One or two lessons Indian entrepreneurs can learn from Swami.
January 31, 2017
A man walked into a village and on meeting an old man in the community asked him who the most successful man in the village was. The old man looked at him surprised and awed by his question told him there is no most successful man at present in the village and that every child was born great just that they failed to realise it in life or realised it when it was too late in their lives to become great.
In short, every child comes to this world are born with the potential to become great in various aspects of their lives. What makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is how well they explore and take advantage of their abilities. Swami Ramdev and the other trustees of Patanjali Divya Yog is one of the best example of this.
A quick background on Swami Ramdev - He was born in 1965 in the state of Haryana. Attended modern school system up to class 8 and later completed his education in the yoga and scripture studies after which he started offering free yoga classes to the people of Haryana. Little did he know that the yoga class was the start of his success a place where he met his close confidante Acharya Balakrishna with whom he would later build a mammoth institution – Patanjali Yogpeeth.
He is an influential man currently swimming in the affluence that surrounds him in all the corners of India. A consumer giant that is beating the world’s most recognised FMCG companies in India. He has managed to stretch out an empire so big that it is shaking the fast-moving consumer goods industry in India to its core.
You may wonder, how can someone like Ramdev who haven’t studied ABC of brand and marketing could beat world class brand breathing companies just like that in a very short span of 10 years. The answer lies at the core of building a brand – being “Purpose” driven. Before we get into the core purpose which i think drives Patanjali Ayurveda, let me quickly introduce the three pillars on which any brand is build.
These pillars are - “Purpose” “Promise” and “Personality”
Brand Purpose - Is about identifying and living by the “core values” that defines a brand’s existence—an intangible guide so to say. Your belief about something can eventually become your “core value” by which you lead your personal and professional life. “As Devdutt Pattanaik [a well known author of Business Sutra] puts it nicely – As is belief, so is behaviour, so is business.” So, your core values give meaning to your existence and hence it helps you answer the question “WHY”, that which gives a brand a sense of purpose to care beyond just the profit and include the society at large.
A recent good example of a purpose driven brand is Bajaj Auto’s “The Invincible Indians” campaign. The marketers at Bajaj Auto may have introspected on “WHY” Bajaj Auto exist, what is its purpose and hence the campaign “The Invincible Indians”.
Brand Promise - Is quite straightforward, it’s a tangible benefit that makes a product/service desirable. As it suggests, it must convey authenticity, credibility and of course the brand should keep its word every time.
• Patanjali Ayurved “Quality natural products/services that’s affordable and convenient”
• McKinsey & Company “Hire the best minds in management consulting”
• Duracell “Longer lasting battery”
Brand Personality - Is about how a brand wishes to showcase or present itself in front of its audience. It’s an outward manifestation of the core values by way of design sensibility used in product packaging, and the way it speaks with its audience by way of advertising and point of sales touch points, etc.
Patanjali Ayurved’s brand personality is as unique as baba ramdev – No non-sense, straight forward and to the point.
Now, coming back to brand Patanjali Ayurved, its core values are driven by Swami Ramdev’s beliefs and hence there is no difference between the two. What drives Ramdev, drives brand Patanjali Ayurved. Below i have listed handful of core values which i think connects Patanjali Ayurved brand with its audience and they are...
Service to the people - Swami Ramdev’s commitment seems to extend beyond his self-interest; he has contributed his talent with an intent to make life better for others. The welfare of the peoples is close to his heart, which seems to be true when we read about his early years of life in Haryana teaching Yoga to masses. And as his ambition and popularity grew this became more and more evident in everything he does from teaching yoga to selling every day products to masses; he is also quite vocal in the media about this and as well as other values mentioned below.
Being Action Driven (Karma Yogi) - Being action driven simply mean - working for the joy of the act itself and not for the reward it might or might not bring with it. It is very difficult to find people who may have achieved this state of dispassionate attitude in their life. When we look at Ramdev’s actions through his work in popularising Yoga and Ayurveda at a global scale from this lens, it is evident he is too working towards this path, and if I had to take a best guess, he would want himself to be known as successful “Karma Yogi” than being called as successful business man who gave multinational corporations sleepless nights.
Thinking Nation First - Ramdev portrays himself as a patriotic leader, who is not embarrassed to wear his nationalism with his bhagwa angavastram! His nation first thinking springs from his early education in yoga and scriptures and his deeply rooted understanding of ancient India’s wisdom and contribution to the society at large. His team at Patanjali Ayurved also consists of men and women who are patriotic that nurture the nation first attitude in commercial decision they take. In his recruitment, he emphasis that Patanjali seeks to recruit only men and women who are patriots to the mother land. He is a leader who is in love with his nation and is willing to go to greater heights to see it prosper economically and culturally. He is not the product of the colonial english education system which churn out highly assertive, less sensitive, non-rooted Indians today.
Integrity - Ramdev is not what we could describe as a sheep in a wolf cloth. He is the kind of man who stands for his beliefs and will not lower his dignity to please others. For example, his strong beliefs that there was a need to make a change to the status quo within the government; he fights the vices of the government so as to meet the expectation that people have of him despite the fact that he faced violence in the streets. These acts of courage are a show of high integrity. It is this that makes him support the endorsement of another leader who he believes has the welfare of Indians at heart.
High Thinking, Simple Living - What do highly successful people do – they wake up at 3:30 AM and do yoga. He is driven by a strong will to achieve and make life better for those living in India and this is the driving force behind his ambition and fast growth of brand Patanjali Ayurved which is just a kiss away from reaching $1.5 billion in revenue. Some describe him as the monk who can buy a Ferrari in just a flick of the eye owing to his multi-million rupees’ business. However, dressed in his bhagwa angavastram, this business giant leads a simple life giving up the pleasures of highly rich and famous. This self-portrayed image features him as a self-giving man who is ready to serve the people regardless of the money and wealth surrounding him. A major trigger that attracts most Indians with some seeing him as the humblest man that they have ever come across.
Authenticity and Trust - Ramdev’s endeavour is to consistently remain relevant and transparent in his business dealings. His transparency to the masses on what he stands for such as his beliefs about high priced harmful artificial products being sold in the country by foreign MNCs which as per him are the causes of lifestyle diseases, remains strong. He is one leader who fights to remains authentic in a world that influence many leaders to bend their beliefs. As a leader, the only way you can be able to lead well is ensuring that people can trust that you will lead them in the right way keeping their welfare a priority; for him business, profits, and brand equity is just a by-product. People trust him to deliver the best and safest products/services, and that is what is making his venture massively big. Whatever that he engages in it becomes huge whether it is yoga or consumer products or anything else he may be thinking right now. Swami Ramdev’s driving force is the welfare of the masses first and profits, brand equity come second.
He is an embodiment of an ambitious man who is willing to bet high and change things for better. He has progressive goals that direct him all through, this helps to keep his empire growing. According to him in the next few years, Patanjali focus will be on six major areas
• Natural indigenous seeds
• Natural cattle fed and cattle supplements
• Natural cosmetics
• Natural indigenous dairy products
• Biological fertilizers and bio-pesticides
The fact that he has both short-term and long-term goals for the Patanjali Ayurved will keep him going and ahead of other companies who are figuring out what just happened.
This core values that surrounds him will keep his empire growing. Over the next years, Patanjali brand built around Baba Ramdev is looking to cover a retail presence through more than 5000 distributors and more than 100,000 company outlets. The sky is not the limit for the 50-year-old man who is driven around in a white range rover.
Success is just but the tip of the iceberg for the Patanjali Empire, which is spreading like a whirlwind, and who knows this wind may soon be spreading beyond India in no time.
Disclaimer - I am not associated with Swami Ramdev and his organisation in professional nor personal capacity at the time of writing and publishing of this article. I am also not paid to write good things about him or his organisation. As a marketer it is fascinating to understand what makes vast majority of Indian attracted to him and his organisation.