Sanjeev Kotnala: Keep developing your Brand Katha 

01 Sep,2022

Sanjeev KotnalaBy Sanjeev Kotnala


Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vishu Avatars, Rishi Munni Katha, Chandragupta, Chanakya and the Katha of many more Raja-Maharaja are some of the best examples of Brand Katha. In addition to being part of religion, mythology or history, they continue to deliver on their premises and promise, keeping the audience engaged, involved and in the discussion. Most retain relevance without a change as they were and are the only source. What you tend to get is some new interpretation. And that is where today’s brands need to relook at and re-evaluate their efforts in Brand Katha – Brand Storytelling.

Today the access and availability of products, services and brand information are democratised, and the peer and consumer reviews are corrupted and cluttered. Result- the consumer is more aware and, at the same time, more confused than ever.

Some call it the death of Branding and advertising, and I see it further asking brands to engage more in their branding and marketing efforts to influence consumers. These consumer decisions are not rational, logical decisions but more emotional.

Brand story or Brand Katha can influence consumers to make a favourable decision. It can serve two primary purposes; making the brand the preferred brand in the choice set or/and allowing the brand to charge a premium.


We know some of the brands at a more intimate level than others. These brands interact with us by sharing their lineage, legacy, history, achievements, and failure. We know what they stand for, what we can expect from them, and how much we can trust them. These impressions are flavoured with our expectations and experience and our alignment with the brand Katha.


Consumers know a lot about Tata, Maruti, Amul, Times of India, AAJ TAK, Dainik Bhaskar, Reliance, Adani, OYO,, Jet-Airways, Paper-boat, and HERO. They also know personality brands like Narendra Modi, Mamta Banerjee, PV Sindhu, Sachin, Virat, SRK, Aamir khan, RJ and Kapil Sharma.

Whether the brand operates in a commercial or personal space does not matter. The more the stakeholders, including the consumer’s current or potential, know, understand, and empathise with the brand, the better they are placed to decide and/or most likely to use, refer to, recommend, and prefer it.

Hardik Pandya, the ace allrounder in the Indian team, is doing great for his brand. So good that no one now discusses the controversial episode of Koffee with Karan. He captained Gujarat Lions and won the IPL Trophy as a leader. The confident, almost understanding gesture before hitting the winning six in India Vs Pakistan Asia Cup Match is grand for the brand Hardik Pandya. No doubt reports suggest that his brand endorsement fee has risen by 30-40%, and he is expected to endorse some 20- brands in future.


Brand impressions, in addition to the brand experience, result from perceptions based on media inputs/exposures and selected vignettes the brand shares. This way, the brand helps consumers connect the dots and understand it.

The trick is to treat the Brand Katha not as a one-time effort and output. See it as a continuum, where new chapters are being written and shared with the stakeholders on a regular frequency. Every brand communication is part of Brand Katha, working towards creating the desired brand image in the mind of current and potential users. Working in tandem with brand experiences, chapters of Brand Katha can help create prosumers.


Brand Katha can do wonders with the internal customer’s confidence and motivation, and it can help attract talents and even gain a better market presence.

Brand Katha can help distil consumer expectations and decrease the extra noise and enhance positive feelings about the brand. And, in case of a crisis, it can help the brand recover fast. Remember the case of Maggi, Pepsi some years back or even the recent JJ baby Powder issue?


Brand Katha is not a placement PPT, corporate AV, or website. Multiple units collectively create the final masterpiece, where every communication is yet another relevant chapter in the coherent brand novel. Each with a start, middle, and end, creating a valid linkage with the brand’s past and future while staying in the present.

The case of Dainik Bhaskar- Number 1 from Day 1- has been chronicled in media, taught in Management schools, and presented to many brand senior leadership. Dainik Bhaskar is known for its scale of thinking, speed of action, and questioning the current practices. And that is the essence of its brand Katha.

Brands like TATA have books about their approach, and a rich number of anecdotal tales shared all over social media. The recent AMUL two-pager in TOI covering 75 years of India, as seen through Amul’s hoardings, is another chapter of a very focused Brand Katha. Amul has also told its story through a Movie, and its MD’s high-frequency media presence helps amplify the brand Katha.


The basics for a Brand Katha chapter are no different than what the brand should consider for every piece of communication. It must be authentic – reflect the true story, happening, objectives, vision and/or the culture. and true to your company’s story and culture. It should be exciting and engaging as a creative expression so that it can amplify the message. It must be well produced- as the quality would also reflect the brand approach. Don’t overload a communication with everything you want to communicate. Write individual chapters of Brand Katha with a focused plan. Ensure that the desired message is firmly embedded in the chapter and reaches the audience. And for a better impact- don’t state or say something- demonstrate with an example.

The focus of Brand Katha is the consumers and defined audiences. Presenting things from their lens may not always be possible, but their viewpoint and desired reaction must always guide your efforts.

And once again- Brand Katha needs to be treated as a living organism – an adaptive continuum to changing needs and situations, remaining entrenched in its basic philosophy and promise.


Brand custodians should re-evaluate their brand Katha’s understanding among the external and internal stakeholders. Please take action to strengthen their knowledge, understanding and brand experience.



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