I guess that is why the Manmohan Singh regime is still grappling with defining a positioning for itself. The tragedy is that the essential product is very good. They have a fine team running India and its finances, they have a government with some very smart ministers and some of them are ready to brave the world. But then pause for a moment and ask yourself what is it of this government that you remember the most. The possible answer will be succumbing to blackmail. To extortionist behaviour of the Left and the Left is not hankering for your or my approval. Whenever Sitaram Yechury takes to the streets, he is satisfying someone in his cadres. It is this understanding that must drive the government to create a governance positioning and a political positioning. Just like they have done for the twin centres of power, for Manmohan and Sonia. But then marketing is some kind of a demon for anyone in power.
Look at the way the BJP used it. India Shining was a typical manufacturers claim (just like Incredible India is) and slogans, thankfully, are different from positioning. Incredible India as an advertising campaign may have excited a few people, but not necessarily owing to the power of the idea, but to the fact that after being so silent for so many years, Brand India finally found a voice. But look at the tragedy of Incredible India. The Taj, which just completed 350 years was left to shimmer in moonlight which none of us could experience. Only because once again the government thought of an idea and not of creating a comprehensive marketing plan. Just like their predecessors did with an India that wasnt shining as brightly in the pockets they advertised in!
The marketing of nations is about building advantages for a country which will endure and provide sustainable brand benefits
The time has come for a collective effort to begin the marketing of India. A process which clearly defines us as a nation and not as the offshoot of any political ideology. Because the marketing of nations, as the venerable strategy guru, Michael Porter, said is his seminal work, is about building advantages for a country which will endure and provide sustainable brand benefits. It is in this context that the national brand equity fund, which has been languishing, needs to be kick-started.
The time to protect our teas and herbs, our yoga and our brainware, has come and it is imperative we begin to build the marketing pyramid. India must be known for more than just the Taj or, for that matter, Bangalore. Because even these we have begun to treat with grave disrespect.
The writer is CEO, Equus Redcell