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"It is a positive but critical period for Brand India"

Santosh Desai, MD & CEO of Futurebrands India Ltd

Apr 27, 2015 10:27

According to a recently released study by Brand Finance ranking nations across the world on brand value, India was ranked 8th in the 2014 survey with an estimated brand value of US$ 1.62 trillion, improving its rank from 9th in 2013. Santosh Desai, MD & CEO of Futurebrands India Ltd discusses the current status and future potential of Brand India in an exclusive interview with IBEF. Edited excerpts:

What is you sense of Brand India and how is it being perceived globally?

India is currently is in the process of being seen as one of the most dynamic and action-oriented economies in the world as against sometime back when there was a sense of unfulfilled promises. There is a belief currently that India is changing, partly relative because the other emerging economies are not at their best, and partly because of the recent initiatives. Any nation brand would have multiple dimensions to it and India is no different. There is a high level of confidence at one end and there are anxieties on the other end but by and large there is a belief that India is in motion. That is the most important thing. When you believe that there is something in action and things are expected to improve, that changes the perception of any nation brand.

As far as the business brand of India is concerned, do you believe the confidence is back?

The two factors that help improving the brand equity of any nation is the direct performance and the expectation that gets built around it. There is already a lot of expectation that has been built around Brand India and business is now looking for concrete actions including the ease of doing business in the country. Things are yet to change materially and therefore if you have to look at it from the ground, it will not be very different at the moment but investor sentiment towards India has improved drastically. There is a hope, expectation and confidence that things will change and the brand is at the tipping point where either expectation will meet reality or the gap between expectation and situation on ground will become unsustainable. By that logic, it is a positive but critical period for Brand India.

Do you believe Indian brands have played an important role in promoting Brand India?

From a brand perspective, Indian brands are still moving but they haven’t reached a global scale and I feel the ambition itself is missing. Partly because India is a huge market in itself but that is true for almost all global economies. It is a mindset that needs to shift because a branding mindset is very different from a commodity mindset. Even in services that mindset has not changed and it is still bulk supply. Till the time the mindset doesn’t change, we will not be able to associate India with something. For instance, we used to think of Korea in a particular way 20 years ago when the television kits from Korea were the worst things to have but today, the perception has shifted. We even today know hardly about Korea apart from through brands like LG, Samsung and Hyundai. To my mind, a strong pillar in any Brand India story will be Indian brands with international presence. We are still not moving further on this and hence, very far from our target.