Government slogans such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vocal for local’ appeal to patriotic sentiments, but brands ought rather to be focused on telling stories and adding to people’s lives, says an agency figure.

Writing for WARC, Shormistha Mukherjee, co-founder of independent content and digital company Cursor Interactive, notes that the prime minister’s recent ‘Vocal for Local’ call wasn’t very specific in any case.

Did he mean vocal for just products made in India, or vocal for companies set up anywhere in the world, but now manufacturing in India? Either way, marketers are now looking at establishing the Indianness of their brands.

But as Mukherjee points out, many brands thought of as being Indian – shoemaker Bata or motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield to name but two – are foreign-owned or began that way.

The boundaries between local and global are blurred, she suggests, and what will help consumers look up to Indian brands is not patriotism, but storytelling.

In the case of Royal Enfield, for example, that has meant “stories about what you crave, freedom to take off with the bike … being one with yourself and the road, having a community of like-minded people who do the same, making you believe that you are not odd, but yes, you are different, and that’s okay.

Alongside that has been the heritage narrative, emphasising design and craftsmanship – a story of lineage, not nationality.

A similar picture emerges in the new trend of A2 milk, introduced by a New Zealand-based company and picked up by local dairies; storytelling has been central to the product’s success, says Mukherjee.

In a country where children are “brought up on a diet of milk and mythology”, a story that hump-backed cows produce a certain type of milk that is different from other cows, invokes images of lush grass, beautiful happy cows and cowherds.

Consumers end up feeling they are “not just believing in some home-spun Indian wisdom, but it’s backed with science that everyone’s talking about”.

Brands don’t need to force the made in India bit down consumers’ throats,” she argues. “They just need to tell us stories we’ve grown up on, and we’ll make the rest of the connections.”

For more, read Shormistha Mukherjee’s article in full: The future of Indian brands lies in storytelling not jingoism

This forms part of a WARC Spotlight series on the opportunities and challenges facing India-born brands. Read more here.

Sourced from WARC