Tuesday, January 10, 2012

'CULT' – eistic Brands

Certain brands have managed to assiduously refute William Shakespeare’s much reiterated statement, “What's in a name?”. More than the brand's offering, it’s the underlying essence and the association that they personify that sets them apart from the rest of the multitude. What we popularly refer to as “The brand image', the much talked about parlance on which the advertising industry rests itself. Decades ago, advertising stalwarts strongly believed that creative positioning can’t take your brand to the next level of glory unless and until your product speaks for itself. Without a dreg of doubt, the statement is as true as truth can be, even to this day, but there is a paradigm shift as far as related constants are concerned. 

At this day and age, the tangible benefits of the product alone cannot catapult your brand beyond a certain point, simply because of numbers. The “me too” just don't strike the deal in this market landscape anymore, unless and until its “me too but I am unique- because I am what I am - that no one else is”. Rightfully, some brands do manage to break out of the clutter, notwithstanding the product that they offer, but also by bundling with it a hoard of other icings, just too hard to resist- the streak of being different and unique! That's how they acquire the so-called 'cult' identity. It's all about forging the so-called sustainable connect. Cult brands offer their customers love, attention, and to many of their consumers, they are a living surrogate family with likeminded individuals.

Let’s take the colas as a case in point. Historically colas have been the all-time favorite thirst quencher for the young crowd. There are a few viable buying triggers that explain the stand. Firstly, it acts as an inexpensive and tastier substitute for water, the youth love the fact that they can pick up a bottle of their favourite cola while on the go, and that it is easily available — restaurants, college canteens or even the corner shop. In addition to it, the youngsters can also easily identify with the youthful ‘cool’ attitude associated with aerated cola beverage. We tend to inadvertently recall Coca Cola, whenever we think of buying a soft drink. It’s become synonymous. Sprite is another example. Marketers now have to pack an incredible amount of excitement within a bottle to get the much needed edge over others.
Thus certain brands, it can be said, take popularity to a different level. These are the so-called cult brands: Coca Cola, Harley-Davidson, Star Trek, Volkswagen, Apple Computers, ESPN, Marlboro, Levis and others which may also include celebrities like Ophra Winfrey and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Some of the Indian cult brands include the likes of Colgate, Old Monk, Enfield Bullet, Thumbs UP and Khadi. Cult brands sell lifestyles, not just a product or service. These brands became cult brands because customers could find a sense of belonging within that product category and wear it as a badge of honor. 

Lucky Strike Cigarettes is one of the newest entrants to join this coveted group of honorary brands. Volkswagen's Beetle has a similar tale to tell. Back in 1948 it was unknown in the U.S., and many sales types believed no one would ever buy, partly because of its association with Nazi Germany—being dubbed “the people’s car” by Adolph Hitler—still fresh in the public’s mind. But today, the brand has a cult status. Shrewd marketing acted as a catalyst to its success. In contrast to the advertising of the Detroit automakers which were full of slick copy and boastful claims, Volkswagen’s ads for the Beetle were frank, direct, and honest. Some of the more memorable early print ads included “Think small,” “Some shapes are hard to improve on,” and the cult-branding clincher, “Do you earn too much to afford one?” Unique design elements and honest advertising became a lethal combination. Beetle became a thinking person's car- The idea of being different. Instead of saying, look how much I paid for my car, it was - look how much I didn’t pay!”

Thus it won’t be a rational disaster to conclude that, human needs are the mother of cult branding. It’s evident that physiological, safety, belonging-ness and love, esteem and self-actualization needs as a gradually narrowing group of human needs with self-actualization being at the peak. Cult brands primarily fulfill the higher level of human needs of esteem, social interaction, and self-actualization. Once a brand fulfills the higher needs, it becomes irreplaceable in the mind of the consumer.

Soham Majumdar
Manager, IMPRIMIS Delhi

Monday, January 9, 2012

He lived true to his name- Jagjit conquered the hearts of millions

“Mein sattar ka hoon. Dikta nahin hoon na? Lekin hoon.” With this humorous remark, Jagjit Singh had the audience in splits and began the rendition of his ghazals. He enthralled them with his calm, sonorous and melancholic voice. 

The concert, which was held in Bangalore few months ago, was part of Jagjit’s commitment to host 70 live shows around the world this year. He was giving these concerts to commemorate his 70th birthday. I witnessed the Sultan of Ghazal perform live for the first time and didn’t even imagine of it being my last! 

People attach various adjectives to describe Jagjit’s voice. All I can say is: his soulful voice can even pierce the heart of Brahma- The Creator. When Jagjit sings, the environment seems like a captive audience. The depth in his voice is truly captivating and diction as clear as a mirror.

The one thing I admired about the ghazal maestro was his fortitude and serenity. Jagjit regaled the audience with his wit and humour under a cloud of his own agony and pain. I felt he was like a swan- serene and composed on the outside, but paddling hard over his personal tragedies to keep him afloat. Just like his ghazals, life was full of similes and metaphors for the calm singer.    

Each time Jagjit cracked a joke during the concert and made people laugh, I was reminded of his song: “Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho, Kya Gham Hai Jisko Chhupa Rahe Ho.” He made grief and pain look as simple as his ghazal.

The evening indeed was heart-warming; but his courage and perseverance was sublime. The indisputable ghazal maestro’s voice still rings clear in my ears; but it is his resilient spirit which is captured in my eyes. I went to the concert with a light heart to enjoy the evening; but returned home high-spirited: wanting to develop a strong heart to be able to negotiate with the vicissitudes of life!

Jagjit lived true to his name. He conquered the hearts of millions with his soulful voice. And apart from his voice and sense of humour, I was impressed with his positive, tranquil, never say die attitude.  

Jagjit took delight in entertaining the audience. He seemed to be in absolute harmony with his ghazal: “Hoshwalon ko khabar kya bekhudi kya cheez hai, Ishq ki jaye phir samajhiye, Zindagi kya cheez hai.”

The ghazal maestro was surely a winner in life. He took advantage of his rejections as a playback singer, and had the gumption to popularize ghazal. He made use of his poignant voice, and aptly positioned the brand Ghazal, especially in India.

Jagjit was born with a mission- a mission to conquer the hearts of the world, and showing them the way to lead a creative, productive and valuable life throughout ones existence.

To many, Jagjit was regarded as the ‘King of Ghazal’. To me the brand Jagjit is “King of life”. Metaphorically put: “Jagjit accomplished his mission. He has gone to come back with a brand new mission, in a brand new form!”     

Shivani Venugopal
PR Professional