I already really don’t like Wally Olins, but then I read this article and totally levelled up! I mean really, anybody who thinks that great branding is the be all and end all for everything that has ever existed has to be some kind of slave to the capitalist regime, amirite? Anyway, all opinions aside, I was actually just really offended and disappointed that a piece of writing (read: drivel) like this could exist at all, ever. I felt this was because the accusation that the lack of “great” branding coming from Indian corporations somehow compromises their national identity on a global scale is something we needn’t be concerned with. In fact, it kind of reminded me of a similar feeling I had about the idea of “fixing” homelessness with design, but that’s for another day I’m sure. I guess, my point is, that I think of India as having one of the richest, most potent national identities in the world, one so potent its become fashionable innumerable times to appropriate the culture in so many ways. This load of bullshit about the “brand identity” being the only true or legitimate form of expression of personality and style made me realise the Eurocentric thinking that permeates through all levels of design practice, on all scales, in all places.
I think Wally needs to wake up and realise that corporations are not a measure of culture, and that in some parts of the world people are more concerned with things related to actual existence in the world every day, not who their brand faith lies with or what their personal or corporate brand looks like. Surely we can get a bit more critical here!
In the end, a brand is about identity. A brand is about having a unique idea, personality and style and demonstrating it in everything that you do, in your products, in the way your people behave, in your communications, advertising and other promotions, and in your environments, your offices and showrooms. A brand is not a logo, it’s a presentation of who you are and what you stand for in everything you do and to every audience with whom you deal.
Come on India – wake up.