Rajinikanth (born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad), is widely considered the superstar of Kollywood. His success has been attributed largely to his mastery of the art of branding. A recent release of his much-awaited movie teaser Kabali has crossed 20 million views on YouTube. This is a standing proof of his successful and timeless brand image in this digital age. While his peers worries themselves over movie promotions and marketing activities, Rajinikanth generally refrains from promotional activities. Yet, his films do very well in the box office, shattering all previous records, because the man is a phenomenal brand himself.
Rajinikanth is able to bank on his brand image, which he built out of sheer determination and hard work. Entrepreneurs who seek to transform their mere products into timeless brands have a lot to learn from him. I have tried to consolidate those learnings into four simple branding lessons.
‘Differentiate’ and ‘Dominate’
Rajinikanth holds a cult ‘action hero’ image, who would do anything to entertain his audience. He has figured out ways to differentiate himself from competition. He has, over the years, created a repertoire of carefully curated signature moves and mannerisms, which he displays while portraying various characters. Be it twisting his glasses or flinging a cigarette, his moves leave a mark and have helped create an identity for him. Similarly, companies should focus on building their unique selling point (USP) to show the difference they could offer to their clients when compared to their competitors. What sets you apart should be reflected in your brand image, to help you dominate in the marketplace.
Know your customers
In terms of knowing his own audience, there is no better actor other than Rajinikanth. He knows his audience’s expectations and fulfills them meticulously. So, knowing your customers in a profound way and fulfilling their expectations often positions your company as the most trusted brand.
Connect your brand with an emotion
People perceive Rajinikanth, who is seen as a picture of humility, is always viewed in a positive light. Branding is nothing but the way in which people perceive your company. And, to be a successful brand like Rajinikanth, you need to attach yourself to a positive emotion. Many successful brands do this. You can either support a cause, volunteer or spread positivity in all your ads and marketing communication. Connecting a brand with a positive emotion is a key aspect that can be learnt from Rajinikanth.
The moment you talk about Rajinikanth, you either utter his famous lines, or mimic his mannerisms. This is nothing but brand recall. All successful brands excel at this. Intel’s signature tune, Vodafone’s zoozoos, Airtel’s ringtone, and Nike’s ‘Just do it’ are examples of brilliant brand recall success stories. What is your brand recall? Start framing it; it could be a punchy tagline, graphic, animation or a jingle.
–P Vinodh, Co-Founder.