Case Study of Godrej: Brand that Went for a Makeover to Succeed

In 2008, the Rs 9,000-crore Godrej Group did something it has never done before: changed its brand identity. Flanked by daughter and executive director and president, marketing, Tanya Dubash, chairman of the Godrej Group Adi B Godrej, unveiled the group’s colourful new logo before the media and said, “With our new initiatives, we are targeting a growth of 25-30% annually. The purpose of the whole exercise is to make the Godrej brand relevant and contemporary. Tanya is the chief architect of the project.”

godrej rebranding case study

Shedding its “frumpy old lady” image (chairman Adi Godrej admitted in a 2002 press meet that a Godrej as a brand has the image of “a frumpy old lady” and is looked upon as “an industrial brand”), the 111-year-old Godrej Group now sports a logo in bright colours-green, blue and ruby-a far cry from the staid look it has donned since the Group was founded at Lalbaug, central Mumbai, in 1897. In sync with its new logo, the group has also repositioned the master brand around the proposition of “Brighter Living”.

And that’s not all. The Group has drawn up a fresh marketing strategy to rejuvenate the Godrej brand both in the domestic and in the international markets. According to Godrej, “Since we are on a global growth path, we wish to have a new brand identity that has an international appeal. Currently, 20% of our total revenues come from the overseas market.”

It’s not difficult to see why the head of India’s foremost business group is keen to change popular perception of the group. His fast moving consumer goods enterprise, Godrej Consumer Products took its first tentative step in the global business arena in October 2005, when it snapped up the Middlesex-based Keyline Brands in an Rs 130 crore deals. Keyline Brands, which has a personal care range that complements that of Godrej (talcum powder, shaving cream, hair colour), was expected to give Godrej brands a no-fuss entry into mom-and-pop stores and supermarkets of countries like the UK. The aim, as stated by the Group then, was to earn at least 50% of its revenues from businesses outside India by 2010.

To this end, the group has outlined a new portfolio management strategy “to maximize the value of the Godrej brand and associated businesses”. According to Tanya Dubash, the idea, at the end of the day, is to also appeal to a younger mindset. “Placing progressive consumers at the centre of our product and brand development, we have created a contemporary and aspirational lifestyle brand by repositioning the master brand around the promise of Brighter Living,” explains Dubash.

But why is the Group looking to the West? The answer is simple. The market for personal grooming categories is far bigger. For instance, the size of the hair colour market in India is just around Rs 550-600 crore. In the UK, it is at least five times that size. Of course, Keyline’s hair colour brands are not that big. But what it offers is a readymade distribution channel.

In a bid to forge a link between brand investments and business results, the group has created dedicated teams to generate ideas for growth. For starters, the group has set up a strategic marketing group to manage the Godrej brand as one entity. “We have also formed a FMCG Portfolio Group to leverage cross-business synergies to achieve our goal, Vision 2012, a tripling of revenues. Also, we are looking at propriety consumer insight to develop brand positioning and growth model,” informs Dubash.

The Group hopes to create a strong brand franchise through new plans for product and brand development, retail channel strategy, communication and talent management. In the first phase, the group is planning to build the Godrej master brand in tandem with the four businesses of personal grooming, furniture, property and aerospace. “Our core focus will be on our four businesses, Hero Businesses. We are investing in driving performance of businesses that leverage the Godrej expertise, experience and equity,” explains Dubash.

This aggressiveness was long overdue. Among the largest family-owned businesses in the country, the Group’s legacy of innovation dates right back to early days when it started its journey from a garage-like shed adjacent to Bombay Gas Company Works manufacturing locks. Godrej quickly became a household name, and went on to become a national symbol of innovation offering an array of products that ranged from security equipment to soaps produced, for the first time, from vegetable oil.

According to an industry analyst based in Mumbai, increasingly, Indian conglomerates with global footprints are opting for monolithic brand identities that synergies group companies and create international appeal. Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants, thinks the Godrej Group’s effort is well-timed.  “The group has chosen the right time to release its new image riding on the excitement generated by the IPL matches.”

To be sure, the group has joined the Indian Premier League brand wagon to draw attention to its new avatar. “We are a core sponsor of the IPL television broadcast. It’s a great vehicle to convey our message,” says Dubash.

To drive home the positioning, the Godrej Group is getting ready to launch an aggressive multi-media ad campaign in a week. Advertising major JWT India has designed the Godrej Group’s new advertising campaign. “We will be launching a corporate film to showcase our new positioning. In fact, our new mass media campaigns will show how we have changed,” informs Dubash.

Not everyone is impressed though. A leading brand consultant based in Mumbai says, “A logo change by itself is not enough. A logo is what a logo does. What I mean is, what it will do in terms of actual implementation will decide the value of the logo.”

United colours of Godrej

Ever since the Godrej Group was founded at Lalbaug, central Mumbai in 1887, the group had sported a traditional logo that’s common for all its business ranging from steel cupboards, soaps, hair dye, refrigerators, edible oil and furniture. The group has now opted for a new brand identity to acquire an international appeal in global markets. “We have gone a brand identity makeover for the first time since inception,” says Godrej Group executive director and president, marketing, Tanya Dubash. “We have modernized out brand identity to make it distinct and vibrant. For instance, the colour green in our logo connotes growth and harmony with the nature, while blue signals big ideas and innovation. Finally, ruby stands for passion, energy and endurance.”

Prior to the move, the group’s different companies sported corporate logos in different hues and sizes. While Godrej Agrovet had its logo in green, Godrej Consumer Products sported a blue logo. Other companies in the Godrej fold (Godrej Properties, Hershey Godrej Beverages & Foods, Godrej Global Solutions, Godrej Hi Care, Godrej Sara Lee and Godrej &Boyce Manufacturing) also sported different logos in different colours till  last year. In 2007, the group had harmonized the corporate logos of its eight companies under a single entity in blazing red.

A four-pronged strategy

The Godrej group has identified four businesses as Hero Businesses:

  1. Personal Grooming: The idea is to invest in hair colours as a marquee category in its personal grooming portfolio through specific projects in the next six months. Leverage strong brands like Cinthol.
  2. Properties: The Group plans to build its presence in the real estate market as a brand that actually “delivers on imagination across a portfolio of residential and commercial projects”.
  3. Furniture: To drive growth in the home and office business and focus it as a lifestyle brand.
  4. Appliances: The objective is to benefit from the group’s technological capabilities.

Lock, stock and barrel

Originally, a lock manufacturing firm founded by Ardeshir Godrej, over a century of existence the Godrej Group has branched into areas as diverse as insecticides, personal care, agri products, security systems, home appliances, office equipment, machine tools, chemicals and real estate. Incidentally, in 2002, the group had commissioned a study whose results indicated that Godrej was seen as “an industrial brand”. So two years ago the Group appointed global brand consultancy firm Interbrand to reposition the Godrej brand with a makeover strategy that projects the Group as modern as well as contemporary. “We started with a detailed understanding of the Godrej brand over the course of 18 months across all stakeholders with Interbrand UK as consultant,” says Tanya Dubash, the mastermind of the Godrej makeover. “We studied the Godrej brand across employees, consumers, investors and business partners and redefine our  approach to harnessing the brand’s intrinsic strengths,” she adds. The result: a new logo in green, blue and ruby and a new brand proposition, “Brighter Living”.