Leadership coach, consultant and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik underlined the importance of context and explained his interpretation of the word brand, setting the tone for his talk on ‘God as Brand’. He was speaking at the first of the Knowledge Seminars on day three of Goafest 2015, presented by Star India.
The former Future Group chief belief officer credited Future Brands’ Santosh Desai who helped define brand as ‘A pattern of expectations’ for the purpose of his presentation.
The key message Pattanaik impressed on the audience was that of consistency with the case of Hindu mythology, by decoding gods Shiva and Vishnu as brands. He noted that 2,000 years ago, the concept of Shiva and Vishnu did not exist as we know them today.
“And for 2,000 years, the brand messaging has been consistent, and done involuntarily. There was no person responsible for the brand, no brand custodian,” noted Pattanaik.
His presentation explained in detail the distinction in the depiction of Vishnu (the protector) and Shiva (the destroyer), in the visage of the householder and the hermit respectively.
While the two are distinct in the imagery, in the stories around them, the ecosystem and even the animals associated with them, their stories have remained consistent and have been passed on from generation to generation, noted the speaker.
“They will look similar to the untrained eye, but they are very different. How they emerged is a huge mystery,” he added.
He traced the emergence of temples to 300 or 400 AD, creating a new discourse and adding the element of rituals and experience to the brand’s messaging. “Stories and rituals are nothing but a tool of communication,” he said.
Pattanaik explained in context the two gods depicted in the same image, and the fact that the hermit (Shiva) was shown with his children in subsequent portrayals, while Vishnu, the householder, was not.
He said, “Devon ka Dev Mahadev became a hit when Shiva became a lover. The one-line brand messaging was: ‘Turn the hermit into a householder’.” On the other hand, the family man Vishnu was always portrayed as delivering the discourses of a hermit, explained the mythologist.
“Are we reading the messages that have stayed consistent over 2,000 years? It is this: ‘Be a hermit, while behaving like a householder’,” the speaker surmised.
The interactive session was moderated by Kamal Basu, head of marketing and PR, Volkswagen Group Sales India.
Responding to a question on how a brand could manage its communication if it had no brand steward, Pattanaik explained in the context of ‘Brand God’. He said, “Brand God appealed to a very primal, human need of the market. If you get so much value out of it, you pass it on to the next generation, who passes it on to the next generation and so on.”
And with that the speaker delivered another takeout for marketers, besides the one on consistent brand messaging.