When the Pandey brothers were awarded the coveted Lion of St. Mark at Cannes, every Indian could justifiably feel proud and inspired. My thinking of this piece is not on further overwhelming eulogies but instead on the age-old practice of brothers unifying, by design or accident as a single brand, as corporations, products, celebrities and individuals. To share some learnings from past practices and perhaps provide a framework for future usage.
The great Unilever of today was founded by brothers William and James and for long, used Lever Brothers as a trade name. Saatchi and Saatchi are splendid representatives of the unification of siblings creating a formidable creative organisation as indeed is Warner Brothers. In cricket, we are well familiar with the Chappells, Amarnaths, Flowers and most recently, the Pandya brothers. Showbiz at large has many such examples with the horror-film icons Ramsay Brothers a consortium of seven brothers or the iconic Marx Brothers, four in total and the Jackson Five. Traditional retail, including Gupta Brothers in sweetmeats and many peers globally or fashion establishments such as Brooks Brothers enjoy significant franchises. The question to ask then is how this can be advantageous for individuals or businesses, conveying an edge that translates to enhanced franchise.
In the days of yore, a definite emotional credibility was associated with multiple members of the same family, brothers or sons, representing the interests of a business. Especially when trust was a much-desired and highly-elusive commodity, in the absence of modern corporate processes and the nascent state of enterprise. This logic is perhaps less valid today, yet the coming together of siblings still epitomises a fundamental leap of assurance, signifying an unconditional alignment of vision and purpose to the outside world. Even the venture capitalist, seeking loopholes with the precision of an auditor, may consider this to be an additional signal of stability leading to the favourite terminology of our times, sustainability. Linked to credibility, over the passage of time, is the possibility of stature being enhanced by such an association, especially when the brothers combine cohesively to create a more formidable whole, the undeniable gestalt of amenable brotherhood.
Brothers make sense as brands even from the perspective of memorability and ability to break the clutter, especially as performers in sport, showbiz or even business. It is an unfair advantage truthfully, as a single identifier is supported by the performance of multiple entities quite like line extensions, adding further dimensions of exposure. Thus, Steve Waugh and Mark Waugh, however, formidable they may be as solos, enjoy a more holistic appreciation under the Waugh mark, as part of a larger value-system that includes the parents, the upbringing and shared stories over time. A blend of emotion and anecdote that is the beginning of every successful brand story, enhanced considerably under this umbrella of quirky commonality. Joe Jackson, the father of Michael, was a renowned tyrant and his draconian treatment of the brothers add up to a collective legend-worthiness that adds significant sensitivity to brand Jackson.
Another intuitive advantage is a notional guarantee of continuity, sons may start afresh in new avenues, but the brother will certainly ensure continuity of an existing tradition. It works particularly in crafts and music, also in business, both customer and critic reasonably assured of greater longevity than a solitary practitioner, however prolific. The Kennedy family is a fine example of this virtue, first Robert emulating the steps of JFK, before equally cruelly assassinated, followed by Edward, till indicted in a scandal. Equally interestingly, the presence of the brother opens opportunities for credible innovation, as the younger often has the appetite to try new versions of existing wisdom, be it a takeaway biryani or e-commerce variation, to keep pace with changing times. Most valuably, the relationships that an enterprise can build are greatly enhanced by the presence of multiple siblings, as stakeholders have yet another touchpoint to build a human bridge. This is true for customers, suppliers, partners and society at large, anybody who thrives on interactions and not just a digitised transaction. Shareholders get assuaged at the presence of a blood ally, the media has a secondary point of conversation adding up significantly to comfort.
To conclude, a controversial but equally notable reason why brothers work as brands, especially in performing arts and sports, is the ability to enhance the worth of mediocrity or lesser merit. There are many instances of how a truly spectacular sibling can enhance the brand value of the not-so-significant other, thus allowing him to monetise disproportionately. At times, the truly-desired person imposing contractual or moral conditionalities to ensure that his sibling is unsuitably rewarded, the latter extracting fullest advantage of the DNA association. Traces of this situation, arguably, exists in the first-ever Lion of St. Mark to reach Indian shores, a fine triumph of brotherhood as brand. Incidentally, Brands of Sisters work as well as Brands of Brothers, this article skewed towards the former due to larger number of examples.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: email@example.com)
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