Branding Lessons From Indian Mythology, Marketing & Advertising News, AND BrandEquity

Juxtaposition is putting different things in the same crucible. Few ideas illustrate it better than the story of Narasimha.

By Vinay Kanchan

We are in the middle of the Indian holiday season. As the various rituals and ceremonies take place before our eyes, the mind returns to the tales heard in childhood. Stunning in their expanse of cosmic worlds and rich in their deep appreciation of human insight; these served as beacons for moral outlook as he grew up. But could there be more to them in these present times? Could those who embark on branding and marketing strategies take inspiration from a cultural field that in many ways has sparked the journey of innovative human thought. To answer succinctly, there are a lot of ‘darshans‘while waiting for those who are ready to look beyond. Here is the sharing but a few …

Think JUXTAPOSITION and put different things together

Juxtaposition is putting different things in the same crucible. Few ideas illustrate it better than the story of Narasimha. It was an innovation (or ‘avatar‘) of Lord Vishnu, designed to defeat the demon king Hiranyakashipu. Here’s an impossible opponent who had reaped benefits like: No human or animal could kill him. He could not be defeated day or night. Neither killed inside his house or outside, in heaven or on earth. Narasimha was a half-man and half-lion, who killed Hiranyakashipu at dusk, on the doorstep of his house, putting him on his knees and tearing him apart. Thus, bypass all conditions. Perhaps there is a divine precedent for the idea of ​​God emerging at the intersection of things.

Bringing two different areas together is often a great place to start, especially if it hasn’t been done before. Much of Apple’s success in music and telephony (think iPod and iPhone) has been how it merged IT with industries that until now weren’t really using it well. The whole phenomenon of Power Yoga was probably due to the idea of ​​mixing the spiritual equanimity of the East with the temporal imperatives of the West. Merging things together is always a wonderful way to take two familiar things and mix them up that way; that a whole new concept was born. Cultural brands like “Punjabi Rap” and “Desi Chinese” indicate that Indians may have a deep-rooted talent in this area.

Always NEGOTIATE, no matter who you are up against

The wise sage Vyasa, was looking for a super intelligent scribe to help him write the Mahabharat. He focused on Lord Ganesha. The elephant god agreed, but he had a condition. Being a very quick writer, he wanted the sage’s narration to match the speed of his calligraphy. If at any point the sage faltered, he would stop the project. Vyasa apparently scratched his beard in deep thought (actual footage is not available) and replied that the condition was good, but that he had one of his own. The master of defenses would write only when he fully understood what the sage had said, and not otherwise. This meant that the sage could deftly resort to complex ideas and words, which would save him time.

At the stage of creating a brand, there is often a feeling that one is on a weaker base, especially when it comes to negotiating anything. The perception is that those on the other side are massive institutions. This attitude extends through conversations with high-level new age distribution channels – where the fight is for the right place, to modern media – where the fight is around the appropriate space, and of course. other such partners. But being ready to negotiate, no matter who claims, is an attitude that can always serve newer brands better. Sylvester Stallone had written an interesting story about an underdog. But, despite his own precarious economic situation, he refused to sell it to studios, many of which were willing to pay a high price for it; until he was chosen as the main character. His persistence finally paid off, and a hugely successful boxing franchise sprang up, along with one of Hollywood’s most successful acting careers. Should inspire us all in branding to push back a little harder, especially when things take on “rocky” proportions.

Be aware of the “undesirable” results of EXPERIMENTATION

The Samoudra Manthan tale, still offers a fantastic metaphor for the process of generating innovative ideas. In the story, the Devas (Gods) and Asuras (The demons) try to find amrit (nectar) – that elusive and coveted drink, brewing the cosmic ocean. But before we get to the promised nectar, a whole bunch of subsidiary things appear. Of the antithesis of nectar, that is to say of poison or Halal, goddesses, nymphs, a white elephant, the wish-granting tree, conchs and much more. All of them have different applications and are of great value. Even though they weren’t what both parties were looking for.

As with any branding or manufacturing process, there are many other concepts that emerge which are nonetheless useful, even if they are not the focus of the exercise. They must be revisited and reconsidered. Some might even call these failures. But such “failures” often lead to successes in themselves. Any Indian mother will agree that crying over broken milk is not so bad, because there are delicious rabdi Where breaded to do with this incident. It was a ‘failed’ cricket test match, due to excessive rain washing off the first four days, which led to the invention of run-over cricket. Organizational brands like 3M have made a winning habit of looking at products and failures, and building entire industries out of them. It is important that trademark custodians embrace this mindset; if not, it is likely that one is quite at sea, literally.

Define who is “the ENEMY”

In recent weeks, we could have witnessed many cremations of huge effigies. It is a ritual that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The fall of the demons – Ravana & Mahishasura, was cheered by the gathered crowds, and a general feeling of happiness permeated the atmosphere. What’s interesting about this narrative is that the creation of the large effigy, and the elaborate actions that are taken to destroy it, leaves no doubt in the minds of the audience who is the villain of the play. Even the uninitiated find themselves rallying against these big baddies. Well, it can be said, can only be defined when placed in the right context.

It is also an invaluable lesson for brands. Ideally, a brand comes into the world with an inspiring goal in mind. Perhaps it is to combat a social evil, or a tedious ritual, or to get the client out of a dark and awkward space. Sometimes identifying an opponent creates massive momentum for whatever the brand does. Think about how Virgin Airlines was energized in its quest to differentiate itself from British Airways. Think about how the Pepsi legend came to life when it positioned itself as the choice of a younger generation, hinting at Coke’s centuries-old legacy. Think about how Grameen Bank has found inspiring direction to try to eradicate the scourge of poverty. Having something bad to target can often be a really good thing.


Finally, Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja end with the immersion of the idols. While devotees know their gods will return next year, it is still a poignant time as it marks the culmination of the festivities. The erasure of happy memories. But it is indicative of the relentless cycle of life. It also emphasizes the importance of ending or ending things, of just letting go. Knowing that they will come back. And this is a much more important idea than it appears at the surface level.

Many brand stewards have this fixation perfectly. They don’t want to release the product until it is perfect in all its aspects. But one of the main traits that separate successful marketing organizations from the rest is their ability to relentlessly test the market, even if the product is not “completely done”, to take the learning, to bring the product back, to make the necessary adjustments, and release it into the world again. Facebook is a prime example of this mindset. The transition from where she started to what anything is possible today is sure to leave a mark on people’s minds – all puns are intended.

To conclude, there are also other ideas to collect. It was just in the spirit to strike up a conversation. Because Indian culture is extremely rich in stimuli and inspiration, relevant to all ages and in all areas of human endeavor. “Let our mythology fuel our imaginations and let our imaginations unleash revolutionary innovations.” Maybe this holiday season that’s a mantra sing for every brand in India, seeking to carve their own legend in this vast and glorious market.

– The writer is a distinguished storyteller, a trainer in creative thinking and the author of three books. The opinions expressed are personal.

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