“A brand is a living entity – and it’s enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures”
– Michael Eisner
What about the other way around? Can every living entity – let’s just take humans in this case – be a brand? Aren’t we all brands? To try and understand Michael Eisner’s comments and our hypothesis better, let’s take the examples of two of the biggest brands in the Indian scenario currently: Cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
Like Eisner said, a brand’s value is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time. If you have been following the ‘brand wars’ between MSD and Virat Kohli of late, you’ll know that they both have alternated in being Indian cricket’s hottest property in the last couple of years. While the figure was Rs. 8 crores per brand, per annum for MSD, Virat went to Rs. 10 crores per annum with Adidas, Dhoni pipped again with his 13 crore per brand per annum deal in 2014. In a ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ competition, Dhoni currently endorses 21 brands, as compared to Virat’s 17. (We really wish they had this battle going on on-field rather than off it, but, that’s for the sporty guys to decide. Let’s stick to branding in this one)
Now, to the more important second part of Mr. Eisner’s statement: The value of each brand is determined over the years based on a thousand small gestures. So, did MSD spoofing Harbhajan Singh’s ad for a competing brand with an almost direct pot-shot at Bhajji have an effect on his brand value? Or, will the current massive dip in Kohli’s form have an effect on his brand value? Quite on the contrary, Dhoni’s value has risen almost by 60%, even amidst the ‘match fixing’ and ‘God of Big Deals’ controversies. Brand experts attribute the rise of ‘Brand Dhoni’ to his ability of giving consistent performances and achievements across all formats as the Team India skipper. “Dhoni’s brand value has got no dent because of his consistency and stunning performances of team India,” said Latika Khaneja, director, Collage Sports Management. “Also, Indian audiences and sports lovers have a very short memory,” she added.
While Dhoni connected well with the masses, Kohli has a more urban appeal which a lot of brands want to cash in on,” said Indranil Das Blah, COO of celebrity management firm CAA Kwan. Dhoni, over the years, has smartly chosen brands that help him connect with his ‘type’ of audience. His brands also tend to depict the same cool-headed yet ready-to-experiment values he propounds in general. It is absolutely vital to understand your brand’s personality before trying to build a fan base around it. Consumers associate certain stimulations to every brand and always react similarly to messages from the brand. Thus, it becomes very important for any brand to understand its ethos and line them with the market realities. And most importantly, realising the fact that goodwill (brand value) is built over time, and hence, every single gesture matters.