CAme across this interesting article by Madhukar SAbnavis-Country Manager-O&M. the question raised by the article is r we losing our indian identity by tryin 2 ape teh west in all means???? wat have u 2 say?
Why Indian brands prefer 'English' names
In 1998, a prospective employee did not come to Ogilvy for a job
because she was asked to meet a person called Madhukar Sabnavis. She felt a
person with such a name must be pretty terrifying!
Wafah bin Laden struggles to get acceptance in both the West and in
Saudi Arabia. The West hates her for her surname; the Saudis hate her for
her American values.
When a multinational agency wanted to move a section of its office to
Lower Parel in the early 90s, the CEO quite smartly renamed the area
Upper Worli. Parel was a mill area while Worli was a posh, upper-class
locality. The new name suddenly made the inevitable shift a little more
When you have a name like Bachchan after your first name and have a
heritage with it, suddenly it becomes a passport to get your first break
with a big film maker and then get repeat breaks over and over again --
despite a spate of flops, all because of the name. In the past in
Bollywood, many stars like Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari and Madhubala changed
their names just to make themselves more easily acceptable to a larger
So to say what's in a name in the brand-building process is perhaps not
giving the brand name its due. And to say it is everything is not
giving the other elements of the process of brand building their due. A rose
by any other name may smell just as sweet but would not be a rose!
The name is the beginning of the branding process and branding is a
journey. A brand comprises the name and all the other associations built
on it through the product, packaging and communication. A good start
helps but how the journey is undertaken finally decides.
Yet as often one has to live with a name for life (as most of us do
with our personal names), it has always seemed worthwhile to agonise over
to get an appropriate name that all stakeholders are comfortable with.
Nonsense names give the marketer and advertising agency the flexibility
to craft its character and personality the way they want. While "Nike"
is the Greek goddess of victory, this is perhaps known to very few
people and it is the attitude the brand represents that makes it desirable
-- and that is what communication has layered onto it. So is the same
for a number of other brands like "Lux" or "Liril" or "Chiklets" or
However, it must be recognised that in the Indian context, an "Indian"
name does help to build affinity while an "English" name could help to
build aspiration cues to a larger market. In this context, "Peter
England" as a name is quite interesting.
When the brand offered good ready-to-wear shirts at an affordable
price, the name gave the right premium cues to make it a label the average
middle class "tailored shirt" buyer could wear with pride -- especially
in a ready-to-wear world bombarded with western sounding names.
Similarly when Asian Paints launched a premium emulsion brand in the
early 1990s to compete with western brands like Berger and ICI, the name
"Royale" gave the brand instant luxury cues even before the consumer
saw any other elements of the brand mix. Interestingly, neither forms of
brand names are limiting in any way!
Sometimes good brand names can add intrinsic value to the product being
promoted and make the task of the other elements easier. "Taaza" tea is
a case in point -- it instantly communicates "freshness", a value
consumers seek from tea. Or Tiger tea, which by name connotes strength and
becomes the quickest shorthand for the brand.
"100 Pipers" conjures up naturally pictures of Scotland to a normal
consumer and it adds to the mystique and strength of the brand.
However, such names carry with them the constraints or limitations of
the brand having to operate in a territory defined by the label
attached. And any attempt to shift tracks from natural associations with the
name would require special effort.
So is there much ado about brand names? All that needs to be done at
the start of the branding process is to find a name that is easy to
pronounce, ensure that there are no negative meanings if the brand is being
offered in multi-lingual markets and then build values around it. In
fact, in history, pronunciation has also not been a barrier.
Titan has been pronounced as "Teeetaan" and Hutch has been variously
pronounced as "Haj" and "Hootch". Yet both brands have managed to build
large franchises, living with the mispronunciations. Yet it cannot be
disputed that a name that is comfortable on the tongue can help a brand
in its initial years.
But the challenge in future is going to be bigger. With the
commoditisation of brands, the fragmentation of the media, and the reducing
effectiveness of every rupee of communication budgets, every element in the
brand-building mix will be expected to stretch and work harder in
building a distinct brand positioning.
And a good name can give a brand a "head start" rather than just a
"start", as has been the rule in the past. Just as on the athletic field
more and more science is going into helping the runner get the momentum
to start with -- better shoes and better posture -- the time has come
for brand builders to get a name that can give the brand that extra push
in the market.
"French Connection" in the UK is a great example in this context. When
the brand was re-launched in 1997, it was just a middle-of-the- road
brand appealing to diverse audience with little fashion connotations.
The drama of the re-launch started with the name -- someone very
cleverly recombined the initials of the company to come up with an
interesting (and "unpronounceable") name, FCUK.
And the name was a great starting point for a brand with an attitude --
one of being unpredictable, rebellious, daring, prepared to be
different, not anti-establishment but independent-minded, original, not a
fashion slave, does not want to be told what to wear or how to wear.
Not surprisingly, it captured the imagination of a younger audience.
The name then inspired the creative to spawn a series of campaigns --
fcuk fashion and fcuk advertising. And a third with headlines like "french