KUALA LUMPUR: Most companies typically believe that brand differentiation is the way to go without realising that brand distinctiveness is what helps them attract and retain customers.
This statement comes from Judd Labarthe, the Effie Worldwide advisory board member and jury chairman of Malaysia Effie Awards 2013.
The American, who is involved in judging 50 Effie winners across three continents and serves regularly as a judge, moderator and consultant for Effie programmes globally, also said that distinctiveness is what helps consumers remember a particular brand that has worked well for them.
Billions of ringgit and dollars are poured into campaigns every year that do not actually end up differentiating one brand from the other, Labarthe said, adding that brand differentiation does not seem to be really important for consumers.
"What helps people buy a brand from time to time is being able to remember what it was that they bought the last time and it is easier to remember something if it is distinctive, that is why when Coke does something, it's all red," Labarthe said in a recent interview.
"The idea is to use the advertising and marketing tools in such a way so that when people are getting ready to make a purchase decision in your category, you're the brand they will think of!" he said.
In terms of judging the Effie Awards this year, Labarthe said there are two important and distinct exercises.
The companies participating in the award have to develop a campaign that they are effective in and include the campaign story to persuade a panel of judges that their campaign is stronger than the others competing for the award.
The Effie Awards is more than just an average marketing communications awards as it measures the ability of brands to exceed ambitions more than anything else.
Labarthe said the first hurdle that a company has to go through is to demonstrate to the Effie jury that its campaign has met or exceeded objectives.
What any particular brand aims to do is always the first and the most important thing to know, he said, adding that only then a brand campaign can be compared against others within a category.
The Malaysia Effie Awards 2013, which will be held on Thursday at the Majestic Hotel here is organised by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia, in collaboration with the Malaysian Advertisers Association and the Media Specialists Association and in association with Malaysia External Trade Development Corp.
There are 15 categories this year, which include financial services, household supplies and services, retail, food as well as two specialty categories - green and small budget. This year's awards attracted 85 entries compared with 102 entries last year.
Effie Awards organising committee chairman Nicky Lim said although the number of entries is fewer but participating agencies increased to 28 from 18 last year.
Among the judges are Malayan Banking Bhd group chief marketing officer Mohamed Adam Wee, Maxis Bhd chief operating officer Surin Amarasekara, Tune Hotels chief executive Mark Lankester, L'Oreal Malaysia marketing director Lau Chooi Hoon and Guinness Anchor Bhd marketing director Bruce Dallas.