What is Superbrands ?

Superbrands is an internationally recognised organisation headquartered in London. As at January 31st March 2016 it had operations in 86 countries across the world each with the objective of identifying and paying tribute to outstanding brands. The centre-piece of its work is a coffee-table book that it releases. As at date 16,141 brands have participated in 388 released editions.

What countries does it operate out of ?

Angola • Argentina • Australia • Austria • Azerbaijan • Bangladesh • Benelux • Bolivia • Bosnia • Brazil • Bulgaria • Canada • China • Chile • Columbia • Costa Rica • Croatia • Cyprus • Czech Republic • Denmark • Dominican Republic • Eastern Africa • Ecuador • El Salvador • Egypt • Estonia • Finland • France • Germany • Greece • Guatemala • Honduras • Hong Kong • Hungary • Iceland • India • Indonesia • Israel • Italy • Kazakhstan • Kuwait • Latvia • Lebanon • Lithuania • Macedonia • Malaysia • Mexico • Morocco • New Zealand • Nicaragua • Nigeria • Norway • Pakistan • Panama • Peru • Philippines • Poland • Portugal • Puerto Rico • Romania • Russia • Saudi Arabia • Serbia • Singapore • Slovakia • Slovenia • South Africa • South Korea • Spain • Sri Lanka • Sweden • Switzerland • Taiwan • Thailand • The Maldives • Turkey • Ukraine • United Arab Emirates • United Kingdom • United States of America • Uruguay • Venezuela • Vietnam

What are the selection criteria ? 

Across the world Superbrands has used the following definition to judge brand development: “A Superbrand offers consumers significant emotional and/or physical benefits over its competitors which consciously or sub-consciously consumers want, recognise and are willing to pay a premium for.”

How does the selection happen ?

Selection in India happens in two stages. In the first stage audiences score brands in an online study. Superbrands drives traffic from high density portals and leverages its vast data bank comprising several tens of thousands of addresses inviting people to its website. Here a comprehensive list of categories and brands that operate under each is alphabetically listed. Typically, between 15,000 and 30,000 respondents turn up on the Superbrands website and provide us with up to 1 million scores. A powerful, back-end engine automatically keeps track of the numbers eliminating – at the end of the scoring period – all brands that have achieved a score of less than six out of a possible ten.

This list of surviving brands is then sent to an independent council of recognised marketing and business professionals. Since this is a closed study Superbrands provides them with a definition (please see what are the selection criteria? above). This is the yard stick by which all brands are to be measured.

What are the criteria for a brand to be listed ?

There are several: first, the brand must be legally available in India; second, it must be available across the country – regional brands, even very powerful ones are not included; and third, brands operating in certain “banned” categories are not accepted.

How are council members selected ?

Council members are selected on the basis of their track record in brand development. They are necessarily people whose opinions are valued and sought after. With the vast experience they have, council members are recognised as having an instinctive feel for the strength of a brand.

Why are council members necessary ?

Superbrands is like no other award in the world. Its differentiation lies in the fact that it has a recognised, independent “faculty” that does the scoring on the basis of a qualitative definition. Superbrands is, therefore, not a brand listing on the basis of sales, distribution, profitability and such other normally adhered-to parameters. Quite simply, Superbrands is a selection of brands that are perceptually foremost in people’s minds – exactly the same criteria that often come into play when consumers are making a purchase decision.

How is the initial listing of brands generated ?

In India, Superbrands uses multiple data sources and cross-checks them against each other. While scoring brands, council members may also point out omissions which are then included in the listing. Often, brands also write to us to be included.

What is the scoring procedure ?

Council members give a score of between one and ten to each brand. One is the lowest and ten the highest. Members who have an interest in a brand do not score that category. Their score is taken as the average score of all the other members.

How are brands invited ?

After the scores are received from all the council members they are tabulated, a mean average ascertained and a cut off score enforced. Brands that score below this figure are automatically eliminated. Participation is strictly by invitation.

A brand that does not feature here cannot, under any circumstances, be included in the Superbrands book.

How is Superbrands different from other listings ?

Superbrands have an emotional appeal to consumers. Most other listings are almost invariably on financial parameters.

I know I am a Superbrand. Why do I need your endorsement ?

Frankly, no accolade is enough. Even a Superbrand needs re-ratification of its status and a re-endorsement that it is recognised as such by an eminent council, peers and competitors. It makes people understand how important your brand is and also reminds you how good you really are – putting an end to the tendency to take it all for granted.

Besides, the Superbrands book is the only place where the stirring story of a brands’ rise to eminence can be told – and read. It’s also the only place where one Superbrand rubs shoulders with other Superbrands. The book is designed to showcase, delight, educate and tell an eminently readable story. There is no book like Superbrands, any where in the world. And no other place where a Superbrand can find such cheer.

Is there a cost to participation ?

Unlike listings in media which are supported by extensive advertising, Superbrands is a self-generating project. Producing a Superbrands book requires very substantial effort. Writing, designing, printing and distributing this book are both time-consuming and expensive. It is also our belief that unless the rich learning from this book are made freely and widely available to professionals much of the exercise would be pointless. As a result of this, we earmark over 90% of the print run for free distribution. To amortise these costs Superbrands charges each brand a small participation fee exclusive of applicable Service Tax.

I have a problem with the concept of pay and participate

Superbrands India is a project for the marketing community, run by people who have spent their lives building and developing brands. It is the company’s endeavour to give back to the community and help it grow. The project, therefore, depends upon the support of brands to make it financially viable. The participation fee Superbrands charges is simply designed to offset the huge costs it incurs in research, writing, designing, printing and the complimentary distribution of its books.

For the record, if a brand has not scored it cannot, under any circumstances, feature in the book – even if it is (as often happens) willing to pay the participation fee. So, in reality, the concept of pay and participate does not apply to Superbrands.

What benefits accrue to participating brands ?

There are numerous benefits: each brand participating in the book gets to use the Superbrands logo in all forms of communication for a minimum of twelve months. Media is usually happy to cover Superbrands’ activities and often extends an invitation for sound bytes.

Unlike supplements which could be discarded in course of time, the Superbrands book is for life. No copy will ever be wilfully destroyed. In fact, in countries like the UK and Australia where multiple editions have been released people often write and ask for previous copies to complete their collection! It would appear that the value participating brands derive is forever.

What are the ways in which a brand can leverage its Superbrands status ?

There are many ways – some very novel – in which brands have exploited their accolade. Brands have used it in their stationery, product literature, labels and packaging, corporate brochures, annual reports, red herring documents, websites, print and television advertising, exhibitions, billboards and even as I-am-a-Superbrand badges employees have worn to office. We will be happy to engage with you in discovering other ways, too.

Will Superbrands books have a website ?

Yes. Each issue of Superbrands is supported by a well-designed web site which has linkages to the sites of participating brands as well as to Superbrands’ own international web site. From here navigation to international brands is possible.

What use is the Superbrands book ?

The Superbrands book is a rich source of authentic information. It is referred to by journalists, public relations practitioners, advertising agency professionals, students in institutes of higher education, peers in large companies, business associates, competitors, in fact any one who is interested in learning how brands have entered our lives. In short, the Superbrands book will live for ever and over a period of time it will be the definitive showcase of the history of brand development in India.

What are the other benefits of participation ?                               

In addition to being featured in the book, each brand gets at least four invitations to attend the Tribute Event. A participating brand gets to use the Superbrands logo for at least one year in all forms of communications.

In the past, brands have used the Superbrands logo in everything ranging from IPO prospectuses to employee badges to visiting cards.

Finally, every brand also gets 35 copies of the book.

What can be done with the Superbrands book ?

The book is the ultimate reinforcement of a brands’ status. It can be used as a corporate gift to be given to members of the board, star performers, important distributors, financial institutions, joint venture partners – even placed in the office library. A brand in Australia regularly orders 5000 copies to be distributed to his high net worth clients.

Can a brand order less than 35 copies ?

Reducing the number of books reduces the exposure brand stories will have and tends to negate the entire effort. Indeed, it is our attempt to make the books available to as many people as possible. To ensure this happens, Superbrands does not allow fewer copies to be taken and does not permit the cost of the book to be reduced from the participation fee.

Can more books be ordered ?

The Superbrand India inaugural issue had 17 of the 101 participating brands ordering a total of 3322 extra books. Orders of between 500 and 5000 additional copies are reasonably common in many parts of the world.

What is the cost of additional books ?

Depending upon the cost of production, Superbrands books are usually available at between Rs. 1200 and Rs. 1500 per book. The cost includes shipping charges.

Who writes the brand stories ?

All Superbrands stories are written by senior business journalists.

Can the story be written under heads different from the ones indicated ?

The stories must be necessarily written in the same sequence and under the same eight heads: Market, Achievements, History, Product, Recent Developments, Promotion, Brand Values and Things you didn’t know about BRAND

How many books will be printed ?

A thumb rule is about 175 books per participating brand.

How are they distributed ?

Superbrands India has a vast data bank of personnel connected with corporate governance, bureaucracy, senior Members of Parliament, Ministers in the Central Cabinet, personnel in sales, marketing, media, research, advertising, public relations and students in institutes of higher learning. At least one copy of the book is sent to each completely free of cost. A limited number of copies are also available for sale through our website. Recently, Superbrands has begun listing its books on Amazon and Flipkart.

What is the schedule ?

From the time the council is formed to the launch event takes between twelve and sixteen months. It is imperative that all participating brands adhere to strict time tables. It is desirable for each brand to provide an affirmation to participate in about four weeks from the date of the invitation. Information required for writing the brand story, another four weeks. Approval of the final text and layout is eight weeks. This includes the time to incorporate suggestions made by brands. In our experience, on an average, the layout undergoes two to three revisions.

Typically, the total time from the date of invitation to the time the final version of the layout is approved is sixteen to twenty weeks.

Does Superbrands have other books too ?

In certain countries Superbrands also releases Cool Brand Leaders, Business Superbrands and e-Superbrands. The first comprises youth-driven brands, the second are B2B brands and the third are brands that have evolved on the net. In India we have, for the moment, restricted ourselves to only Consumer and Business Superbrands. However, we have plans to also a book to meet the aspirations of brands that have just missed out on the Superbrands accolade. This initiative has been titled Brands to Watch. It is a property we will develop over the years.

Can a brand participate in any of these ?

Participation is strictly by invitation.

What is the frequency of a Superbrands book ?

It is our endeavour to release a new edition each year. However, since in India we work on both Business and Consumer brands a new edition of either will appear once every 18 months.

If a brand appears in one volume does it automatically qualify for the next ?

No, brands need to qualify each year. In fact, in many countries, a Superbrands book is a measure of the continuing success of a brand. If a brand fails to qualify in the following year, brand managers believe there is cause for introspection.

What is the kind of information a brand is expected to provide ?

Since the brand stories are written under specific heads information relevant to make the story interesting is necessary. The greater the information the more elbow room a writer has to craft a very readable version. Typically, an edited Superbrand story has between 1600 and 1800 words.

What about pictures ?

High quality images are required to complete a brands’ double spread. A good looking page would have between seven and nine pictures. Less than seven will mean increasing the word count; more than nine would mean drastically reducing the reading material. Neither is desirable.

How should pictures be sent ?

All pictures must be scanned in the CMYK mode with a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. The images should be in either TIFF or EPS formats and be at least eight inches in either height or width. Images must be supplied on CDR discs or transferred electronically. Low-res images, PDF files or power point excerpts cannot be accepted.

What if good quality images are not available ?

Pictures will have to be specifically shot. It must be remembered that your page will appear alongside other pages which have high quality images and a brand would not want to do anything that makes it appear in a poor light.

Can our advertising agency write and design the pages ?

It is strongly recommended that writing be done by business journalists and designing by the in-house Superbrands team. Each page – indeed, every Superbrands book across the world – has a common “look and feel”. The Superbrands template is sacrosanct and cannot be violated. However, we welcome inputs by advertising agencies in selecting images.

Is a participating brand guaranteed exclusivity in its category ?

In many categories the scores brands achieve are very close together; sometimes identical. Superbrands will invite more than one brand in the same category if the difference in their average scores is less than half a point.

How and when are payments to be made ?

All payments are made by crossed account payee cheques payable at Gurgaon on the presentation of the invoice.

Does Superbrands have a PAN number ?

The PAN number is AAGCS9041J and must be quoted on all TDS certificates.

Where is the book printed ?

All Superbrands books have traditionally been printed in either Italy or Hong Kong/China. To obviate high transportation costs, efforts are being made to source locally. India has some outstanding printing presses which do job work for international clients. Unfortunately, at the moment their print costs are very steep – negating even the cost advantage they could derive against the additional costs we pay for transportation to New Delhi. But we continue to pursue Indian sources. In the interim – and for the record – all Superbrands India books are printed in Hong Kong/China.

What happens if a brand doesn’t provide information on time ?

It is our hope that this does not happen. We do need to emphasise that even one brand failing to meet time commitments delays the entire project and brands which have been punctual, suffer. In order to preclude this we may be forced to withdraw the brand from the book.

When and where will the next event take place ?

The next event will coincide with the launch of the next project. The date, time and venue will be determined closer to the time and indicated at least six weeks in advance.

How many people from participating brands are invited to the launch event ?

Four invitation cards are sent out to each of the brands participating in the Superbrands book although we encourage more people to attend and cheer those receiving the award. If more people are attending we request that we be informed at least two weeks in advance to ensure adequate arrangements are made.

Is there a limit to the number of brands that can participate ?

The number of brands participating is a function of the number of brands that have been approved by the Council Members as well as the number of brands that accept the invitation.

Usually, a Superbrands book in India will feature between 70 and 100 brands.

What are special jackets ?

Special jackets are special covers which brands design themselves using the template provided by Superbrands. These are used to cover all books that are being ordered by the brand.

Is there an additional cost to special jackets ?

Special jackets attract a back-to-back cost of Rs. 75,000 for print runs of up to 1000.

Can any design be used ?

Any design can be used provided it does not exceed four colours and remains within the framework of the grid that is supplied by Superbrands. In this grid the size and position of the Superbrands logo and lettering is fixed.

Are special colors or embossing allowed on jackets ordered by a brand ?

Often companies want their logos to be printed in gold or silver or embossed. There is an extra cost to these and can be determined from the design that is being used.

What are print outs and what do they cost ?

Print outs are a reproduction of the brands’ double spread page in an open-size of 12” x 21”. They are often used by brands as effective direct mailers. Rates for printing are available on request. In the past, brands have ordered up to 50,000 copies.

How to contact us ?

You can contact us through any of the following means:

  • Postal address: 28 Poorvi Marg, DLF City Phase II, Gurgaon 122 002
  • Telephone numbers: +91 124 404 0776/0777/0779
  • Facsimile: +91 124 404 0778

You can also reach the following on their mobile phones:

Anmol Dar: +91 98 101 82939

Neelakshi Sarkar: +91 98 105 22506

Amit Sharma: +91 99 112 96969

Ritika Dar: +91 98 116 61921

Ravi Nair: +91 98 182 82939