DAN Interviews

Indian brands await global recognition

14 Aug 2017

Experts believe local brands will become international ones in due course

As the seventh largest economy in the world, India is home to some major brands that continue to remain mostly unnoticed on the global stage.

Though there are a number of Indian businesses that are global, many have not been able to establish themselves as global brands, according to branding experts at Interbrand, a global brand consultancy. Corporate chieftains, advertising and branding experts in India beg to differ. Seventy years of Independence has taught us one thing, they say — No Indian brand is going to stand by and watch multinational brands walk away with the laurels.

Indian brands have evolved to become containers of trust, says YK Hamied, Chairman of pharma giant Cipla. “The Indian brand today stands for respectability, responsibility, ethical practices and quality,” he says, adding that the intellectual property rights to brands have become containers of great value on the global stage, and not just in the case of medicines.

Ananya Birla, Singer, Entrepreneur and Mental Health Campaigner, believes the “surge of globalisation and industrialisation has allowed Indian brands to diversify, gain knowledge and innovate to increase productivity.”

“It is India's decade now,” argues Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network. “Over the next 10-12 years India will be at the forefront of most things.”

Ambi Parameswaran, brand strategist and Founder Brand-Building.com, says Indian brands have managed to thrive in the midst of increased competition. “In two-wheelers, three of the top five are Indian brands. In cars, two of the top six are Indian brands. In telecom, Indian brands are giving a tough time to global majors.”

Bisleri International Chairman Ramesh Chauhan, however, begs the question: “Has any Indian brand made a mark on the world stage. An emphatic no. Other than Africa and South East Asia, which Indian brand has made an impact in the overseas market? Most Indian brands don’t exist in Europe and America.”

Experts also point to the legacy businesses. If one looks at the Indian brands table, it is dominated by legacy businesses. These businesses are India’s best bet to grow global. “In some business-to-business sectors, such as steel and IT, the Tata brand is very well known and respected. Where Tata has been successful in terms of international branding, the recipe is different in each case,” points out Morgen Witzel, business theorist and author of Tata – The Evolution of a Corporate Brand.

For the Godrej group, founded by Ardeshir Godrej in 1897, the brand journey has been on the most unexpected lines. Who could have imagined that what started as a lock manufacturing enterprise would one day make engines to power India’s space programme? “The group had always believed in economic independence alongside political independence. So stepping up manufacturing to enter new segments after 1947 was a logical progression for Godrej,” says Vrunda Pathare, chief archivist at the Godrej Group.

The IT sector is another example where Infosys, TCS, and Wipro have made IT synonymous with India. In the cricket world, IPL has become the most iconic brand. The past few years has also seen the coming of age of Bollywood, where the fraternity has largely been internally focussed. The soft power of Indian films is now visible in the foreign markets, be it Lagaan earlier or the more recent Dangal, which had a significant business even in China.