Ashwini Gangal

Mahindra unveils new visual identity, brand architecture

Mahindra's previous word mark was grey in colour; the new one is a dark shade of red. It will be used as part of the product name for Mahindra's mobility offerings and as an 'endorser' for Mahindra's non-mobility offerings. The millennium logo will be used, but only as a vehicle badge for Mahindra's mobility products.

After its Rise (January 2011) and Spark the Rise (August 2011) movements, the Mahindra Group has now unveiled its new visual identity and brand architecture that will be adopted by the corporate brand as well as the group's businesses with equal vigour.

Mahindra unveils new visual identity, brand architecture
Mahindra unveils new visual identity, brand architecture
Mahindra unveils new visual identity, brand architecture
The transformation

Firstly, Mahindra has a new word mark, which the team claims was zeroed in after much scientific deliberation, research and feedback. The San Francisco-based brand consulting firm, Landor Associates, in collaboration with Mahindra's internal design unit, has worked on this new identity.

S P Shukla, member, group executive board, president, group strategy and chief brand officer, Mahindra, specifies, "Mahindra remains Mahindra; the way it is being presented to the world is changing. This exercise is not to be confused with re-branding."

The new word mark apparently retains Mahindra's existing brand attributes such as its reliability, solidity, warmth, trustworthiness and caring nature, as well as its new brand attributes, namely, 'global', 'technology savvy', 'modern' and 'progressive'. It also incorporates the brand attributes related to Mahindra's Rise philosophy; these are: the group's resolve to accept no limits, its innovative thinking and its hunt for positive change.

Mahindra unveils new visual identity, brand architecture
Mahindra's previous word mark was grey in colour, in line with the colour of vehicle badges that are typically steel grey. The new hand-drawn word mark sports a deep, bright red, which is, in fact, a shade deeper than the signature Mahindra red. The Mahindra team finds that the new colour, which has auspicious connotations in India, also stands for vibrancy, positivity, energy and excitement in nations such as China, the USA, Australia and South Korea, among several other countries in which Mahindra operates.

Shukla explains that in the nomenclatures of the group's company names, the name 'Mahindra' will be followed by the concerned company description, for example 'Mahindra Retail', or 'Mahindra Finance'. This way, the word mark will be an essential part of all of Mahindra's company names.

As far as product names are concerned, the mobility-related - read auto - businesses will have 'Mahindra' as part of the product name, for example, 'Mahindra Xylo'. But when it comes to non-mobility businesses, Mahindra will appear as an endorser, in the form of 'by Mahindra' or 'from Mahindra' (for example, 'Aqualily from Mahindra Lifespaces'), thus making the name of the parent company, the brand as well as the product category clear.

"All products will have a different way of expressing themselves," Shukla explains, commenting on this difference.

Additionally, a very specific graphic element, a 'ridge', has been added to the design. This is a sturdy, upward shape that is in sync with the Rise philosophy. This part of the change drew inspiration from the ridges present on Mount Everest and is symbolic of the group's desire to reach the very top.

Mahindra unveils new visual identity, brand architecture
Besides serving as a symbol of aspiration, this ridge will also unify Mahindra's collaterals and will bring a sense of "Mahindra-ness" -- as B Karthik, senior general manager, corporate brand management, Mahindra, puts it -- into each of the group's collaterals. The colour, though, will vary depending on the type of business. For example, it will be just red for Mahindra's corporate and mobility businesses, a combination of red and grey for Mahindra's B2B businesses, and a combination of red and yellow, red and green, or red and blue for Mahindra's non-mobility, B2C businesses.

The millennium logo (M in an elliptical shape) will continue to be used, but only for the mobility products as a vehicle badge on the nose of the vehicle, and also as part of their respective product logos. Non-mobility products will not use the millennium logo, going forward. It will have a strong association only with vehicle badges, for mobility products ranging from two-wheelers to airplanes. The millennium logo will also be seen as an element in ads for Mahindra's mobility products.

"Basically, the millennium logo won't be a corporate mark anymore; instead, it will be a product badge," clarifies Karthik.

All these changes will be reflected across Mahindra's businesses globally. It will also reflect in Mahindra's digital identity and internal branding such as office stationery (sooner than later), as well as across the group's office/factory buildings and dealer signages (phased change that will take place till the end of the calendar year). An ad campaign to promote these changes is in the pipeline.

What prompted the change?

Shukla explains that the change in brand architecture was the culmination of two needs that led to the decision -- a utilitarian need and an aesthetic need. Explaining the utilitarian need, he says, "Mahindra is not just into manufacturing but also services and trading. It's not just Indian, but global in its reach. And, from a geographical perspective, we have products for rural as well as urban India. When a group has a common identity appealing to so many different segments, consumers as well as businesses, it needs a brand architecture and visual identity which will encompass the group's distinct segments, products, services and geographies."

Going on to explain the aesthetic need for this change, he says, "Every decade or so large groups need to refresh their visual identity (word mark and logo) to give their business outreach programmes, consumer connect and branding/marketing/sales efforts a new impetus."

For Mahindra, the current change comes after 12 years.

Karthik adds, "Rise was of more fundamental and strategic importance than just 'a campaign'. Spark the Rise and now this new visual identity are all part of the effort to build brand Mahindra as a global brand."

For the record, Mahindra is a USD 15.9 billion group that is present in over 100 countries. Based in Mumbai, India, the group currently employs more than 1,55,000 people. Mahindra operates in agribusiness, aerospace, consulting services, components, energy, defence, financial services, industrial equipment, logistics, real estate, retail, steel and two wheeler spaces. The group has also established itself in areas such as tractors, utility vehicles, information technology and vacation ownership.

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