Brands in the ‘services’ space are expected to be formal and suitably starched. This is particularly true of domains such as hotels and airlines where a certain restraint is kind of expected. Of course, there are the odd expectations. Virgin Airlines was the first to break from the pack. It brought fun into play in the category. Then, there is the hugely irreverent Kulula Air brand that takes matters to the other end of the spectrum.
In India, I am delighted to see the emergence of two brands that have decided to unknot their ties and create a cool quotient that is thoroughly refreshing and fast gaining patronage.
In every pool, there’s room for a cool brand whose language is easy, coolly casual. Cool brands do not become cool. They are born cool. And cool is what cool does.
Take Vivanta by Taj. Everything about the experience is cool. Be it the Gatorade or PSP device in the pick-up car, fingerprint scanning safes in the rooms and the infused vodkas in the bar. The attempt is to make the mundane masterfully magical. The result is an experience that is nothing short of being energisingly eclectic.
Cool, in the hospitality domain was unthinkable. I cannot think of another global brand of hotels that usurps this position. Amongst the formalwear world of hotels, Vivanta, to take off from Friday Dressing, has been erected on the plinth of Friday Positioning.
Now make no mistake, Friday Positioning does not sacrifice service for style. It just marries the two.
Yet another example is IndiGo. The tone is set from the gangway by which you board your flight. The simple acknowledgment of young passengers in the cabin address. The absolutely cool food and the terribly tony wigs of the ladies in attendance. In contrast to Vivanta by Taj, IndiGo is supposedly a low-fare brand. But ironically, it is a high-cool brand as well.
And that leads me to my perspective on the future. Increasingly, brandscapes will be dotted with cool brands. The coolant will blur the price points in categories. Cool will be reassuringly expensive in one breath and will also represent great value on the other hand. It will bust pricing myths, disturb the conventional demographic order and make loyalty programmes irrelevant. It will, for the first time, create a psychographic playground.
The writer is CEO, Equus Red Cell