Thursday, August 02, 2007


Brand Bangalore and the brand of Terror

Brand Bangalore and Brand Terror

By Harish Bijoor

Q: With the recent link of Brand Bangalore to terror, do you believe the image of Bangalore has taken a hit? And what are the immediate fall-outs?

-Devika Srinivasan, Mumbai

A: Devika, Brand Bangalore is definitely shaken. But not stirred for sure!

I do believe Brand Bangalore has been built bottom up, primarily due to the effort of the IT industry and its many clients world-wide. The brand is largely a B2B brand, and damage control is therefore that much more manageable.

Some fall-outs for sure:

1.External clients who are more politically correct than correct, will want a security vetting of employees on their account to be more thorough. This will not be spoken of overtly, but expect a lot of action on this covertly for sure. No client would want his account associated with terror and its breeding space.

2. External entities in markets such as the markets where we have had some India-bashing in the past, particularly the US, UK and Germany, will see this to be a good handle to use at appropriate moments. We in Indian IT businesses need to be pro-active on this account. I do believe industry bodies such as the Nasscom, CII, FICCI, et al, have a role to play here to avoid the cascade of any kind of negative sentiment.

3. Anybody who wants to bash up brand Bangalore has now a handle to use. Little do these entities understand that every city in the world is a ripe enough location for terrorism and the terrorist at heart to breed.

As an aside, with my international clients, this link of Brand Bangalore with Brand
Terror has been a talking point. Most conversations in the last ten days have included some reference or the other to it. Some have been just checking up, while others think it polite to refer to it, quite like talking about the weather in good old Bangalore!

Q: In the era of globalization do Co-operatives (based on the ANAND-pattern, established by Dr.Verghese Kurien) have any future?

If your answer is yes could this model be replicated in other Agri commodities and services like finance, health care, etc?

Aditya Maheshwari

In e-space

A: Aditya, you have not indicated where you reside, and I have therefore taken the liberty of adding “In e-space”. For a start, that’s the fact of the era of globalization for sure.

Now, coming to the question of the era of globalization and the relevance of co-operatives, I do believe the co-operative model is a forever-truth. A forever-truth that will succeed in any time. The reason is simple. Common people like successes that emanate from activities of any kind that involve the support, enthusiasm and energy of the common folk. The Co-operative effort, as we have seen in the highly successful Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL) and indeed the many other activities that surround this highly successful model are as relevant for today as for the many tomorrows to come.

Look at the co-operative model as a People-to-people initiative. In this model, a whole bunch of people who at times have very limited resources, pool together to create scale. This scale delivers. The delivery is on the count of pooled efficiency, pooled economy and pooled marketing.

Is this relevant today? It is. There are different models of the co-operative effort. The traditional one is what we see with the Milk model used in Gujarat. In many ways even a direct multi-level-marketing system such as the one followed by Amway is a co-operative selling model. Some of the rural marketing models followed by a Project Shakti of HUL or the Self-Help-Group models followed by many companies are co-operative models as well.

Whenever a group of people feel the need to create around themselves a model of business that is inclusive and all-involving, the co-operative movement is born. It needs a nodal person of high charisma or a corporate purpose of equal charisma. In the case of Amul, it was a Dr. Verghese Kurien and in your and my case, it could as well be a need and want to be inclusive in the purpose of business.

Businesses over the years have become rather exclusive businesses. Never mind the fact that all businesses are run by broad-based share-holders. I do believe the future will pave the way for many more co-operative businesses. Businesses that will be inclusive in the real sense and businesses that will distribute profits to very-very broad-based sets of stake-holders. More broad-based than the current system that operates on dividends distributed to share-holders who play on the market for profits.

These new businesses are relevant to the category of financial products as they are to the segments of health-care, beauty, food, beverage and all else.

Q: Do loyalty programs work? Organized retail seems to be using it quite a bit.

-Gouri Sinha, Kolkata

A: Gouri, the retail brand is a relatively new development in India. Though we are a nation of shop-keepers with 16.4 million shops cluttering our lives, retail has largely been a commodity thus far. Organized retail is changing all this. Organized retail is building the hubs of the retail-branding revolution that is due to sweep our country off its feet.

The retail brand therefore needs to build its brand proposition from scratch. The loyalty program is one such tool it uses. Loyalty clubs such as the ones run by every big chain in apparel and lifestyle retail today are but slender hooks marketers’ layout in the market. When a consumer bites once, the expectation is that they will keep biting again and again, with the lure of the rewards program that goes with a loyalty card at bay.

Loyalty clubs help build communities of consumers. It is however important to ensure that these loyalty clubs are active all the time. I suggest that consumers be touched by such programs at least once a fortnight. Any touch occasion longer than that pushes the loyalty program into the back-burner of consumer interest.

Remember, every organized retail outlet will offer a loyalty club. What brands must watch out for is the tendency of these loyalty clubs to become commoditized as well.

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.


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