Firstly wishing you all a very happy Durga Puja, with this latest Tanishq video, in the link below, before I set out to tell you a story…
This is the video that inspired the post below: https://www.facebook.com/422992421102114/posts/3301720306562630/?vh=e&extid=0&d=n
On Branding & Standardisation: also Publishing.
It was the first year of my working with Tanishq, in 2003. Around two months or so after I joined in late July, the sales for the festival of Durga Puja came up on me. In addition to the indenting, stocking, training and everything else I personally went over with 2-3 staff, to the Bengal emporium, New Market and the local shops and purchased several pujo decorations including Durga sets on ‘kulo’ (used to clear husk off rice) with the backdrop of ‘kaash phool’ etc all juxtaposed on satin-cloth, for product display windows, above or around the nationalised VM (visual merchandising) items that we had recently received. I even chose the crockery and cutlery for tea/coffee service myself, instead of leaving the choice to the pantry boys.
The head of marketing visited Kolkata, from Bangalore, and was about to visit the stores, when my senior from the regional office — a very warm and kindly person, came up to me and advised me to remove all the stuff, as Tanishq believed in total standardisation and wouldn’t allow these local, and cheap looking decorations.
But just coming from two highly standardised companies, ITC Sheraton hotels and Jet Airways in which it was my responsibility to ensure service quality and upkeep standards pan India, thus totally believing in standardisation as a branding tool and a marketing concept I still assertively said to him, “Please don’t worry dada…let me handle this…if she gets upset and angry about all I’ve done and the costs, I will take full responsibility.”
The head of marketing, a suave lady walked in shortly and took a brisk walk around the only company and flagship store of east India.
“Who’s idea was it to put up all this puja decoration…especially the varied dolls?” she asked in front of all the staff including senior staff from the regional office looking back meekly at her .
I braced myself for a verbal backlash and stepped forward, while everyone looked at me sympathetically, some even joyously I’m sure, even as I replied firmly, “It was mine Saroja.”
“Great job!” she exclaimed, to all our surprise with all eyes alternating between me and her in worry this might be a caustic remark, but she continued,“ Off course we have to make a local connection with the regional cultural heritage, traditions and people, if we’re ever going to make a presence in one of the biggest jewellery buying markets, and become the jeweller of preference…even as we retain our international standards.” Then looking at me she asked, “where did you pick up all these beautiful dolls and little decorations and stuff?”
“The Bengal emporium mostly…”I replied.
She looked at me, then at the big group including the senior staff from regional office in front now, who had been very sceptical of every little thing I did till then including tending to the garden, wrapping registers with brown paper etc and wondered how it was all going to increase sales and would go about smirking and looking at me sympathetically, and firmly stated, “This is the mark of excellent leadership…I hope you all learn something from all of this.”
The next Durga Puja, in addition to decorations, on my request the head of operations in Bangalore, also sanctioned separate traditional saris of my choice in beige and maroon, for my entire team. He allowed us to wear these for the week of the pujo and then till Dhanteras and Diwali.
Seeing this beautiful advertisement with all the sights and sounds of Durga Puja, by one of the premiere Kolkata stores today, in spite of all effort to pull Tanish’s national Tv advert down, brought to mind the trust, inspiration and encouragement I received while I worked for Tanishq.
Today it gives me immense confidence in following my intuitions, and creativity in all my writing pursuits — novels, short fiction or poetry, whether or not any publisher takes responsibility for what I have to say to the world.
I have had the opportunity to work with about 8-10 top brand leaders of the country…haven’t I garnered enough knowledge and experiences to build my own brand today and make it commercially viable sooner than later! ☺️🤓
PS: I stand tall for culture and heritage. My photo above is of a Durga puja, year before last. I’m wearing an Assamese pure mooga silk sari…and the traditional Bengali shakha paula bangles…but had decided to team it with a Gujarati mirror work blouse. As the author of ‘Across Borders’ I hope I do not have to elaborate why I would want to team them at that time!