What is it about the state of Gujarat that gives rise to many an entrepreneur and some of the most iconic and successful home-grown brands? These are brands that are tested over time and from one state, known for its spirit of entrepreneurship. Brand Magic, The Art and Science of Creating Successful Brands, is a collection of a smart picks as all the brands in the book are well established ones with very good success stories behind them.

The authors, Alan D’Souza and Prashant Pareek, bring in an effective blend of their backgrounds. While the former has a rich background in advertising, as an academician and as an institution builder, the latter is an academician and associated with many business schools. They bring in their respective strengths. The authors have managed to give a life of their own to the ten brands covered in the book. From B2C brands to B2B ones, the book makes for an interesting read. This is evident from the list of brands – Sugar Free, Wagh Bakri, Amul, Astral Pipes, Fogg, Balaji Wafer, Jio, Rasna, Symphony and Havmor. The consumer segment that each targets is so varied that the book makes for an interesting read.

The authors have given it a conceptual flavor for analysis, by defining branding and integrated marketing communication. This gives a ready reckoner for anyone picking up the book and wanting to learn from it. But broadly the 4Ps of marketing have been followed in each of the stories that are narrated.

The book begins by giving us a preview to the ‘Brand Magicians’, as the authors call the brand owners, and the story of the original owners of each brand. It is a motivating read and can give the reader a direct segue, if they want, to any brand that piques their interest. It is immensely humbling to read each story from those who migrated to India from Pakistan and those who began with a very small capital, slowly and steadily growing.

Another angle that the authors have tackled is also stories of how multiple generations have managed brands. May be there are lessons to be learnt here too. Each young generation brings with it new and unique ideas. It is fascinating how the core has more or less remained intact in all stories as the next generation brings a refreshing new touch to the product portfolio and the brands. I wish the authors had spent a bit more time to delve into how the families weaved themselves together around the brand. Some of the brands have seen the test of time across multiple generations, while others have sold out.

In the book, each brand story is followed by the key insights that are offered from the story. These offer useful tips for marketers,derived from the journey of the brand. If we look at the insights we find that the mantras to winning in the Indian market have some very common elements:

> Distribution – the uniqueness of India with its width and depth of retailers > Building trust – personal relationships that are formed with partners > Pricing it appropriately for the Indian consumer – keeping the price conscious buyers in mind > Patience – the potion for success when starting small and then growing

> Grabbing opportunities – Ensuring the right chances are taken followed by a nimble execution Innovating for the Indian consumer and not just bringing in lessons from MNCs – for product form, advertising and promotion or unique methods of distribution

> Lessons in entrepreneurship – a generational and a cross generational viewpoint

To me the most endearing stories (and I am keeping Amul out of this list, as so much more has already been written about the brand) were the ones on FOGG, Wagh Bakri, Sugar free and Astral Pipes. My personal pick would certainly be Wagh Bakri for its uniqueness of branding and while still a rather Western India brand, it has managed to win in such a fragmented market of teas. It is an endearing story of taking on MNC brands while keeping its soul intact. The only brand that appeared to not fit in the list of ten was Jio. It has a different story with a very big parent, but let that not take away from its story.

The book will be enjoyable to readers, for the lucid and relatable way it is written. It will be equally useful to academicians who want stories on brands with their conceptual links to Branding and Integrated Marketing Communication.

(The reviewer is Associate Dean, Bhavan’s SPJIMR) 

Review: Brand Magic, The Art and Science of Creating Successful Brands 

By Alan D’Souza and Prashant Pareek 

Published by MI Press 

Pages: 399 Price: Rs 499 

Check this book out on Amazon