Hero group to spend 100 crore in rebranding to shed Honda Tag!


The issue of branding and rebranding has been discussed and re-discussed here. It’s a topic which has been there in our collective consciousness considering the recent debacle of Airtel.

But just to brush up everyone’s knowledge, branding is something which gives a unique identity, logo, communication, positioning etc. to a particular product and it most happens in the launch phase.

Rebranding on the other hand is done when the product has lost its charm, there is change in the positioning, change in the target consumer group or the change could be even in its promoters. And that is when things get even more challenging. From Godrej to Murugappa Group to UTV to the new symbol of the Indian rupee to Airtel, rebranding seems to be a pretty common trend in India Inc.

And this is why, it is no surprise why Hero (only Hero sounds so odd ain’t it) has thought of going for rebranding itself. For years Hero-Honda has been synonymous with 2–wheelers. Interestingly, Honda has been always regarded as the name behind motor vehicles, while Hero has mostly been synonymous with cycles. Even the technology, expertise and innovation of the Honda Group have been unparalleled.

But when Hero and Honda decided to divorce each other after more than 20 years of marriage, things became confusing. Which way would Hero go? Would they rebrand themselves completely? Would they produce only cycles :) ? How would they continue to evoke the same feelings ‘Dhak Dhak’ in the minds of Indian consumers?

Hero Honda

The answer could lie in their attempt to rebrand themselves and move out of the mould of the Hero Honda age! Rebranding would give Hero a new appeal, a new positioning, a new logo, brand name and an entirely different identity. They are hoping that the 100 crore they are spending over the entire exercise would help them leave the Honda marriage in the past and move into newer and different horizons.  Infact, they have shortlisted in countries top agencies – JWT, Draftfcb Ulka, Mudra, Law & Kenneth, and Percept H – to create the new brand identity,

But then as was the case with Airtel or with GAP in the US, rebranding isn’t always really successful. Airtel spent more than Rs 300 crore rupees on its rebranding campaign. But what we got in the end was nothing but a change in the logo which resembled mashup Vodafone’s color or Videocon inverted logo, a change in the tune which was 100 times poorer than Rahman’s earlier one and a slogan which would remind you of anything else not necessarily a phone. GAP on the other hand had to revert to its earlier logo because of a public protest. Obviously that may surely not happen in India. But the public perception today because of social media is really strong and can strongly influence a brand.

The ‘Dhak Dhak’ image of Hero Honda has touched the hearts and strings of everyone across the nation. And going for a re-branding campaign without this image and slogan would rid the public of something which they have grown accustomed too. The paying public have a brand understanding of Hero Honda but Hero separately will need to strongly support their separate brand identity failing which it could be in grave danger. And finally if the message is not right, any branding or rebranding campaign will surely fail despite how much one spends over it.

Do you think Hero Group will be able to rebrand themselves successfully?

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