Brand Signature Moves… Sahi Hai?

17 Nov,2021



By Sanjeev Kotnala


Sanjeev KotnalaAfter a long time, I am enjoying some of the advertising I see. And the buzz is not because the brands have purposefully commented on some rituals. The ideas are well-presented and powerfully pushed to the audience. Intentional communication delivers a directional message to the unconscious mind. And, if this was unintentional, maybe it is a good post-rationalisation for the idea.


I may not have thought so, but then my friend and consultant Vermajee drew my attention to it. He elaborates over Lawson Williamson, his newly acquired taste in mid-level whiskey. I think he has been minutely observing judges empathising on signature moves of Dance India contestants. I guess it made Vermajee focus on brand signature lines, action cues of audio-visual hammering in a recent communication.



Mutual fund communication at every possible opportunity reiterates Sahi Hai’  for investing in Mutual Funds. The regulatory warning that is part of the communication does not matter. As the statement ‘Sahi Hai’ gets repeated, it starts making sense. In fact, more sense than it should. The uninitiated investors who must rethink their options start seeing Mutual funds with coloured glasses. Their confidence gets further enhanced with every new story, exposure of Sahi Hai loaded with strong visual cues. The pause and the applause are perfectly timed. The use of cricketers – caution statement- logical explanation- push for meeting experts. Saab Sahi Hai. Only if they can get the verbal nail a visual hammer to amplify it further.




Toofan Wahi Jo Sab Palat De’ says Thums up. The character dramatically tilts the bottle upside down. It is a powerful visual cue. Drink and flip. The whole story is engaging and delivered powerfully. It again leaves you with a strong visual hammer and an audio nail. The tonality is all masculine and charged up, just like the extra string drink.




The Dream stories in Dream-11 shout loudly. The brand tells you stories of realised dreams.  It wants you too to dream big. The seed is implanted subconsciously. Think Big. Dream Big. Bet Big. In most fantasy leagues, there is an additional challenge to beat the selection of superstars of cricket. They hurt the ego of an armchair critic who thinks he knows better. The challenge must then be accepted. The game is now beating the cricket superstar acumen as a team selector.


I have been a fan of Dream-11 communications through the years and the way it is evolving. A robust strategic intent and planning is apparent. They know where they are going. From celebrating teams and gully cricket, anything for the gameDimag se Khel- eek hi Dhoni– Game hai Mahan to realising big dreams. It is different that I see a need for strong regulations for fantasy leagues because of their addictive- habit-forming nature. Any day would love to meet and interact with the Marketing teams behind it.




Cred is the joker in the House. One may question the need for high decibel advertising that the brand indulges in. But there is an established format now for the brand. It has two parts. The static, fixed part A and the tactically changing part B with celebrities like Rahul Dravid– Kapil Dev– Neeraj Chopra and more. Cred is leveraging a reverse flip. If the second statement is engaging, humorous and authentic, the earlier information must also be similar. Making that strongly uninteresting functional statement enjoyable enough. Frankly, I hate it- because even though people remember the celebrity stunts- the brand association is strong enough. Strategically, quirky Cred  is building its own unique communication signature.




Byju intrigues. It uses jealousy and competitiveness along with a rational explanation. It seems to be working. I loved how Byju exploited vulnerable parents during the Parent Day #Honourtheirsacrifice with short clips of students. Vermajee rightly points out that Byju was not reminding students of the sacrifices their parents made. It was pushing parents down memory lane. There is always a better chance of them relating to the problems better them than the students.




There are few brand communication that confuses me. I fail to understand the primary intent and why the brand is doing what it is doing.



Now the last one. #TeachThemYoung by Unacademy is a cryptic one. What the hell is the brand connection? What were they selling or proposing? Even Vermajee is zapped. He tried to decipher the brand intent and gave up. Maybe the stakeholders know better.




Netmeds’ discount advertising featuring Kareena and Karishma Kapoor is silly and confusing. Why should one fall ill to earn discounts on medicine? And that too for vegetables. How sick should I be to get a decent discount at Netmeds to buy even a one-time vegetable? Do I buy medicines t get a discount, or do I purchase medication at a discount? Creative license?


The Netmeds ad on trust and ‘discount on medicine is possible’ works because it reflects customer apprehensions. I would have loved it if they had stuck to quality medicine delivered on time and at a reasonably discounted price. But, please, stop the Gobhi-Aloo discount on medicines.




We are living in an era of information parity, easy access and social connectivity. Everyone is sharing suggestions- recommendation or their skewed point of view. The brands need to be extra cautious in developing their signature tag, a signature move supported and held by a verbal nail repeatedly hammered visually. Some brands discover it. Sometimes it is a mistake that gets post rationalised. But always better to spend that more time in developing and investing in creating communication with brands signature touch- Just like Men will be men, a powerful idea holding it together. The thought is the brand signature, but the brand association could be stronger. Maybe, (I say maybe as I can’t think how) a consistent signature visual hammering to further strengthen it.



You may finally have a signature move or not, a verbal nail or not and a visual hammer or not- but be alive to the reality and life of your audience- be sensitive to their beliefs, region and religion




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