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Guest Column: Brand building is not for the faint-hearted - Shafalika Saxena

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Guest Column: Brand building is not for the faint-hearted - Shafalika Saxena

There are lessons to be learned on how to build a winning brand from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Less than a year old and dismissed as a joke, AAP just scored one of the more dramatic election upsets in recent memory.

Here’s how…

Galvanize a base: It inspired highly engaged volunteers. With reason. And emotion.

Have a clear call to action: “Good governance. Now.”

Leverage the power of symbols: Their logo is a broom. It cuts across demographic barriers and requires no explanation. Party workers wear a simple, white Gandhi cap as a reminder of what Indian leadership once was and an aspiration for what it could be again.

Put integrity first: AAP is the only political party I know that stopped (!) accepting money four days before the elections. It said it had enough and lists every donation on its website with transparency unusual in politics.

Be authentic: AAP’s band of brand heroes are drawn from the base it seeks to galvanize. No “borrowed interest” celebrities to overshadow its brand message. Just a self-effacing engineer and a group of pragmatic idealists being who they have always been. Some in faded jeans, some in well-worn khadi – but none in new clothes bought solely for political posturing.

Be humble: No divas in AAP. Humility is the best enabler for a learning mindset which helps brands evolve with or ahead of their constituencies.

Be brave: Want to cut through the clutter? Well then dare, like AAP, to be relevant-ly different.

Be connected: New media, old media, mobile, digital, experiential, PR – AAP integrated communication behind a cohesive message to amplify brand voice vis-à-vis brand speak.

It remains to be seen whether AAP will follow through with what it takes to be not just a flash-in-the-pan brand, but a lasting brand. For that, it must deliver sustained value to its supporters. That hard work is about to begin. Brand building is not for the faint of heart or the weak of will.

I wish them well.

The author is former Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft India. She is currently a brand and business developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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