Rebuild by Ramya Ramamurthy: Review

Title: Rebuild

Author: Ramya Ramamurthy

Publisher: Hachette

Price: Rs 599

Pages: 420

The cover page of the book says, “How brands in India overcame crisis and emerged stronger, better, wiser.” The book Rebuild covers a different type of crisis that brands go through and author has split the crisis in four parts, first: Environmental Hazards and Contamination, second: Mismanagement, third: Product Recall and Related Issues and fourth and final: Shorter Innovation Cycles in Technology.

The first section covers MNC brands, not by design but as a matter of fait accompli. This section gives an indication of how all MNC’s treat issues of environment and contamination when it comes to India. It also demonstrates that there are individuals in the respective government departments who do take their task seriously. The chapter on Hindustan Leaver is eye-opening. After reading this section one realises that the social messages these organisations promote in the name of social equality, feminism, liberal values etc. are only marketing gimmick and nothing else.

In the second section on Satyam, author fails to highlight (like other authors on Satyam) that it was Ramalingam Raju who owned up the crisis, unlike other examples. In rest of the case, it is always denial by the management till the law got cracking.

In the third section, the book highlights an important point while covering Sanofi pharma. It says, “This was the first instance where a drug maker recalled a product that wasn’t harmful to the consumer.” In this section, the book covers the whole Automobile category instead of a single brand.

The fourth section is the biggest in terms of numbers of brands covered. Here the book goes on to cover Kodak as a brand with no mention of India in the chapter. It was also surprising to see HMT (Hindustan Machine Tools) being covered in the section, though no time limit has been defined by the author for coverage of brands in the book but then it forces one to think why is Ambassador car, Bajaj Scooter etc. not covered in the book.

The book covers a wide range of brands but leaves quite a few which should have been there. Some of the noted omissions of crisis, handled by Indian brands are ICICI Bank — Lehman Closure, Infosys — Phaneesh Murthy, Vishal Megamart, Snapdeal — Aamir Khan, etc. These omissions, stand out more prominently, looking at the fact that Nokia has been covered twice. Loss of Nokia due to shorter innovation cycle was not India-centric alone, but a global phenomenon.

Author has reached out to twelve experts to comment on the brands covered, but still it looks excessively repetitive for 23 brands covered in the book. To sum it up, the book with its limitations does covers a subject which has not been much documented in the form of a book in India. Ramya Ramamurthy deserves a pat, considering it is her first book and one expects to see more offbeat subjects related to brands being taken by her in the future.

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