Over the last few days, after Shashi Shekhar Vempati, the newly appointed CEO of Prasar Bharati, announced the plan for changing the Doordarshan logo through a public call for new designs, we have seen on social media a lot of hue and cry. Indian TV viewers became nostalgic about the iconic logo and Twitter exploded with requests for not changing it. It is doubtful if the requests from Twitteratis will be considered by Prasar Bharati as the whole aim of the logo change exercise is to woo the millennial generation who has no such nostalgic memory of the Doordarshan logo.
The last date for submissions for the new logo design is August 13 and the winner will be awarded paltry prize money of Rs 1 lakh. We are seeing on social media entries from various aspirant designers and according to reports, the number of entries has crossed 2000.
Redesigning of a brand logo is such a complicated exercise,that I have been wondering if a public call for entries and the almost one-liner brief can do justice to DD’s strategic need. The designer of the present logo, Devashis Bhattacharya, then a student of visual communication at the National Institute of Design (NID) who now runs his own design outfit, was quoted by Mid-Day saying: “If Doordarshan wishes to appeal to the young, they will have to look inwards, at the very programming of their content, and not just at logos designed by young professionals.”
An organisation decides to redesign its logo for various reasons; when two companies merge or product line gets extended or when the logo design gets outdated or recharging of public interest is required or negative association with the logo needs to be changed. The first two reasons do not apply in case of Doordarshan. The current logo vaguely resembling yin-yang symbol is far from being outdated. However, there is no doubt that Doordarshan needs to recharge the Indian TV viewer’s’ attention and to erase the strong negative association about the national broadcaster among the Indian youth. For achieving such communication goals, the first and foremost task is to change the quality of the programme content of Doordarshan followed by changes in its internal structure and culture. A complete new outlook for promoting and marketing Doordarshan is also essential.
The senior IAS officers at the helm of Prasar Bharati and Doordarshan understood the importance of quality content for revamping the channel. In May 2016, Prashar Bharati took a decision to auction primetime slots between 7 and 11pm on the national channel of Doordarshan to private producers. After two failed attempt for auctioning, finally in the third auction held in December 2016 Balaji Telefilms and Saaibaba Telefilms were awarded six primetime slots (three each). The downward sliding of revenue was arrested and in 2016-17 Doordarshan recorded net revenue of Rs 827.51 crore, up from Rs755 crore in 2015-16. As reported by Livemint in an article on August 3, “The broadcaster was hoping to generate Rs100 crore in 2017-18 from the auction—Rs20 crore as the collective bidding price of the slots sold in the auction and Rs80 crore in advertising revenue (from new programming).”
The article above also announced that the Ministry of I&B has taken a decision to review the new content acquisition scheme through auctioning of primetime slots by Doordarshan. The two production houses have been working on youth-oriented shows, family dramas and reality shows expected to be rolled out from July 2017. The promos for the programmes were running on Doordarshan and according to industry sources quite a few episodes have already been canned by both the producers. At this point of time it is completely uncertain if the Ministry would allow Doordarshan to implement the existing policy or what changes it will make in the same. The decision of Ministry of I&B, which came immediately after the appointment of Smriti Irani as the Information and Broadcasting minister following the resignation of Venkaiah Naidu, proves once again the authoritarian hold of our government over the so-called autonomous Prasar Bharati.
An attempt to change the Doordarshan logo without the support of quality content will be a disaster. There are number of case histories of rebranding failures where logo changes could not achieve the desired results. If the Ministry of I&B dictates Doordarshan to go ahead with a logo change without the orchestrated attempt for improving the quality of the content, it will be another addition in the list of rebranding failures.