Sergius talks about why Mahindra really needs to define who its customer is and also the brand.
Speaking with Pratap Bose at the launch of the XUV700 got me thinking, what would Mahindra do with its new celebrated design head? It immediately got him to design the company’s new identity and logo that its SUVs would carry, and naturally, designing the new products would be at the top of the list. But before the company rushes into that, I really hope it does a few key things. Which is, define its brand, define its customer, and ring-fence its new design team.
So before pen is put to paper sketching new lines, the company must define, what is a Mahindra. Of course, Pratap knows things already and says that “defining the individuals brands” is a top priority and while he thinks each brands will differ, bringing in a “Mahindra look and feel” across the products is something that’s also very important.
Look at Mahindra’s product range and it’s clear that the company currently has no definition of what its brand is. Besides the slotted grille, there is no theme or character in common and this is not just stylistically, even in terms of function and feel; the products all come off quite different and lacking any family traits. Case in point the XUV700’s door-mounted seat controls are a-la Mercedes, but like the German brand will these feature across all Mahindras? Who knows?
Besides the brand, Mahindra must also define who its customer is. The styling of many of its products have been criticised, but those vehicles have also managed to find buyers, some even going on to be big hits. Obviously then the extravagant and flamboyant nature does have takers, just as a subdued and elegant approach does. Something that Mahindra is trying with the new XUV700.
It’s very toned down and pared back compared to its predecessor, the XUV500.
But is this a good idea? Personally, I think it is. I was never a fan of the company’s earlier over-the-top styling approach, I felt the XUV500 was over styled, the Xylo disproportionate, and the KUV100 both. But I was never its customer. Thus Mahindra really needs to define who its customer is. Is it the extroverted flamboyant seeker or is it someone who wants a handsome elegant style.
And lastly, once the definition of the brand and customer is in place I really hope the company limits the design decisions to the new team it’s rapidly building up. Clinics are fine, but design is best done by individuals and not a committee. The team would really flourish, ring fenced with just inputs rather than orders or direction. And no, no, this last bit isn’t a secret message from Pratap, we aren’t that close, nor is it a pointer to how Mahindra functions. It’s just that I’ve too often seen corporate India get shiny new tools only to not use them properly. So yes, define, design and develop its team is what I really hope Mahindra does, and I can’t wait to see what a ‘Mahindra’ looks like.
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