Branding Raj Thackeray
“It doesn’t matter how many people you offend, as long as you’re getting your message to your consumers. I say to those people who do not want to offend anybody: You are going to have a very, very difficult time having meaningful advertising.
Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike.
I don’t understand Politics too much. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the rest of the country understands it too much too. Unlike what the political pundits and Journalists often say, I don’t think the voter knows best cause as a country we have terrible record of returning terrible people to power. However, what has always fascinated me is the business of politics. Not the horse trading or the buying of votes that’s so blatant. What fascinates me is what persuades the consumer (Voter) to buy into the promise of the product (Candidate) or company (Political Party).
The one person that has created a huge impact on state politics in very short time is Raj Thackeray. I have very mixed views about him as a Politician (this column is purely a Brand/Marketing Analysis). However, truth be told, I think he has done tremendously well in creating a space for his brand (Personal & Party Brand) in the cluttered and highly competitive Maharashtrian Political arena in a matter of 3 years. I think there are very good lessons to learn for marketers & business people about Brand building from the Raj Thackeray story.
- You got to stand for something: Every product and service needs to be absolutely clear about its positioning. Who is the target group (TG) of your product? Spend a lot of your time on defining who your customer really is. A Brand that stands for every one does not stand for anyone. Raj Thackeray was very clear that his target market/group was the Marathi Manoos. His campaign would revolve around them buying into his brand story.
- Stay focused on your target group/market: If you are absolutely clear on your TG, stay focused on it. Don’t give into the temptation of wavering from it. Raj Thackeray rarely ever did One – on – One interview with the national English & Hindi news channels. He spent most of his Media time with the Marathi Media. From what I hear, he went out of his way to accommodate them in his schedule. He gave them preference over their national media counterparts (something that was practically unthinkable for the often ill treated Marathi Journalist who is so used to the step sister treatment meted about by politicians craving for a national presence). He knew the Marathi media would influence the Marathi Voters. Staying focused on them and in turn his TG helped him establish his brand.
- PR works much better than advertising: As a marketer, if you have very limited marketing budget, use PR effectively. Richard Branson literally revolutions the way the media could be used for no cost at all. Richard Branson performed a few crazy stunts (both daring and plain silly) and got his brand on the front pages of the newspaper – for NO cost at all. Raj Thackeray threw his more or less inane, outdated issues, managed to stay on the front pages of all the newspaper. Was in News, constantly for some reason or the other. Like they say, No publicity is bad publicity. (Goan Politicians, please don’t take a cue from this. Please)
- Consistency in message: As a brand, if you’re not consistent in your message, you will confuse your consumer. Ensure that there is a thread of consistency that runs through your communication. If Raj Thackeray stood for the Marathi Manoos and its culture, it was consistent in every bit of communication that went out to his TG. The name of his Party – Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (an idiot proof name). The issue’s he raked up. In an interview with a national English TV Channel, he chooses to answer all the questions in Marathi (although he is fluent in both English & Hindi). He would rather offend the interviewer, than waiver from consistently delivering the same message to his TG.
- Simplify your Brand Proposition: Always keep the brand proposition simple. Don’t confuse the consumer with multiplicity and complex messaging. Raj Thackeray had a very simple brand proposition “I stand for the interests of the Marathi Manoos.” That simple and clear.
Maybe I’m intellectualizing this too much. But I guess it’s my job as a Trainer & Column Writer (and former Brand Manager) to intellectualize the simplicities of business & life.