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Subbu's Solution

The Two Minute Story

This weekend, in the middle of a lazy afternoon with dark grey clouds threatening a downpour, I read a fascinating book on a subject that appeals to me - Brands. With my favorite drink in hand, nothing alcoholic just plain and simple hot water, I read “The Two Minute Revolution” by Sangeeta Talwar. It is fast-paced and is all about making of brands and growing businesses.

Sangeeta was part of some wonderful teams that are credited with creating some iconic brands including “Maggi”. While the whole book is a fascinating read, here are a few insights that I gathered:

• The name “Maggi” comes from the name of a real person “Julius Maggi” who wanted to prepare food to increase the nutritional value of industrial workers. He created this cooking aid with protein called Maggi Bouillon. Bouillon (a French word) means “Broth”. Broth is a soup consisting of meat or vegetables cooked in stock, sometimes thickened with barley or other cereals. It is usually used to prepare other dishes. In India when Maggi was launched it was called cubes. It was meant to be added to food to make it tastier. Over a period of years, after much research and experimentation the Maggi noodle launched. It takes years for a product and brand to evolve – patience and persistence are the key as long as the base product is good.

Building an institution or a brand requires the employees to be at the front or be “in the trenches”. In the trenches is a common English expression that was originally used to refer to soldiers engaged in Trench warfare, it is now commonly used to refer to somebody engaged in a long, difficult, and unrewarding task. For someone marketing FMCG products this could mean being in the streets in all weather conditions. It means visiting remote market place. A visit to a crowded market can be daunting, and here Sangeeta describes her visit to a market in Kohima complete with dry snake skins hanging in the shops. For the sophisticated city bred nose, this visit would have thrown up different challenge in terms of sheer smell.
Roll up the sleeves and step out if you are creating a brand or undertaking research.

• When the team was looking for a shelf space to increase the visibility of the product, they could not find much space; and then it stuck them that there was whole lot of air space available. This is how hanging baskets became the solution with Maggi loaded into these baskets. Here again Sangeeta led from the front to get up on to a rickety stool in a sari and slightly heeled sandals to hang up a basket!Lead from the front.

• Advertisement with a social message can be a powerful medium to build brands. The Jaago re campaign for a tea brand to make the population vote in elections not only sent out a powerful social message but also established the brand name.
Good intentions can be good business

• The best insight was about something I believe in personally too that a brilliant educational background does not guarantee success. Willingness to participate in a team and be willing to do the odd job, are factors that drives the success of the individual and ultimately that of the organization.

Advertisement, brands, building businesses were all fine; but the main thing was the admiration I had for this woman. There is so much a woman can do and so much the country and the world can gain from them. Thinking of women and their achievement made me think of Hima Das. Her run just took my breath away. Many unsung heroes are striving to be the best in their fields in their own quiet way. Some have speed; some have long term vision and all have much to contribute to making India better.

Tell us your experience with brands or about women achievers who have contributed across different sections of society.

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Subbu's Solution is authored by I. V. Subramaniam. I. V. Subramaniam is a director of Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited. The responses expressed here are strictly for information and explanation purpose only. The responses are meant for general reading purpose and not to be considered as an investment advice / recommendation. The responses are not intended to be an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial product or instrument or units of the Mutual Fund. Readers are advised to seek independent professional advice and arrive at an informed investment decision before making any investments. The Sponsor, The Investment Manager, The Trustee, their respective directors, employees, affiliates or representatives shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages, including lost profits arising in any way from the information contained in the responses.

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