Tomorrow is St Valentine’s Day and there is no love lost in the board rooms of India Inc. While the after effects of an ugly divorce battle still hangs heavy in the corridors of power at Bombay House, the Tata group’s headquarters in Mumbai, there is another battlefront that has opened up in Bangalore where the founders of iconic IT firm, Infosys, have locked horns with the current board, for not acting in sync with the culture of the organisation.
While the morale of the workforce is often brought into focus in such cases, there is another casualty in this crossfire, the brand. While the Ratan Tata versus Cyrus Mistry battle was at its peak, numerous experts that this writer spoke to were confident that the Tata brand was strong enough to weather the storm. The results in the following months say that there has been some amount of damage. In a recently released global report by brand valuation consultancy, Brand Finance, the Tata brand slid out of the top 100. Yes it was among the top 100 most valuable global brands in the preceding year, ranked at number 82. Though the current value of the brand is not in public purview, it’s an easy guess that the tussle at Bombay House has eroded billions from the Tata brand’s value if you look at the previous year’s rankings and indulge in a comparison. Can Brand Tata regain its lost glory in record time? Only the near future can tell. But could the damage have been averted? Of course, yes.
Normally when an event of this magnitude happens in the board rooms, the brand custodians drop their guard. It’s like a soldier deserting his post when there is a war cry. There are several reasons – saving one’s one job becomes the top most concern in such situations.
Then, most brand custodians in the fields of PR and advertising are external resources, who wait for a command to action from their clients and are not empowered to act quickly in such situations. Often, the pressure to save the business from going to another agency after the battle is over, weighs down the decision making at this end.
Even at the client’s end, the brand’s decision makers are unsure which way the battle will go. They do not want to take any decision in haste and put off damage control decisions to another day. The other reason for such slow action is the confidence that they can rebuild what is lost once the dust settles down.
But there is another angle that could be explored. When your organization is at war, does your competitor’s brand witness a significant increase in value? That discomforting thought could send brand leaders rushing to mend a few broken hearts.