When I was young I saw three brands coming home regularly-Nivea, Dettol and Old Spice. My father loved them and still does. Back then, they defined cream, soap and aftershave lotion for me. Brands were what product labels read; just names and imagery. I believe that it was through these innocuous little brand interactions that I grew up nursing a hidden desire to be closely associated with them. In what way, I wasn’t sure until I came to study at the National Institute of Fashion Technology and began unraveling the threads of history, research, principles and strategy that cocooned these names and images.
What always appealed to my inquisitive mind was, ‘Why does my father always choose these brands and no other?’ Through my graduation and work experience I have been able to acutely understand the facets which pervade the visual identity of a brand like the design principles, research, consumers and brand language. Through my masters I want to deepen my understanding of the business and societal perspectives of sustaining and communicating a brand image.
My overwhelming need to delve further into understanding these perspectives was triggered while developing the communication for an upcoming quick service restaurant at my current job. I was a part of the core team of the project, working closely on identity development, deliverables, in-store communication and outdoor communication. During one of the meetings, where the discussion was based on numbers more than aesthetics driving the communication, I realised my views were not wholesome. Therefore, masters in marketing, with equal focus on brand management, will help me bridge the deficiency in my expertise that I felt that day.
My bachelors study made me conscious of the framework of brands and consumers and the world that links them. Every project had a central theme, mostly a brand to be dealt with. It was here that I realized that the fixation that my father had for his products is actually termed brand loyalty. One of the early projects about developing a point of purchase fixture was dedicated to my father’s love. The brand chosen was Nivea. A research about the brand history and its evolution, consequently leading to design development, helped me learn the significance of change in the ever-growing market of brands-while still maintaining the consistency of the brand’s image.
I explored this idea in the colloquium paper based on rebranding. It was a study on the changes that a brand image undergoes while adapting to the changing demands and needs of the consumers parallel to its expansion plans. This was succinctly explained through the case study of Vodafone’s launch in India. I gained good insight into the levels, relevance and effectiveness of rebranding. I learnt that there needs to be a strong strategic campaign accompanying such changes, supported by better product or service offerings.
My college portfolio has work ranging from prop development to building an identity for a new brand, from a self-written poem to devising a marketing activity for promotion of a fictional brand. It also has glimpses of work done in photography and styling. A college professor, seeing my expansive and diverse portfolio advised me that being good at too many things can be a hindrance making it difficult to choose one. I took his advice seriously and for my graduation project focused on my core field of interest visual merchandising. It was based on the exploration of exhibition design and industry through practical exposure and secondary research. I worked for an agency developing designs, learning the skills of pitching them to client and seeing them being implemented.
I scored a perfect 10 for my graduation project and was awarded the ‘Best student in the subject of Visual Merchandising’. I understood the importance of ‘Specialization’, of making the right choices and staying focused.
After completing my graduation, I took up the job of a visual merchandiser for the Home Retail business. This job profile, at the store level, involved maintaining the look and feel of the stores along with seasonal changes in terms of thematic displays and planograms. By generating instant customer reaction and feedback, this job made me understand the value of a brand through the people who matter the most- the consumers.
Gaining a lot from working on a store level I assumed responsibilities of branding manager at Reliance Retail. My current profile involves planning of branding for a new formats and rebranding of old stores in a manner which is customer friendly and upholds the identity of the brand. I have independently worked on projects involved in upgrading the branding of various product categories like beauty and beer & wine. It has helped to understand in-store communication-retaining a brand communication language throughout all categories.
Brand Management is what I want to focus on, for involving myself in the entire process of brand development, expansion and growth is what I want to associate myself with. Having a good understanding of design, consumer behavior, retail, and brand communication I believe I am well suited for masters in International Marketing and Brand Management. It will be challenging to consume the business aspects of this field but I feel equipped and charged to take on this challenge, broadening my horizons and having a sparkling understanding of the multi layered communication that encompass the valley of brands that fill our world today.
What appeals to me about the programme at Lund University is the good blend of marketing and brand management it offers. I would be looking forward to modules in strategic brand management and marketing intelligence. Studying overseas will definitely add new dimensions to my thinking and personality, as moving out of my hometown to a metropolitan city for bachelors study did. In return I will not only add to the diversity in terms of my culture and thoughts but also be a positive, dedicated and enthusiastic student.
My future portfolio should have me working in my country, applying the academic knowledge, in the capacity of a brand manager. I aspire to have my own consulting firm with various brands, Indian and international, under the umbrella. I definitely want to work for the expansion of Indian brands, making them more desirable globally. Having cohesive academic knowledge will go far in helping me have a stronger foundation to fulfill my aspirations.