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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8 Responses 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.

  2. Thanks Anil for your comment and kind words. I am left rethinking my perspective on Chintamani. 🙂

  3. Hi Nanda. Quite a perspective. If I may take the liberty of interpreting from own pedestrian knowledge of Advaita/Dvaita approach, here is my view. Sankara’s view on Advaita was a practice that urged mortals to experience God both as nirguna (without form) & saguna (with attributes). As nirguna the relationship was formless and as saguna it had a visible body.

    Now if this were to be arrogated to brands as you’ve observed, then possibly:

    nirguna = formless = intangible = emotional space = experiences &

    saguna = with form = tangible = rational space = logo, symbols, mascots, proof of delivery etc

    Two sides to brands, just like our experience with God and much like the Yin & Yang elements of life.

  4. Thanks Sandhya for a detailed point of view on the subject I had attempted to broach. I still believe that there are a lot more comparisons and lessons that can be drawn form our mythology and scripts. Would be happy to have your views once I have them in some concrete form 🙂 Thanks again.

  5. Rajesh Raghupati on August 29th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Sandhya’s thought process seems clear.
    In other words, the mascot has nothing to do with the product but helps identify with it. This is included in Advaitam although the ultimate philosophy or the disclaimer in business language with an example of McDonald: “don’t eat our mascot, french fries is what it promotes”
    Whereas Dvaitam says “our mascot is the french fry, there is nothin more you will find inside the store”
    Nanda has missed one more major philosophy which is Visishta-advaita. I would be interested in learning how he fits that philosophy in the branding jargon.

    At the least you are kindling my thought. Keep it coming.

  6. Thanks Rajesh. Now that you have kicked me in on it, I will start thinking on those lines. It needs a lot more reading than what I have done till now.

  7. I think the Dwaitha school of Philosophy or duality as its known has its origin with Madhwacharya or Ananda teertha and not Shankara as stated by you.

  8. I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing out.

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