Branding Challenges for Reliance Retail? Or Even Bigger Legacy Challenges??

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

With all the admiration that we have for Mukesh Ambani, it is clear that the learning cycle for a large B2B conglomerate (with all of its legacies) getting into a B2C retail business, is huge.

Yes, Mukesh turned it around in Reliance Telecom those days when he managed it, and he has admitted that he made mistakes there, and he will make mistakes in retail as well. But he will learn.

So here’s my humble attempt to showcase one such mistake.

Waiting at a traffic signal last evening, I saw this store at the corner there, with the store board showing this logo:

And for a moment, I wondered what it was about.

Well, I am a little more interested in the retail vertical, and have kept an eye on Reliance’s efforts, so it came to me quickly. That this was Reliance Retail’s jewelry store brand.

But looking at a logo like this, one could easily wonder if this was a petrol pump, or a telecom store, or some office of India’s largest corporation, or perhaps the entrance to the new residence of Mukesh Ambani?!

No seriously, WHAT IS THIS?? The old style (and boring, for a retail brand) logo of Reliance, and then a running hand, “Jewels” written below it. It appears like the logo design had got totally missed out, and the night before the store was to open, they realized it. And some intern in Reliance Retail, went to Adobe Photoshop, and put this together. Right?!

When you are in the business of petroleum to plastics, and whatever scores of other businesses that Reliance is into (and I refer only the Mukesh Ambani group here), do you HAVE to put the Reliance logo, in all your retail brands too? NOBODY does this.. you don’t have an Aditya Birla More, or a Tata Croma? While you do have a Wal-mart and Sam’s Club, these are not Walton Wal-Mart and Walton Sam’s Club, for God’s sake! Even if they were, in case of Wal-mart, there is still some justification, for a pure retail conglomerate that it is.

But when Reliance if fundamentally associated with plastics and petroleum, pushing that name and logo, in front of it’s retail names, is doing the retail brands a great disservice.

And yet, he may still get away with a Reliance Fresh, but Reliance Jewels? That too, written in the way shown above? It’s a disaster!!

Jewelry trade has on the one hand, the traditional family jeweler brands, like the Tribhovandas Bhimji Jewelers or Popley’s Jewelers, for example. And then there are new-age, smart sounding brands like Gili or Geetanjali Jewelers or an Anmol. Reliance Jewels does not fit in either of the two styles.

If it needed to take on the family jeweler style, perhaps Dhirubhai Ambani Jewelers or a Mukesh Ambani Jewelers, might have been the road to go (would not have worked – this is just to drive home a point!), but the better idea would have been to christen the stores, with some new-age, smart branding. And put a tagline at the bottom, if you must, saying that it is a Reliance Retail venture.

And do the same for the other formats too. Why carry the baggage, and restricted branding that the word and logo or Reliance forces?? Let it go. Create a new name, a new brand altogether.

And this perhaps, is one of the reasons why Reliance Retail has not taken off. It starts from this kind of basics! And if this is so apparent, there may be other challenges inside the organization, as old B2B style working methods may also be forced on, to a retail organization, that needs to operate very differently. The branding imposition perhaps is a visible symptom of a larger challenge inside??

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Comments
  1. Ashok Lalla says:

    Well really, Reliance has got where it has by being a super efficient at business operations and driving cost efficiencies. And every time, one thought they couldn’t do better, they did.

    Never has Reliance’s forte being branding and advertising, and neither has their focus being on these ‘softer’ aspects of business. Not sure how easy it is for a leopard to change its spots!

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Indeed a challenge, Ashok. On paper, one would think that it’s nothing that money can’t buy. But as we can see here, if you bring in people, but tell them, from your B2B business style, how to run the retail business, that is not going to work.. !

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