Branding Strategy is Very Important [Case Study: Tata Nano]

I just finished reading the Tata Code of Conduct, and felt “wow!”; what an awesome 150 year Corporate that has been built out of Iron and Steel, and is loved by millions for great employment practices and business culture. Ethics & social service makes Tata a very powerful brand, which sometimes compares even better than many Government run social programs. I came across many tribal & rural areas who swear by the name of Tatas for the support system extended and some even consider them as the Gods of employment.

I have personally been a witness to several initiatives in remote places like Noamundi, Serenda, Barbil, Joda etc. (check it out on Wikimapia, and jump out of your air-conditioned flat if you crib for electricity failures in your city!) from the Tata group of companies. They’ve created an eco-system of services around basic needs like education, medical and water deep within the rural pockets or jungles lying between states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar.

That’s great work, but here is the point beyond which I would part company from the Tatas. Especially after looking at their sales strategy of their products. Take Nano, for example. A disruptive product in all respects. But I feel that the branding strategy of Nano falls way shorter than the desired level. It is in fact totally broken and they are screwing the awesome product right now. I mean why would you, me or someone else from the city or town NOT want to buy a Tata Indica? Tell me?

Reason is, I do not want to own a brand that is likened to a taxi. Right? No matter how tight my budget in life is, I will prefer to own a personal brand which I can show off to people. Nano has those ‘cool’ looks but falls dead close to a brand image that a typical consumer might not feel comfortable with. I simply do not understand why the Tatas can’t separate the “family ownership” feeling from the feeling of owning a “commercial car”? Besides, aren’t there are too many taxis on Indica platform to dilute the Tata brand already?.

Indians are racists, and owning a Taxi means “not so cool”. I hope they understand this clearly.

Now this brings us to the question: Am I the right individual to discuss this, coz I may not be THE CUSTOMER of Nano. So let’s picture the right customer first:

  1. A second hand car buyer?
  2. A young woman (Read chick :P), currently using a Scooty/Two-wheeler or the Metro?
  3. A milkman/farmer
  4. A just married couple, or may be
  5. Taxi owners are finally the target users (Commercial status).

Where do you fit in, Nano?

If given a choice, I would position Nano in serial no. 2 – an awesome sexy looking hatchback with cuter-than-never-beforeĀ  looks most suitable for the fairer sex. The car has perfect personality to fit a “girl but not a woman yet” [Am I dreaming already :)]. A second hand car buyer is okay, and it will happen anyway. A milkman or farmer, I would say “no”, because he will prefer to buy a Royal Enfield Bullet over a Nano considering the quality of country roads. And married couples, Nano might just crack into this, but couples are a bit concerned about their image (unless, you dear Sir Ratan Tata present the use-case convincingly.)

So where is the Nano headed right now? A taxi. Oh, for God sake “nooooooooo…”. You’d say why do you ask such a question? I saw this yellow colored Nano on the road recently. Unless I am color blind or this is a simple plain dumb oversight by the management it is pretty simple to realize that yellow is a “taxi color”. Indian laws say that if you are a taxi you must be painted black and yellow. And therefore, it doesn’t feel “cool” to own or even see a yellow Nano. Now if Tata’s are aiming to make Nano another platform for commercial taxis, then yellow is alright. But if they are talking about “people’s car”, like Hitler did for the Beetle back in the day, then my take is that Tata’s are making grave mistakes here that could damage the reputation of the car.

Correct me if I am wrong dear Pi readers?

Nothing more to say, against the Tatas. Completely appreciate the effort they’ve made to build a product ground up, and would love to see it perform in the market competitively & globally. Especially, now when it has qualified the crash test in Europe.

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