HDFC’s Tripathy, Elephant Design’s Deshpande & Dr. Singhvi on re-branding

Marketing experts Dr. SR Singhvi, Sanjay Tripathy and Ashwini Deshpande discuss the art and science of re-branding at Pitch Marketing Academy.

e4m by Surbhi
Updated: Jan 13, 2011 10:02 AM
HDFC’s Tripathy, Elephant Design’s Deshpande & Dr. Singhvi on re-branding

Should crores of rupees be spent on the change of a mere logo? This is perhaps the first thought when it comes to ‘rebranding’. However, rebranding is much more that logo change. As a matter of fact, it’s just the start of a chain reaction, which needs to stem from inside the organisation undergoing the change and should reflect in all aspects of the marketing mix for that brand or company. The second edition of the Pitch Marketing Academy workshop, which was held in Delhi on January 12, 2011 sought to address various issues regarding rebranding. The theme this year was ‘The Art and Science of Rebranding’. The Pitch Marketing Academy was presented by Dainik Jagran.

The workshop was led by Dr SR Singhvi, Professor of Marketing, IMI, and formerly with MDI and IIM Indore. The other key speakers were Sanjay Tripathy, EVP & Head, Marketing, HDFC Life, and Ashwini Deshpande, Director, Elephant Strategy+Design.

‘Rebranding comes at a cost’
Dr Singhvi started by explaining the tangible and intangible benefits of a brand and how rebranding affected them. “Rebranding comes at a cost, which can be from monetary to emotional, and affects from within the organisation to the consumers,” he said.

According to him, rebranding could be done not only for aesthetic looks, but at times when two companies came together, rebranding could help bring the strengths of each other on a single platform. A good example of this was PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

“However, rebranding is not about what the brand can offer, but what the consumer wants. In such a scenario, rebranding efforts can backfire and the company may have to roll back the efforts. One such example is of GAP,” Dr Singhvi noted.

The HDFC Life case study
Sanjay Tripathy, EVP & head – Marketing, HDFC Life, gave an intriguing insight into how a financial institution like HDFC Standard Life had gone through a focused and well planned re-branding exercise and had morphed into HDFC Life.

He said, “In a clutter of similar products and logos, HDFC Standard Life could not stand out and differentiate itself. The yellow and green logo also did not have the synergy of the mother brand HDFC. There was a dire need to reenergize the brand.”

Hence, the logo was changed to red and blue and had the synergy of the mother brand. While the tagline: ‘Sar Utha ke Jiyo’ was retained, the board of directors of both HDFC Standard Life and HDFC Ltd decided to drop ‘Standard’ from the name. “If the consumers could not understand the word ‘Standard’, it was appropriate for us to drop the word rather than having it for the heck of it,” Tripathy explained.

He then went on to explain the benefits of reviewing the rebranding exercise, putting it amidst the clutter. He cited the example of the new Airtel logo, which some look at as being inspired by the Videocon or Vodafone logos.

The rebranding at HDFC Life was done in a phased maner and not necessarily “overnight”, which helped the company save a lot in terms of cost and at the same time helped in breaking the myth that re-branding exercise required billions of rupees to be spent if the planning process was streamlined.

The Bajaj Auto case study
Another passionate discussion was from Ashwini Deshpande, who presented the case study of Bajaj Auto, which underwent a sea-change in 2004. Her agency, Elephant Strategy+Design, was responsible for the change.

Deshpande explained, “In a survey, we found that while internally the company was the most progressive in technology and followed the most stringent processes even at workshops, externally the brand was seen as a brand of oldies.”

Additionally, it was found that though the logo of Bajaj had been around for a considerable amount of time, it was quite complex and hard to replicate. Hence, there were different variations of the Bajaj logo that were found across the country. Even though the term ‘Hamara Bajaj’ was highly used, it never completely defined of who the target audience was. Hence, to reach out to the newer generation, it became essential for the brand to undergo a revitalisation exercise and come out stronger and more confident as a brand, and that’s exactly what happened.

Going forward, the companyplans to perhaps play down the umbrella brand and want sub-brands like Pulsar and Eliminator to be the frontrunners and be brands on their own.

The audience was enthralled by the entire change process for various brands and was quite intrigued by Airtel’s brand change. Several questions were asked about whether or not it was the right step and would it be successful and connect as well with the Tier II and III cities and at the same time be relevant with the global scheme of things for Airtel.

Similar questions and concerns were also shared in regard to Star Plus’ rebranding exercise and whether it was instrumental in the channel becoming the No. 1 Hindi GEC. Other examples that came up for discussions included Tata and its corporate identity, Tata Nano, ITC, and Gap, among others.

Amit Agnihotri, Editor, Pitch and Co-founder & Director, exchange4media Group, remarked that in order to reach out to the younger audiences, which were getting younger by the day, brands were trying get a new connect through re-branding, as was seen in the case of brands like Airtel, HDFC Life, Bajaj, Jagran, and so on.

The Pitch Marketing Academy was presented by Dainik Jagran, India’s largest read daily, and was webcast live on The recordings of the presentations can also be viewed on

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