Tamarind is an evergreen tree of the pea family and is cultivated for its edible fruit and ornamental value, says the Britannica. It is also a brand of men's ready-to-wear apparel launched by S Kumars Nationwide last week, part of the Rs 600-crore group with interests in textiles, energy, leisure and entertainment, IT, and retailing. But with a difference: the company likes to add another 'i' to the word. Or no? The search for an answer, resulting from confusion caused by its advertising, press articles and the company's web site, led to this story.
The confusion sprang in the mind of a friend, a keen observer of television advertising. One of the television spots for Tamarind (or Tamariind) shows cine star Hrithik Roshan, the brand ambassador, frolicking on the beach. While the intent of his antics his unknown, what got our friend in a fix is what the green-eyed guy writes on the sand: Tamariind! Almost a split-second later, the spot is over. Tamarind, says the sign-off!
Late last week, we cross-checked this against news reports carried in the press. Business Standard, which is among the rare Indian publications to offer a reasonably good updated search engine, carried a meaningful story (April 17, 2001). Throughout, the brand was mentioned as Tamariind. Hrithik and the reporter were in sync. Then we jumped on to the company web site - skumars.net, not skumars.com. Click on the textiles section and you can see the Tamarind logo. Click on and you land on the Cinnamon page. That is the header, but the contents are all Tamarind (not Tamariind), except for a 'top' link which carries the 'cinnamon.html' link. There is no Tamariind to see.
More confusion? First, cinnamon. Besides being a bushy evergreen tree cultivated for its light-brown coloured spice with a delicately fragrant aroma and warm, sweet flavour, Cinnamon was the first name chosen for the range that is now called Tamariind (or Tamarind, but we'll get to this later). Cinnamon was launched in September 2000 by the same cine star, marking the company's first foray into ready-to-wear men's apparel. The launch was widely covered, by even publications like Filmfare, because of the presence of Hrithik who was said to be pocketing "anywhere between Rs 6 crore to Rs 8 crore" for a "Rs 12-crore brand-building exercise (for the first year)".
Such high-voltage branding surely caught the eye of a Bangalore-based retail chain by the same name, which according to the BS story, invoked a law suit against S Kumars for copyright infringement. Hence the need for a new name. Though the BS story quotes the company managing director Nitin Kasliwal as saying, "We will focus on Cinnamon only after we establish and build Tamariind", the brand is no longer visible on any of the company's online properties (except for the links we pointed out). So now what's the new brand?
Since most of the company staff is busy launching the brand across the country, it was difficult to trace the top brass. Vishnu Sagar Rath, assistant manager (woven garments) helped clarify. The trademark is written as Tamariind where the two 'i's overlap. So all design representations of the logo carry a yellow 'i' printed on top of a white 'i', he explains. But written as a brand, he says, it is spelt with a single 'i'. We went back to the site to check it minutely and there it was, an innocuous white 'i' hidden beneath the yellow 'i'. It may not be that closely visible on the hoardings. One issue still remains unanswered: why is it written as Tamariind in news reports and Tamarind on the web site?
It is a small but significant issue in brand communications: consistency. Talking of 360 degrees holistic corporate communications, practitioners of marketing communications need to ensure that a brand is consistently spelt correctly by ad-film makers, web designers, PoP designers, hoarding painters and, of course, reporters. Quite often publications carry brand names the way they suit them (or the individual reporter). adidas prefers the 'a' be in lower case even at the beginning of the sentence. Coca-Cola has a hyphen, like Air-India and Close-up. Ericsson and Erickson. Reckitt & Colman, and Bennett, Coleman. Yahoo! ends with an exclamation (and so does our web site).
Few years back, when I was at A&M, we called a young brand manager at Levers to confirm if the 'u' in Close-up is written in lower or upper case. He said he wasn't too sure; but that he would get back. He did get back, but with both options. We are not sure if it hurts brand sales in any way. But if you couldn't spell someone's name the way he did, it sure does hurt him. Innovative attempts on design that end up confusing consumers may not be that good an option.
© 2001 agencyfaqs!
PS: Minutes after the story had gone to bed, Sameer Mathur, general manager, logistics(sourcing and merchandising), Total Wardrobe Solutions (TWS), Skumars Nationwide Limited, reverted with a clarification on the consistency:
"We would like to clarify that the brand name 'TAMARIIND', and what you see in the newsletters and the hoardings is this word, except that if you notice this carefully, the 'I' in the hoardings is a double 'I', superimposed on top of each other, and that too in a different colour. I am surprised that skumars.net carries the name with a single 'I'. We shall get that rectified soon."First Published : April 24, 2001