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Companies lack confidence of seeing Indian brands on a world stage: Wally Olins

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Wally Olins

Wally Olins

Media and marketing professionals heard spell bound as Wally Olins, the English Brand Identity and Communications expert addressed them at the IAA Global Marketing Summit held in Mumbai. What really made everyone sit up were his views about Indian brands, which he said lacked confidence of seeing themselves on the world stage.

Coming from a veteran in the field of corporate identity and branding, who is still going strong at 83 and who knows India first hand, the words were a wake-up call for marketers and advertisers. In July of 2012, Olins had expressed his optimism about India to Reuters when he has said, “From where I’m standing, under an umbrella in London, there’s a lot more right than wrong with India”.

In the early years of his career, Wally was sent to India where he ran the Mumbai office of what is now known as Ogilvy and Mather for five years. As the Chairman of Saffron Brand Consultants, based in London, Madrid, Mumbai and New York he has had a vast experience with India and Indian brands. Reiterating what he has mentioned many times before, Olins said, “ A brand is not a logo, tagline or slogan. A brand is what you stand for, and what you stand for visually.” He spoke about how the brand idea can be projected through its products and services, through communication and advertising and also through the environment. A motor brand, for instance, is product-dominated, whereas a brand like Coca Cola has always been communications-driven. A hotel is a perfect example of being a brand that’s ‘environmentally-dominated.

“When will products and brands be ‘designed by India’?”, asked Olins as he tried to highlight how brands and companies in India were suffering from a psychological problem. “Indian companies and brands do not believe that India is worth it. ‘Made in India’ does not add value. Companies lack confidence of seeing Indian brands on a world stage. There’s no reason for this but it’s there,” he stressed. He also added that Indian brands should be communicating qualities that were “intrinsically Indian”. He was also critical about the dependence of Indian brands on brand ambassadors and asked if brands were suffering from a multiple-personality disorder.

As he wound up his riveting speech, Olins stressed the need for Indian brands to communicate that they are real and relatable. The need was to communicate authenticity.

By Staff Writer

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