Has the Cyrus saga dented Brand Tata?

25 Oct,2016

 

Has Brand Tata been adversely impacted or tarnished because of the Cyrus Mistry ouster? Even as all may not have always been very well at the group, it has been India Inc’s most trusted business group over the years. Will a possible backlash from the Cyrus Mistry camp lead to a further devaluation of Brand Tata? We posed this question to a few brand gurus for their views:

 

Harish Bijoor

CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults

The brand Tata has a rather deep equity and a change in the Chairman or a change of a Director does not hurt the image of Brand Tata as much fundamentally because it is all about the fact that the equity of brand Tata. It’s a Rs 100bn+ company and is in operations in 100+ countries and in the corporate world these kind of things are accepted. People get excited about it and then they forget. It will be seen as a corporate activity.

 

Trust is a macro issue and trust happens over 100 of years and decades. Trust happens with your experience with the brand. Consumers statically interact with brands and not necessarily with corporate brands. So the Tata brand has got a front-ended facet which is far and wide. When you pick up a Titan watch you are interacting with the Tata brand, when you pick up Tata Coffee packet or Tata Tea packet you are interacting with the brand, never mind what happens behind. If you take the corollary of Kingfisher brand, people have asked me if the brand Kingfisher – the beer is affected because of Vijay Mallya and everything that happened I say, not at all. Anybody who is interacting with Brand Kingfisher and drinking the beer will continue to do so with a great degree of gusto. Tata is a consumer company by and large, whether it is a Tata truck, Tata bus, Tata car or Tata coffee, people are touched by these brands on a continuous basis and these brands are the ones that evoke trust. I really do believe that this will be seen as a corporate hiccup rather than a corporate turmoil.

 

Avik Chattopadhyay

Co-founder, Expereal

The Tata brand has been a benchmark for business propriety, professionalism and patience. But it seems the old guard got rattled by Cyrus’ plans of restructuring the organisation. His direct, no-nonsense style questioned a lot of deadwood, emotional baggage and personal ego-trips. The group went through a same phase of restructuring when RNT had taken over around 25 years back, but nobody objected then and obediently went through the slash and chop. Guess an ‘outsider’ did not help matters. And this episode does not help the Tata brand either. Bombay House is back to incandescent lightbulbs from LEDs. And its corridors shall be a bit darker now!

 

Alpana Parida

Managing Director, DY Works

There is widespread consternation about this move. The belief- right or wrong – is with the establishment as correcting  a trajectory that was at odds with its value system. The true equity of the brand has not been so much its size or success- which apart from TCS and JLR – seems to be in question. The real reason for the Tata equity has rested on its value system. Both as a corporate citizen and as an employer.

 

Tata has been the tall face of Indian global corporate ambitions and a move such as this has the country taking sides.
Amrita Chowdhury

President, DY Works​

Clearly this is a dramatic move for a heritage- and values-driven firm. We have seen such high profile ousters in companies like HP or even Apple, driven from a divergence in the beliefs of the CEO/Chairman and the Board.

 

When we think of Tata Group what remains in our minds is its brand value. Their challenges in innovation or quality or profitability are systemic in nature. Recalling Lou Gerstner’s stories on the remaking of IBM, such transitions can be brutal. Or it could be steered over a long period of time. What is the right strategy for Tata Group in an Indian and Global context remains to be seen.

 

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