MUMBAI: Tata, the engineering and services conglomerate, has been held up as an example of how an Indian company can breathe life into ageing British brands.

Talking to Livemint, Nick Foley, president for Southeast Asia and Pacific regions at brand consulting firm Landor Associates, drew attention to how the firm has been able to turn around poorly performing auto marques.

"Nobody would have bought a Jaguar prior to 2000 because Rover [the maker] just had a terrible reputation for reliability," he said. "And suddenly the Indians have gotten hold of it and the reliability has improved."

So much so that the British prime minister uses a Jaguar and the company expects China will become its number one sales region this year as it benefits from an expanded dealer network and broader product range.

As well as the improved reliability, Foley also remarked on the design, observing that "while the Jaguar is still a sleek, amazing, long, luxury saloon, it now looks like something from the 21st century, not just facelift after facelift from pretty much the XJ series from 1970 onwards."

Range Rover too, he noted, "is now suddenly really starting to get its act together".

Foley expanded on how to build a distinctive brand, citing the use of leading indicators, brand positioning and innovation.

To be successful, he said, "you've got to have leading indicators on which you are building your relevance and differentiation. If you don't have that, nothing else is going to happen for you."

Brand positioning, too, is vital. "If you get that single compelling idea, you make the brand desirable, engaging and incredible," Foley said, "then over time, what you start to build is character, competence and trust."

While innovation was important, he reminded brand managers to also think about renovation and aftercare and posed the question "why do you want to make a change?"

There were only two possible answers, Foley suggested. First a consumer benefit, second, a commercial benefit.

"If people can't articulate it, they should not be embarking on that journey," he said.

Data sourced from Livemint, Wall Steet Journal; additional content by Warc staff