Virat Kohli’s Smile at the end of IPL 2016 final said it all, an acceptance of result & reminder of the changed person that he was.
Virat Kohli is today, India’s fastest growing brand. The upward swing has taken place between Diwali (October 2015) and Holi (March 2016). Kohli rankings were on the ascendancy in last 3-4 years but were always trailing Captain cool Dhoni. Normally sportsmen, lag the Khan’s brigade in Bollywood when it comes to celebrity rankings. But Kohli has managed to change all that.
Virat Kohli: Brand Equity Blocks
Virat Kohli was always a different brand. Outspoken, brash wearing attitude on his sleeve, he epitomised the new Indian mindset of loving challenges and love for chasing down targets. His flying kiss to lady love Anushka; bowing to icon Sachin Tendulkar in the pavilion on achieving a batting milestone; his appeal on social media to not troll his ‘ex’ – these actions seem to have endeared him to many. He became an instant hit with the Indian youth (15-24) as a role model.
His performance has gone up considerably in last 6 months. Average of 72 in ODI’s. 125 in T20 internationals, an average of 81 & total of 973 runs in IPL meant his performance was at it’s best.
Slowly by improving the game and changing his short temper he increased his relevance from a narrow target group of youth followers to a larger segment of 25-34 & beyond leading to huge growth over fans in Facebook: 3 crore fans, Twitter: 11. 1 million, Instagram: 4.9 million.
His esteem had skyrocketed much above all celebrities. He is seen today as best Indian batsman & future of Indian cricket.
He still wears black wristbands as cricket superstition; earlier, he used to wear the same pair of gloves which he believed was helping him. He also wears a religious black thread, and a kara on his right arm since 2012, fans read this as the vulnerability in a star. And that makes a brand as human as he can possibly be.
In the age of social media, brands need to engage & reinvent to communicate to the TG. Virat always liked selfies & posted his selfies & selfies with fans on his social media handles. His pics with his GF on social media became relevant news for youth to consume as it was a dose of cricket & Bollywood pushing up barriers to increasing his relevance among youth. On top of all this, his engagement with overall sports in India like football & futsal gave him an X- Factor.
Virat runs a foundation called “Virat Kohli Foundation” which he founded in 2013 which works towards the development of underprivileged children. Charity football match “Celebrity Clasico’ to raise funds for the same was held on 4 June in Mumbai.
As per a study conducted by Sandeep goyal, media & advertising veteran, who conducts studies of celebrity brand parameters. The rise in valuations of Virat is unprecedented.
Scores have doubled in almost all parameters, across demographics. He is no longer seen to be arrogant as in his early years. He has become straight forward and approachable.
In 2014, UK’s Sportspro magazine rated Kohli as the second most marketable athlete in the world, next only to Lewis Hamilton, and ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Usain Bolt. He may be on his way to top the list this year. Brand Virat Kohli is, therefore an excellent case study for brand managers on how to build a formidable brand.