Perceptions please..

Conducting a Perception study on what Indian youth have to say about some ageless brands in India. Brands include Amul, Ambassador, Maruti, Titan and Bajaj. We are looking at Truly Indian brands that are made in India for India.

Some questions which want your perceptions/views/critical comments include Whether these brands are associated with the country’s progress towards complete self reliance and economic supremacy or are they a relic of the British Raj? Are we still carrying huge chips of the colonial block on our collective shoulders?

Much ado made about the Common Wealth Games.. lack of preparation, money being swindled, taxpayers money and nothing to show for it, pathetic CWG village, etc etc..My question: Countries under the CW fold fought long and hard for their independence, some bloody some peaceful, some long and hard and some not as much..Yet, collectively the CW nations comes together to celebrate the CWG games, is this relevant now? What does the CWG signify anymore to the CW countries.

Ambassador is still associated with India and mostly Indian bureaucracy. Does the Ambassador car have any significance now? Will it be possible to associate the Ambassador with new age living for Indian youth? Can we make this a cultural symbol of India: -Sturdiness=India’s unshaken democracy; Looks=India’s simplicity and steadfast nature; Capacious interiors=India’s renowned hospitality and encompassing melting pot nature. Are there are other things of the Ambassador that make it a great symbol of what we call India.

Amul – The Taste of India. The slogan says it all. Is Amul ready to survive the onslaught of the Baskin Robbins and the Haagen Daaz? What more does Amul need to do?

Titan, Maruti and Bajaj- The trio represent Indian innovation having successfully scaled up to reach mass commercial appeal and continue their success story but is this the end of a new beginning for the TRIO?

Leveraging Social Media

Often heated arguments erupt between Bambubhai and I over the power of the Social Media. (A quick note: Bambubhai is my sounding board, thick as brick and sharp as a harp with his tongue and wicked wit!!) Oh where was I, ah yes the arguments. He being a SM-hater and me being PRO-SM or New Media as I prefer calling all these great platforms.

Bambubhai: Pah and boo to Social Media, what social media?? This is nothing but intrusion of privacy. I don’t know why fool people want to waste time posting pics and boasting about stuff they would normally dare not get associated with including sloshed out pics and rave parties!!!!! And don’t you ever talk about getting me into all this NONSENSE.

Me: But honey, you don’t get it do you?? You need to be on these platforms and increase your network. Who knows someone may be needing your help right now.

Bambubhai: Like hell I care. If someone wants my help they can call me or meet me. See, that’s what social media does. It takes away the human connect. People spend more time on FB than they do with family. What’s the point? And networking, well I go out for a beer with my boys and yap with the gang. What better way to network, eh??

Naysayer though Bambubhai is, he still has hooked up with buddies across the globe on FB but not capitalized the rich network that Linkedin provides. Well to those of you interested to taste some of my pickled wisdom, here goes:

Facebook not only serves as a great place to hook up with friends, keep tabs on shall we say pppl whom u r green-eyed about, catch up with DJs/RJs/MCs and all the other alphabets, know the latest dos and win free tickets…FB is also a great place to set up your page if you are interested in getting your business/hobbies off the ground. I know of a theatre group, Yourstruly, which has optimally used FB to capture a ready audience.

The like/share button available on FB page also allows you to get more people involved in this type of marketing who would attract even more people on their page to see your project and thus it goes on.

Trick is to keep the content INTERESTING, involve reader participation, encourage comments, make it INTERACTIVE

Linkedin is a great platform to network professionally not only with peers or seniors in your field but related fields too. I have checked out other sites like ApnaCircle and Viadeo but personally, did not get much value from these as compared with Linkedin. (No: not getting paid to promote).

Look up for people whom you know ONLY and get connected. Very simple reason for this thumb rule: you do not want STRANGERS/ppl with whom you share a bad rapport use this site to badmouth you or spike your chances of creating helpful connections.

Join groups that are from your area of expertise or potential area so you can gain valuable insights into the industry or market. Unlike FB where you would go around adding folks with whom u would share a Hi once in six months, be selective about whom you add on in professional networking sites.

I scratch your back, you scratch mine may be crass..but it works best this way for those who are just starting off on a professional networking platform. Later, you can use even more discretion in adding folks on your connected list.

Do not go around plastering recommendation with/from people whom you have not worked on in a personal level. And even if you do, specify the key adjectives on which the commendation can be framed so it at least has credence of authenticity.

Participate in group discussions and follow normal etiquette that you would in a formal face-to-face conversation. Smart alecks and Talking down are not welcome. Initiate discussions. Be genuine.

Twitter isn’t a fad. Yes, I wrote it off a few years back when it started but the micro-blogging platform has survived and thrived despite naysayers like me. I’m a believer in Twitter reach especially after the Brigade Carlton episode. Twitter is yet to be harnessed fully.

Twitter not only provides you the freedom of creating lists but also allows you to create new trending topics with the use of a # tag. Again, follow common day-to-day etiquettes. Your stepping into the loo doesn’t require a 140-word tweet, does it 😉

Blogging is more than a personal journal.

And some new age consultants like businessblogging.com are an eye opener as was the great social media experiment I was privileged to be a part of. CIIConnect 2010 was a great experience and ardently hope that I get the opp to participate in more such events. Meanwhile, remember a blog is a great outlet to outpour your angst and showcase your wit aka ‘A’ Corner but also is a great way to increase your network and visibility.

Whether WordPress or Blogger, all the widgets these blogging hosts provide can be creatively used to increase traffic. Check HellBound Bloggers and Mashable for updated+Tips on optimal use of New Media.

Rules to be followed are same as the other platforms. Refrain from foul language unless that is your USP, but be wary of the followers you attract. Always Pay It Forward. It helps to give because end of it all .. what you give is what you get my friend.

Happy networking, and do keep on coming back to share your valuable insights and great feedback.

Crying Shame

So far I have desisted joining the Crying Shame movement playing along the country as one fiasco straddles another in the ongoing preparation for the Common Wealth Games. Today’s reportage on the The Wall Street Journal is no different.

Some gems spewn by our admirable people-in-command include a much-talked about television interview by Lalit Bhanot, if you do not know who he is you will soon enough. Sharing a few more with you…

On collapse of a footbridge under construction – Jaipal Reddy, India’s minister for urban development, says the event would go smoothly despite the problems. “I am as confident, as cool as ever, about organizing Commonwealth Games in a very successful, comfortable way. I don’t think these matters will affect the image of the government or the country in the final analysis.”

A.K. Sinha, the chief engineer of the Public Works Department of the Delhi government—the agency responsible for constructing the bridge—calls Tuesday’s incident a “setback,” but expresses confidence that the project would be completed before the Games begin. “The mishap happened due to support failure, leading to the collapse of the footbridge onto the car park tarmac underneath. The engineers are investigating the cause of the accident.”

Michael Fennell, the Games Federation president says: “The problems are arising because deadlines for the completion of the Village have been consistently pushed out. Now, the high security around the site, while vital, is slowing progress and complicating solutions.”

On international criticism on poor show so far: Mr. Reddy, the minister for urban development says there has been no criticism about the quality of the Games Village but only complaints about services and maintenance. The government would work with the Organizing Committee to ensure the success of the Games, he says.

Now what more do I say, Jai Ho?!!

Branding

Reading about Swami Nityananda’s (hic) exploits had me wondering why everybody still refers to the ungodly man as a Swami. For a country rife with political god-men and holy mothers we do not have to look up to or look out for yet another Swami whose ochre robes are tarred.

Which brings me to a more important point – branding.

Nityananda was able to groom himself into a Holy man, and if the papers and reports are to be believed amassed a long string of patrons and institutions across the globe. Only time will tell if this is the truth or not.

How does this relate to the corporate set up?? Corporate branding is all about creating an image, reinforcing that image and successfully living up to it without getting feathered and tarred. Neither Nityananda nor the IPL have been able to do this very successfully. And both of them, to me come under the broader array of corporatization – of religion and sports.

Creating a brand starts early. I know of several ex-colleague who did not adhere to the stereotypical images of the pen-wielding maverick and the geeky nerd. They corporatized their image to create a brand of a super-efficient worker. Crumpled shirts, funky outfits and jhola-jhooti were not for them. Both these ilk succeeded beyond I am sure their own expectations.

While I do not side with one or the other factions the point I am making here is the importance of developing your Individual Branding or Corporate Identity.

Realise your potential and play to it. Pamper and nurture it. Do not get bogged down by what is expected of you or from you.

An ex-colleague had the funkiest dressing sense I have ever come across but she had carefully cultivated this image, which set her apart from the herd. Her style of writing was honed over a period of time till she had a unique quirky style, which was appealing to a certain set of readers. She was unable to fit into mainstream media since this curbed her creative and quirky pen. Today, this said lady works with Marie Claire as a Senior Editor.

Yet another acquaintance danced to his own tune. He was stuck in a dead-end job as a sales and marketing head for a FMCG firm. Numbers and sales pitches were not his cup of tea. Corporate events and social dos however brought out the best in him. He was associated with all promotional activities related to music and the arts. He was able to pull in solid sponsors for some of the musical events he was associated with. His image of being a fun-loving socially savvy personality who loved music finally landed him a long-standing gig with a leading music company.

This discovery takes time but it has to be a conscious effort. An image consultant can craft one for you but honing it is YOUR job. In a previous post I had written about the TripleE to which Anju wrote in with her take on the vicious circle.

Having your own Image and Knowing Yourself and your potential is a way of breaking out of that vicious circle.