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  White Paper - Brand Friendship  
W H I T E   P A P E R
Being constantly connected through real time digi-tech, the customersظ€آ purchase and repurchase motivations, decision and pattern have been revolutionised
by Shombit Sengupta
Brand Friendship
In todayظ€آs dynamic changing world, digital technology is driving human behaviour in all aspects of society across the globe. Itظ€آs making ours a frontierless world. Merely the transactional act of selling brands will not be sufficient in tomorrowظ€آs business culture. Nor will excellence of engineering, good looking products, big advertising budgets or even highly skilled employees be enough for business success. Being constantly connected through real time digi-tech, the customersظ€آ purchase and repurchase motivations, decision and pattern have been revolutionised. The industry needs to establish a relationship with customers beyond business by creating Brand Friendship. This is a new idea Iظ€آm presenting on why and what to create for Brand Friendship to become obvious, from the product/ service to the brand, from the point of purchase into social communication. The extent of Brand Friendship can be measured. Respecting cultural nuances of different countries, how the brand is embraced in day-to-day social context and its resultant business growth can be evaluated through a pre-formulated assessment system.
I. Brand emerged as inventorsظ€آ bequest
Religion, it can be argued, is the origin of branding. All religions had intangible ideology but they created a physical manifestation with tangible architecture and collaterals. This comprised the genesis of branding but with no commercial give and take. Iظ€آm naming this sanctified unification through fraternal relationships as Brand Friendship. Eg. The Early Christian Church adopted ظ€£INRIظ€إ as a symbol which appeared in many paintings of the crucifixion. Similarly, when formal monarchies emerged, the monarchظ€آs emblem was the brand that symbolized his power when conquering lands and making people subservient to him. Initially flags with heraldic symbols created brand identities and statements. E.g. Dieu et mon droit (divine right to govern) is the British monarchظ€آs motto, inscribed below the British coat of arms.
Historical perspective of the brand: The era of commercial branding started in Europe through inventors after the 17th century when the Age of Enlightenment made Christianity liberalize the pursuit of literature, science, art and technology. Commercial branding timeline has 2 points of inflection. The first was when mechanization launched the Industrial Revolution, and the second is the onset of assembly line industrialization pioneered in/by the US.   Commercial branding
1760-1850 1867-1914
First British Industrial revolution (mechanization):
From artisanal products to machine made products

- Branding through seals mostly for local sales
- Hand production to machines made
- New chemical and ferrous production processes
- Improved efficiency of power from water and steam
- The development of machine tools
- From wood and other bio-fuels to coal-centered
on textiles, iron and steam engine technologies. Creation of turbines
Second Industrial Revolution (USA centered):
Mass production

- Start of commercial trademark & regional competition
- Early factory electrification, mass production
- Building of railroads
- Large scale iron and steel, production
- Widespread use of machinery in manufacturing, start of assembly line
- Greatly increased use of steam power
- Electrical communications
- Revolved around steel, railroads, electricity, and chemicals
1930 - 1956 1957 onwards 1950-1970 1970s onwards
Jet age Space age Start of Electronic Revolution  
Large scale production and sophisticated technologies

- Start of commercial branding & heavy global competition

- Hydrocarbon revolution
- Defined by the advent of aircraft powered by turbine engines
- Making transcontinental and intercontinental travel considerably faster and easier
- Rapid advances were made in rocketry, materials science, computers - Change from analog, mechanical, and electronic technology to digital technology
- Mass production & widespread use of digital logic circuits
- Derived technologies, including the computer, digital cellular phone, and the Internet
Information Age (Computer / Digital / New Media Age):
Internet sales without country barrier, aside from heavy global commerce

- Start of digi-tech branding for individuals in the social context
- Advances in computer microminiaturization
- Internet reaches a critical mass
- Information storage & retrieval (cloud computing is now the way to go)
- Electronic data interchange
- Automation through robotics
- Mobile phone is becoming an essential commodity

Arrival of Brand Friendship
After Britainظ€آs Industrial Revolution from 1760, from previously hand-crafted products, small scale mechanized reproduction was made for selling. In time this led to commercial branding. Mechanization led to the shift from agrarian to industrial society. Its big impact was on transportation of goods and mass mobility.
In parallel, this started the big wave of migration; people started moving from one place to another on their own volition. Further improvement came with industrialization which helped to eventually reduce drudgery and increase productivity, slashing the number of hours worked. By the end of the 19th century-beginning 20th century, industrialization led to mass production and large scale improvement in the wealth of society. Eg., with Henry Fordظ€آs initiative, the Taylor system for mass production was introduced in the automobile industry. This was the beginning of modern Capitalism. European inventors like Louis Vuitton and Cartier among others, from bespoke became brands with logos, just like the medieval coat of arms that symbolized luxury. It is possible that the luxury category emerged from Europe because there was a distinctive royal society and aristocracy that craved premium and privileged products as necessary to display status.
Precision engineering pioneered by Karl Benz, Ettore Bugatti, among others, was another manifestation in the automobile industry. Henri Nestle created milk powder and condensed milk for infants as a substitute for breast milk. It is evident that due to the constraint of being in small independent nations where scale was not initially a consideration, brand creators in Europe historically made their brands more known globally in luxury and sophisticated engineering categories, but not in mass scale production.
Branding in North America:
On the other hand, North America turned to a cowboy branding culture with no monarchical influence. The hot stamping of American Wild West farm animals was simply to identify their different owners and not as statement. The 19th and 20th centuries saw an American shift towards inventive power of distinctive inventors like Henry Ford (Ford Motors), Thomas Edison (GE), Graham Bell (telephone) George Eastman (Kodak), Procter & Gamble (P&G), James Casey (UPS), Charles Flint (IBM) among others. They started the culture of the commercial trademark.
After the trademark age which ended with the World War I & II and right up to the end-1960s, the German Bauhaus school of design and Frenchman Raymond Leowy in the US among others, extended branding philosophy with clean designs. These extremely stylized graphic concepts emphasized on strong typographic grammar. They brought a new style of branding.
In parallel, large American companies established their power through brand recognition symbols. Over time, Americans have mastered mass market production and perfected the religion of commercial branding with large scale industrialization. They have provided affordable pricing to customers through inventive mass production processes. Ironically, the two World Wars helped American business to penetrate their brands globally.
Inventors created branding culture:
Itظ€آs very clear that both in Europe and America, the commercial branding culture originated with inventors who wanted to protect their inventions and hence they used trademark as a commercial weapon. The history of branding shows that itظ€آs only when customers experience enough distinction in the knowhow of a product or service, will they pay a premium for the brand.
Such a brand delivers better profit for the company with sustaining focus in the market.
In todayظ€آs world, trading of available products from the market and stamping them as brands is not at all considered branding. Stamping a brand on traded products makes the brand quotient vulnerable and short lived.
Birth of the supermarket for self help grocery shopping:
With the birth of King Kullen in 1930s, the worldظ€آs first supermarket invented by American Michael Cullen, branding underwent another stage. The self-help purchase pattern of supermarkets brought disruption worldwide. Behavioral and consuming pattern changed with the joy of shopping freedom. The brand had to become a self-selling provocation at the point-of-purchase. As no retailer was behind the counter to advice on buying the product, the packaging itself had to have all details written on it. Customers now have the choice of multiple brands in the same category. So in any category, the brand has to perform from innovation to quality distinction translated as brand communication because customers make their choice in a matter of a few seconds. This liberalized shopping behavior of customers necessitated the creation of another kind of commercial self help branding.
1970s was the departure of digital technology era:
From 1970s entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs among others, started the digital interface with customers. That stretched branding towards a new dimension continuing into the 1990s which saw a totally new digi-tech interface begin with Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube amongst others.
Japanese and Korean brand power:
After the World War II, countries like Japan and Korea understood the meaning and power of the brand. Without tinkering with the fundamental invention of the Western world, they brought in refinement to make the delivery of existing invention extremely customer friendly both in terms of experience and in cost. This proves that without being a fundamental inventor, you can be an innovator through high class refinement and by executing perfectly.
Digi-tech started the uncontrollable mass production of digitally driven products and services with cost reduction and without any industrial frontier. These digi-tech happenings created a huge disruption of absolute behavioral change in the human being.
II. In todayظ€آs frontierless global paradigm, business requires the brand in a different context
Summary of the brandظ€آs historical background:
In nearly 300 years of invention, failure and finetuning, the brand has placed real value in products and services for customers.

But the way the world has changed in the last 20 years has been exceptional, and quite incomparable to the last 3 centuries.

The biggest disruption has been the breaking of frontiers among countries, enabled by digital technology.

This phenomenon brought in a new language in the social context in total discord with the preceding 300 years. We cannot look at the brand today as we did traditionally. Its most critical aspect now is to deliver the quality that customers want. This creates a ظ€£friendshipظ€إ between the brand and customer.

The customer is in command today:
Digital technologyظ€آs biggest contribution to the world is bringing extreme proximity among human beings. No longer can corporations have commanding power over their customers.

Previously, the distance between a companyظ€آs boardroom and its customers was wide and cold. If your company was expanding locally or globally, you were advised to invest a percentage of your revenue in brand building. You listened as though itظ€آs a ritual you cannot ignore. But did you check how efficacious your brand investment was? Today, in spite of heavy investment, your customers can make you miserable through criticism in the social media that you cannot control.

Your customers can shift their purchase from your companyظ€آs product to another company because there is huge choice in every given segment and in an instant. In India, I call the generation born after 1986 into a liberalized economy as Zappers who flit without loyalty to acquire the quality they want. Your internal industry actions no longer drive customers who are defining QCW (quality customers want). Only if you have the art of listening with process and passion can you address and convert customers of all age groups.

Otherwise like inward-looking Kodak, you will be out. By not anticipating human behavioral change, even Microsoft is experiencing a business descent. Usage of desktop computers is drastically falling in the market by 6% annually because people are moving to the smart mobile phone interface.

The digi-tech smart phone has made another sweeping change in human behaviour. Several industries have been converged into the mobile phone. This, Iظ€آd say, makes the phone become more than a staple food. Nothing today can beat the innumerable things you can address in your daily life through the mobile phone. So if your business action is not instantaneously smart mobile phone centric, you will be left out in the customerظ€آs consideration.

Relationships that human beings desire:
By nature, human desire has a cyclic logic of friendship. It is surrounded with trust, functional need and emotion. These drive an orbit which cannot be dislocated in the human paradigm. Happiness is the factor thatظ€آs most desired in life at any age of an individual. It extends to love in multiple senses.

From livelihood to lifestyle, human life is embedded with work, the struggle to achieve that elevates to happiness. All of this happens in a cocooning social context of collective life of caring, sharing and understanding which translates to working in an environment of shared trust.
  Human friendship quadra orbit
    human friendship
quadra orbit
The social aspect is driven by friendship:
Marriage is mere social recognition. If thereظ€آs no friendship between a couple, infidelity starts and leads to the hide and seek game.

After every deceptive trick is exhausted, it may translate to divorce or living together in cold war. ظ€ءNo friendshipظ€آ between children and parents translates to ظ€ءno trust.ظ€آ Children nowadays live the way they want, while play-acting in front of parents.

If you spy on why your adult child did not return home last night, your friendship will definitely disappear even as the child gives a big lie and you want to believe it, although you know itظ€آs absolutely not true.

In this contemporary world, is there much meaning between being a minor and adult? How can you stop your minor child from not googling the porn website in your absence? So the definition of minor and adults needs a re-look. On one hand the social system is getting moulded with friendship and on the other, the urge to possess is diminishing.

For example, possessing a musical record, CD, DVD or book is not the trend anymore. The physical points-of-purchase of all these products is closing.

Everything is getting cloud driven for the purpose of using and sharing, but often by paying for it. Without this desire to possess at the individual level, it is evident that the brand can stick to the customerظ€آs mind like a friend socially does only through Brand Friendship. It follows the quadra orbit of human friendship.
III. The disruptive dimension to create Brand Friendship
Brand is the first connection medium in business:
As the brand is your first medium to connect to customers, the big question is how to drive it in this digi-tech, social zig-zag world. Traditional marketing ideas of getting brand pull and emotional connect by hiring a recognized brand ambassador and spending heavily on a media blitzkrieg is not valid any more. International statistics show that 70-76% of purchase decisions happen at the point of purchase.

So you cannot buy societyظ€آs emotion with money through media. Your only choice is to create Brand Friendship which is beyond the brandظ€آs monetary transactions.

What exactly is Brand Friendship?
The product experience and usage are the key engagements with the brand which happen over a period of time, built up by awareness. The sustained engagement with the brand has to produce a smile to establish a friendship between the customer and brand in a social context.

Further, customer feedback through the ratings systems, customer comments created communities of buyers endorsing a product or rejecting it. This is what I call the arrival of Brand Friendship with customer interface. Its elements are sorrow, seriousness and smile.

Youظ€آd be sorry if you believe a brand is merely a selling procedure with give and take transactions with customers to make your profit. The serious fact is that everything in every industry needs to start from product performance that has distinction and is better than competitors within a price band. So product seriousness is Brand Friendshipظ€آs key engagement.   Sorrow, seriousness and smile
You have to smile to create friendship between the customer and brand in a social context because your brandظ€آs sustaining success depends on it.
Brand Friendship as human resource driver:
Development of human capital at the workplace is the key to talent creation for expanding, stabilizing and sustaining business. Whether you are the boss or a subordinate, unless a certain employee Brand Friendship is created, the delivery you get will be basic, without that extra mile of passion. To deliver Brand Friendship to customers, itظ€آs extremely important for any corporation to first create employee Brand Friendship for tomorrow, not just with customers but to develop friendship with employees.

Real friendship develops not only in school or college, but at any age, time or with any person when a spiritual connect of the anti-hate religion happens. My Brand Friendship idea creates strong proximity with social relevance between the brand and its varied stakeholders.

Often not all customers understand the meaning of sustainability, the way it is used as a jargon in corporations. You need to tangibly prove your companyظ€آs friendship with the environment through your corporate social responsibility activities.

Customers will then better appreciate your respect for social causes which is priceless, and understand itظ€آs not just a PR exercise to hide something or promote the company, but something more profound. I call such healthy CSR as Brand Friendship with the environment and society.

Match it with corporate culture
Match it with corporate culture Brand Friendship strategy requires an enterprise culture thatظ€آs favorable for its seamless implementation. After a certain time of existence, every company develops its own culture. In this culture and vision, its people, processes and IT systems have to work with coherence and consistency. When the total enterprise buys-in to the Brand Friendship strategy, we can expect excellence in execution.

In case the companyظ€آs culture needs to change due to pressures from diametrical change in the marketplace, it should be within a timeframe. Moreover, itظ€آs essential that the enterprise culture remains conducive for Brand Friendship.

As it is people who drive an enterprise, choosing the right operational leaders is critical. Every candidate cannot fit every enterprise. There has to be a professional match of the candidateظ€آs aptitude to the enterprise culture when that enterprise is implementing its Brand Friendship strategy with customers.

Brand friendship in B2B business:
One-to-one relationship with customers is the key to B2B business discipline. This is included in the Brand Friendship strategy facilitated by 5 aspects:

1. How you understand your customerظ€آs business in the customerظ€آs competitive environment
2. Which industry pain areas you need to highlight to your customer
3. How do you portray the future of your customerظ€آs industry
4. How do you help your customer shape business strategy and execution as per the requirement of the customerظ€آs     customers
5. How do you align your enterprise to the culture of your customerظ€آs industry and its local culture

Very often B2B business leaders say the end-customer domain is not their sphere of activity. This is a monumental mistake. No business in the world exists without end customers. B2B business has to polish these 5 elements to create relationships that reflect Brand Friendship.

QCW is quality customers want:
Continuous creation of Brand Friendship with customers can emerge if the brand delivers substance thatظ€آs unobvious, distinct and trendy from competitors.

Customers donظ€آt understand technical quality processes that your company uses, such as ISO certifications, among others. They go for looks, how relevant, adjustable and friendly it is for their different usage needs, and whether itظ€آs reliable and affordable.

These attributes build QCW to consistently deliver the brandظ€آs repeat purchase. QCW better defines your companyظ€آs quality parameters. Its 3 strategic attributes reside in the customerظ€آs subconscious and conscious mind, and blend seamlessly to establish QCW

1. ظ€£It looks goodظ€إ (emotion)
2. ظ€£It works well for meظ€إ (usability)
3. ظ€£I believe in itظ€إ (trust)

Only the seamless blend in high ground elevation of these three attributes can establish QCW

Incredible approach by an organised retailer on quality customers want:

In my 1994 book Art of the Brand, Iظ€آd written that brands have a role to act as social beings. In the French countryside I recently experienced exactly how a brand can become social. Opposite the entrance of a hypermarket called Super U, I saw a life-size sculpture of a cow with an indication arrow saying, ظ€£Get fresh cow milk.ظ€إ

There was a vending machine outside the store where fresh milk is available 24 hours / 7 days a week.
Super U   Cow statue   Automatic milk vending machine
Get fresh local cow milk 24hrs in an empty bottle   Cow statue opposite retail entrance indicating the way to go   Automatic fresh milk vending machine outside retail. Available 24hours. Replenished twice a day

Automatic fresh milk vending machine   Automatic fresh milk vending machine   Automatic fresh milk vending machine
Take an empty bottle of required quantity. Insert coin, hold bottle to get the milk   Milk can be taken in different quantities   Availability of different bottle sizes

Fresh cow milk available with glass bottles holding
different quantity
Product and service distinction surpassing competitor
Mega size sculpture of cow as branding Transmitting through humanized branding
24 hours availability of the milk Magnetic power at the point of purchase
Milk from local village Sociability factor

The milk comes from cows who graze in nearby village fields. To ensure itظ€آs fresh, it is replenished twice a day.

An adjacent machine vends different sizes of bottles for holding quantities of 20 cl, ┬╜ litre, 1 and 2 litres. Everything is automated and hygienically superior. You put a coin in according to the quantity you require.

With modern digital technology, you now get cow milk the way a milk man used to bring it fresh from the farm, not industrially processed as milk generally is in developed countries. I found this was Super Uظ€آs superb way of developing quality customers want with a brand. Itظ€آs not about differentiation, rather itظ€آs brand distinction. This experience portrays how the platform of Brand Friendship can be created even by offering 4 quantity options.

This is an example of how the power of digi-tech can silently enable the customer to enjoy a genuine, fresh and local farmland experience.
IV. Brand Friendship building strategy through quadra orbit function of QCW
We can draw a parallel between the quadra orbit of human friendship and Brand Friendship with customers.

By its very nature, industry requires product / service, brand, point of purchase and communication to connect with customers.

Creating these 4 Brand Friendship attributes as in the cow milk example given earlier is akin to the human friendship quadra orbit. In essence, Brand Friendship delivers quality that customers want (QCW), amounting to a disruptive way for your enterprise to increase its profitable business. Itظ€آs essential to add tangible and intangible elements to the 4 areas of Brand Friendship. Tangible elements will physically connect while intangible elements can be built upon continuously.

The quadra effect orbit around QCW cannot be dislocated. If this quadra effect orbit is executed minutely, your brand will create continuous friendship with customers which unquestionably would result in continuous growth and profit for your enterprise. The quadra effect attributes of Brand Friendship are:

1. Product / service distinction surpassing competitors
2. Transmitted through humanized branding
3. Continuous magnetic activity at the point-of-purchase
4. Continuous, unconventional, sociable communication activity

quadra orbit of brand
friendship with customers

1. Product / service distinction surpassing competitors:
At inception, the product / service has to have some perceptible element of Brand Friendship. That means its functionality has to help create friendship with the customer which is tangible.

For example, Ilkone has designed a mobile phone for the Middle East market which has a special application that points devout users in the direction of Mecca.   Then thereظ€آs Toyota that has designed the welcab category
car that has a flexible chair system with easy ingress and egress
for disabled people.
Ilkone   Toyota

2. Transmitted through humanized branding:

Trademark: The beginning of the 20th century saw the emergence of the etching style trademark.   Graphic centric branding: The old geometrical school branding then changed to become more stylized graphic design as used by Chase, AEG or Exxon upto 1960s.   Digi-tech era branding: From 1970s onwards, digital technology has literally changed the branding rule. A totally new domain of digital companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have created an industry dimension not dreamt of or predicted earlier.
Trademark   Graphic centric branding   Digi-tech era branding
Appleظ€آs identity of a bitten apple is symbolic of lust at the Garden of Eden, also knowledge, hope, health, products for good living, the new yuppie lifestyle of quality and perfection.

Another example is Nikeظ€آs ظ€£swooshظ€إ logo. It symbolizes the wing of the Greek Goddess of Victory called Nike who largely influenced countless brave warriors.

To establish Brand Friendship, tomorrowظ€آs branding has to have some perceptible friendship element thatظ€آs precise.

3. Continuous magnetic activity at the point-of-purchase:
You may have created Brand Friendship from product development upto branding, but unless you create the same friendship at the retail point, everything will be lost.

Creating Brand Friendship with customers in the retail is another science that has to have some perceptible element.

The distribution machinery is often not under the companyظ€آs control; in fact, it is totally in an uncontrollable external environment.

Here the presence of your brand needs to be bigger than its real form to be noticed among competitors.

This will help customers navigate towards your brand.

Only when the brand can display magnetic power to tantalize customers at the retail outlet can instant Brand Friendship be created.

So if the trade lacks in friendship with your brand, your brand will not succeed.

Similarly, if you as a theatre director have not created a strong friendship with the light man of the stage, you can be sure that your show will go awry. Here are two examples at the retail:
Gillette winner's podium   Bike store
Gillette set up a winnerظ€آs podium indicating first, second and third prize winners. Gillette displayed its products at a great height and engaged customers to step up to first position to take the product as a winner.   Bike store in Barcelona displays its products as if they were paintings in a gallery. The large central space can be used for trial experience of the bike inside the store.

As in these examples, the brandظ€آs strong friendship with its distributors will give it the right light at the retail. If you can create strong friendship of your brand in the trade, then it will obviously have a rub-off effect on Brand Friendship with the customer.

4. Continuous, unconventional, sociable communication activity:
A brand has to have some perceptible element and the power to create friendship to connect to customers in the social context. Most customers know that TV advertising makes a hallucinating story to entertain on the virtual screen. But in todayظ€آs world, a brand cannot remain a cinema image or be magical because cinema is ephemera and hence, cannot be touched; and when the magician is no longer on stage the subject will disappear. Communicating in the traditional way will not get the brandظ€آs credibility factor. Taking peer effect in an unconventional way similar to documentary films will create better Brand Friendship.

The brand has to play a role in a customerظ€آs body and mind, in the family, at school, college and workspace with a social element that creates a peer effect.

Aple logo on head   For example, Apple inspires people to dress their heads with hair-embossing that creates the Apple logo.

Sociable communication should not seem like traditional doctrine driven advertising. For example, real friendship encompasses multiple phases of participation at both difficult and enjoyable times. Similarly, the customers must experience sociable communication that appears to be part of their life including both their ups and downs.

Metaphoric device to create Brand Friendship - microscope, binoculars, telescope:
Past centuries have not faced the everyday changing phenomenon. This social context has radically shifted from the last decade as people have changed beyond imagination. Only the social aspect can shape your business now, nothing exists outside social magnification. So you simultaneously need the microscope, binoculars and telescope. Looking through the microscope will reduce your risks to achieve your short term goal as it shows you a magnified, detailed direction from what is actuality.

In fact the microscope reveals the incoherence at the interface between your enterprise brand and your customer in the competitive environment.

At the same time you will need to use the binoculars to see the mid term.

Forget about your vision in the long term if you consider carrying the telescope is too cumbersome.

These 3 magnifying instruments bring you closer to society and customers in the social context from where you can create durable Brand Friendship for the short term, mid term and long term.

Microscope   Binoculars   Telescope
Microscope to magnify the short term perspective   Binoculars to see beyond the naked eyeview to address mid term planning   Telescope to bring the long term vision nearer to start planning and execution
Connect to Brand Friendship all day long
As a business enterprise leader, you will have to connect seamlessly to the Brand Friendship strategy through the quadra orbit while respecting its additional tangible and intangible elements. Individual elements can give results, but when you combine all the elements mentioned in this white paper, you will get the wholesome benefit of Brand Friendship. Whether in manufacturing, service or retailing, your real mandate is profitable growth. This white paper describes how to absorb and action busin ess operations from the backend to the front end to match the radical behavioral change of todayظ€آs customers all over the world. You just need to keep the Brand Friendship idea in your mind in all your day-long activities. It will enormously impact to both renovate and innovate product and service brands your company delivers.

Once you implement Brand Friendship strategy
& execution you can measure it with the
measuring system given in the table below:

Measuring system
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