All Essel companies to have common media, branding plan

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Having had to go through many downs - remember the stock market scam few years back involving Ketan Parekh where Zee Telefilms was also named initially and had to confront some bad press? - the Subhash Chandra promoted Essel Group has now embarked upon a refurbishment plan.

Not only will there be a common branding policy for all the 18 Essel group companies, but also a common media policy.

The thinking behind this is that such a move would help promote individual brands in the stable, which range from real estate to theme parks to TV channels to packaging material, as also provide a common source for information for shareholders and outsiders and employees would be in place to project the right image.

Managing all this will be Essel's Corporate Brand Development Group (CBDG), a division formed in June as part of a major communications overhaul within the group.

As part of this effort, the CBDG has created an in-house visual identity manual, encompassing some 400 pages, for the Essel Group brands spanning 33 brands in the 18 companies, says CBDG head Ashish Kaul. This has been approved in-principle by the management, says Kaul.

The manual is being created in a phased manner starting with primary instruments of communication. Stationary is being given the prime importance. The standardization for the other applications will follow in subsequent months.

The importance of a visual identity manual:

"Once we 'know' the product, then we don't read it but convert that product into a 'Picture' in our mind and hence when you see the same product in a different country with different packaging, it actually becomes a different product to the human mind. Same way, a company is nothing but a lifeless form. How it looks and behaves on paper and other aspects is what actually creates a company that has emotions and feelings sought by or aspired to by the buyer," says Kaul, explaining the rationale behind the manual.

If Zee Tele's example is taken, then the network is a combination of 14 brands ( Alpha, cinema, music, etc.) . So, one relation is at sub-brand level, the second is at corporate level and finally the relationship with the Essel Group. This manual would seek to establish the relationship pattern among various corporate and sub-brands with the Essel Group brand.

Why form CBDG?

Very few groups in India have felt the need to internally manage the reputation of the group. Reliance, for one, does it.

As far as the Essel Group goes, it had been spending a huge amount of money on hiring these resources and, as Kaul points out, the group "suddenly realized that the return on the substantial investment was inadequate."

"Considering that we are in diversified businesses, it was prudent to have an internal group, which could meet the needs of the Essel Group," he adds.

The motive/ objective to do this overhaul were the following:

@ Synergise communications to build brand equity for the Essel Group of companies.

@ Optimize group's communication efforts

@ Leverage internal resources to optimal level

@ Offer centralised communication services

After CBDG came into existence, the idea came to retire all the communication agencies. The whole purpose of this exercise was to synergise the communication efforts. Retiring of all the agencies was not a reflection on the work they were doing. The idea was to have a single agency "and not have scattered accounts" - a focused approach and single source monitoring works.

"Next in line is a comprehensive media policy, which we are putting together for the group. The concept of streamlining the messages and one spokesperson for distinct and critical businesses is also what we have been trying to achieve," Kaul says.

Can the CBDG pull it off, considering the whole Essel group is a maze of bureaucracy, leave alone Zee Tele? The answer to that will be known soon enough.

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