Category Archives: Branding

Excel and you will get a mentor

I have been a huge believer in mentorship and finding the ‘right’ mentor. For the same reason, I have always advised friends/colleagues and especially entrepreneurs to find themselves good mentors.

Today also, while I was mentoring or rather helping a startup entrepreneur, I mentioned how important my mentors have been to my startup and how they are helping me build a successful company. She said nobody in her family has ever started a business and hence she has no guidance there. I gave her my example and mentioned my scenario was no different. But, I added, “you need to develop a network”. She then mentioned that she even doesn’t have a network of such people who could provide her mentorship. I told her how I have grown my network and then eventually found some great people who provide me guidance as and when needed. You need to find such people is what I told her.

This reminded me of my last meeting with my mentor when I asked him what motivates him to come out in the Delhi heat on a Saturday afternoon and spend 3-4 hours just to guide me? He said, that’s 1 of his life goals and then he added “It’s also because I like you guys!” I just smiled and the discussion ended. Later on my friend said, we are lucky to have mentors like him. I kind of disagreed. I said its not about luck, probably we are doing something right which is why we have people supporting us.

Interestingly, while reading Lean In today I landed up at the chapter “Are you my mentor?” Sheryl in this chapter talks about how women (and even men) keep looking for mentors. The perception is “Get a mentor and you will succeed“. That’s the wrong approach, the approach should be, “Excel and you will find a mentor“. She’s bang on! That’s what I’ve realized, both as a mentor and as a mentee. Now go excel and let mentors find you!!!

Sachin Tendulkar and the Twitter connection

India has always been a cricket crazy nation and probably will remain so for the next few generations as well. No, I don’t say this because I love cricket or that I am an Indian but because Indians showed their love for cricket to the entire world yesterday. And the best part is that they proved their prowess at a time not when India had won but when they had LOST a closely fought ODI (One Day International) match against world champions Australia.

sachin tendulkar twitter trending

Chasing a mighty 350 runs target in 50 overs, Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the world’s best ever batsmen and undoubtedly the best currently playing batsmen, played an innings of a life time and scored half of those runs alone (175 runs) but couldn’t take India to victory as the entire team fell 3 runs short of the target! Each and every Indian who saw the match was heartbroken and their broken hearts and tears flooded twitter with their emotional tweets. Eventually Sachin made it to the Twitter-Record-Books, he already has probably already has all batting records against his name. Coincidentally, he also entered the cricket record books yesterday with another world record of being the first ever batsmen in history to score 17,000 ODI runs.

Coming to twitter analysis, Twitter Trends is way of knowing what is currently hot over the web all over the world at any point of time. Although I knew about it from a long time but I realized the power of trends ever since I saw Michael Jackson trending. Yes, it was through trends that I saw that MJ had passed away. MJ’s demise stayed on twitter for almost a month. Making him one of the most trending topics ever (see pic).

michael jackson trending

For those who are unaware of what a ‘Twitter Trending Topic’ is, as Twitter puts it :

Trending topics on Twitter are keywords that happen to be popping up in a whole bunch of tweets. We measure these topics and adjust them in real-time throughout the day. It’s a great way of finding out what’s happening right now.

As far as the Indian twitter connection is concerned, although “India” trended on twitter on the 14th and 15th of August (reason being India’s independence day on 15th of August) there have only 3 incidents (excluding yesterday’s “Sachin” Trending) when an Indian individual has been a trending topic on twitter. India’s dram queen aka Rakhi Sawant, Late Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, and eliminated veteran BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) leader Jaswant Singh, have made it to the trending topics. Unfortunate but a matter of fact is that all of them made it to the trends for the wrong reasons. Rakhi sawant for the disgusting swayamvar show, YSR – when he died of chopper crash and Jaswant Singh – when he was mercilessly thrown out of India’s 2nd biggest political party – BJP.

ysr-trending

See Rakhi trending here.

The fourth instance of an Indian making it to the trending topics was Sachin Tendulkar, though made it for the right reasons, his heroic knock, but what was heartbreaking to see was that India had lost the battle. Well, what’s important is not that Sachin was the fourth Indian, but the fact which is overwhelming to know is that he’s the first cricketer who has made it to the list.

sachin trending on twitter

We all know that records hardly matter for a man of his stature, but for all of us they really do. Hats off to Sachin for making us proud yet again – on the virtual world this time. Kudos to Sachin, you truly are a Brand. Cheers !

What is a brand ?

Of late I have been asked by quite a few people about branding and what are the steps to become a brand but today I was asked a good question, What is a Brand or better put Define a Brand.

Wikipedia says : A brand is a name or trademark connected with a product or producer. Brands have become increasingly important components of culture and the economy, now being described as “cultural accessories and personal philosophies”.

FreeDictionary.com says :

    A trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer.
    A product line so identified: a popular brand of soap.
    A distinctive category; a particular kind

apart from a 100 other definitions.

Let’s talk practical : Shahrukh Khan is a brand, Farhan Akhtar is not; Harsha Bhogle is a brand, Arun Lal is not; Michael Jackson is a brand (yes, he still is), Rakhi Sawant is NOT. Even though I did write about her sometime back and that too in relation to branding, but she never was and can never be.

Shahrukh Khan
In terms of product value, I will say they are brands because the first thing is that THEY SELL. Any Shahrukh film just sells, even though the promos have not been good, even though the film is crap, even though it may have no other superstar in it, what matters is it sells. Same does not hold for Farhan Akhtar.

If Harsha Bhogle is on air, everyone listens to him, his name sells there. The same is not true in the case of an Arun Lal or a Rameez Raja, even though they are seen commentating on all channels and are all over the place, people may listen but do not respect their commentary.

Brand Michael Jackson

Brand Michael Jackson


An MJ album used to sell without even people listening his songs, they just bought. His shows were a sellout because people knew its M-I-C-H-A-E-L J-A-C-K-S-O-N who’s performing. However old he grew, his shows were always a sellout. He was a household name, even my dad knows his name, even though he never heard a single song of him. On the contrary, even though Rakhi Sawant is a household name, but is her show watched on each and every person ? Though people like me watched a few of her tv appearances, but did we watch it because of Rakhi? No is the answer, and what’s more is that more people switched channels when they saw her on air.

So who is a brand ? Let me tell what does not define it. Any person/product/company which catches the eye of the people simply is NOT termed a brand. It is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. Something which fades away with time is NOT one. Negative publicity does NOT make one.

A brand is something/someone/product or company which :

    is famous (the primary condition)
    has earned respect in the society (society may be a variable term here, but constitutes of people who do not know or are NOT associated with the brand personally)
    has value (the product is good or the person has excelled professionally or the company has done exceptionally good business)
    which sells outright (does not need much of marketing)
    raises eyeballs every now and then, with positive actions or sometimes even with neutral ones
    no of people who love the brand >>> no of people who hate it (yes you ought-to/must have those who hate you)
    does not become news for negative reasons

May be you can add more points ? I put what I could recall of but I guess you may have much more to add, looking forward to discuss and learn more from you people.

How a bad Advertisement timing can spoil your Brand Value

I recently came across an advertisement in The Economic Times, a national daily newspaper arguably read by each and every businessman across the country. The ad started with the words :

Kind Attention CMD’s, CEO’s, COO’s and top management

Following the address, it had information regarding the program which was succeeded with a 2 line statement about advertiser’s background. Now I guess we can imagine how much information can be dispensed in a 3″x4″ ad. And hence as a result of which the ads are always suffixed with a website link, an email id and a contact no, assuming the advertiser and the addressed people have enough technology exposure. You must be thinking so what’s wrong in this ? Nothing ! Absolutely correct.
The website has a single page and that page contains nothing more than a 1 paragraph information of the company. There are 4 other links on the website, one of which links to a related external site, good enough. But out of the other 3 links, 2 do not work. The last one says “News”. Hoping that this will have information at least about the ad, I clicked that link. And guess did I see.

This post has been deleted.

I assume that, okay, the website might be having some problems so I pick up my phone to call on the given number. You can’t believe what reply I got,

Please check the number you have dialed !!!

What my first reaction was, I probably cannot write here.  Still assuming that IT’S OKAY,  there might be a printing mistake, I gathered  some courage and clicked on the only link that was working (the linking to an external site). That website, though functional,  also did not have any info about the advertisement. Somhow I found a landline contact no and I had full confidence that atleast this should be working. Alas! it was not to be. No, the numbers were correct, but none of them was recieved. I dialled both the numbers but to no avail.

Harms caused by bad timing

Harms caused by bad timing

Can you imagine what sort of impression would this sort of campaign do. It’s done more damage than you can imagine. The website’s not ready, has no information, the news section says post deleted, the mobile numbers don’t exist and nobody is bothered or responsible enough to recieve the landline calls. Waaaoow ! I am impressed. And in case you forgot, then I may remind you that the post was addressed to CEO’S, COO’S and CMD’S. No, I am not anyone of those, but yes I do own an organization or rather a startup I should say and the advertiser is connected to me due to previous background.

Things they lost from all this :

Trust :   Confidence :   Loyalty :   Growth/Business (for a short term and with some concerned people at least) : and the most important BRAND VALUE, if they had any.

Lesson to be learnt : If your soldiers aren’t ready, don’t FIRE !

This is a perfect example why you should synchronize your advertising and marketing/branding campaigns. Probably they should have waited at least till the date the website is ready. Since a bad impression lasts longer in the human brain, I guess next time such or may be any ad from the same organization, wouldn’t be treated trustworthy or would get the response it expects.

By the way, after all this, I didn’t bother to try the email id.

How to create your Brand-The Rakhi Sawant way

Update : I have intentionally put this update at the top. I have got a lot of people who have made comments on this article, no don’t look at the comments section, but to me personally on mail and calls, that they were not happy with this article. Let me be clear; I thoughtfully chose a topic which had a clear sarcasm in it. Rakhi Sawant is a gossip material and that’s what this article is meant to. In NO WAY do I promote the methodologies adopted by her to promote herself . The reading should be treated as things NOT TO BE DONE if you are a marketing or a branding person. For others the post is a pure fun to read.

I know I may be hated by the readers by writing about it, but believe it or not we can learn a lot of things from the Drama Queen.

All, ohk probably most, of us want to be a brand and become famous but are not able to do so. We have the skills but seeing this recent talk of the town I guess we have a point or two to learn.

First and the foremost thing is that talent alone is not the sole criteria, its publicity that plays a major role that will make you famous. Skill is a necessary condition but it is definitely not the sufficient condition. In my previous post I wrote about marketing your talent. Yes, that’s a very important point but I want to take your eyes to the tactic that Rakhi has used and used it better than enyone else. Get media publicity the WRONG way. Hardly people knew that the girl who did a couple of music videos and few movie item songs was Rakhi Sawant. But now, she’s a household name. Sometimes we have enough talent but don’t get the right/enough opportunities to show it. She made use of every opportunity. If I am not wrong, she shot into fame with the Mika Kiss Scandal. Got publicity on all those news channels who have more masala than news and eventually got more dance offers from movies and got a few TV reality show appearances as well.  Mission Accomplished I would say.

Result : Gets famous in a day all of a sudden, rules news channels for a week or so and in some cases gains public sympathy as well as anyone who cries on screen can easily get some emotional Indians sympathise her.

Second, if you can’t win, cry Cheating ! Everyone admitted that she was a good dancer, but when she was ousted on public voting in a reality show, she cried foul over the organizers claiming that the “votes were tampered”.

Result: Even though people like me who didn’t watch the show came to know about her and her dancing skills as it was again on all the masala-cum-news channels. Dancing skills proven, she starts getting more dancing offers in films, shows and no wonder her bank balance skyrocketed. Ofcourse she was famous by now !

Then comes third step and rather a mindblowing one. As people have a short memory and tend to forget things quickly, she comes with an ulmitate move, setting up a Swayamvar for herself. Marrying a person on a reality show! Who would think of that ? Are you Nuts , was my first reaction when I first heard of the show. Man, can you believe it ?  I don’t know whether it was all framed or real but bottomline is that the show managed to even get NRI’s to fight the others to marry her.  And guess what, the NRI wins ! Not sure whether the marriage will actually take place or not and the fact is who cares.

Result : Purpose of the show is solved. The show gets high TRP’s, especially because there were no cricket matches around the time of show being aired. Initially I also refrained from the show, but once when I saw it, I just couldn’t stop laughing. It was meant to be serious and emotional but it turned out to be absolutely foolish and idiotically funny and which was why even I watched it. But what surprised me more was that when I got back to work, logged into twitter, there were people who were updating about the show. News results all over the place. Ofcourse the masala-news channels had BREAKING NEWS. HAHA, I guess these news channels would run outta money if they don’t show this stuff. Everyone watched the show for various reasons and talking about her as well. Positive or negative but the point is SHE GOT PUBLICITY. I wonder what will up in those newspapers, but I guess being in Bangalore I can assume they won’t give her more than a small 5th or 6th page column.

Whatever ways she adopts, bottomline is she gets famous each time and does not let people forget her. Quoting a friend who just updated his facebook status which reads :

Rakhi sawant is a real celebrity , Hilton beware rakhi is coming, A real drama queen at it’s best on NDTV imagine ! don’t miss it

Update 1 : Latest news is that she even made it to the twitter trending topics.  http://bit.ly/12VWH1

Update 2 : Over 15 million watched ‘faisle ki raat’  http://bit.ly/1YfZ31