What’s Wrong With Brand Bollywood?



Naseem Javed is the author of Naming for Power, founder of ABC Namebank of New York and Toronto. He is recognized as an authority on corporate image and global name identities and is also invited all over the world to lecture.

In this Q&A, Javed speaks about what’s wrong with Brand Bollywood and more…

What’s Wrong With Brand Bollywood?
Today the Indian Film Industry has built an awesome power and truly leads the world, but does the name ‘ Bollywood ‘? Why is the name ‘ Bollywood’ still fighting to gain global respect for just not sounding like a sidekick of Hollywood ? Is it about time to stand up for brand new world-class global icons for this industry and leave Bollywood to Kollywoods, Lollywoods and Mollywoods.

What’s your evaluation about the name Bollywood?
The Indian Film Industry is nothing but a clear world leader in producing the largest number of films, and equally getting the largest number of global audiences. It is actually, a world-class global center of world-class entertainment and taking over the global film industry. A dramatic change in its image would be a phenomenal advantage. After all, there is no other country in the world that can match these numbers.

If Bombay can become Mumbai, then perhaps, the name Bollywood could also be changed to Mollywood. Please don’t. But very seriously, the Indian Film Industry needs a name to reflect its true power so it can become a new, world-class global icon. But as long as the name ‘ Bollywood’ sits as enfant terrible, a silly colloquial copycat of the now struggling Hollywood and so heavily dependent and associated with its master’s image, this loosely structured sidekick term, does no justice to the real power and quality of what the current Indian film Industry is putting on the global scene.

Are there some real turning points?
India is also now a land of a post-dotcom-outsourced-based-technology-revolution compounded by a further post-global-re-immigration-based-transfusion of immigrants to homelands, which are boosting in-grown-domestic-innovation. Explanation; outsourcing came as result of a global influx of technology and India’s preparedness to make this sector accessible from right next door processing to across the ocean via telecommunication worked wonders.

At the same time, the current global re-immigration trend is now becoming a global phenomenon, where highly qualified and well-trained Indian immigrants all over the world are slowly heading home. Western economies are losing their magic and most G8 countries cannot compete with the quality of life sought by the immigrants, which is now so economically offered in abundance by the motherlands. Hence, the re-immigration phenomena. India, with very large number of people around the globe, is enjoying the power of all these entrepreneurial skills and the return of highly qualified people, during this incubation period.

Back to the name Bollywood. Whose idea was this?
Accidental naming invites accidental cost, and creates injured names which cripple long-term marketing. Bollywood, ouch. What an accidental choice of a name. But then, we must be thankful and glad it wasn’t called Disneywoods or 20th CenturyCows. Now the big question is how to create a world-class awareness and a grass root branding revolution amongst the Indian Film Industry, and what are the key methodical steps required?

Every now and then, a new word comes around and takes us into a global symbology, which is further adapted by every other similar assembly of events. In the past, new words took centuries and decades and today they are upon us within a single year like Googlization or Skateboarding or simply Net Surfing. Silicon Valley, as in silicone chips out of San Jose and not the silicone b***s, what many thought as the early usage, yet today every major city in the world has now a Silicone valley, jungle, alley or a corridor. All the copycats got nothing and today using Silicone in that context is almost dumb.

Watergate got rid of Nixon, but now any scandal of any size is easily called ThisGate or ThatGate. Bollywood came about from a similar process and climbed with success. Unfortunately there never was an earlier vision to realize that the film industry needed its own unique identity over this copycat name brand. The real Hollywood on the other hand came about in 1887, when the founder Harvey Wilcox, Daeida’s husband, drew up a grid map for a town which he filed the county recorder’s office on February 1, 1887, the first official appearance of the name ‘Hollywood ‘. He named it after the “Mass of the Holy Wood of the Cross” Imagine if he had picked MassCross? (just kidding)< Page Break >

What’s this BBC Branding you talk in your lectures?
BBC branding or Beg, Borrow or Copy, as they call it, has been a big curse on Indian branding. Some 95% of the name brand identities, logos and even the entire kit and caboodle ad campaigns are nothing but copy of something either openly borrowed or quietly stolen from some other established identity. Shame. This has to stop. True, occasionally there have been many major breakthrough examples of originalities and great work produced with uniqueness and backed with secured intellectual property. There is still a very long way to.

As India moves forward, so does e-commerce, and as long as everything and all things are visible to all players, copycats will have to seek cover, as quick searches will list all the information in a straight line. A copied idea does not save any money, but rather, it helps the originator while losing the borrower’s identity. With so many trademark and copyright issues it is much better to own something real original then some one else’s original idea. In the old days, one could get away with this as it took years to discover the truth. Today, the truth is at your fingertips. The world is now open like a book. Let’s discuss some more.

Why is ‘Real Attitude’ so critical, according to you?
The Indian Film industry badly needs corporate image and name identity evaluation audits throughout the industry, big and small businesses alike. All such audits, evaluations and processes must be prepared at an international standard of global name identity branding and are supported by proper execution. It must match with the power and the desired goals of the industry and most of the current old-fashioned cow brands and the flying horses must be eliminated. Also, there are some totally weird, disconnected, hodge podge, British style, free flowing, fake branding attempts where the messages are lost in name identities based on trendy words or pure Hinglish. A mixture of Hindi-English. No problem. However, all this can be fixed very quickly and very efficiently but it needs the most critical ingredient. Attitude, that is.

The players in this global branding game must have the key ingredients and what it takes to deliver a global super-star? A strong and a clear desire to own a world-class icon, something that would be globally protected and shine like a super star. In contrast, most often businesses sheepishly push a weak and injured name brand identity here and there, knowingly well that there are already too many trademark conflicts in the expanding markets and the image is still emulating too many confusing signals all over. Especially, when owners of the current big name identities are struggling and spending big money to keep the poor names barely alive. What it requires, is an attitude to grab the bull by the horns.

You say you can turn Stars into Super-Stars, how?
Normally building huts require carpenters, but building skyscrapers certainly calls for reputed architects. Simple, elementary image and name branding by the dictionary and hand holding exercises at a BBQ at a family picnic or at fancy boardrooms of the fancy ad agencies is a thing of the past. The global complexity of billions of name images floating on e-commerce has turned this issue of name identity into a science and the art of fondling a dictionary is now lost forever.

It requires tactical understanding of corporate and business naming rules. trademark laws, global domain management systems and international marketing issues. It demands in depth understanding of languages, translations, connotations, perception and human interactions with words, memorability, type-ability, protectability and dozens of other issues. With the right application of skills Stars become Super-Stars, therefore scream and demand that your agencies and practitioners have proven sets of such skills in your boardroom otherwise your image and identity program will be doomed.< Page Break >

How can the smallest budget in the shortest period of time make you a star?
The old mass-budget-less-advertising-model is dying; customers are smart and there are zillions of competing ideas. If for some reason your brand is not there, then start the right process today. It won’t take long and it will start to shine. Follow the correct procedures and very advanced rules of the image making game

How can we deal with some reality?
Certain things are very tangible and black and white, such as your brand name, its image and its ownership. What most Producers, Directors and businessmen do is try hard to convince among themselves that their single trademark filed in India is good enough, and they ignore the global e-commerce reality. Most entrepreneurs are simply shy to check the serious dilution of their brand names on Google. As there is only less than 1% of names that are globally protected, the chance is that the entire branding, image building process is on shaky grounds.

What are the three common myths you talk about?
According to Western camapigns, here are the big three myths for creating fame and glory. Let’s explore some of this mythology.

Firstly, blowing big money buys you big image. Wrong. Traditionally, the branding advice has been that a big branding budget coupled with a big blowout fireworks will ensure a great corporate image and identity. Sure, it worked in the1980s,1990s, but not now. There are thousands of corporations trapped here, with thousands of dollars a day in branding budgets are still scratching their heads and going nowhere. Promtion costs are there to help, but the idea that unlimited budgets will give you unlimited growth is just a myth. Play real smart.

Secondly, customers are sheep? Wrong. Big agencies believe that consumers are large herds of sheep and will follow to any creative exploitation, and for that reason, they encourage wild and bizarre campaigns. Perhaps it was true in the past, as until recently, customers simply followed the wind and worshiped the sun; anything shining was good enough to follow. Not today. Now they are very clever and overly exposed — stalking for the best deals, ignoring the lure while frustrated by the crazy blasts.

Thirdly, once successful then always succesful. Wrong. For that reason the same campaigns, logo style or strategies are copied over and over for other applications with disasterous results. How often should a campaign be copied and repeated and how often should they be jolted with a shock before they are all mesmerized? Hypnotized or dazed the customers might be. However, often for other reasons, like the daily grind of life, they are not buying the old beaten up mantra of repetitiveness. The more you repeat the dysfunctionality of a message, the more they shut out. This explains why every thing is so look-a-alike.

Here are three real facts. Firstly, without a brand identity you are always forced to sell at cheap prices and keep reducing your profits. Secondly, if you do not own a powerful and extremely protectable name that there is no game. Lastly, corporations without Image Leadership Mandate are nothing just circus acts.

How do we take a simple test and see where are we going?
A Healthy image and name identity is very distinct, unique, short and simple, highly related to the business and globally protected with a matching dotcom. This will make it a “Five Star Quality” Injured names brands are highly diluted with so many other identical names, without any unique position, lost on search engines, tied to a local geography, too long or initialized, confusing and cumbersome.

The name brands on Life-Support are in serious trouble. They emulate different meanings and strange signals and can be spelled in many different ways. Customers are never sure of their purpose, as they lack clarity. There are no matching dotcoms or no global trademarks. These brand names are the real enemies to your projects. A properly charted summary can easily prove all this to your management.

Owners, which have paid millions in adopting such accidental name identities still continue to spend millions in explaining their name, often stay in denial and will not accept this critically fundamental analysis. These brand names simply bleed and sink some very great projects. Ask the real tough question: if a name is clearly injured, then why do businesses spend millions to hide its serious limitations?

What are your recommendations?
The role of a quick formal analysis and an image review is to find the truth and have an objective analysis. It’s very easy to determine the fitness status of all your images and dozens of floating name identities. One can easily hire people to agree with a current image name-image; a focus group or any general brand evaluation processes are nothing but that, an exercise in handholding discussions to arrive at a supportive approval without rocking the boat. Sure, your identity must have some good points, yet it may equally be suffering immensely with a few serious negative connotations. How do you really know what part of your image is seriously hurting? Serious filmmakers and movers and shakers of the industry can easily start a brand new grass-root branding revolution with its real thunder. After all, turning stars into super-stars is very easy, all is required is the attitude.

The author can be contacted at: nj@njabc.com

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and Businessofcinema.com need not necessarily subscribe to the same.