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Byline: Shahid Inayet

Just like the seven deadly sins illustrate the tendencies of a human being to fall into the trap of the devil and choose vice over virtue, the same seven deadly sins are evident in the behaviours of brands and indicate how brand managers build beautiful or conversely ugly brands. This part is about how brand managers are enticed into the temptation of lust.

What is Lust?

Lust is the urge to gain pleasure without considering the spirit behind it. The difference between love and lust is not in the physical actions but in the difference of intention behind the actions.

A person who indulges in lust desires the 'form' of pleasure without the 'spirit' that translates an ordinary experience into a pleasing one. The impact in the long run is that gradually the person forgets the intention of his actions and just keeps doing it for the sake of doing it. After some time, the experience does not offer him happiness.

Take the example of a boy who sees a beautiful girl and decides to propose to her because of her beauty. The girl agrees because she believes that the proposal is an expression of love. They get married and all remains well for some time until he begins to see his wife as just another ordinary girl. The girl also starts to feel that the boy didn't actually love her in the first place. They eventually separate.

Brands can also fall for the sin of lust when they forget that the spirit of marketing is in satisfying the need of the customer for long-term profit and survival. A brand sees a 'sale' as its main objectives. It makes an effort to make the transaction happen but this could also leave the customer's needs unfulfilled. The brand lusts for sale and forgoes the love of the customer.

After the transaction is over, the brand forgets the customer and his needs. When the customer understands that he is being provided a product in a physical 'form' only, and that it is not aimed at his fulfillment, he gradually and sometimes suddenly detaches himself from the brand. So, just like the boy and girl who got together because one worshipped the 'form' of love while the other believed that the symbol of love guarantees true love, the brand and customer come together because the brand believes that sales are the only target to be achieved and the customer believes that the product's benefit is bound to fulfill his needs.

Brands often become lustful about gaining short-term sales. They resort to marketing gimmicks like misrepresenting the price by not showing hidden costs and adopting the 'me-too' product strategy. All these tactics boost sales in the short-term but do not establish a relationship with the customer. Hence the product is bought by an individual only once, because the customer discontinues the purchase as soon as he discovers the truth. After some time, the product reaches its saturation level when everyone has been fooled once. There are no more sales. The situation is quite similar to a man who knows so many women that no one trusts him enough and none want to marry him.


Toyashiba is mimicry of Toshiba and Dhoom is a copy of Zoom bubble gum. They sell to customers who are in too much of a hurry to distinguish between the original brand and the imitation. These brands can never make a place in the consumer's mind.

On the other hand, the examples of Dalda, Nokia and Philips show that adopting changes in products according to customer needs can keep sustain them in the leading position. They are so successful that they represent the categories they lead. It comes out that if you want to be on top, your must keep your customer truly happy. F

Shahid Inayet is a lecturer in Marketing at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University.

Shahid Inayet reveals how sin can hurt a brand.
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Date:Jul 31, 2011
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