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Brand value: Why India Inc is warming up to it

Last updated on: May 23, 2011 16:35 IST

Brand value: Why India Inc is warming up to it

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Viveat Susan Pinto in Mumbai

You know Godrej as the company behind the typewriter, locks and steel almirahs. Every Indian middle class household has grown up with at least one of that.

But, did you know that at $2.8 billion, the flagship's brand valuation, along with its sub-brands like Cinthol, Ezee and Interio furniture, is more than its turnover of $2.6 billion?

That's what Interbrand's valuation exercise for the 114-year-old company has thrown up. Old is clearly gold, as the valuation is more than many new age global companies like Yamaha and HTC.

"It was a study we needed to do to understand the value of our master and sub-brands better," said Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group.

But Godrej is not the only one to be talking the brand lingo. Companies across the board are finally coming around to the idea of brand valuation as a long-term tool for growth, rather than viewing it as a number for transaction purposes only.

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"That is the big shift that is happening," says Ashutosh Tiwari, executive vice-president, strategic marketing, Godrej.

R Gopalakrishnan, executive director, Tata Sons, couldn't agree more. Tatas were the pioneers in India Inc, who underwent a thorough brand valuation exercise in the mid-1990s.

Thereafter, Tata Sons, the closely-held holding company, announced a royalty - a 'contribution' or 'fee' - to be charged from all Tata Group companies for the use of the Tata name, either directly or indirectly.

"Building your intangible asset is important. We take this quite seriously," said Gopalakrishnan, an ex-Hindustan Unilever man.

Even old fashioned brick and mortar manufacturing companies are waking up to measure their brand equity.

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Engineering giant Larsen & Toubro wants to go the Tata way to value its corporate brand architecture and plans to charge its subsidiaries and group companies a fee for using the L&T brand.

"While we are mainly a capital goods company with very few consumer touch points, it does help to leverage your brand across the group," said J P Nayak, erstwhile director & president (machinery & industrial products), L&T, who is now an advisor to the group.

So, even if you are a conglomerate with diverse businesses and operations, as an L&T official said: "It is important to have a common thread or link."

Traditionally, brand valuations have been done during mergers and acquisitions (M&As), or when licensing a brand or, for equity valuations or while raising debt. But using it as a strategic marketing tool is something that firms are warming up to now.

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While some companies such as Infosys have made it a habit to declare its brand value in the annual report for over a decade now, experts say that much needs to be done.

"It is early days yet for brand valuations in India," said Unni Krishnan, managing director, Brand Finance India and global strategy director, Brand Finance Plc.

The Tata Group, for instance, once in five or six years undertakes a brand valuation exercise across the group to gauge the value of the name.

"This becomes important given the size of the group," said Gopalakrishnan.

For instance, between 1995 and 2005, the value of the Tata name soared to $5.5 billion from $300 million.

Some more firms that are doing brand valuations now are Delhi-based Lilliput Kidswear, Essar Steel, Amalgamations Group, UB Group, GMR, Raymond, Lafarge and Gitanjali Gems.

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Global Aspirations

The need for brand valuations is also growing on account of the global aspirations of Indian companies.

Two months ago, Brand Finance released its Global 500 ranking of brands for 2011, where in a first-of-its-kind move, nine Indian companies led by the Tatas found mention.

Only the Tatas made it into the elite Top 50 club with a $15.08 billion brand valuation, but from Reliance to SBI to Airtel and Wipro Technologies, completed the list.

Together, the nine firms added $46.6 billion to the total brand value of $3.3 trillion in the 2011 list.

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Mandatory under IFRS

What is also driving companies to take brand valuations seriously is the likelihood of the introduction of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in India next year.

According to the IFRS accounting code, an intangible asset has to be valued. "This is important because brand and marketing related expenditure can be put in perspective then," said Ramesh Jude Thomas, president and chief knowledge officer, Equitor Consulting.

"This becomes important from a corporate governance point of view as well. Shareholders can get an idea where the money is going. For instance, it tells a stakeholder why a company has a certain marketing and advertising budget," he added.

 



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