From a Yoga Guru to a corporate honcho with swadeshi ideals, the growth of Brand Baba Ramdev has been phenomenal. What made both Patanjali and Baba Ramdev household brand name?
In spite of weak attempts of copying the West, there is something unique in this nation that we are stuck to the old ideology of swadeshi. In fact, all those who have studied Indian history can easily understand despite the fact that a large number of invaders, religious forces have come to India at different times and ruled over us, but they couldn’t make much impact on our heritage, our sanskriti. Given an opportunity, Indians have always adored swadeshi concepts and products time and again.
The great success of Patanjali as a business and brand is one of the shining examples of the above. A 10-year-old Patanjali (in serious business only for the last 4 years) has become a case study for all the business and management students. With growing in an average 140 per cent for years and almost touching the business to a mammoth 10,000 crores in such short span is remarkable. Most of the other successful brands and the industry leaders took many decades to reach their respective sizes. Global giants like Hindustan Unilever, Godrej, Colgate and Nestle took many decades to create the market share and business they have today. While all these MNC’s have concentrated in selling their choice of products and ideas to us or at time imposing their kind of products, Patanjali took a completely different route, a route which every Indian understands, it’s a part of their blood, lifestyle i.e. ‘the Swadeshi Route’.
The success of Patanjali is a phenomenon and the secrets of its success are simply our own Ayurveda and the very concept of swadeshi. With more than 5000 outlets and products availability across all spectrums from rural to urban, it has touched almost every Indian. It may be one such unique brand wherein the CEO ‘Baba Ramdev’ himself is the brand ambassador. As a brand it connects to every Indian emotionally, it offers the purity of Indian culture and our long inherited value system. From Ayurvedic medicines to cosmetics, personal care to soon-to-be launched textile, it is touching almost every need of an average Indian irrespective of class and creed. I would rather call ‘Patanjali the most socialist brand ever built’.
Baba Ramdev is not a typical Hindu guru or a Baba who preaches and gives discourses on Vedas or Upanishads. He is a Yoga Guru who teaches and motivates people to practise yoga, he also inspires people to use natural products or go back to swadeshi products. So what? The same is being done or said by thousands of gurus since ages in this country. He is not the one who has invented or discovered Yoga; He does not speak an Oxford English to communicate, still what makes him unique and different from his contemporaries and powerful Modern Brands. With the style and attire of an age-old Hindu saint, Brand Baba Ramdev has become an institution to study and learn from; let”s look at the Ramdev Brand and how it has evolved as an Icon of the 21st century.
Brand positioning is very important in creating a brand, but it is very difficult for individuals to strategise in their initial career building time. An individual starts evolving as a brand, most of the time, without much strategy in place. Initial struggle to identify themselves with a strong idea, less means to market themselves and their ideas, competition etc. make most of them, not able to have a clear brand positioning. But in the case of Baba Ramdev, he chose himself a unique path by taking everyone as a potential target group without defining the age group, rich or poor, literate or illiterate. He chose to be a brand, which gives clear identity as a Yoga Guru. The one who practises Yoga, teaches Yoga, believes in swadeshi and swadeshi Products, making himself a brand Ramdev, a household name where people start their day watching his program religiously. No other yoga guru of our times has impacted everyone so much and he actually became the ambassador of Yoga and his name synonyms to Yoga today.
While Prime Minister Modi may take the credit for pushing UN to declare an International Yoga Day, the primary force behind this decision is definitely Baba Ramdev. Today many states have made it mandatory to have Yoga Classes in school; our armed forces and police forces have added Yoga as a part of their routine practices; you can find people in parks and even in gyms practising yoga; which was not the case a decade ago. It may be an injustice to many of our gurus if we give the entire credit to Baba, but there is no doubt that Baba Ramdev is definitely the driving force for such a movement in our country and the brand Baba Ramdev clearly identifies itself as a Yoga Guru and an ultimate super yoga brand.
Communication is the most essential part of brand creation and often this alone can make and destroy a brand. While a good communication strategy may help to create a brand overnight, a bad communication strategy can reduce the brand value. This is where Brand Baba Ramdev has really won over everyone else. His choice of both communication style and communication channels have been very different from the rest, in fact, both his predecessors and contemporaries have been competing with each other to follow his style. His communication is simple and through a pure normal Hindi language. He doesn’t look for those heavy diplomatic words to communicate; he speaks from the heart without making any effort to give any special effect to it. He is not an orator, yet he can hold on to people with his simple talk for hours. Most spiritual gurus are good in giving discourses and explaining the
religious books and try to connect the modern living of ours, he only talks about yoga and tries to prove the scientific benefits of it.
Having an opinion on your domain is called an expert opinion. But Baba Ramdev would have his own opinion about anything under the sun, if asked, and at many times, he gets into controversies because of that. At some moment, it seems, as if Baba Ramdev is always in love with controversies, but the art lies in making each of these controversies in his favour. He was an integral part of the Anna movement and took on the then Manmohan Singh Government. He was one of the very few religious leaders who supported Prime Minister Modi during the 2014 election campaign, his cadres openly supported and worked for BJP during the Lok Sabha election. His criticisms and war against the corruption alongside ideas such as withdrawal of all 500 and 1000 notes, black money figures abroad etc. have made him a part of the daily discourse 24×7 news channels. From Yoga Guru to a Socio-Political figure, the growth of Brand Baba Ramdev was definitely astounding for a marketing strategist like me.
The challenge for any brand is to choose the right channels to communicate and be selective about your expert area. Yes, this is taught in communication classes. In the case of Baba Ramdev, you can find him all over the places, irrespective of the category of TV channels, or an event you can find him everywhere, his way of a branding is to be visible 24×7 and now, of course, being a brand ambassador of his own brand Patanjali. It’s a tough game he has chosen because over visibility too at times kill the brand image rather than making it more powerful, having said this so far, we must admit Brand Baba Ramdev has been able to make every opportunity in his favour.
From Yoga to ‘Patanjali’
If the Yoga was the seed for Baba Ramdev, the yield is brand Patanjali, a brand he established with Ayurveda, nature as a base and marketing it as swadeshi product, the growth of brand Patanjali has taken the well established corporate players in the sector as a surprise. Launching new products almost every day from toothpastes to medicines, soaps to grocery, there is hardly anything that Patanjali has not touched in such a short span. He is the brand ambassador of his own company with the clear communication strategy ‘Touch the Indians emotionally with the swadeshi tag’ and ‘purity, natural product’ which is the most concerned issue in every mind.
Like brand Baba, Brand Patanjali too has become a super brand in no time and is fast becoming a part of our daily life.
From a Yoga Guru to a corporate honcho the growth of Brand Baba Ramdev has been phenomenal. We can find as many critics like his followers That also shows the power of a brand. No matter what his critics say—Baba Ramdev has grown as powerful and influential brand in our
country. You may not like him but you can’t ignore
Brand Baba Ramdev.
(The writer is a marketing strategist and an entrepreneur)