It’s been a while since I flew on an IndiGo flight. There was a time not so long ago when it was my weekly companion. It’s an airline that I have been associated with in different ways from day 1 of its launch and I went on a quick trip down memory lane as I settled into my window seat. The message on the seat back “I am sixteen going on seventeen” reminded me of how much time had flown by and how much had changed in my life over the last 16 years.
I dozed off for a bit. I woke up bathed in sunlight. The rays of sun had initially caressed me but their prolonged attention started making me feel a bit uncomfortable. I took a few pictures of the powder puff clouds before pulling down the window shade. As I shifted my attention to the cabin, I saw the air hostess approaching with the food trolley. “What am I in the mood to eat and drink?” I asked myself.
My two old favourites got into a mental tussle. On one hand, there was the world-famous magic Rava Upma beckoning – a nice hot and fairly tasty snack that always reminds me of my southern roots. On the other hand, there was the trusted chicken junglee sandwich that never fails to fill me up. Finally, the nostalgia of the junglee prevailed and I decided to order the sandwich.
The air hostess was still a few rows away so I decided to browse through the menu to see if there were any new beverage options on offer. As I flicked through the pages I found some new sandwiches a potato and green chilli with truffle oil and something called a chicken chapli kebab sandwich. But to my surprise, there was no chicken junglee on offer. It was a reminder to me that everything changes. I could not even count on the familiar when it came to a sandwich. it’s not like it was the best sandwich in the world but it was something I could count on. A solid reliable fill the belly kind of snack. And just like that it was gone.
My mental tug-of-war began again. I had settled on a sandwich so the toss-up was now between the potato with a hint of truffle oil or the chicken. Minutes late the allure of truffle won and I was all set to order. “Can I have a black coffee and the potato sandwich please…” got me my next surprise. Not a pleasant one again. “I am sorry sir but sandwiches are only available to passengers who have pre-booked their meals”. When all else fails, go nuts. The reliable (and hopefully healthy) round tin of smoked almonds came to my aid.
As I sat sipping my hot coffee and looking at the clouds slipping by I thought to myself “On one hand I want new and interesting experiences, on the other, I want predictable and reliable service.” Somewhere in the tug-of-war between these two worlds, my chicken junglee sandwich got gobbled up. The choice to have a sandwich of any kind was off the table unless I decided 24 hours in advance and booked my date with two slices of bread. It was the same airline but the experience felt a bit different.
How many hands and minds must have gone into this sixteen-year journey of building a brand? Different leaders. Different consultancy partners. Different ideas. Different crises defended. Building a brand identity and standing for a core proposition means making choices. The brand promise. The brand colour. The brand font. The brand attitude. The brand personality. These are some of the things that have to be defined and then over the years, different people play their part in being the brand custodians.
As public relations practitioners this is a part of what we do as the custodians of image. It is a big part of creating and nurturing the reputation of a company. This trust which is earned by consistent behaviour over years is the true value delivered by the PR profession. Being able to influence a brand’s actions and then build communication around those actions is a privilege.
“How to change and keep things fresh and interesting without losing the essence of a brand?” I munch on an almond and wonder if it’s from California. That’s another brand that I played a small part in bringing alive in India. Now I know why I love PR. The sheer variety of what I get to do is what keeps it interesting. The predictability of it being a roller coaster ride filled with ups and down is something I can rely on. As I touch down and turn on my phone, I am sure a new set of brand challenges will fill up my life.
But I am still left wondering “What happened to my chicken junglee sandwich?” On my return flight, I asked the air hostess and she told me that the junglee is not printed on the onboard menus, but it is still available …. And just like that there is some order in the world again. It’s a jungle out there but I can pre-order my junglee sandwich ahead of my next IndiGo flight!!
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