Anant Rangaswami
Jan 18, 2011

Anant’s blog: Learning from Toto’s

Is your brand half as good?

Anant’s blog: Learning from Toto’s

I’ve been going to Toto’s Garage Pub in Bandra, Mumbai, regularly for the past 14 years.
The first time I went there, I was with Rohinton Kapadia, who was then a colleague of mine at Sony Entertainment Television.

I loved the place almost instantly. Unusual interiors. Hardly any branding. Beer on tap (I hadn’t begun my affair with Old Monk yet). Terrific music. TV on mute, showing movies. Young crowd. Packed to the rafters. Reasonably priced. Limited menu. Comfortable seating, if you get a seat. Pleasing service. And, of course, you could smoke then. 

As I said, I’ve been going there for 14 years. 

  • Over the years, it’s never ever been closed for a private party. Never.
  • No brand has ever held a promotion there.
  • I’ve never seen a fight.
  • They ask to see the IDs of younger customers.
  • They stopped consumers smoking the day the law came into effect and scrupulously lay down the law.
  • It opens bang on time and closes bang on time.
  • Their menu has been a single A4 sheet menu all these years, always unbranded.
  • The loos are always clean.
  • Regulars get seating on priority.
  • They stop guest entry if the place is crowded – except for regulars.
  • They never entertain requests for music.
  • They never show sport on the TV screen, even if India is playing and winning.
  • They never show news on the TV screen, even during elections, etc.
  • Most of the staff – including the bartenders, the cashier, the accountant and the waiters, have remained unchanged. 

“The most powerful brands don't change.  The ones that come and go are like shooting stars,” says Jack Trout.

And we all think of Toto’s as just a place to drink in, to hang out in.

And you scratch under the surface and you find a brand, a powerful brand.

And ask yourself, how many of the brands that you deal with do the job half as well as Toto’s?

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