Brand Priyanka Gandhi is charming, pedigreed and stylish. She has high scores on pleasing, intelligent, friendly and confident. She is seen to be empathetic. She is not arrogant. But yes, she is a bit aloof. In an online straw-poll among 720 respondents across India over the 26-27 January 2019 weekend, conducted by the Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB), the youngest scion of the Gandhi family comes out smelling of roses.
As many as 85 per cent respondents scored Priyanka as charming, far ahead of scores seen even for leading ladies of Bollywood. Also, as expected, she gets a 78 per cent score on pedigreed. And 75 per cent on stylish. With respondent ratings like these, she is miles ahead of most Human Brands one has researched over the past 20 years. With the halo of Brand Gandhi bolstering her personal brand through lineage and familiarity, and with her better-than-film-star good looks, Priyanka Gandhi is poised for a near-perfect start to her political career.
The brand franchise of Priyanka Gandhi seems to have almost equal goodwill among both men and women. In fact, the trend lines for men are even stronger than those for women across most attributes. Though in all fairness, women too have rooted heavily for her — she has a nearly 90 per cent rating among women on stylish. On pedigreed, too, women respondents have given her a near-unanimous vote.
It seems inherent in Brand Gandhi for its offshoots to be seen to be good leaders, to be inspirational and to have a pleasing personality. It most likely comes as part of the package of a brand that has ruled this country for decades. Priyanka Gandhi is perceived to be fairly tough; and not inexperienced as one would perhaps have expected. Yes, she has a controversial husband (the only low score in an otherwise impeccable scorecard), and she is perhaps somewhat of a late-starter. Also, a bit of uncertainty on how impactful she will be. But to most respondents the strong family lineage and similarity to her grandma, the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, are her best assets, her strongest brand strengths.
The striking resemblance that Priyanka has with her grandmother actually cues much of what respondents believe or think about her. Because she looks so much like the iron-woman Indira Gandhi, the general belief is that she inspires confidence. Scores on resemblance to her mother Sonia Gandhi are fairly low. That she complements her brother Rahul also scores above the 50 per cent mark. But it is her political lineage, the 100-year-history of Brand Gandhi, that is her strongest winning attribute.
Brand Priyanka Gandhi has a tough act to follow... Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Feroze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Maneka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and even Varun Feroz Gandhi... have all created their own brand space (and brand presence) in their own eras, and in their own contexts. Brand Priyanka is still nascent. Being ‘new’ obviously has its advantages. Most of them are visible in the above poll. But being a Gandhi has its downsides, too, especially in a country where religion, caste, community, region, language and myriad more factors play a role in shaping the trajectory of the Human Brand. Brand Gandhi has its supporters; but it has its haters, too. In the IIHB straw-poll the anti-Gandhi sentiment does not seem to have singed Brand Priyanka Gandhi so far. She has so far been given the benefit of doubt. Right now it is love-all for India’s prettiest politician. Rest, as they say, time will tell.
The author is an expert on Human Brands with a doctorate in the subject from FMS-Delhi.