With the changing scenario, it is incumbent on the Kashmiris, who have always responded to change, to develop a brand thinking.
Beyond an ecclesiastic’s recent rant and outrage it caused, the bigger picture remained blurred. The mystic from Persia who traversed miles to introduce the message of peace in mountains had created a monumental shift with his caravan of craftsmen. And it was this advent that laid the foundation for the time-tested Brand Kashmir. But today, the myopic vision is rendering it redundant.
The saintly way of life now being scrutinised was exactly what the poet of east called the spirit of life beyond sanctum walls. It was about empowering the faithful and creating local legends. Some of these silent skillmen of the Brand Kashmir would later adorn the Napolean’s queen and even enter the White House in style.
But beyond some reported moments of global glory, the gloomy state of the Brand Kashmir has become a contemporary concern. Fall from grace and a ruthless race for revenue is now driving its shambled and squeezed market. And this has confined the regional brand to a mere sightseeing than a spirit of skill. Some renewed attempts now reek of individualistic pursuits, rather than what Shahid—the witness—referred as the “cottage industry” of Kashmir.
Nestled against the backdrop of political challenges, the valley has long been a haven for tourists seeking its natural beauty and a cradle for traditional crafts. In the recent times, a marriage of traditional craftsmanship and modern design has created a dynamic brand that resonates with the younger, fashion-conscious demographic. Social media and e-commerce serve as vehicles for this transformation, carrying the essence of Kashmir to corners of the world previously untouched. Yet, the journey is not without its challenges.
Local brands, often lacking corporate support, tread a slow but steady path, focusing on maintaining consistent high-quality, akin to global luxury brands like Prada and Gucci.
But the narrative extends beyond crafts.
Empowering Kashmir economically hinges on a unified branding strategy, showcasing authenticity, quality, and cultural significance. The call is for collaboration, creating a symphony of brands that not only amplify individual voices but contribute to the crescendo of Kashmir’s economic growth.
Kashmir’s apples, for instance, recognized as a jewel in the crown of the horticulture sector, and its saffron, a global rarity, are waiting for their moment in the international spotlight. The path lies in efficient organization and transparency within the horticulture sector, coupled with smart branding strategies tailored to niche markets.
Some Kashmiri brands, like Khazir and Trebene, have already etched their names across continents. Their success lies in the identification of niche markets and a dedication to satisfying those markets.
But Kashmir’s brand image is beyond some shining stores and stories. It’s about the collective empowerment as the Persian priest envisioned it. And therefore, it must capitalize on its local brands, becoming synonymous with precision in art and craft, much like Switzerland in banking and technology.
Kashmiris have to embrace a modern business vision—strategically promoting their local treasures, and making a mark in a globalized market.
But as the region works towards developing a clear branding concept, it is essential to remember that effective branding transcends product sales. It is about narrating a compelling story that resonates emotionally with consumers.