products.
The perception of celebrities and their virtually asking the audience to use the same products as them helps brand build a trustworthiness and rapport with their market. It helps the brand identify early adopters – people who follow and trust these celebrities to vouch for the right product for their needs, and set a standard or trend for others to follow.
Imagine how you’d react should Aamir Khan endorse an alcohol brand, which he wouldn’t – but when the same man asks you to buy a motorbike that is sturdy and safe to use, you nod in agreement. But you may not trust Salman Khan with a vehicle’s endorsement.
Beyond the consumers, brands also need to associate themselves with the right people to have the investors queue up. Today, the biggest names have not one owner – but several stakeholders in their financial and market interest. To gain these, they collaborate with celebrities – providing a sense of security to the brand. With celebrities getting even more conscious about their lifestyles and setting the correct examples for their fans, they have much riding on their back. A low-risk celebrity is often the right choice for both brands and investors. A fair example of which is the IPL and ISL ventures. Every team is owned by a known face – Shilpa Shetty, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan – and then follow the investors such as UltraTech Cement, Reliance, Reebok, etc.
With the media being more involved with every corporate move, and with publishing houses exposing the world to these associations, a brand presence at press conferences, investment meets and events gives every investor an indirect or subliminal association with the celebrity, even if they are connected by the product and not directly. As a consequence, people know about brands because celebrity X was standing next to their logo.
Riding on the functional and emotional benefit of the brand too helps investors get their share of leverage. It helps them persuade the layman consumer that not only does such a brand exist; it also looks forward to their interests and well-being.
In a time that brand identities are turning into a game of trust, and with social media opening the doors to transparency, communication and breaking the once-perceived barriers between celebrity and consumer, a brand and its investors clinch this opportunity to leverage themselves among the public – their ultimate consumers.