Passion, innovation, leap of faith separates good brands from great ones: Mallya

NEW DELHI: Passion, innovation and leap of faith is what separates good brands from great brands, according to flamboyant entrepreneur Vijay Mallya whose business empire spreads across liquor, airlines and media and entertainment industries.



Speaking at the concluding day of the 6th CII Marketing Summit 2005 organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here today, Mallya dwelt on the rise and development of the Kingfisher beer and airlines brand.



In his own inimitable style he explained how the Kingfisher brand creation and management has transcended the traditional parameters of branding and striven to create a unique experience that encapsulates the passion and excitement that the brand has come to represent today.


And, Mallya did not forget to mention --- while tracing the development of Kingfisher --- that this conversion of the brand equity and image was done by investing a mere Rs 200,000 when he decided to chart a different path for Kingfisher in the United Breweries stable.

United Breweries is the holding company under which Mallya carries out his various liquor-related businesses, including various mergers and acquisitions.

With government-imposed stringent restriction on marketing and communication of alcoholic beverages, Mallya regaled the audience with a story of how he would spend times in pubs and bars in Bangalore experiencing consumers first hand and noting their attitudes and behavior towards different drinks and brands.

Acknowledging that the alcohol industry has one of the highest loyalty rates in any category, Mallya, however, stated that he built the brand embodying the spirit and passion, coupled with the aspirations and upward mobility of the young consumers he encountered in the pubs of Bangalore.

“Everything that went into the brand development and franchise had to connote the strong passion and excitement that is associated with the (Kingfisher) brand,” Mallya said.

With both the speaker and the audience not satisfied with just listening to the outlines of the brand building exercise relating to Kingfisher, Mallya then went on to speak about the then unconventional methods of marketing that used in developing the equity of the brand.

From sponsoring music bands and associating music with Kingfisher to fashion shows and showcasing designers at international events, to sponsoring the West Indies cricket team (which he said was to capture the Calypso passion), Mallya said, “tried to think like a Kingfisher and build that personality into the brand.”

Giving the brand a personality through these factors helped create a unique proposition, which denoted just one thing --- the 'King of Good Times' --- and that was the mantra that has been communicated, according to Mallya who sports his salt and pepper beard and hair with great aplomb.

Dwelling on Kingfisher Airlines, Mallya highlighted some key brand development initiatives. From referring to all passengers as guests, the brand was created with the same ideals and passions that dictate the main Kingfisher brand.

“The airline could never be a low cost airline, because Kingfisher does not stand for low cost. It stands for superior value at a great price,” he explained, adding the target consumer was the same for the airline as was for his beverage brands.

The airline, which has now carried over 50,000 guests, is built around the Kingfisher class of travel that Mallya described as better than economy and even better than business. The proposition of best value and other brand parameters of the Kingfisher brand, such as fashion, music and good times, have all been incorporated into the airline’s service and operations.

“This can be seen in the crew, the entertainment service on board, the food, etc,” Mallya said.

And does he still carry out first hand surveys in the pubs of the country? Not really, but whenever brand managers and senior marketing professionals are recruited, the first criteria on which he judges them is to see the passion and excitement that they have for the brand.

According to him, he expects the same passion as he has for the brand and that brand managers must truly appreciate the brand and must live it.

Taking from the theme of the conference and the theme paper, prepared by CII and the Knowledge Partner, Henley Centre, Mallya highlighted the fact that the basic marketing mindset must change in order to build powerful brands.

He said that passion, innovation and a leap of faith from the traditional parameters and criteria of brand building is what separates good brands from great brands.

Coming from a man who is regarded as the Richard Branson of India, the audience couldn’t but agree with Mallya.

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