The technological revolution has made our egos, minds, and hearts weaker than ever. The fire of intolerance is aggravated with the instant need to communicate and gratify oneself. Yes, Freedom of Speech is our fundamental right, but I think some have taken it too seriously and gone too far.

My sympathies go to all the marketing, advertising, and branding executives who have to pay a heavy price for somebody’s wild imagination as we all know that Myntra, backed by e-commerce giant Flipkart, is embroiled in a crisis that it would have never imagined. It has become a victim of overthinking for its Logo. As a result, Myntra was asked to overhaul its logo. But Why? What is the outrage all about?

Who must have thought of this?

Apparently, Naaz Patel, the social worker and Director of Avesta Foundation found Myntra’s Logo as coarse, insulting, demeaning and belittling women’s dignity. She filed a case against the brand in Mumbai in December and urged to change the logo.

According to the complainant, the design of letter M depicts private lady parts. The harmless logo was considered vulgar and an alleged representation of the naked woman’s private parts. Like Really !! The argument put forth by the lawyers was that the deliberate use of color scheme was obscene.

They further say that it resembled a woman’s vagina with her legs spread out suggestively. According to them, the logo could accentuate the tabooed ‘vaasna’ (Lust) in people and pollute their minds and excite them. This also portrayed the objectification of women in a lewd manner. This incident has snowballed into a huge backlash, trolling, and trashing of Myntra on Social Media.

Can a Logo really be this offensive or is the dirt in the minds of the beholder?

A logo as a visual brand element is a shortened version of an organization’s identity. It has the ability to indicate a brand’s origin, ownership, or category. It is a potent medium to build a brand association in consumer minds. In fact, it can even act as a substitute for boring brand names.

Professor Kevin Keller, in his celebrated book, Strategic Brand Management states that a brand element in the form of name, logo, character, or URL should be memorable, likable, meaningful, protectable, adaptable, and transferable.

These trademarkable devices should be easy to recall and recognize, descriptive of the category or the benefits, funny, interesting, richly endowed with creativity, enduring, and relevant. Most importantly, they should be protectable legally and competitively. According to me, in the modern hyper-connected era, a brand element should not be offensive in the wildest imagination to any gender, caste, creed, race, nationality, or any living being.

We live in intolerant times which are spiked and aggravated by this constant gratification of Social Media. Brands have to be super cautious in their approach and not act in ways that can cost them their image, reputation, and big bucks. If you ask me, this is a case of unintentional Subliminal perception, branding, and advertising.

Subliminal Perception and Branding

The term subliminal means “below the threshold“. And the term Subliminal Perception means any stimuli that is below the threshold of our sensory receptors like eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and skin. It occurs when the stimuli (over here the brand messages or elements) is extremely weak that it cannot be perceived by an individual in a normal course of time.

Subliminal Perception is highly subtle and does not catch the attention of the receptor at the very first instance or exposure. Some research says that such stimuli can have a very negligible or mild effect on our conscious awareness.

On the contrary, some research says that subliminal messages can influence our thinking as they can surpass our conscious awareness and the consequent defense mechanisms.

There is no conclusive evidence of subliminal advertising influencing consumer decisions.

Yet marketers walk on this route to add the fun element to their brand. Following are some of the examples of subliminal advertising that are absolutely harmless. Not all subliminal messaging is sexual. Some are very childlike, peppy, and intelligent creations.

Coming back to our topic of Myntra, a victim or a perpetrator? Who is at fault?

Should the designers or their approving managers be fired for projecting women in such poor light? Why? No Please. The logo designers probably never even imagined to look at the logo pornographically or stereotypically. This outrage is a result of overthinking and a signal of increasing impatience and intolerance. Majority of people don’t even consider it offensive yet the brand had to change and rebrand its logo cosmetically.

I dare to ask this incontestable question, what do we want?

The world and especially women don’t need cosmetic changes to any brand logo. We all need a change in the mindset. There are millions of incidents happening every day that are indecent, insulting, and demeaning to women.

More work needs to be done in this direction rather than fighting this meaningless battle that is going to crush the imagination of creative talent in the future. I hope that the marketing talent doesn’t succumb to this vigilante that is in no way protecting or improving anything.

My sympathies go to the marketing, advertising, and branding fraternity for bearing yet another storm. This too shall pass. Meanwhile, to cheer up the readers, I leave you all with a Meme Festival by Twitterati as an outcome of these outrageous mindless accusations.

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Jinal Shah is currently the Assistant Professor at NMIMS Deemed to be University. Prior to this she has been the Head of the Department, Coordinator and Assistant professor of the Bachelor of Management Studies Dept of SIES college for 8 years. She has won Five times the award for best research paper in various International Conferences from prestigious educational institutions. She has also published two cases in the 15th edition of Marketing Management by Phillip Kotler.

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