In brand territory, it takes clear-sighted vision to be
king. In the early 1990s, right after Ratan Tata succeeded
J R D Tata as chairman of the Tata group, India''s best-known
business conglomerate embarked on a brand-building expedition
whose goal was to unify a diverse and diffuse enterprise
and make it capable of navigating the rough post-liberalisation
waters that lay ahead. The rewards of the exercise were
slow to accrue, but the trickle has now turned into a
the message borne by the latest edition of a three-year-old
research study on the health of the Tata brand. Conducted
biannually since December 2000, the study, dubbed the
Tata Brand Track, was conceived with the objective of
"systematically and periodically measuring the health
of the overall Tata brand vis-à-vis peer corporations."
six of the track, which was completed in July 2003, sees
the Tata brand strengthening its leadership position on
all parameters and fortifying its appeal among the various
segments of respondents. The competition that the Tata
brand was faced with in this contest included the best
and most reputed on India''s brand landscape. The quality
of its rivals in this battle makes the Tata brand''s accomplishment
all the more significant.
survey covered 10 segments, divided into three wide categories
each representing a cross-section of Indian society:
insiders (comprising Tata employees and business associates)
audiences (employees of banks and financial institutions;
government officials; business journalists; shareholders
and brokers; and other managers)
audiences (housewives, chief wage earners and students)
study, which is an ongoing affair, is based on in-depth
research involving more than 2,000 respondents spread
across 13 urban centres.
are seven parameters that decide a company''s score in
the study: knowledge of the business environment, dynamism,
workplace quality, quality of products and services, consistency
and dependability of quality, reputation, and renown.
Conducted by Pathfinders, the market research division
of Lowe, the Tata Brand Track bases its methodology on
how the association between consumers and a company plays
out over an extended period of time.
are two factors through which this relationship is plotted:
affinity and relevance. As with any long-term union, the
strength of this relationship is decided by whether the
fundamentals of affinity (also known as familiarity and
bonding) and relevance improve.
defines a brand leader as one who is high on affinity
as well as relevance. The challenge for a brand aspiring
to be a leader, then, is to be strong on these two factors,
to be ahead of the competition and its peers, and to get
stronger over time. This is what the Tata brand has succeeded
in doing. Says T Krishnan, the president of Pathfinders:
"This brand has sustained its position as leader.
In fact, it is the only brand that has consistently consolidated
its position; others have seen ups and downs."
Tata group''s achievements on the brand front are not an
overnight phenomenon. The seeds were sown with the drafting,
in the mid 1990s, of the Brand Equity and Business Promotion
(BEBP) agreement, a comprehensive contract that laid down
the conditions a company had to comply with to earn the
privilege of being labelled a Tata enterprise. Companies
had the choice not to sign the agreement, but then they
would lose the right to use the Tata name.
that sign the BEBP agreement are obliged to abide by the
Tata code of conduct, a set of principles that guides
and governs the way a Tata enterprise runs its business.
The agreement also enjoins the group to follow practices
that enhance the Tata brand, and invest in building the
Tata brand equity. BEBP signatories can access established
group capabilities in areas such as strategic management
and human resources.
to putting the BEBP initiative in motion, the group acquired
a fresh and modern logo and a corporate identity plan.
Crafted by the British design agency Wolff Olins, this
logo now adorns every Tata group company''s corporate markers.
It has become a powerful symbol, signifying the values
of the house of Tata and helping to coalesce group companies
under a common canopy. Advertising, media relations and
the Internet are other avenues that the group has used
to add muscle to its brand equity.
to The Economic Times in a 1996 interview, Ratan
Tata stressed the importance of constructing a unified
Tata brand: "The intention has been to create a single
strong entity that will benefit all [Tata] companies
If you are to fight a Mitsubishi or an X or Y in the free
India of tomorrow, you better have one rather than 40
brands. You better have the ability to promote that brand
in a meaningful manner
such as the Tata Brand Track highlight the effectiveness
of the group''s brand-building efforts. The results of
the latest edition of the research study show that the
process has been gathering steady momentum. The survey
shows the Tata brand improving its potency while its peers
have fallen back. This means that it has extended the
gap with its closest competitors.
the tracking study is not engineered to understand why
respondents make the choices they do, it is possible to
decipher some possible causes why the Tata brand is placed
on top. For instance, the ''other managers'' grouping sees
the Tatas as having a high growth rate, a clear business
focus, and companies that are good to work for. The ''business
journalists'' category considers the group dynamic, responsive
to customer needs, and result oriented, while ''shareholders
and brokers'' think the group has companies that are safe
to invest in.
the survey reveals quite clearly is that the Tata brand
has more pep and zest than ever. In a 2001 interview to
R Gopalakrishnan, executive director, Tata Sons, said:
"I think the world over realisation has dawned that,
as economies develop and consumers have more spending
power, people don''t buy products; they buy a promise.
The future will undoubtedly belong to the brand
and the Tatas will not be left behind."
should know, given that he has been one of the architects
of the Tata group''s brand-building endeavours. Speaking
in the same interview, he said: "Today the Tatas
represent assurance, reliability, a sense of nationalism,
value for money
Irrespective of the product you
are making, those are the attributes you would like to
be known for, whether it is through a wristwatch, a piece
of software or a car."
its old-world properties remain unaltered, the Tata brand
has moved on to conquer new turf. Today it is increasingly
being seen as innovative, forward thinking, well managed,
aggressive and with a high technology content just
the right ingredients for prosperity in a brandscape that