Not everyone falling for ‘Everyone’s Bengal’

February 9th, 2011 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

By Mithun Dasgupta
Kolkata, Feb 9 (IANS) A well-known consulting firm engaged by the West Bengal government to woo investors has come up with the catchline “Everyone’s Bengal”. But experts are wondering whether a mere slogan can dispel the state’s negative image among businesspersons and potential investors.Wally Olins, the brand guru of premier consulting firm Saffron Brand Consultants, was very positive when he unveiled the ‘Brand Bengal’ logo.

Saffron was employed by the state government to rectify Bengal’s image. It conducted research for five months and came up with the catchline “Everyone’s Bengal” or “Shobar Bangla”.

“Our aim was to help the state build Brand Bengal and take the initiative to progress after the Singur fiasco. We wanted to pinpoint, through our research, the major misconceptions about the state,” consultant Tina Mehta, who was engaged in the research, told IANS.

“The research findings indicate a major perception issue. The gulf is not huge with states like Gujarat. Some initiatives in communicative programme are needed. We suggested an initiative like ‘Made in Bengal’. The products, which are manufactured or produced in the state should be sold with a tag ‘Made in Bengal’,” she said.

A review by a human resource organisation recently stated that industrialists in India and abroad were not interested in investing in West Bengal. Hence, the government was eager to unveil a “brighter face” of Bengal, especially after the Singur fiasco where Tata Motors had pulled out its Nano project from the town in Hooghly district.

But there are many who say that branding is a continuous process and a slogan or two will not be a huge help in attracting investments.

Economist Dipankar Dasgupta is one of them.

“The state of industry in West Bengal is not good. I believe just slogans will not help the state to draw in private investment. The condition of Bengal now is not stable…there is violence across the state. Assembly elections are round the corner.

“And we don’t know the scale of atrocities that could take place in the run-up to the polls. Even after the new government is sworn in, it will take some time to stabilise,” Dasgupta told IANS.

“So I think this campaign will cut little ice. Moreover, investors are well aware of the developments. They do not need to know things from any consulting firm,” he said.

Industrialist Harshavardhan Neotia said re-branding had its merits but it has to be followed up with action.

“There is no denying the fact that Bengal often has to battle a negative image and sometimes its reputation precedes reality. So, even good work tends to go unnoticed. To that extent, obviously a re-branding is necessary. A re-branding exercise will also give its stakeholders a chance to view things in a fresh light and convey a seriousness of intent,” Neotia said.

“Having said that, a re-branding exercise is just one of the many components required to change an existing perception. Performance is the real litmus test,” he said, citing the case of Bihar.

“Though it has not gone in for any kind of re-branding exercise, people are looking at it differently as there has been concerted efforts towards development…only voicing the sentiment without backing it up with action will not lead to a change of perception,” he added.

Former Indian Chamber of Commerce president Sanjoy Budhia felt that the “Branding Bengal campaign should be a continuous process. We have to highlight the services that we offer to the investors.”

“West Bengal should highlight its quality, not over-selling or under-selling it,” he averred.

Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary D.P. Nag said removing the existing negative perception about the state would take time.

“Politics of ‘no’ is dominant in Bengal. Here, we neither get to see a Nano plant, nor an airport project in Andal nor setting up a boundary wall for IISCO project at Burnpur,” Nag told IANS.

“If ‘Everyone’s Bengal’ campaign is carried out then the people who have a negative perception about Bengal will have second thoughts,” he added.

Union Minister of State for Urban Development and Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said: “It is too late, nothing will happen.”
He said private investment will come to the state only after the new government comes to power following the upcoming assembly elections.

State Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Anjan Bera, however, said: “Saffron has done a workshop and given some suggestions. A committee has been constituted. The state government will take a decision on it after reviewing these suggestions..it is a process.”

(Mithun Dasgupta can be contacted at mithun.d@ians.in)

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