Guest Article: Shyam G Iyer: Decoding Brand NaMo

By Shyam G Iyer , New Delhi | In Marketing
Last updated : May 02, 2014
A day after Modi got into trouble for clicking a selfie, advertising and marketing professional attempts to decode and understand various facets of 'Brand Modi' - the most discussed political leader brand in today's context.

The centre of debates and forever in the spotlight, Narendra Modi is one of the strongest carved out politician brands of recent times. Brand Modi has enjoyed sustained attention, criticism, mind-share as well as mass appeal over the years, unlike other leader brands. An output of strong belief systems, sharply etched out personality traits, tangible actions as well as thought-through marketing, Brand Modi is perhaps today's most talked-about brand, given the context of the current elections in the world's largest democracy.

Shyam G Iyer

From a brand perspective, if one were to do an onion-peel exercise, it gets very interesting to explore the distinct facets that Brand Modi represents across voter segments. On one hand he seems to have a Pied-Piper kind of following, if one were to go by his rallies even in southern markets. On the other hand, he also stands out as one of the very few leader brands that has constantly battled criticism from several quarters and survived. This dissection attempts at collecting facts and observations around Brand Modi, and grouping them under emergent, dominant personality traits that shape the brand.

The 'Nayak' effect

'Boys make mistakes when they are young' is one of the many examples we have today when men who are supposed to lead make regressive comments. The last few years have seen most of us living in a state of co-existence with scams, struggles, crime and all the wrong headlines in newspapers. For those who've seen the Anil Kapoor starrer Nayak, there seems to be hope in the form of Brand Modi. The peace, progress and low crime rate over a decade in Gujarat endorse his administrative abilities. The Indian political scenario needs a similar Nayak-effect across the country, which otherwise has nothing but crime reports to offer every second day across news channels. From provocative, regressive remarks, Indians want their leaders to adopt a visible progressive stance.

Brand Modi Onion-Peel

The Proven Reformist

While debates and discussions will never end, and critics may continue to remain supremely critical, Brand Modi effect clearly has had its share of impact in Gujarat. Be it wooing Nano and Ford that had a marked effect on real estate and employment in Gujarat, or having the vision and foresight to pioneer BRTS in the state a decade ago (something that other state governments are still trying to implement today), Brand Modi has championed development. Gujarat is one of the very few states in India where road travel is nothing short of a dream. Those who reside across the state, regardless of political preferences, have experienced transformation of living standards over a decade - be it recreating a mega Riverfront project, or improving infra and transport. This is perhaps Brand Modi's most identifiable, agreeable trait, the intent and willingness to drive transformation projects.

Admired, yet feared?

Known to spend long hours regularly at work, Brand Modi is considered to be a very diligent administrator. The Brand is always in control, is non-negotiable and unapologetic. Not many might know he actually demolished over 200 illegal temples in Gandhinagar, something that didn't go down too well with the Sangh. With his emperor-like aura, he is known for his decisiveness from clarity and control perspective. A trait that has helped him outgrow his mentor of years.

Survival Skills

Survival theory taught us in school how the fittest survive through continuous adaptation to the environment. We haven't seen many in politics go beyond conventions to adapt, bond and connect with the audience. Be it the Modi-Masks, or playing up the 'Tea-Seller' tag to its advantage through 'Chai Pe Charcha' sessions, or interacting with followers via Twitter and Google Plus, NaMo has stayed more than a step ahead and ensured not just survival but also mass following.

Known to be very particular about his appearance and wardrobe, very few might know that he has done a three-month course in PR and image management from the US. He remains the longest serving CM in the state's history. And yes, he has survived.


A savvy marketer with a sense of humour, a decisive administrator, a non-negotiable commander, a believer of innovation, a progressive reformist, Brand Modi is a little bit of everything. Whether he emerges as the brand of choice is something the nation will get to see on May 16.

The author is advertising and marketing professional.

First Published : May 02, 2014
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