Over the last few years, there have been a number of instances where the brand images of large corporate entities worldwide have taken a hit, either for genuine technical reasons, due to market-driven forces, or just imprudent management decisions. Those circumstances wiped off brand images built laboriously over time, driving dollars down the drain.
A company is primarily built on three pillars – investors (owners), clients or customers, and employees (ICE). Any company can decently sustain if the three pillars are firmly grounded. Other factors make businesses easier – like suppliers or vendors and market agents at the two ends, besides smaller, yet often critical, ones in between. But the bottom line is drawn by the three primary pillars, whose prudence drives business, or mars it.
Of late, though, there has been a large dependency on third-party associates that makes life easy running businesses, and more often cutting costs. Even, employees – deemed an important pillar – are owned by third-party associates, bringing in the inevitable danger of lax approach towards delivering quality products or services. The element of employer-loyalty has been gradually fading away.
Not that big names have not reared – GM rose like a phoenix after it almost went bust at the onset of the millennium. All that happened with sensible, prudent business decisions that paved way for a smooth, longer drive ahead. And how GM is cruising how! There haven’t been headlines about how much it spent to reinvent itself, even not what those sensible, prudent business decisions were!
Negative branding has worked often in the past, but Volkswagen must be wondering if it had to tread this path of lying of the emission standards! From the world’s biggest carmaker, it tumbled down heavily. And not just in America, but elsewhere, too. There even was a joke doing rounds – mechanical and automotive engineers toiled to make a great product, the software engineers foiled the plan! And then VW shepherded a slew of German automakers – Mercedes Benz, Audi, Porsche. Not to be left behind, the Japanese joined the diesel war, with even bigger names like Mitsubishi, Honda, Mazda joining the herd.
These were poor, imprudent management decisions that brought down the legendary names. Only, their crimes will be soon forgotten, as the growing market needs them, too, besides the honest ones.
And emission and mileage are not just the ones that fuelled the crisis – air bags, seatbelts, etc. – which are largely supplied by third-party manufacturers – also contributed to the vehicle recalls.
Only, German BMW and the Japanese Toyota are yet to be red-signalled.
Naming of the product also has been comical at times, with India’s Tata Motors naming one of its new models Zica (now Tiago), which was later withdrawn after the outbreak and fast-spreading of the virus Zika! It was sheer improvidence. Now, which got its name first is a point to debate!
And that’s not all . . . There are other products that took a beating and putting the consumer into hazard. Nestle India’s Maggi is one, for example. Whether it was politically driven or a genuine case of misinformation, the packets disappeared from the shelves, just like birds from nests. Soon entered Patanjali, apparently with nature and hygiene stuffed in. The breeze wouldn’t turn to wind, though; and the birds can rebuild the nests. And that isn’t a lot of wind! Patanjali is famous from the hairy Ramdev, yet, and not by the products. And, who else better than him to blow the wind! And the jury is still out about Maggi. The air is yet to be cleared . . .
The brands have been hit by their ambassadors as well. Snapdeal by Amir Khan, for example. Only, Tata Motors survived what was written about Messi in the Panama Papers! Nonetheless, it had, for its India-centric customer-base, the IPL bandwagon, which made it its brand-wagon. Also hopped in was Maruti Suzuki with its Brezza, only to survive being hit by the sixers that rained at the venues where the car was put on display. The King Khan hitherto promoted Nokia, and his cook put out quite a spread for Tim – a sign that Kolkata Knight Riders might soon flaunt Apples on their jersey chests!
Cities, too, have seen change in their names – Gurgaon becoming to be known as Gurugram! The dispensations wipe off history! And, now, there has been some debate to name Airports, Bus and Rail stations by the names of the cities, rather than as memorials of forgotten personalities. Now that makes sense.
Know Amul? It has just been milking the imagination of the nation just by its cartoon, largely. What does that brand Amul?