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Myntra Logo Controversy: Brands must develop a spine; should stand up to bullying, feel experts

The e-retail platform has been forced to change its logo over a complaint filed by an activist who alleged the brand's signage was offensive towards women. The industry feels it is about time brands stop succumbing to bullying and take a stand

The last few years have been full of brands talking about purpose and standing up for their beliefs. However, the same woke brands have also been the first ones to bow down to the bullying of fanatics, especially on the digital medium.

Fashion e-tailer Myntra has decided to change its logo following a complaint by a Mumbai-based activist, who alleged that the brand's signage was offensive towards women.

Having forced to revamp its logo, the brand has confirmed changing the logo across its website, app and packaging material.

The complaint was lodged last month with the police’s cyber cell in Mumbai by Avesta Foundation's Naaz Patel, who had demanded that the e-com giant remove the logo, and urged the police to take appropriate action against the company.

The activist complained about the matter across various forums and platforms on social media. The logo supposedly depicts a 'naked woman', and the activist took umbrage to the 'offensive' logo.

Ramesh Narayan

"Myntra is not a new brand and the logo is not new. While every brand should be conscious of how the stakeholders perceive various aspects of the brand profile, including the logo, one should take care not to have knee-jerk reactions, said Ramesh Narayan, Founder of Canco Advertising.

“I am sure Myntra studied these aspects before making a change in the logo. I also hope that activists like the one here use their time and knowledge to address burning issues related to women in our country. A giggle exchanged between two men seems to be a rather novel way to begin a search into the deep meaning of a logo that obviously had not even occurred to the lady before that. Brands too should take care that they do not become low-hanging fruit to either interest groups or people looking for a moment in the sun. Otherwise they could end up like producers of movies who are easy targets,” he said.

According to him, the logo never conveyed anything negative earlier and, therefore, doesn't convey anything positive now.

Referring to Airbnb’s logo that apparently reminds of certain sections of male genitalia, he said that the brand ignored it and it remained a storm in a tea cup.

“Frankly, that is what Myntra could have done as well,” he said.

Reacting to the row, Nikhil Narayanan, Creative Director at Ogilvy, said on his LinkedIn account, “If brands begin catering to the whims of every individual, running a business might become next to impossible. Even worse, the devious ones might employ the very same tool to attack rivals who are doing better.”

KV Sridhar

KV Sridhar aka Pops, Global Chief Creative Officer at Nihilent Hypercollective, took to LinkedIn, sharing, “The Myntra logo is like an ink blot, it tests your imagination and state of mind. I have never seen people (petitioner) with such rotten imagination.”

There is a famous quote by Anais Nin: “We don't see the world as it is, we see it as we are.”

Samit Sinha

This clearly appears to be the case with the brouhaha around the Myntra logo, said Samit Sinha, Founder, Managing Partner, ‎Alchemist Brand Consulting.

“The problem with many logos/symbols is that they are abstract enough to be open to highly subjective interpretations and sometimes people, especially those with overactive imaginations and contaminated perspectives, see offensive things in even the most innocuous objects. But such is the power of suggestion that once a particular interpretation is pointed out, many people begin to see it, and once seen, it is impossible to ‘unsee’ it. Even when the intent is innocent, as I’m sure it was of the person who designed the Myntra logo, once a controversy is stoked, even the purest object can get tainted in people’s eyes,” he said.

The logo is not the most significant identification of the brand, the brand name is; and the logo comes next. While Myntra would have spent years and substantial marketing investments in establishing the logo, Sinha doesn’t believe changing the logo will affect the brand or its relationship with its consumers in any tangible way.

Perhaps, according to him, Myntra did the prudent thing by sacrificing its logo to let the matter rest.

“It may not have served their best interests to continue to fuel the hullabaloo. Besides, I don’t think its backing down will be read as an admission of guilt in the court of public opinion,” he added.

However, it might be worth it for Myntra to undertake some PR or other communication activities to explain its position to its consumers, he suggested.

Jagdeep Kapoor

Jagdeep Kapoor, Founder, Chairman and MD at Samsika Marketing Consultants, echoing the same view, said, “Logo, logon ke liye hota hai (Logo is for the people). A logo is for connecting with consumers. In a case, where a logo is accepted, used and familiar with the consumers for many years, it becomes a part of their life, while consuming the brand. Of course, one has to be sensitive to consumers’ opinions and avoid a controversy.”

The decision of changing the logo, for him, is a delicate balance between continuity and public sentiment.

It’s telling that many communication professionals, including many women, are saying that they never saw the logo in the light that the petitioner did.

Nisha Sampath

But that does not make her (petitioner) perception an invalid one either, said Nisha Sampath, Managing Partner, Bright Angles Consulting.

“I respect if the Myntra team felt that the petitioner had a point, and decided to make a change without generating further controversy. It’s a practical, business-like approach,” she said.

In a cultural climate where women are increasingly calling out ‘hidden’ or invisible bias and demanding more sensitivity from those in power, Myntra probably did not want the issue to escalate.

She said that brands, at the end of the day, seek to reflect the mindset and aspirations of their target audience. In the new age of social media, this means that they need to have greater receptivity to consumer response, and flexibility to change and adapt.

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