As Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu addressed an audience of marketers at exchange4media’s ‘ Pitch Top 50 Brands’ event in the capital with his lessons on brand building, his own obsession with brand building of the railways was more than evident. As a man with a vision for Indian Railways, his speech was peppered with examples of brand building that have been undertaken or are in the works by the ministry. But more than those real examples were his lessons in branding that kept the audience riveted.
‘A brand is created not only because of its past performance or track record but also for what people expect of it in the future. People should have something to look up to and that increases the brand value,” he said at the start of the speech, setting the tone for more such truisms.
Speaking about the unparalleled opportunity that the Indian Railways presents for building its own brand, he said, “We are working on an exercise of brand building. By that I mean, people must have certain expectations in standards and they must be met. Once we can raise those standards and deliver on them, they will add value to the brand itself.” Addressing the distinguished audience of marketers, he also hinted at the possibility of beneficial partnerships between India Inc and the Railways. Referring to participative governance, Prabhu spoke about how 400 railway stations were already on their way to becoming smart and how suggestions were being elicited from people on the website to develop them further. “Here we are looking at working with a larger community of people to develop stations that would become icons of a particular city’s development,” he said. Several initiatives were under way to make the stations tech savvy and customer friendly.
‘The number of eyeballs that we get at the stations and on the trains is unparalleled. When we have so many people to address , we want to find out how to make the best use of this opportunity , how to monetise it as a source of revenue for the government,’ said the minister.
Hinting at some more possible partnerships with the marketing fraternity he added, “We are also looking at ways to use satellites innovatively to beam content to various stations . I feel that the brains present here today will help us in bringing about this transformation. We also need to see how this brand can be encashed.”
But his best lines were reserved for the last when he spoke about building Brand India. His words could not have been more apt with India’s Independence Day just two days away. “But any brand we build in the country will be subordinate to Brand India. If Brand India is not strong enough, however strong a brand you may build it will never be as strong as it could be. We all need to think about how we can make a strong India brand, a reality. How to build that one big important brand should be an obsession for all of us.”
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was speaking at the annual event Pitch Top 50 Brands Awards by the exchange4media group. The event was presented by the Dainik Bhaskar Group.