Monday, October 15, 2007


New Gandhi City?

New Delhi and New Gandhi City?

By Harish Bijoor

Q: The Big Idea has been around for a while. What’s the buzz all about?

-Rohini Venkatesh, Chennai

Rohini, the Big Idea is really bigger than it is really made out to be. The Big idea is not about advertising. It is about much more. The big idea is about the brand thought itself.

My definition of a brand, which I have been defending at Indian and International academic fora for the last four years, is a simple one. “The brand is a thought”! A simple thought. Nothing more. Nothing less.

This thought lives in people’s heads. These people are not necessarily customers. They may never be your customers even. The thought is nevertheless important. It is this thought that creates everything positive, and indeed everything negative for the brand at large.

The Big Idea is really about this one thought. This singular thought that can live and thrive in the minds of people.

The Big Idea has often been used in a rather limited sense of the term. The Big idea is more than an advertising term really. Much more than phraseology limited to the creative big idea. The Big Idea is really bigger still. It is one brand thought that can percolate and cascade through multiple brand experiences of consumers. It needs to be used as such.

Air Deccan uses a big idea. It uses the singular thought of a low cost airline. It’s every execution, whether in the limited amount of mass media it uses, or whether in its every touch point with the consumer or non-consumer alike, breathes it.

Yes there are many others in this space now, but it is all about being the first one to do it. It is also about the one who does it all the time. Every breath you take, and every step you take, breathe the big idea then. That is, if you have one!

Q: Value addition is a big need in the agricultural commodity category. How does one attempt this? And what are the aspects to consider while doing this?

-Ramesh Sikka, Chandigarh

Ramesh, value addition is the buzz mantra of choice in commodity marketing.

Value addition has two aspects to it. The first is value-addition to the product itself and the second is value addition in terms of image of the product. This is essentially all about branding of the product. Both these aspects have one common goal: to maximize returns from the item on offer.

The agricultural sector largely operates at the level of the commodity. If I am to draw a pyramid that explains the various hierarchies in branding, right at the bottom of the pyramid is the Commodity. This is normally the largest chunk of the market in agricultural products. Just above the commodity category in value-addition terms is the Quasi-brand. This is where the commodity at large has some distinction achieved for itself by its agri form or processing additions. The Arabica and Robusta are classic quasi-brands in coffee. Just as the whole leaf Darjeeling and the CTC and Oolongs are in Tea.

Above the quasi-brands lies the brand. And right at the peak of the pyramid is the super-brand. In many ways, in the coffee category, Nescafe could be called to be one brand knocking at the doors of super-brand-dom. This is the point of time when a commodity ceases to matter as the commodity. The super-brand is a passion and a cult in itself. This is the peak of the value-addition ladder in brand terms.

I do believe value addition of both product and product image are critical to the agri product, be it tea, coffee, spices, rubber, ‘dal, cheeni, chawal or atta” or whatever!

In recent years, bigger companies have been making efforts to climb the value addition chain. These companies are however a niche in the market for commodities at large. At best, these efforts are at the top of the pyramid of the market of consumers out there. Very little effort has focused on strategies that are truly mass.

This momentum needs to be sparked. While individual companies will make their small little efforts that seem really large when you see their advertising, but are really very very small if you peek at heir volume success in terms of the overall market for the agri-product at large. The biggest of companies are but pygmies in this game of branding for the masses.

Q: City name changes are in fashion. Tell me the likely costs of such name changes. And who bears it? And which city do you see changing its name in the near future?

-Dipankar Bora, Guwahati.

Dipankar, your own city went through a seemingly small change some years ago. From the old Gauhati to the new Guwahati!

The change might seem small, but the cost of it could be substantial.

The cost of such exercises are typically borne more by the private sector
than the public. For the Govt. of Assam for instance, this name change may have
costed all of 20 lakhs, but a serious full-fledged change of all private name
boards, visiting cards, stationery etc., will cost the private sector in Assam maybe a few tens of Crores of rupees!

While there is an economic cost that is expended by the government and the private sector for these name changes, the political and emotional profit could be significant to the people who matter in government.

Which city is next? This is a difficult one to answer, as every city has its own set of demands.

I have a personal demand, which I have encapsulated in a proposal to the Govt. Of India. Here it is.

I do believe New Delhi must change its name! Ouch! That hurts!

Why? Very simply to recognize the greatest Indian of them all. Mahatma Gandhi. I do believe New Delhi could ask for a name change. The new name: New Gandhi City. The ultimate recognition for a man who gave this nation what it deserved. Freedom.

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


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