In that sense a brand is quite similar to a Raga – for a brand too is essentially an idea that evokes a specific mood, feeling or emotion in the hearts its consumers. So while the iPod, one of the original classics from Apple could be described as a ‘ portable, white, high quality audio player with an imprint of a bitten fruit ’ – what it conveys beyond its form are the ideas of simplicity, aesthetic excellence, innovation that is both deeply human and high tech , and a spirit, stemming out of a need to break the ‘system’.
Similarly, a raga can also be physically deconstructed as a configuration of notes – an ascending and a descending outer structure. And just like we saw with brands, the music means much more than the framework. The notes are combined into typical, defining catch phrases or movements (the pakad or chalan), that emphatically announce the presence of the Raga to the listener - and further embellished and elevated with a wide variety of adornments - the effect of which sends the listener into emotional rapture.
Brands too have these signature phrases! The typical sound of a Harley, the Dettol smell, the intuitiveness of Apple’s design, the ‘punch dialogues in a Rajni film’ are all the ‘defining catch phrases’ of their respective brands.
But here’s where Brands really become envious of Ragas …
Raga ideas are so powerful, that every Raga can manifest itself in an infinite number of distinct product forms (compositions) – each remaining true to the same essence, but at the same time evoking a wide variety of different forms and emotions. (i.e.Fast, mid-tempo, slow, sad, happy, meditative, devotional surrender , and so on) Not just that, each time the same composition is rendered it can feel like a fresh experience in itself – with time, place and artist bringing a unique flavour to the same kriti or bandish. Each time they provide a new experience but with the comfort of the familiar - reminding one of the saying 'you never dip your feet in the same river twice' !
Modern brands perhaps can learn from this. Stay true and coherent to a a central idea, but don't get so deeply bound by elaborate brand books, visual mandatories, pantone shades, etc. that people tire of you. Find a structure that sets you free. Have deep roots, but allow for wings too.
Modified from a piece appeared in a different form several years ago, still relevant, perhaps more so