A Tale Of Two Rahuls

Last week the Indian media world was busy covering two Rahuls. Both are youth icons in their own right, and both were facing their share of emotional moments in their respective fields. Only difference is that one facing the public wrath for his party’s defeat in state election in UP and other taking a retirement from a sport which is followed by the entire nation!

Both were happening almost at the same time, so the social media enthusiasts had an excellent time to create pun at each other’s expense (like the wrong Rahul is going! :-))

But that is not my point! Both were coming from the jaws of failure, but evoked completely a different kind of reaction from public. The Rahul who hailed from a humble background and became the cynosure of all eyes believed on strong work ethics and served the country with exemplary hard work and dedication. The other Rahul, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, largely seen as the heir of the dynasty rule, constantly facing flak from his party’s downturn of image for its involvement in various corruption charges by the other party leaders. The second Rahul, obviously doesn’t have the repertoire of accomplishments of winning laurels for the country and the distinction of earning a tag of ‘The Wall’ unlike the former, but both get huge media attention for different reason.

What can brands learn from both of them? Needless to say both are engaged in two most high profile professions like cricket and politics, and both share a tremendous load for carrying the hopes of billion citizens! So both the brands are relevant from a consumer point of view and there will be enough discussions about them in media space. However, one of them faces a trust deficit despite travelling to far flung areas of country’s largest state and bonding with common citizens in order to win votes! So what went wrong with him? Through he has the grace of taking the responsibility for his party’s defeat.

Is it the party’s current image embroiled by continuous allegation of corruption? Or is it the price hike of essential commodities affecting the lives of voters? Or is it his foreign descent that could create a mental block for certain voters to accept him as their leader?

I’d say none of them! Because we live in a time when none of these political parties have so-called clean image or none of them have done anything significant for the public that could be demonstrated apart from paying lip service! So where does the story lead to? If politics is a category then it is a very fragmented category today with plethora of choices( thanks to emergence of regional parties!). In a fragmented category, the brand differentiation are low and therefore the personalities play an important role in the brand choice! So this election was a classic case of personality war where their party symbols become a mere formality( or a sign of progressiveness as the ride on bicycle considered to be ‘green’ where as elephant’s back equals to ‘cruelty’!)

Cut to personality! The personality that won finally had managed to overcome all the baggages that his party accumulated over the past and took all by surprise! However let me not dwell on him now, because there are enough people already doing that and also will dilute my plot!

So back to Rahul again! The Rahul who was expected to create magic for his party. The brand Rahul lacks some inherent attribute besides Empathy! The Brand Rahul lacks a powerful Brand Idea! A powerful brand idea can not only propel action, it can unite people under a common goal. In the current scenario, he had very little to draw anything positive from his own party therefore he needed to come up with his own. Needless it had to be in sync with his own party’s values. Without that there will be a lack of purpose and ill directed actions by various members of the party which will lead to deviation from the main goal and invite unnecessary controversies. Because there was a lack of a powerful idea therefore there was no articulation of that idea. Another trait of powerful brands is that they carry the hopes and aspirations of their stakeholders on their shoulders. Of course they are supported by able people, but they connect with their leader through that powerful idea. Here in case of Brand Rahul what we saw that he is largely dependent on his party, which is facing political turmoil at this point, to create a roadmap for future. In fact the party which won finally, actually came out of ashes with the help of another personality whose only agenda as of now is to bring back the law and order of the state which is very much missing currently. Again this has been promised under a party banner which itself has been blamed in the past for deteriorating law and order situation in the state. However, people are willing to give him a fresh chance as he has a simple yet powerful idea which has created impediments for development in the past for progress of the state. So Brand Rahul despite having well meaning intentions, it lacks a simple yet powerful idea that galvanises support for his party.

Now coming to cynosure Rahul. This Rahul is a different animal altogether. He epitomizes class and consistency, makes him one of the legendary personalities in the world of sport. His only purpose is to provide solidity to Indian batting line up which he has demonstrated remarkably well for last 15 years. The team has benefited from his uncomplicated batting technique and positive attitude he brought to the game, something transcended into other professions as well. That’s what successful brands are all about. They come with a lot of substance and values that inspire people from all walks of life. Their fans and followers tend to model those traits in their own behavior but they themselves remain unfazed by their contribution they make and also the adulation they receive in the process. Their commitment and consistency of delivery builds trust which is what forms the basis of a sustainable brand. They don’t try to give too many messages to their stakeholders. But their stakeholders are very clear what they stand for and in majority of the cases they stand for only one promise. But that becomes to be the game changer. That’s what powerful ideas are all about. They unite people under a common goal.

We can verify this by pondering upon any of the contemporary brands and we will get our answers. From Nike to Anna Hazare, all are the fruits of a powerful idea. Those ideas are simple but if implemented can change the lives of million people of the world.

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