Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Kolkata a Branded City Needs Branding to Get Back its Glory

An Introduction to City Branding 

We better recognize and value a product by its brand. When we see a branded product, we immediately associate it with the value that the brand of the product retains. The same is true about a city. A city becomes a brand on the strength of its historical heritage, cultural values, architectural marvels, tourist spots, etc. These are the attributes by virtue of which one city is different from the other. When we see a picture of ‘The Statue of Liberty’ anywhere, we instantly identify New York City that it belongs to. Paris, the capital city of France, is an international brand name in the field of art and fashion. Here lies the concept of city branding. And, it is not something new. It came into being long back. City branding is a powerful marketing concept that businesses are utilizing for higher returns on investment.   

The History of Kolkata, a Branded City  

The history of Kolkata is rich and vibrant. It is what Kolkattans take pride in.  The social, political and colonial history of Kolkata is a most fundamental feature of its being a brand city in India. If the clock is turned back, the history of the city dates back to the year of 1690 when Job Charnok had built a trade settlement here for the East India Company. Kolkata (then Calcutta) was the capital of British India till 1912. It was the hub of the Company’s political and commercial activities. The seeds of Nationalism were sown first in the soil of Kolkata. James Augustus Hickey, the pioneer of journalism in India, published India’s first English newspaper ‘The Bengal Gazette’ from the then Kolkata in 1780. If we move back beyond the year of 1690, references to Kolkata are found in the Manasa Mangal, an age-old literary work of the mythological essence by Bipradas. The history of this city is as vast as the sky itself. It cannot be summed up in a few sentences. 

Culture in Kolkata

The culture of Kolkata is unique. It carries off the bell in all spheres of art and entertainment. A city of idealists, literary luminaries, theatre personalities and creative geniuses, Kolkata boasts of a lively and versatile culture. Durga Puja, Kali Puza, Poila Baishakh, Bhai Phota, Pous Sankranti, Sandesh, Rasagolla, Pithe puli, Narkel nadu, Rabindrasangeet, Shyama sangeet and Baul gan are some unique facets of the traditional Bengali culture in Kolkata. As Kolkata has become a cosmopolitan city in the 21st century, the growing metropolitan culture shares space with the age-old Bengali culture in the heart of the city. Kolkata owes the distinction of being a brand city to its culture that is as colorful as a rainbow. 

Why Kolkata Needs City Branding 

Kolkata, the capital city of Bengal, has been a branded city since the colonial times. It retains a high brand value in terms of spirit, nationalism, culture, literature, education, food, architecture, development, etc. The Howrah Bridge and the Victoria Memorial are the most prominent evidences of Kolkata’s being an eminent brand in itself. The brand value of Kolkata rests on the city’s being widely known as the cultural capital of India just as Mumbai and Bangalore have gained lots of brand value as the financial capital of India and the silicon valley of India respectively. Satyajit Ray, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa, Jagadish Chandra Bose and Swami Vivekananda are the eternal icons of this branded Indian city. They represented Kolkata as a branded city all over the world in their times.  

If considered from other perspectives than food, entertainment and culture, Kolkata needs to develop its brand name in communication, infrastructure and environment. The city lags behind the other Indian cities in the field of IT too. Kolkata needs a boost to raise its brand value in terms of economy and commerce as well. Being located on the bank of the Ganges, the city is a land of multiple opportunities in such areas as infrastructure and industry. Once the opportunities are explored and utilized, there will be no stop to the branding of Kolkata in terms of overall development. 

Successful City Branding Activities in Kolkata

City branding is on the rise in the heart of Kolkata. Several city branding activities are on the go along the length and breadth of the city. Kolkata Knight Riders is one of the brand identities of Kolkata to the rest of India. Tollywood, the Bengali film industry, has contributed a lot to Kolkata’s global brand image. With Bengali art films making it big in the international film festivals, Kolkata has occupied an eminent position of high brand value on the global platform of cinematic entertainment. It is one of the most prominent city branding activities that the renowned art filmmakers Rituporno Ghosh, Aparna Sen and Goutam Ghosh are engaged in to boost the brand image of Satyajit Ray and Rabindranath Tagore’s Kolkata both at home and abroad. Providing shoppers with a festive ambience and helping them imbibe the spirit of festivity during the regional festivals of Bengal like Durga puja and Poila Baishakh is a marketing-oriented city branding activity. This shopper-friendly city branding activity is noticeable at the retail outlets of Bazaar Kolkata, Big Bazaar, Pantaloons and City Mart in Kolkata. The political conflict is another mentionable city branding activity in Kolkata. Owing to the war between two opponent political parties, the Red and the Green, the city is identified as the capital of politics-driven Bengal.              
Opportunities for Businessmen in Kolkata  

In the eastern zone of India, Kolkata is a greater avenue of opportunities for businessmen. Real estate is booming in the centre and on the outskirts of Kolkata. Shopping malls and housing complexes are on construction all over the city. Retail giants are making inroads into Kolkata. The city houses such mammoth IT conglomerates like IBM, Accenture, TIS and Cognizant. Evidently, the city has immense potential to be a thriving hub of IT business. Opportunities for business in Kolkata are unlimited if the investors and businessmen can relate their business activities to the city’s traditional, metropolitan and cosmopolitan cultures. 

What is Needed to Change the Perception of the City?

The young Kolkattans go gaga over the thought of going to Bangaluru, Pune, Noida, Gurgaon, Delhi and Mumbai for higher studies or job. The present generation of aspirants in Kolkata labors under the view that there is no making of their future and career in the native city. Therefore, city branding is a pressing need of the hour to change their perception of Kolkata. Both higher education sector like business management and private service sector like Information Technology in Kolkata need support of the Bengal Government to witness a significant growth. Development in such spheres as life, entertainment, business and infrastructure can boost the image of Kolkata as a branded Indian city.         


shambhu kumar said...
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