Lessons on Branding from a beggar!

Recently, I came across a viral youtube video in which a beggar is singing melodious songs. His soulful voice captivates passers-by. People start gathering around him to listen him sing. A few of them shake hands with the beggar, and one of them offers him money for food.

At the end of the video, the beggar reveals himself as Sonu Nigam. He is a leading playback singer from Bollywood (the largest movie industry in the world), and has won numerous awards. He has large fan following across the world. People wait for his concerts for months and pay large sums to listen to him sing live.

The incident has several similarities with how Brands evoke different emotions, and command enormous respect and price among its fans. Here’re a few that I could gather -

  • If people knew that the beggar was Sonu Nigam, there would have been riot to listen to him and take selfie with him. Without his identity, he was just a good singer. Similarly the brand identity (logos, colors, taglines) evoke emotion of quality, trust and loyalty. Without the brand’s identity, the product will be just a good product.
  • Probably, people will still pay large sums to listen to Sonu Nigam sing on roads and not in big concert halls. But it won’t have the same magical effect. When people buy branded products, they just don’t buy the product. They buy the experience that the brand promises. Sonu Nigam live in-concert promises an experience that Sonu Nigam singing on road can’t fulfill. A brand is much more than the underlying product.
  • When people purchase brands they also purchase the right to brag about it in their social circle. It’s an effort to cultivate image in line with what the brand represents. Going to Sonu Nigam concert is not only about the fun and the entertainment; it’s also about you — the person.
  • Highest amount that was offered to the beggar was Rs 12. It’s not even a small fraction of the price of ONE ticket of Sonu Nigam’s concert. Without his identity the same Sonu Nigam, is not worth even a fraction of the price he commands. The very same products, without their brand identity wouldn’t be worth a fraction of the price they command. Imagine Mercedes car or Macbook without their respective logos.
  • If anything, this small incident proves the effect that brands have on us and provides a strong case for investing in brands
  • One thing that comes out strongly is that a good product will not go unappreciated even if it’s not a well known brand.

Enjoy the video here.

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