Monday, February 27, 2012

Vijay Mallya & Kingfisher - The case of brand identity

A lot has been written about Vijay Mallya and his airlines (Kingfisher) in the last few days on flight cancellations and the mounting debt. It has occupied news-space, public and private discussions and our mind-space. Out of many such discussions, an interesting idea came out yesterday night. Why didn't Vijay Mallya invest in the hospitality industry? It fits with his outlandish larger than life persona. Kingfisher hotels would've made more sense and fit in better with his identity. Maybe it is a hindsight bias but it is definitely worth looking into. An interesting ET article presents a detailed insight on the congruence of the personality at the helm of a brand and a business. Although I feel the article is biased to an extreme (while talking about Vijay Mallya) and does not present a neutral argument, the opinion is still noteworthy (like this statement): "how can a beer baron assure you the safety of an airline?" But a beer baron can definitely give you good hospitality.
Source: Economic Times (26th Feb, 2012)
Strong brands usually have a story to tell that people identify with. People buy products and brands that match with their aspired self or actual self. While choosing a product or a service, people give more importance to certain attributes. In an airlines, the discipline (scheduling/late/on time) is the most important attribute. You would never want your airline to be late. It cannot be compromised at any cost. Does Kingfisher represent discipline? I don't really think so.
The airline industry is about strong operations and good pricing plans neither of which are closely represents brand kingfisher. An investment in hotels would've made more sense. But there is a positive side to it. Kingfisher represents "the king of good times". The recovery of Kingfisher as an airline can definitely strengthen brand kingfisher and elevate to a level greater than what it was before this crisis.But the road is still long and rough.