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Renal Failure of Brands-An Introduction

Every Brand has both Positive and Negative elements. Same can be said about Human Body. Two major functions of Kidneys in human body are to filtrate (retaining elements good for the body and rejecting those which are harmful), and excretion of bad elements. When Kidneys don’t work properly, harmful elements increase in the body in the form of toxins, which damage many vital organs of the body. In medical terminology, it’s called Renal or Kidney Failure. When a similar thing happens to a Brand, it’s called Renal failure of Brand. How do Kidneys work for a Brand? Every Brand has some key elements attached to it. When these key elements come under attack, it becomes absolutely necessary to filter and facilitate immediate excretion of the negative elements from the Brand. The chances of Renal Failure of the Brand increase manifolds when this excretion process takes longer and the quantum of the attack is bigger.

Remember the Maggi fiasco? What’s the Tag line of Maggi? Taste Bhi, Health Bhi. They probably had used this tagline because Instant Noodles as a product has always remained under suspicion from health angle. In April 2015, a government referral laboratory in Kolkata, following up on an initial report from Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh, reported excess lead in samples of Maggi Noodles.  Maggi then commanded 63 per cent share of India’s Rs 5,000 crore noodles market. Maggi noodles are like a way of life for many people, and this information came as a shock for both the Company as well as its loyal consumers as there was a built up of negative perception on a mass scale about health concerns upon Maggi’s consumption. How did Nestle, the parent Company prevent/manage the Renal failure of the Brand? Firstly, they immediately pulled the product from the Market, and destroyed more than 37000 tonnes of the Product. Why was it essential? Since there was a question mark on one of the most essential elements of the Brand, and there was huge media coverage and public outcry, there was an immediate change in demand level (heavy fall in sales from Retailer’s shelf). Since Instant Noodles is a perishable product, this reduced demand could have resulted in a pile of expired or near expiry product in a matter of a month or two, and could have resulted in choking of the whole distribution network (an extremely vital organ in FMCG). That was an instance of saving a vital organ resulting from immediate increased negativity in the Brand (Renal failure).

Nestle also changed their India head as the previous one was unable to act in a timely manner. This was equivalent to Kidney Transplant. Suresh Naraynan, the new head was like a fresh set of Kidneys for Nestle, as he was brought in to filter out the negativity and to then bring in new positivity. Maggi was banned by Indian Government in June 2015, but Nestle under Suresh Naraynan insisted on the Safety of its product and contested the ruling. Courts overruled the Ban in August 2015, and Maggi after undergoing all the court mandated tests was re-launched in November, 2015. By June 2016, Maggi Noodles climbed back to 57% share.

Following are the lessons from Maggi Fiasco:

  1. If an Essential or Key element of a Brand is under major attack, measures should be taken to save all the vital organs of Business, irrespective of the costs involved.
  2. Whether you are at a fault or not, a timely step in the backward direction may be the most essential requirement.
  3. Always fight for the reputation of essential elements of your Brand. Since you can’t change these elements, fight for their pride.
  4. If the existing management is tainted beyond a point, and is incapable of handling a situation, change the management. An institution is always bigger than an Individual
  5. If a negative situation with high intensity persists for a longer time period,  it can Kill your Brand

Easier said than done, there are many situations where Key People can’t be changed, or the essential elements of a Brand have been damaged beyond a Point. How to manage that? I’ll discuss such Case Studies in my future Posts/ Books. A person’s own personal brand can also face renal failure. Also, there are many instances of Renal failure in Political Branding. Brand “Shiromani Akali Dal” in Punjab is one such instance. I may discuss the details in my future posts.

Copyright: Kujnish Vashisht (Political/ Strategic Marketing Consultant, Practitioner of Chanakyaneeti, Management Astrologer, Author of 3 successful books on Sales and Marketing) 91-9779883347,,



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