Dwaitham and Brand Management

Hinduism – which I believe is a way of life and not a religion – has two very strong concepts. Dwaitham and Adwaitham. To simplify, Adwaitham is the higher goal where one is able to experience God formlessly. Which means that at very high levels of devotion, meditation or any equivalent path, God’s form wouldn’t matter and the devotee would be able to experience God within one’s own self.

This is a very difficult goal to achieve, because to see God formlessly is not a simple task. So Shankara Bhagavadpada, in his wisdom promoted the concept of giving God a form before worshipping. Dwaitham as it was called was meant to make the path to God simple. When the human mind cannot concentrate on a formless God, make it concentrate on a form like us would make meditation simpler.

It is strange and almost supernatural that Shankara has put forward a great branding concept too.

Dwaitham in the branding world is common and many times very helpful in making the essential connect with the consumer.

One of the first examples of Dwaitham in branding that I learnt about was Gattu. The mascot for Asian Paints. I can still remember the character created by R K Laxman though Gattu has ‘retired’. Naughty, colourful and ever ready to take on the challenge of painting a house, Gattu resonated a vibrancy that no other paint brand of that time. The brand still stands for all that, but doesn’t carry Gattu anymore.

The Maharaja of Air India is another character that has now been retired but can never be forgotten. Curiously, the character was created to be used in notepads by Mr. Umesh Rao of JWT, but became the official mascot of the brand.

Nipper of HMV, Bibendum of Michellin, Tux of Linux, Ronald McDonald of McDonalds, Fido-Dido of 7-Up and the Onida Devil are all characters that have brought the brand live in front of our eyes. While many points of view float around about the longevity of these characters, to me they would live forever.

A few examples. Fido-Dido was once retired about 10-12 years ago. I remember from my school days, this cute little line drawing character jumping out of the notepad and gulping down 7-Up like a cool dude would! But unfortunately, they retired him once and the brand was almost lost in the mélange of aerated drinks markets that we live in. After a hiatus of about 10 years, Fido re-appeared. And the brand was visible again. People started remembering the brand and the sales numbers reflected it. However, the brand managers confused it by featuring Mallika Sherawat, whose value systems does not match with the ‘cool dude’ attitude of 7-Up. Pity they retired both Fido and Mallika and brand is somewhere in the oblivion again.

Another classic example of brand connect through an imaginary character is ‘Chintamani’. I am broaching a topic in Financial Services, which is against my policy. But am giving a special mention to Chintamani because through this character, the brand was able to connect with the consumer and his problems beautifully.

But another R K Laxman classic is ‘The Common Man’ of Times of India. It is almost impossible for any of us to imagine the newspaper without the common man and the way in which the brand mascot connects with the consumer – by living the problems that a common man faces and shown with satire. The brand Times of India at one point used to stand for that satire, that questioning mind and challenging the authority. Today, it has morphed into much more both on the positive and negative side, however, the common man has and will always stand tall in my mind. For it was the common man that gave a ‘physical shape and size’ to Times of India as a brand.

I would like to end this post with another great mascot. Mickey Mouse. Perhaps Disney and Mickey Mouse have merged because the mouse brought out everything that Disney as a brand wanted to and still stands for. The brand was brought to life by Mickey Mouse and perhaps would remain to be amongst the greatest examples of Dwaitham in the Brand World.

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One Response to “Dwaitham and Brand Management”

  1. Interesting take Nanda. Though I felt Chintamani is a consumer personification unlike the brand personification in the casen of others. Must say its a good read.

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