NEW DELHI: India is just emerging on the global stage and has not yet gone into the brand-building mode, a leading marketing strategist has said.

Jack Trout, a pioneer of brand positioning theory, told the Business Standard that building a global brand first required "a fantastic product" and Indian businesses would need to work on that aspect.

He noted that some Indian companies were already world leaders in their field although these tended to be in IT, where skills were paramount. But, said Trout, "skill is not a product with which you can build a brand".

Something more tangible was needed. "You've got to have a product that has a certain quality, that can compete globally," he argued.

He pointed to the South Korean example, where family-owned chaebols had recognised the need to build brands in a professional manner if they were going to go global. "In a developing market, you can get away with the family thing," said Trout, "but when you are entering mature markets, you need freedom, you need innovation."

Nokia's former head of emerging markets, Shiv Shivakumar, made a similar point recently in the Economic Times, when he argued that "Indian businesses must spend energy on branding".

He compared Interbrand's lists of the top ten global brands and the top ten Indian brands and noted that for the latter the brand value was significantly lower than brand and business revenue in each case.

"A collection of businesses doesn't make a powerful brand but a collection of brands makes a powerful business," he said, adding that Indian brands would need focus, consistency and innovation if they were ever to make it into Interbrand's global top ten.

Trout, expanding on his current consulting role with Bajaj Auto, a maker of two and three wheeled vehicles, cited an international brand as an example to emulate.

There were too many divergent businesses under the Bajaj name, including electricals and finance, he said and the company needed to understand its core competences and stick with that.

"Get into the GM mode," he said, explaining that General Motors had many sub-brands, such as Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and it had kept them exclusive to avoid confusion in the mind of the consumer.

Data sourced from Business Standard, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff