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Bend it like Brands

In this digitally enamoured era the word stereotype in itself may sound like Passé. However some brands still seem to dwell in a zone of comfort. They are incorrigible and refuse to move beyond the clichés and stereotypes. In all fairness not all is fair in branding and communication. If you’ve already guessed about the Brand that I’m indicating at, well yes it is Fair & Lovely.  Sorry but that’s the only imagery I get when I think of stereotypes.

Nothing can be more stereotypical than shamelessly positioning fairness quotient as the sure shot recipe to success. Since 1976 the brand has been consistently giving this clarion call of Fair is beautiful to its female customers. In a nutshell, a fair girl has an optimum chance of making it big as a bride as a career woman no matter if your brains are falling out. In fact that’s the overall perception of this fairness obsessed world and some brands leave no stone unturned to fuel this misconception further. Why do you need such brands? The answer is simple. Because the fairness market in India is approximately worth 3000 crore.  And so the brand does have a solid 55% Market share. As if this was not enough yet another brand was launched in this genre- Fair and handsome, this time for the aspiring metrosexual dudes, clocking a whopping 65 % Market share.

Did I just hear someone saying a case of sour grapes? LOL. Fortunately, like every cloud has a silver lining there are some brands which are truly bold and brazen. They know how to walk the talk and innovate within their given space. When I am saying bold the indication is in no way towards hiring a Sunny Leone as an on the face and obvious reflection of your boldness or creating headlines garnering eyeballs, TRP’s and impressions by stirring controversies. Bold here essentially points out towards those Brands who are ready to break away from the mundane, think beyond ROI’s, Try and create a purpose around the Brand, take up issues which may be either taboo and dare stereotypes loud and clear. This post dear readers is dedicated to few such brands of my choice which have risen beyond clichés in their communication.

Top of my chart is a very simple brand which I’m sure all of us have adored over the years and literally got ourselves fixed and stuck up too. Adhesive is indeed a very uninteresting category and just think of it how much innovation can you bring in into such a category. However every time Brand Fevicol communicated it sprung up a surprise  with an element of  creative twirl and an amazing twist in the tale may that be the moochwala idea, the shadow concept , the truck or  the fishing campaign or more recently the Dahi Handi campaign. Each one a separate slice of life sometimes functional at others aspirational and at still others quirky and humorous. All this effectively reinforcing the value proposition – “Yeh Fevicol ka Majboot jod hai tootega nahi”.



Now let us talk about those brands which are well into the maturity phase, each and every consumer has used these brands at some point in time in their life.


Brand Lifebuoy has been an integral part of my growing up years.  The instant imagery of a dark pink color, an unusual carbolic fragrance, a rugged matte packaging reminding of its rustic presence and the strong disinfectant germicidal positioning of Tandurusti ki Raksha are all so powerfully etched in my mind. Over the years the brand has been consistently building on its core value proposition through numerous extensions and innovations.  Roti the staple ingredient in every Indian meal. The best way to enjoy it is by eating with your hands. This simple fact of life was brilliantly conveyed by the brand with a very simple yet effective BTL activity during the Maha Kumbh Mela in 2015. Targeting 2.5 million visitors. The brand had partnered around 100 dhabas and hotels at the mela site to serve rotis that were heat stamped with a message “Lifebuoy se haath dhoye kya?” this reminder not just got  a mega recall for the brand but also drew the consumer’s attention for using the brand when hand washing is critical.

A resilient brand equity is a function of numerous things including strong and distinctive positioning, a consistency in delivering the brand promise, holistic marketing initiatives and brand elements like symbols, taglines, brand relevance and more. Brands like Dettol have beautifully evolved and achieved a cult status over the last 80 plus years as an antiseptic that was used simply for minor cuts and wounds to a brand having its rightful place in every home in different forms without comprising on its core essence and values. Its dominant market share of 85%, says it all.  The same goes with a brand like Colgate which has never comprised with its core value proposition of oral care. Not to forget Amul which has very smoothly cut across the butter and category with a brilliant topical outdoors and stuck to it for all these years.

My classes are incomplete without the discussion on the most effective rebranding strategy ever that of Vodafone. From the feminine pink logo and the pug of Hutch to the bright red logo and the animated creative format of Vodafone Zoo zoos. This telecom brand has always walked the talk and as per me is by far one of the best known innovations in Brand communication. Each and every rebranded entity has a crystal clear recall. The current one with Padmashree awardees and senior bharatnatyam exponents Asha and Bala manage to strike just the right connect for the brand with a not so young TG. When you just start thinking that the Brands creative juices are extinct this communication from the brand takes it a notch higher



In this league how can we forget this creative idea? Though a tad cliché yet Ariel managed to make way for innovation with its # share the load campaign hitting at a pertinent issue like gender equality and unequal domestic load distribution. Raising questions through its communication: Is laundry or for that matter domestic chores only a women’s onus, why can’t men contribute in building the home.  It befittingly won several accolades at the Cannes and was also able to reinforce the Brands proposition and promise.


Have you googled it? That’s the way we refer to it and that’s how brand Google has engulfed our entire existence. A generic among search engines. Life just seems incomplete without the Google. It has the solutions to all our problems in life. But when it comes to communication The brand is top class it knows the knack of connecting engaging holding and retaining its audience. The google storytelling is incomparable. The tradition continues with Google Duo and Google maps commercials.

Well the last is always for the best and this one is truly special. Motherhood has no gender. For the first time ever Vicks portrays the story of a little girl and her transgender mother Gauri Sawant needless to say it  manages to defy conventional thought process, while strongly reinforcing its positioning “Touch of Care”. It has paved the way for a new perception about the LGBT community which was hitherto a taboo topic never discussed openly.


I have lot many such wonderfully dare defying brands and their communication in my kitty but I have restricted to a few brands in this post. You can also share your preferred brands in the comments section. We will be discussing more such unconventional brands and as I sign off for the week I have to say this: if on a football ground bend it like Beckhem but if you wish to dare the rules of life Bend it like these brands.


-Dr. Tripti Dhote

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  1. Avatar

    Nice one Dr. Tripti the content is well researched and consolidated.

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    Parvinder Singh

    Your blogs are amazing madam. It feels like I am listening to you in Brand Management class. The power of your writing and love for brands is simply brilliant. Eagerly waiting for your next article.

    • Avatar

      Thanks dear Parvinder. You are right. I simply love Brands , market and the consumer. I have got my fuel for thought with your wonderful feedback.

  3. Avatar

    Why forget the Moti Soap? Particularly when the DiwZli is so close?

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      Thanks Jayant Oke Sir. Yes Of course Moti. A soap that has got a great Nostalgia and association with the festival of Diwali. I thought Id cover it when I write on Brand association strategies.

  4. Avatar

    Very well said Ma’am. Nicely composed article.
    One thing which i observed though these years of branding is previously advertisements were only focused towards the products and very few were able to connect to human emotions… Fair and lovely for fairness , n Dhara for jalebi…..but now a days there is a paradigm shift. Till the time you didn’t reach end of the advertisement you will not be able to know what that 1 min or so commercial wants to communicate. For instance Vicks advertisement. Till the end of the commercial nobody have ever guess what the story is all about. I believe with time branding is more related to human emotions. Brands are not focusing only on their products rather they are picking some social issue or any other human emotion and try to connect both of them.

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      Hi Veronica. Thanks a ton for your feedback. True branding has evolved and in the current context it is more about engaging the consumer with storytelling and creating the right experiences.

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    Rushikesh Kadam

    Amazing article Mam!!!!

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    Varsha Guha Roy

    Brilliant Tripti.remarkable how through decades of dynamic change these brands still create a sense of loyalty in our minds..great work..kudos Tripti

  7. Avatar

    This article really is the magnum of knowledge distilled from years of practical experience.
    Please write more such insightful article revealing the true nature of brands.

  8. Avatar

    Good read and great storytelling Ma’am! I have observed that brands have started to realize the basic buying criteria for any human customer. Emotions. Almost 90% decisions in human life are taken by emotions and 10% to back them with logic. Brands like Ariel, Google, Samsung, Vicks, Dabur, Titan have hit the right cords. In terms of bold, I still recall the Fastrack ad of ‘out of the closet’ which doesn’t show much visually but explains a ton of words. And talking about bold, we cannot forget the most controversial ads in the eras when nudity was not even promoted in films or promotions. The famous Tuff shoes ad by Milind Soman & Madhu Sapre created huge sensation in the 90s. It is always fascinating to watch those 20 sec ads which expresses the message in a crisp and sharp manner. Ma’am I would like you to please explore the Old Spice ads, which is uniformly confusing in terms of its positioning in western countries like US or developing nations like India. I am still trying to decode how those ads and facts link to masculinity.

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