Johari window explains need for brand building

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 31, 2003

The MINDSET that marketing is dispensable and expensive is the biggest barrier to creating brand awareness. It is also the most certain way to kill the brand’s potential success.

Too often, owners who may be production or technical oriented argue that having a superior product or service is sufficient to trigger market awareness of a brand. In the same way, many who are finance-oriented point out that savings from not having awareness campaigns may be put to better use by servicing debts and funding salaries of seasoned personnel to include sales people and
collection agents.

Unfortunately, with competition and brand proliferation, this may not be entirely true. The same seasoned sales people continue to ask for marketing awareness campaigns to help clinch a sale. Often, the absence of marketing efforts becomes a convenient excuse for not bringing home a sale.

In the same manner, one may have the best production facilities and equipment but with little market presence and identity, the company cannot expect much product or service demand.

A firm may have the best finance people and collection agents but without adequate sales derived from awareness programs, there may not be enough funds to manage or payables to be collected.

The importance of establishing brand awareness specially if one is seriously committed to sustaining a product or service life, is underscored by the popular JoHari window, a theoretical model of interpersonal communication and human interaction.

Two psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed the JoHari window, widely represented as a four-pane window. It is a popular mental model describing the different styles of interpersonal communication and human interaction.

The same principles that gave birth to JoHari window may be cited as the very reasons why marketing and brand awareness is necessary to the success of any product or service.

In its original form, the four-quadrant JoHari window represents the person’s entire self and his level of personal awareness. Each quadrant symbolizes a different type of awareness level known as open, hidden, blind and unknown.

Quadrant one or the open quadrant represents what a person knows about himself and what the public knows about the person.

Quadrant two or the blind quadrant refers to what the public may know about the person but which the person is unaware of.

Quadrant three or the hidden quadrant covers all the information known to the person but which the public is unaware of. While quadrant four or the unknown quadrant sums up all the things, which the person does not know about himself nor is the public aware of.

The JoHari window’s challenge is to increase the domain covered by quadrant one or the open quadrant. This can happen only with greater transparency from an individual, as it is widely believed that a person’s openness or self-disclosure often generates feedback about oneself from others.

This feedback from others increases the person’s knowledge about himself thus, reducing the blind or unknown area. If this is achieved, the blind or unknown area is reduced.

The principles espoused by the JoHari window matches much of marketing’s brand building tenets. It strongly substantiates the proposition that brand awareness is integral to any brand’s success. Here are some ways by which the JoHari window principle can be applied to marketing:

Widen open quadrant

Brand awareness is vitally important to building a brand. However, efforts in brand building become more successful if there is a significant and meaningful disclosure of what your brand can do including how important and relevant are its benefits to the target market as much as how distinct and unique is it compared to all other available competitor brands.

In the early 90s, the brand Lucky Me was a new entrant in the instant noodle market. It was up against formidable brands like Maggi and Payless. While other brands had the head start, Lucky Me had the more meaningful product story that made it easy for its target market to recall the brand.

Lucky Me’s soupy noodle variant made its way to the heart of Filipino families with the timely endorsement of celebrity couple Lani and Bong Revilla with kids. While the dry noodle variant Lucky Me Pancit Canton hinged on a unique Filipino slice of life situation through the use of a street toughie character whose heart melts at the sight of a bowl of Lucky Me Pancit Canton.

Both variants talked about the delicious taste of instant Lucky Me. With sustained marketing communication efforts and the introduction of new variants over time which included batchoy, the brand Lucky Me has become today’s undisputed market leader in the instant noodle category.

Reduce hidden quadrant

A company may have a good product or service but sees little value in letting the public and target market know about the brand’s existence much more patiently sustain efforts to communicate a meaningfully unique consumer benefit. Ironically, many of the country’s local brands among them San Miguel Pale Pilsen, Goldilocks, Bench, Jollibee, Max Fried Chicken, etc. started small but have become successful because of wise and sustained investments in brand awareness.

Get rid of blind quadrant

Marketing, among the various business disciplines, enjoys the privilege of having marketing research tools that helps the owner of the brand keep track of consumers’ attitudes, feeling, knowledge and usage of the brand. Much of the brand’s blind quadrant can be minimized, if not totally eradicated by the learning and insights derived from widely used consumer research tools like focus group discussions and usage, attitude and image surveys. Your brand’s loyal users may have found more relevant ways of using your product or service.

Arm & Hammer, a 125-year old baking soda brand made by Church and Dwight reversed its moribund fate with the discovery that many of its present users were using the brand as a refrigerator deodorant. An awareness campaign on this single use and benefit was launched with tremendous success.

Much of its target market was encouraged to place an open box of baking soda in their refrigerator. Arm & Hammer’s case reveals how awareness and usage of a brand can help uncover more insights about the brand based on the target market’s experience and how this derived learning can be used to strengthen and prolong a brand’s life.

Discover the unknown

Marketing is the discovery of an inherent, latent physiological need that is not yet apparent to its potential user. Nonetheless, a marketer’s sensitivity to customer needs and wants, keen foresight and assessment of trends in the environment plus knowledge of market research tools can help discover this latent need.

This was how bottled water has emerged to be one of man’s necessities today, a product borne out of a polluted environment, a market’s increasing emphasis on health and sanitation and strong need for a clean drink.

The need to create awareness is pivotal to a brand’s success. It is as essential as the company’s acquisition of new plant facilities or equipment. It is equally important as managing people and funds. It needs the same commitment as when one makes an investment in capital equipment, new product, service or software technology and people.