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Steel giants go strong on brand building

Calcutta, Dec. 4: Indian steel companies like Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Ispat and the Essar groups have embarked on a massive branding exercise in order to take on global competition.

“Steel was never seen as a branded product during the protectionist regime. But now it is becoming so important an issue that no company can afford to ignore it,” said A. K. Singh, director commercial, SAIL.

SAIL is aggresively promoting its brand SAIL Jyoti, which has been developed to make the product stand out in the market place.

“The Indian steel industry should work towards building a brand equity and to promote steel as a metal of choice based on life cycle analysis,” Singh said.

Tata Steel has also developed its own brands — Tata Shaktee and Tiscon.

According to the company, the focus is on brand-building so as to increase sales.

“Our main target is to increase market share of both the brands through various kinds of promotional activities. Last year, Tata Shaktee contributed merely 10 per cent of our total turnover. But, our target is to get at least 15 per cent from the branded product this year and in five years time, it should give at least 50 per cent sales,” a senior Tata Steel official said.

Mumbai’s steel companies, Ispat Industries and Essar Steel are not behind in what is stated to be a new trend in metals.

Ispat has already developed two brands — Ispat Kavatch and Polysteel — for its galvanised sheets and colour coated steel products, which are the company’s most premium products.

It is also working towards building brands for its other products like sponge and pig iron, hot-roll and cold-roll products.

Essar has developed its own brand — 24 Karat — for its HR products.

“The brand name, 24-Karat, symbolises purity while also conveying the message that steel is a priceless product like gold. If one takes pride in possessing gold, one should equally be proud of the amount of steel he accumulated which gives his economic and social standing,” an Essar official said.

While for some, branding is purely a marketing gimmick, many feel it is difficult to stay afloat in the highly competitive market without strong brands.

“Brands always help in building confidence among consumers. Moreover, it can also distinguish your product from various products in the market,” said an Ispat official.

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