|PC: Bharati Varrier
Come October, the nation would be on a spree of events and discussions reminding the people of Gandhiji’s life and messages, and reflecting on their continued relevance. There is hardly any subject or walk of life that he had not deliberated or discoursed on, be it politics, governance, religion or business. While his concepts on the former three have been tried and tested, his thoughts and opinions on business are more relevant now than ever. “The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice.” He said this years ago when India was thinking freedom, and only freedom, not business. While Gandhiji himself was famous for his frugal living – a motto that prompted Winston Churchill to refer to him as the ‘half-naked fakir’ – he knew with great clarity how to ‘sell’ (if one might be audacious enough to use the word) his message.
Gandhiji was a brand in himself, a genuine
brand. His walking stick, spectacles, spinning wheel and the coarse khadi that
he draped around him are all elements of the brand icon that reflect the
identity - Mahatma. The recall value of these icons is time-tested. Show a
charkha and ask any Indian who it reminds them of, they would spontaneously
identify it with the Mahatma. They are all (the walking stick, the spectacles,
the charkha, khadi, etc.) symbols or the visual characteristics of the brand
represented by him. Any mention of the Dandi March brings to the mind the
Mahatma walking barefoot to Dandi for the famous Salt Satyagraha. The march in
itself is a story of patriotism, non-violence, protest against injustice and,
in the end, victory – a story that struck a chord with the masses, and still continues
to. Today the business world is slowly waking up to the importance of storytelling
in building brands.
Any Indian, if not the entire world, knows what
the Mahatma stood for – truth, simplicity, and non-violence, among others – the
values that decided his actions. Businesses today have realized the importance
of underscoring their core values, which are constantly represented by their
actions, to demonstrate the genuineness of their brands. More than ever, they
know the importance of brand promise and the need to keep it, for today
customers cannot be taken for a ride. They have more power and better access to
right information through the social media and other platforms.
More recently, brand purpose, it’s been said,
unlocks customer loyalty. A successful brand offers products or services that
make their customers’ life better. It changes the world for the better. What
Gandhiji offered was justice, equality, freedom and self-respect. His objective
was India’s freedom, but he had a purpose that was far beyond achieving
freedom. His higher purpose was to create an India where his fellow Indians
would live with equal status, rights and opportunities. His higher purpose was
to enable inclusive growth of his country. He worked relentlessly for the
uplift of the downtrodden. He stood for India. And India stood for him.
[As published at https://indusscrolls.com/mahatma-the-brand/]