In reflecting upon our experiences in India after our abrupt deportation and early return to the United States, it is much more interesting to read Branding India after having been to India. Perhaps because I am a visual learner and struggle grasping ideas that I can not see or have experience seeing demonstrated, reading about the Incredible India campaign had very little effect on me in comparison to seeing India for what is incredible about it, and then seeing how a few of these characteristics were communicated in this campaign and its various executions.
Like a broken record stuck in the same track, I can’t stop telling people about the kind and welcoming people of India. As the daughter of someone in the service industry, I assume hotel staff are going to be nice to me and greet me with a smile. But having my scrambled eggs ready for me the third morning I walk into a restaurant is a whole new level of service. And to think that he probably leaves the luxurious hotel to sleep in a shack, wakes up the next morning to wipe the bum of someone who is probably not from his country and already numb to good service and probably not as appreciative of it, is what blew my mind. And the kindness was genuine. It was not a fake smile. Maybe I could not detect fake from genuine because their humor and culture and societal norms are different, but I always felt like the staff were warm and kind. But on top of exceeding my service expectations, all the Indians who we encountered at our agency visits, our tourist stops, even just walking down the street helplessly lost, were eager and willing to speak in English and help us in any way they could. And that is where I felt the power of Branding India.
“A brand is what a brand does,” (92) seems ever so straight-forward and obvious. Yet why do so many brands fail? Because they do not absorb the given strategy and values into all levels of their corporation, group, society, what have you. Starting with the people with the most direct contact with consumers, at the end of the value chain is why Incredible India worked. Because branding is all fluffy and nice until you arrive at a country to experience what is has to offer, and if that includes bad service, then you can kiss all that effort you put into print ads and building a fluffy soft message because without backing, it’s nothing. And perhaps pushes you back from where you even started, creating negative brand buzz.