Many readers will recall this baseline, used by Sahara Airlines. It always evoked scary images in my mind. I was terrified that the pilot would burst into tears if I got off the aircraft without saying 'Goodbye' to him. Or that an airhostess would clutch me to her bosom and, in a choked voice ask, "
Kya aap sach-much hamesha ke liye mujhe chhod ke jaa rahe hain
?" as I tried to disembark.
What exactly 'did' the airline wish to convey with this emotionally-overdosed line?
Mind you, I accept that we are an emotional people, as evident in the fact that on average, 38 people see off every mofussil traveler at an airport, or that the norm for tears in a 'deathbed' sequence in TV soaps is pegged at 6.8 litres. But brand baselines ought to sum up what the brand has to offer, or what it stands for, not sound like promos for the next celestial telefilm's assault on your intelligence.
Of course Sahara Airlines is not the only culprit. Bank of India also turns practically lachrymose in its sign-off, as it tells us they believe in "Relationships beyond banking".
The question is: do I 'want' a relationship beyond banking with a bank? Do they think I want the bank manager to come out for dinner with me? Do I want to attend his daughter's arangetram? No, I do 'not' want relationships beyond banking with their staff. I will be quite happy if they just did a good job of relationships "related to banking". Such as providing efficient service.
Foot and other falls
An entire category that believes only one approach to baselines makes sense is retailing. They have all read about Wal-Mart's everyday low price strategy, and concluded that cheap is best.
To take just two examples: Next, the electronics retailer, tells us it has "Best brands. Best bargains." and Big Bazaar tells us "
Isse sasta aur isse achha kahin nahin"
. But it's Subhiksha that wins the Golden Drumstick.
means 'alms' – it is unclear who is giving alms to whom in this equation. And the retailer goes further to have its loyal customer squeak, "
Bachat mera adhikaar. Subhiksha mera abhimaan
.." Thus we now have not only frugality, but self righteous pride emanating from being either the receiver or giver of alms.
Good product lines, good baselines
The fact is, too many baselines try to impress the world with cleverness, rather than making a brand statement.
Thankfully, there are exceptions. Vodaphone builds on the new truth that we use mobiles for much more than phone calls, and urges us to "Make the most of now", backing it with new service offerings.
Samsung too, has several breakthrough products to offer. Both these examples are also a reminder that brands are not built on baselines, great as they might be. They are built on great products each of whose promise is summed up in a simple, memorable line. As with Samsung, "It's not that hard to imagine."