Tata Group to Re­build Brand Taj

In­dian Ho­tels set to lever­age the ‘Taj’ iden­tity in new brand ar­chi­tec­ture to high­light pre­mium po­si­tion­ing; two other la­bels — Gate­way & Vi­vanta — to also use the name or be slowly phased out

The Economic Times - - Brands & Com­pa­nies -

Su­man Layak & Baiju Kalesh

Mum­bai: The Taj does not unite just hearts: In­dia’s iconic mon­u­ment to love that lent its name to Mum­bai’s land­mark wa­ter­front ho­tel in 1903 is now all set to de­fine the brand iden­tity of Tata Group’s hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness.

The new brand ar­chi­tec­ture of the In­dian Ho­tels that owns as­sets across global busi­ness cen­tres and tourist hotspots will likely lever­age the ‘Taj’ iden­tity to es­tab­lish the premier po­si­tion­ing of com­pany prop­er­ties, the first of which came up on the Mum­bai har­bor front two decades be­fore the Gate­way of In­dia was built. Be­yond the ex­ist­ing Taj chain of ho­tels, two other pre­mium Tata Group brands, Gate­way and Vi­vanta, will likely in­clude the Taj badge in their names or be phased out al­to­gether in favour of the uber brand.

In re­ply to emailed queries on the ex­er­cise, a com­pany spokesper­son said that de­tails will only be an­nounced Thurs­day. The new brand ar­chi­tec­ture was orig­i­nally sched­uled to be an­nounced on Novem­ber 10, 2016, but was post­poned at the last mo­ment after the exit of Cyrus Mistry as group chair­man. New chair­man of the Tata Group, N Chan­drasekaran, is sched­uled to take over from Ratan Tata, the in­terim chair­man, on Fe­bru­ary 21. “We will move to­ward a sin­gle brand un­der Taj, with all the ho­tels branded as Taj Palaces, Taj Ho­tels, Taj Sa­fari, Taj Re­sorts and Taj Gate­way like the Mer­cedes, which owns a sin­gle brand with multi prod­ucts,’’ a per­son close to the devel­op­ment told ET. “But the chain of bud­get ho­tels man­aged un­der the Gin­ger brand will be re­tained.’’

With 108 ho­tels in 63 lo­ca­tions in In­dia and a fur­ther 17 prop­er­ties over­seas, In­dian Ho­tels has a pres­ence across all bud­get seg­ments in the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness. The com­pany’s over­seas prop­er­ties in­clude beach­front re­sorts in Asia, and The Pierre on New York’s Fifth Av­enue. In the do­mes­tic mar­ket, the Taj chain com­petes with lo­cally owned Oberoi group and the Lalit group, and global brands such as JW Mar­riott and the Hy­att in both high-end leisure and busi­ness seg­ments. The per­son aware of the new brand ar­chi­tec­ture told ET that an in­ter­nal study showed a sin­gle brand united by the Taj badge ap­pealed to cus­tomers more than a frag­mented brand strat­egy. “For us, Taj is the mother of all brands and we are try­ing to lever­age it to our chain of ho­tels.”

In­de­pen­dent mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant Ashok Lalla, who had for­merly worked with In­dian Ho­tels, said that sim­ply chang­ing the brand name was never enough and the com­pany needed to si­mul­ta­ne­ously change the brand ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The big­gest chal­lenge and op­por­tu­nity of a brand re­struc­tur­ing ex­er­cise is to suc­cess­fully de­liver the new, re­vamped, en­er­gised brand ex­pe­ri­ence, and to quickly en­able con­sumers to em­brace the new brand with­out draw­ing end­less com­par­isons with the ear­lier brand. Sim­ply chang­ing the brand name on the door is not suf­fi­cient,” said Lalla, who ad­vises com­pa­nies on dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing.

Although In­dia lags its Asean peers in sup­ply of qual­ity rooms, sig­nif­i­cant in­ven­tory ad­di­tions over the past decade have lim­ited the abil­ity of in­cum­bents to charge higher rentals and boost prof­its.

A com­pany in­sider told ET that only a select group of top man­age­ment ex­ec­u­tives are privy to the de­tails on the planned brand re­struc­tur­ing. In­ci­den­tally, the for­mer Tata Group Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­ber Nir­malya Ku­mar had told ET in an in­ter­view last year that he thought the brand­ing ar­chi­tec­ture of In­dian Ho­tels was in­ef­fi­cient and that he had worked with the com­pany on im­prov­ing it. Ku­mar ex­ited the Group Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil the same day Mistry was re­moved as chair­man.

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