Avoid falling prey to Me-Too Branding

It is that time of the year when all streets across Mumbai are bidding farewell to Ganpati Bappa and urging Him to come again next year. The traditional religious festival is known for the innovative ways in which the organizer Mandals of various pandals across the city decorate the venues and the ways the idol is made or decked up with an innovative variety of things. But since last few years we can see that it is also witnessing some me-too branding exercises.

Among all the pandals across the city, Ganpati idol at Lalbaug in Mumbai is the most famous for its stature, grandeur and its grand final journey. Fittingly, that Ganpati is called Lalbaug Cha Raja. This King of all the idols is known to fulfill one’s wishes and people throng to have His Darshan even after waiting in queues for hours. Every year, it is visited by millions of people including celebrities and it draws a lot of media attention also.

Lured by the publicity that Lalbaug Cha Raja gets, organizer Mandals of many other Ganpati pandals started renaming their venues such as Chembur Cha Raja, Irla Cha Raja, Kandivli Cha Raja etc. This trend has gone to such an extent, that now the smallest lanes and housing complexes have renamed their venues as XYZ Road Cha Raja and ABC Society Cha Raja. Other than the similarity of the name, there is hardly anything comparable to the original Raja. Even though these Organizer Mandals have no commercial interests of brand building, they provide an excellent example of how a lot of MeToo brands spring up surrounding a success story.

In an example of similar MeToo Branding tendencies, we can see many Saree or Jewellery showrooms copying their names behind some successful one. In character, these MeToo sound-alikes have almost no match with their iconic ideal brand whom they aspire to emulate.

The biggest example of Me-Too branding or the tendency of piggybacking on anything popular is Bollywood, named after Hollywood. Without realizing the basic character of the institution, media and some people coined an easy copycat name and we all now take it easy when our films and music are ‘inspired’ by their original overseas icons. In the scale, originality and technicality, Bollywood is a poor match to Hollywood.

Branding is all about creating and occupying a unique place in the minds of the target audience. Uniqueness is the foundation on which a brand stands. By trying to piggyback on some popular brand, we may get some cheap and early recognition, but eventually, the differences will crop up and the expected advantage will backfire.

The brand should create and build its own identity. Me-Too branding weakens our brand’s image.

Copying some popular brand name is as thoughtless as naming our son Sachin assuming that he, too, will grow up and become as famous as a legend like the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar.

The fundamental fabric of the brand’s identity must be woven thread-by-thread through some creative, innovative and original thinking. Then only it will last longer than the Chinese counterfeits of more popular products.

I conclude with one of my own favorite quotes : “It is easy to compare, it is difficult to be comparable.”

Be original.