Certain brands are highly dependent on their current contextuality. Iconic brands, however, go beyond contextuality and are unaffected by variables. That is extremely difficult to achieve and Sachin Tendulkar is one of the few who have done it. I do not think he ever focused on becoming a brand. Such people only focus on their craft and their karma. He has done justice to whatever God gave him.
Here, I would like to exemplify by asking what his taseer (basic characteristic) is. Whatever he does will be big and it will have some grace. That is his characteristic and that has gone into the making of Brand Sachin.
I have interacted with him, professionally and otherwise, over the past two decades, and I have found him extremely gracious. Credit goes to his management team as well. He will not do anything that does not go well with his essential persona. You will never see him do anything that makes him uncomfortable, be it for an ad or as a brand ambassador. During ad shoots, he would say: “Let's not do this, this is not jelling well with me.”
From a marketing point of view, what do brands want? They want popularity and reach. As long as the message reaches across, it doesn't matter whether the person is a musician, movie star or a socialite.
Sachin has evolved a lot as a model, too. His comfort level has changed a lot. What I have always noticed about him is that he has not tried to change himself at all. He is very authentic. He is not your smart-alecky guy. Even when I met him personally, I never found any contradiction in his personality and I did not see a different version of him.
The only difference post retirement, I guess, is that he listens more. Earlier, during his playing days, there was so much going on that he was slightly lost in his own world. He had that weight on him. Now, he looks up at you more often and meets your eyes.
The biggest challenge today is to remain relevant in people's minds. But, how do you excite people with someone who is graceful and soft like Sachin, some may ask. But then, how do you live in a world where instant gratification is so important and rampant? Sachin, for sure, will not do anything “cheap” for short-term recall. He occupies mind-space and his name is synonymous with cricket. You cannot talk about Sachin and not talk about cricket. That is why he is an iconic brand. Amitabh Bachchan, for instance, is another iconic brand in India.
While talking of branding, I often tell people to think of a living metaphor. For example, “Do you think you are Sachin Tendulkar?” has become part of daily conversation. And, when a name becomes part of language, the brand has truly become iconic.
Joshi is a lyricist and CEO, McAnn Worldgroup India
As told to Neeru Bhatia