What do we expect from a Brand?  Consistency, Ideology, an image which you immediately recall and what impression it is leaving behind in your mind for some time. 

Political leaders forge their own personal brands. The political climate has changed, and the importance of how the leaders of each party define their brands to the greater public has risen. In a global marketplace - where information is plentiful and rarely monitored - it has become more important for brands of all kinds, including those in politics to continually articulate strong, passionate brand images for themselves, through each and every touch point with their publics.

One of the cardinal rules of branding is that brand must stand for a concrete idea- like Moov stands for back pain relief; Pepsi stands for the young, Head and Shoulders for dandruff.  What does Brand Arvind Kejriwal stands for? Not many of us have a clear idea. In the absence of clarity of what he stands for, it is very unfavorable situation for him as people do not buy brands which either stand for many things or do not stand for anything. Confusion is antithesis of branding.

Brand – Kejriwal according to me is one of the most confused personality as a brand, I have come across in the recent past. He became the new black of marketing because of complete lack of concurrence in thoughts, words and deeds.

From a phenomenon to a Dharna Kumar, tag of an Anarchist to a common man- In a short period Brand Kejriwal changed its colors like a chameleon which rendered its brand equity unstable and worthless.

 

The main political battleground of Kejriwal’s political course is Delhi. I , being a brand consultant and Delhiite, have been chatting with a lot of people from various walks of life- businessmen to Rickshawallahs, teachers, students, professionals and so on. Interestingly, most of them have told me one thing in common ‘No one knows what is Brand Kejriwal is going to do next’…  This kind of an uncertain image for a brand in the era of communication is surprisingly difficult to see.

Our expectations from a celebrity brand like Shahrukh khan differ from that of a Politician. An actor may change many stances but politicians are required to have a consistent image. Changing stands, attitude of ‘My way or highway’ for a brand just kills it.

 Looking from a marketing lens, Brand Kejriwal has been a fork on a road. Being the new kid on the block and with much hype and abuzz, it fell flat on the face of the voters(consumers). The Anti graft movement propagated by AAP was nothing more than a shiny silver bullet and meaningless fantasy of a radical overhaul. Anna Hazare in this context, became a symbol, a brand ambassador with nobody knowing him and his beliefs. What made him a powerful rallying point was that he looked apart and Kejriwal found in him the fountainhead that he himself could never be; an emotionally resonant embodiment of the brand idea that the movement stood for.

 

Arvind Kejriwal got a huge response in Delhi state elections in 2013 with 28 seats to his Aam Aadmi Party. He formed the government with outside support from the Congress but lasted only for 49 days and resigned failing in his core competencies. There is a big difference between television politics and electoral politics, just as there is a large gap between an imagined and self-described middle class and the real thing. And this twin dichotomy lies at the heart of the dilemma facing Arvind Kejriwal, as he prepares again to unfurl his brand of politics to the country.

Kejriwal's performance in politics has been the biggest brand failures in the country.

Brand Kejriwal promised to change and revolutionise the political landscape but changed its own battlefields, not quite the way everybody expected.

The big fallacy: Jo dikhta hai vo bikta hai...

Brand Kejriwal proved right the biggest marketing rule: Consumers can’t be won over only with great PR and media tactics. Besides the dismal performance, the big hype and buzz months before the elections with below the line activities and PR dented a big hole for AAP.

The brand still continues to stand tall for inconsistent and disruptive communication-Whether its Kejriwal wearing a muffler inside studios of NDTV when the anchor is in simple kurta or flying Business class to Dubai for a paid award. The antics never seem to end and consumers (read aam aadmi) have been betrayed with false promises

People seem to view AAP more as an irritating sideshow than a viable political alternative. In my frequent discussions with auto rickshaw drivers in central Delhi, I hear the same refrain repeated over – “Arvind bhagoda hai, sirf vote mangta hai aur kaam kuch nahin karta.” (Arvind ran away from responsibility, he merely asks for votes but doesn’t perform.)

Misread the market: Kejriwal touted himself as the leader of the common man. He and his team created big buzz in Delhi and a few other big cities and thought they can win the elections based on that buzz. They believed if Delhi voted for them in the state elections, the entire nation will also vote for them in general elections.  The Brand identity prism was falsified and hence AAP was relegated to the back lanes.

They forgot the big marketing lesson: Creating buzz in the big towns will not win battles in the heartland of the country.

Lack Of StructureIn any family managed business, there is no structure and the family members monopolize control over all decisions and resources. Brand Kejriwal functioned just like such a  business where all decision making rested with a select group of people. This lack of democracy disillusioned many big names in the party who deserted it recently.

Management BandwidthOne reason for AAP’s failure is the lack of Management Bandwidth. Just like many suddenly grown companies, AAP, too, faced lack of quality, talented and experienced manpower who could manage the party’s affairs and could provide leadership at various levels of the organization.

With the election frenzy and euphoria unfortunately the path for Brand Kejriwal seems long, hard and dusty He is yet to articulate "what will he do?” besides putting everyone in the dock. If brand Kejriwal does indeed wish to represent the educated middle class, he will have to provide solutions that this class can accept, intellectually and emotionally. 

 

 

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