|Changing Face of Brands, organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce in association with The Telegraph. Picture by Sayantan Ghosh
Brand is as old as the branding iron that left the owner’s mark on an ancient peasant’s sack of cereal, Alexander’s swift Me-sopotamian horses and the distinctive seal on a Roman slave’s nape. Even religion is a brand, minus the branding iron!
It is “an idea” beyond a company trademark and keeps evolving with the times.
Brands can be anything from Tata Tea to the International Red Cross to any religion on earth, said ad guru S.V. ‘Bobby’ Sista, a former board member of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).
He was speaking at a daylong seminar on Changing Face of Brands that organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce in association with The Telegraph last weekend.
“Brands have always belonged to the man and woman on the street,” Sista said, explaining the intricacies of brand building in the modern context — changing the target audience or roping in a new set of consumers before being outmanoeuvred by rivals.
“Brands are moving to become social movements,” said Madhukar Sabnavis, vice-chairman and country head of discovery and planning at Ogilvy & Mather India.
To contextualise his point, he cited Tata Tea’s Jago Re campaign and ABP Ananda’s Cholbe Na initiative, aimed at promoting civic awareness in Calcutta by converting the cholbe nas to cholbes.
He said such brand advertisements had become facilitators of social change and gained the young generation’s thumbs-up.
Another example is the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty — telling women to preen their natural looks instead of mimicking airbrushed models shown in advertisements. Gone are the days when brands flagrantly pushed their wares without a social message for the audience.
Sourabh Mishra, group CSO of Bates CHI and Partners, India, summarised the seminar with a simple question and a ready answer: “Would I miss that X brand if it ceases to exist? Brands always exist in a certain context in people’s lives. The real test of a brand’s strength lies in the relevance of it in these fast-changing times.”
Other than Sista, Sabnavis and Mishra, the line-up of speakers included Sunil Alagh, founder and chairman of SKA Advisors; Anoop Hoon, president (marketing and OD) of Century Ply; Debashish Choudhury, chief of business process enhancement, Tata Steel; Madhumita Basu, senior vice-president (marketing) of Lafarge India Pvt. Ltd; and Sanjay Datta, marketing research and developmental manager of ITC Ltd.
Kiran Khalap, founder of Chlorophyll; Ashis Anupam, chief of marketing and sales at Tata Steel; Bharat Dabholkar, founder of Vajra Communications; Raghu B. Viswanath, MD of Vertebrand Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd; Mohit Hira, senior VP and regional business director of JWT; and R. Seshadri, MD of Anugrah Madison Advertising Pvt. Ltd also spoke at the seminar.