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ACT 202 SPRING 2008 (SIH) -CASE STUDY

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Case study: Tata
The story

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The Tata group is India’s oldest and largest private sector business entity. Founded in 1868,
the group now consists of over a hundred companies, with a turnover of more than $70
billion. The group has a wide range of interests, companies trading in fields as diverse as
steel, automotives, chemicals, IT consultancy, retailing and hotels.
The Tata group is highly decentralised, and member companies are allowed much autonomy
in terms of strategy and operations. The main instrument for unifying the group is the Tata
corporate brand, which embodies the values that are shared by all the companies of the group.
However, not all companies in the group use the corporate brand in the same way. Many, like
Tata Beverages and Tata Motors, use the name and logo explicitly. But even in India, some
companies in the group, such as Trent and Taj Hotels, do not use the Tata name, and Taj
Hotels also has its own brand mark.
This inconsistency is seen by the Tata group as less important than adherence to the group’s
values, which are extremely strong. The group was originally founded for the purpose of
creating and spreading wealth in order to strengthen the Indian nation and economy. ‘What
comes from the people goes back to the people, many times over’, is an often repeated phrase
in Tata’s values statement. These values help to make sure that all the companies in the group
pull in the same direction.
The challenge
Prior to 1991 the Tata group had few interests in the world outside of India. Its brand identity
was very strongly Indian, rooted in India’s culture and history. But as economic reforms
began to open up Indian markets, the group’s leader, Ratan Tata, knew this had to change. He
believed that Tata’s future lay outside of India, and that it should aspire to become a global
company.
But this posed a serious challenge. Could a company with such a strong Indian identity
succeed in establishing a global brand? And if so, at what price? There were (and still are)
many in India who believed that the process of globalisation would change Tata and damage
its powerful values, turning it into ‘just another big company’ concerned only with profit.
Others outside of India wondered (and still do) if Western consumers in particular would
really accept the Tata brand.
Stepping out of India
Individual Tata group companies began making small acquisitions outside India in the late
1990s. The first major acquisition was that of Tetley Tea, one of Britain’s leading tea brands,
in 2000. This acquisition went almost unnoticed. Later acquisitions, such as those of
steelmaker Corus in 2007 and Jaguar Land Rover in 2008, were much more high profile.
Since 2005 there has been a steady stream of acquisitions in Europe, Asia and North America.
The pragmatic approach
Tata’s approach to handling these new acquisitions has been entirely pragmatic. Conventional
corporate branding theory suggests that all acquisitions should be branded with the corporate

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Case study: Tata The story The Tata group is India's oldest and largest private sector business entity. Founded in 1868, the group now consists of over a hundred companies, with a turnover of more than $70 billion. The group has a wide range of interests, companies trading in fields as diverse as steel, automotives, chemicals, IT consultancy, retailing and hotels. The Tata group is highly decentralised, and member companies are allowed much autonomy in terms of strategy and operations. The main instrument for unifying the group is the Tata corporate brand, which embodies the values that are shared by all the companies of the group. However, not all companies in the group use the corporate brand in the same way. Many, like Tata Beverages and Tata Motors, use the name and logo explicitly. But even in India, some companies in the group, such as Trent and Taj Hotels, do not use the Tata name, and Taj Hotels also has its own brand mark. This inconsistency is seen by the Tata group as less important than adherence to the group's values, which are extremely strong. The group was originally founded for the purpose of creating and spreading wealth in order to strengthen the Indian nation and economy. 'What comes from the people goes back to the people, many times over', is an often repeated phrase in Tata's values statement. These values help to make sure that all the companies in the group pull in the same direction. The challenge Prior to 1991 the Tata group had few interests in ...
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