Building a brand….

This appeared in the Harvard Business Review newletter.


How Michael Jackson Became a Brand Icon

10:17 AM Friday June 26, 2009

Countless books advise how to build your personal brand. Michael Jackson was so unique that he cannot realistically serve as anyone’s role model in that effort. Yet Jackson was unquestionably a brand icon and there are lessons to be learned. Here are the top ten factors that explain his icon status. Start early. Michael began entertaining at the age of four. His career as the uniquely young lead singer in The Jackson Five began with the Motown label at the age of 10. National recognition came with his appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.Let go. Jackson went solo in 1972 at the age of 13. As with Diana Ross and the Supremes, there came a point where the group constrained rather than aided the further development of his talent.Break out. Jackson was a multidimensional entertainer. His expert dancing could be showcased via the new medium of music videos. MTV and Jackson rose in tandem when MTV premiered the Jackson video “Thriller” in 1982 from the album of the same name. The album went on to sell over 100 million copies.Get help. Jackson benefited from his long-term professional relationship with producer and songwriter Quincy Jones. He often acknowledged the inspiration he received from James Brown, Diana Ross and other artists.Be visible. All memorable brands have their unique visual trademarks. Jackson understood brand image and how to build it with his fans. The moonwalk that we could all try to imitate. The glove. The uniform. Neverland.Go global. Jackson’s music and videos easily transcended national boundaries, as well as race, age and gender. “We Are the World”, written by Jackson and Lionel Ritchie in 1985, cemented his global appeal. Jackson sold almost half his 750 million titles outside the United States.Crown yourself. Elvis was already “The King”, so Jackson christened himself “The King of Pop.” The professional contributions–including 13 Grammies–were so substantial that the moniker stuck. The flawed personal life – the lawsuits, the failed marriages, and the Wacko Jacko incidents like dangling his child from a Berlin hotel balcony – chipped away at Jackson’s professional brand equity but never eroded it.Be vulnerable. We cannot relate to icons without imperfections. Jackson was quirky, eccentric, mysterious. For all his wealth and professional excellence, he was – perhaps understandably – flawed, misguided, and sad, but none would say unkind. Give back. Denied a normal childhood, Jackson was amazingly generous to disadvantaged children. Some 39 charities benefited significantly from his support. He also collaborated on Live Aid with other entertainers.Die young. The sold-out 50 concert tour of Europe to start next month will never happen. The likelihood of a Jackson comeback will forever be debated. Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe James Dean, and now Michael Jackson – all leave to our imagination thoughts of what might have been. When a brand icon is torn from us prematurely, unexpectedly, it figures even larger in our collective memory.

Time flies

Its Friday and i dont know where the week went by. Seems like the days are floating by way too fast for me to savour them. I work, i play, have some fun and voila, the week ends!! 🙂
This week was awesome fun cos uncle, aunt and cousin had come down from Delhi and i had a ball with them!!! Cousin is all of 4yrs old and she talks, talks and talks some more.. Oh, not to forget her endless energy and thirst to know more.. Questions just keep coming one after the other, testing your patience and knowledge!!  Miss u L!! 😀 Hugsssss 
Work – Its been good.. cant complain!! AM not crazy busy, but liking this work schedule.. Working on 2 projects now – 1 related to events, and other to do with Case studies [ my 1st attempt, taking baby steps and learning the ropes as i go along..quite interesting i must say!! ]
Love travelling– though its been 2 weeks since i explored some new terrain..hopefully come July, i should be set to pack my bags once again and explore new terrain, catch up with friends and unwind!!! 

Feasting on movies– Ah, i managed a few this month – 
  • Angels And Demons, quite good i must say!!
  • Nights at Rodanthe– Richard Gere once again sizzles the screen… good one for those who love Gere and romantic mushy mushy movies… Based on a book by Nicholas Sparks[ review shall happen in a few days on my other blog:)]
  • Masilamani – For some reason, i was drawn to this movie.. and when S suggested another english movie, i said -why not go for this one instead…. !! and we did… its one of those brainless comedy/masala.. good time pass!!! 🙂
  • All good ones are taken – yes, that is a movie title.. a dvd i picked up couple of mths back… Managed to watch it tonite!! Interesting, but i wouldnt really reccomend it to anyone!! 😀
Relishing words across pages– Yep, been doing that too every day..religiously… 🙂 Yayyy!! just wish i had more space to store the books am tempted to buy … 
  • Just finished reading Jeffrey Archer’s Path of Glory – well written!! 
  • A grasshopper’s pilgrimage [by  Manjushree Abhinav ] – ahem,. quirky novel…
  • Reading Paulo Coelho’s The Winner Stands Alone – Shall complete  the book and then tell you about it!!
Fun – oh, i get a good dose of this every single moment… be it with myself or in the company or family/friends!!!

  • Mother’s day lunch and Father’s day dinner was at The Crown, Residency Towers… Good fun, spending time pulling pranks, making fun and savouring yummy treats!!! Not to forget bumping into more family right there… 🙂

  • Went to the beach not once, but twice in 2days… Whatte fun!!! Once to Marina beach and 2nd time was Elliots, which ended over dinner at Murugan Idli shop
  • Took up aunt on her invite to join in on the Peacock trails – 21st June – The tour wasnt great, but we had fun… Woke up bright and early on sunday only to be shown around Kapaleeshwar temple, mini walk down the road adjoining the temple, and a ride to the Santhome Church… the finale was the fun part… we were tired and semi pissed off [ cos we thot there would be atleast 20odd ppl, but alas it was just the 4 of us plus the lady and her daughter who were from Story trails… Breakfast at Saravan Bhavan was delicious and just the thing to boost our moods…. lolz!!!
  • Going to a friend’s house today… Lunch/Brunch/Coffee.something!!! 🙂 Made her something i know she and that mad hubby of hers will love!! they had better!! 😀

Today morning started off not so great.. Woke up to the news of Michael Jackson passing away.. Sigh… dont know why, but i feel this unexplainable sadness within me… dont think i’ve felt this way for any other celebs passing away…. He seems to have that kinda impact on me.. and am sure many others as well!!! 
 Michael – You shall live on in our hearts.. forever!!!!
{Tuned into Chennai live- listening to each and every word uttered about MJ and listening to his songs back to back!!! }

    Skywatch Friday … Towering heights!!

    The Clouds going swish swish.. 
    waving their magic wand on us all …:)

    Sun peaking from  behind the trees
    as if to say goodbye!!

    Pretty skies amidst water and flowers
    floating about, teasing us with their pranks

    Velankanni Church,looming large
    Bright skies- the crown!

    St Lourdes Church, Trichy
    majestic and tall covering the skies behind…

    For more.. click here

    Damn right i am…

    You Are Dusk

    You are a naturally idealistic and creative person. You look forward to nights where everything is possible.

    You spend most of your energy on play. Work is okay, but the true you emerges after the work day is done.

    You’re an offbeat type that doesn’t like rules or schedules. Life’s too short to waste at a desk in a cube.

    Whether you spend your night socializing or working on side projects, you like that your time is yours.

    Your Gift is Imagination

    You are constantly dreaming. You are always thinking about what could be.

    You love to express yourself in many ways. You have a way with words and tell vivid stories.

    You love to be amused. You are good entertaining yourself, and other people find you hilarious.

    You’re the type of person who finds staying happy easy. There’s always fun to be had!

    Trails continued…

     A boat jetty while on the train
    After the wonderful weekend trip it was time for a family outing.. Spent less than 24hours in Chennai before i was off on the train to Mangalore, to head towards Sringeri.[one of the 4 Mutts established by Adi Shankaracharya]. We are all followers of this Mutt and my grandparents make couple of trips during the year. Me – well, i go once in a while!! 🙂
    The Main Sharadambal temple

    My cousin’s poonal [ Holy thread ceremony] was slated for 4th June, so we booked tickets for the 2nd June!! I was travelling with my parents after ages, felt nice… 🙂 Packed 3sarees[yes, here we wear only sarees, atleast around the temple campuses] , 2 salwars, other essentials, and i was set!! 
    On the steps of River Tunga..

     The train journey was very nice… esp while we were going past Kerala.. The back waters, West coast, the ocean waves lapping against the shore, fishermen on their small boats, absolutely scenic and breath taking…
    Elephants during evening snack

    We reached Mlore around 9.30am on 3rd, hopped into the cab waiting for us and headed towards Sringeri. The route is scenic, Ghats are beautiful and there is something mystical about them. if you were look out the window, you can see River Tunga flowing peacefully down below [except during the monsoons, where she rages on]… Takes about 2.5 hours to reach Sringeri, and by the time we checked into our room it was 12.45pm…!! Normally, we halt at Hotel Sreenivas for breakfast, but since we had already had some on the train, we rode along… 

    Vidhyashankar temple

    Sringeri is one such place where people come for religious purposes, to admire the architecture, worship Gods and Goddesses or as a tourist spot.. Early on, there wasnt so much of Tourist crowd that used to throng the place, but now that crowd is enough to put me off!! eeks… people crawling all over the place, noisy and dirty!! hehehe..
    The stone idol of Adi shankara in the garden

    A place i’ve been familiar with for over 15yrs is where am most comfortable wandering about in. No worries of getting lost, or running into dead ends. Priest, admin office staff and even security guards know me quite well [ thanks to grandparents frequency and having known me since i was in my teens]
    The Bridge

    The main temples to visit here are all within the campus
    Sharadambal temple
    Adi shankara temple- which is being renovated 
    Sri Vidhya shankar temple- part of the Heritage sites – a must see for its rich architecture… 
    Thorana Ganpathi– a small ganapathi fixed on the threshold
    Malayala Brahma 
    Sri Balasubrahmanya – Murguan temple right on the banks of the river TIunga  
    Sri Chandramouleeswara 
    Sri Malahanikareswara- Shiv who resides on top of the mountain..  

    And then when we cross the bridge over the River Tunga flowing through the Mutt, we come to the Narasimha vanam, where The Sringeri Swamiji resides and does Pooja daily.. the place where we go to take his blessings or be a part of the pooja is the newly built haven called Guru Bhavanam … Beyond it is where Elephants [2 of them], horses[ right now there are 3], Gosala[ home for cows] and deers run about… 

    Walking across the bridge, watching the moon light up the sky, crickets and other bugs singing aloud, its a mystical feeling going for the Pooja… Sitting in that massive hall, watching Swamigal do pooja to the Chandramouleeswara Linga and Ganapathi, i realised we stop worrying about the daily aspects of our life and are totally immersed in the Pooja…

    A place of tranquility where one can simply sit still for hours is how Sringeri feels to me… Yes, i do make a quick visit to all the temples, say Hello to all the Gods and Goddesses, but the best part if the serenity… this is Spirituality according to me!! 🙂

    Evening sky pver River Tunga..
    In the evening, i stand on the bridge, looking up at the sky or at the fish fluttering about in the river, feeding on the puffed rice or generally swimming about… 
    Vyasar Mandapam on the other side of the river
    Today, the place looks very diff from what it did couple of years ago.. Construction going on everywhere, renovations happening here and there.. The main entrance used to be a beautiful archway, today it is a bundle of concrete debris.. there is a huge 127ft tall Gopuram which is being constructed there…
    Best way to travel is to take a train from Chennai to Mangalore, and then a cab/bus to Sringeri.. You have trains at 11.30am daily ,and 5pm[on certain days]
    In case you are coming from Blore, then direct buses ply almost every day. Its about 7hrs from Blore … 

    Hoysala trail… Coffee trail.. bird watching…!!

    A day after our cousin’s wedding, Lakshmi called and that was it!! She and a friend were organising a tour, for close friends, as an inaugural offer.. Without a blink , i said YES,AM IN!! She then sent me a mail with info about the tour- we were to cover about 5-6 places, stay at a lovely resort and maybe do a coffee trail as well .. The only i got in was Sharada, cos i knew she would love it as well ..
     The temples at Doddagadavalli
    Booked our tickets to Blore for the friday, 29th May and packed our back packs.. 30th Morning was when it all began… Lakshmi’s friend and avid bird watcher V came over, and we waited for the van… Which came close to 7.45… After piling in, the intial Hi- hellos to the rest of the troops [Arun’s friends, V’s friends, and Sharada], we were on our way!! Excitment filled the air, and hunger pangs in our tummies..lolz…

     Pillars at the entrance at Doddagadavalli
    The 1st pitstop was Hotel Mayura where we had a sumptuos breakfast and got on the road with full speed.. Drove straight to Doddagaddavalli, where we spent close to an hour.. A temple that marks the reign of Hoysala Dynasty, each pillar telling a tale… After a tour of the place, we all assembled in the hall near the entrance where Lakshmi and Arun  gave us a peek into the history, and some insights into the rulers and the Dynasty.. During this, a rock agama came to keep us company- rich orange in color, he posed for us!!! Amidst all this, we managed to spot some interesting birds as well .. 🙂
     Rock agama…
    Beautiful architecture.. intricate sculptures and more were what welcomed us through the trail.. The layers of the temples were almost piled on top of the other like lego blocks. No cement was used in sealing the space, they were all interlocked …
     From there, we hit the road and drove down to Green Orchards Resort which was our home for the 2days.. A quaint little place with about 9 rooms, of which we occupied 6.. Furniture from Rajasthan, a court yard with a cute little tortoise sitting still [was a statue]… 2 beautiful swings outside where we spent most of our spare time, getting to know each other and laughing over a game of Housie- where err, some people cheated and others slogged it out!! 😀
     The road that led to the Resort
    Post lunch, we venture into Halebid or Halebidu or Dwarasamudra which has a cluster of Hoysala temples…The main is called Hoysaleshwara  and its a tourist spot, so we were  prepared for a crazy crowd, but still managed to have a good time. Lakshmi and Arun had hired an ASI guide, who gave interesting descriptions for each of the sculptures..
     The Hoysala emblem that is found in all temples
    Lush gardens, dark skies threating to spill over, a serene lake behind the temple all had us in awe… Clicking pictures, soaking every word the guide said, we relished the experience… The temple is said to remain incomplete, and to have taken over 190 years to build…

    The Nandi in front of the Shantaladevi shrine
    The Hoysaleswara  temple is home to Hoysaleswara  and Santaleswara. Hoysaleswara is named after the builder Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and Santaleswara after his wife, Queen Santala.  The sancta are built on a stellar plan, with a sukhanasi, navaranga and Nandi Mandapa. Each of these resembles the Belur Chennakesava temple in layout and structure…
     Basadi halli
    Around the corner we visited the 2 Jain temples… Basadi halli (Jain Mandir) – and the Kedareshwara temple.. The  Kedareshwara (Shiva) Linga made by Krishnashila, a variety of black stone. To the south of it is Brahma linga and the statue of Janardhana at the north. The temples are filled with Bats, so there was enough stink to keep us at bay…
    Within the Basadi Halli campus, there was a temple tank/well, and plenty of greenery around for us to soak in… We also spotted a Rainbow, feeble but pretty nevertheless…

    That night after our return and dinner, we were out walking along the lit pathway within the estate late into the nite.. 
    Having decided we are going Bird walking next morning , we decided to be up by 5.30 and scoot, all scampered to their rooms…  Post the bird watching, we were to start off Sunday at 7.15, with a visit to the nearby Biccode coffee estate [belonging to my uncle and family] , starting with the morning Muster call to a coffee trail…

    Path inside the coffee trail… 
    The morning came, troops went for the bird watch and then we joined them in the Coffee trail.. After a quick shower, we went off to the estate, waiting for the workers to pour in.. Vipin, the manager was to be our tour guide for the hour.. but that went on for nearly 3hours, and we covered about 6kms in distance around the coffee estate, exploring venues never heard of and clicking pictures all over..

    Wild mushrooms, paw prints, a tree covered in cobwebs, rows of coffee plants, and the long stretches of trees…. In between, we also managed to do a bit of bird watching – spotting and trying to identify birds, geting some quick lessons from the pros- Arun and V… 🙂

    Longing for a cup of coffee, we found just that at the estate office.. Bidding adieu to him, we decided to check out more  places related to the Halebid trail… the Ruins spread across acres of land,  and then came the best part of it all ..
    Hulikere- the tank where Shantaladevi used to go for her showers.. The security was so high then that even a tiger could enter, hence the name… !!

    The Hulikere with small shrines all around it..fascinating..
    Some local kids followed us around, mustering enuf guts every now and then asking us – Do you have chocolate? Or atleast a pen? … we were stumped at their fluent english!!! 🙂

    Belavadi in all its glory
    Spent a few minutes in the serene surroundings, lost in thoughts we were all in heaven… like school kids asked to get back to the van, we crawled back into the van and looked fwd to the next location… It was nearly 3.30pm, and even tho the driver decided to take us to the Belur Chennakeswara temple, we steered towards the resort to have a bit to eat, pack up and then venture to Belur before heading back to Blore…

    The Belur temple is magnificient – again in similar architecture styles.. There are over 40 sculptures of women in different poses outside, all said to be inspired by Shantala devi, and pillars across the temple each in a unique style.. Two of the pillars are simply mind blowing- the Mohini and Narasimha pillar, they are filled with intricate work, minute designs, unimaginable amount of creativitiy.. The God is also in Mohini avtar here, and i got a chance to talk to the priest about the temple…

    Oh, just remembered- we also visited the Belavadi temple, a small one with three gopuras, and is called Trikoota temple… The priests here were more than willing to give us insight about this temple, how long it took to build, the God housed within… Veera Narayana, Vishnu and Krishna are the Gods here… What was interesting was that the Sunlight streams in straight to the Vishu shrine on March 23rd and Sep 23rd every year, the day of Equinox, the priest said!!

    Phew.. What a weekend it was!!! Got back to Blore on 31st nite around 11.30 and back to Chennai on monday at  6pm… Had a day in town and then was off on a trip to Sringeri with mom & Dad.. more on that in next post..

    Think this is long enuf…… way too long a post!!!
    For more here

    Colours of Light…

    Go with the flow, my heart sings..
    Are you sure? counters the mind.. always thinking!!
    Simply let go
    and enjoy- i decide
    With a fully charged camera
    Waiting for new adventures
    i set out on no set trail……
                                                           The morning sky in Mumbai
    Raindrops through the train window
    Across miles amidst wilderness the only one thing that has me in awe are those beautiful fur balls up in the sky ..Changing colours… gliding along like a graceful lady, they move about peacefully, as if bearing not a care in the world..
    Shining through the clouds at Halabeedu
    From morning to night, making way for the Sun and the moon, these cotton candylike beauties mesmerize us all …. 
    The evening sky over the river Tunga in Sringeri
     Sun peeking through the tree branches
     For more shots of the skies, click here

    The road stretches on……

     Back from one awesome trip and gearing up for another…. Been in town for less than 24hrs and the travel bug bite drags me away…. !!!
    What a weekend this was… From Saturday morning till Sunday night, the fun , learning, bonding, networking, excitment and some more had us all gripped and glued to the sights and scenes…
    What we did  —
    Exploring the Hoysala Dynasty
    Intro into how much fun and how addictive Bird watching is
    Just letting go, getting lost in the surroundings….
    Here is a little something before i wander off into the horizon… will be back with more!!! 🙂