Of late, there have been several arguments and disagreements on women being subjected to a patriarchal societal setup with denial of their rights and rampant inequality. Where matters of women empowerment, female foeticide, rape, dowry, harassment have still not been able to find a solution in the society, there prevails another trivial controversy with the logo of Myntra. An activist Naaz Patel from Mumbai filed a complaint that the logo of Myntra was “insulting and offensive” to women as it represented private part of women. It alleged that “the letter ‘M’ is in such a highlighted colour that such portrayal of woman and her private parts would corrupt the mind of the viewers and even excite them”. The complainant demanded the company to change its logo or face its repercussions.
Post the complaint, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime) – Rashmi Karandikar called a meeting with the Flipkart group company, Myntra where they agreed to change the logo. The new logo will appear on their packaging and marketing materials after exhausting the old inventory with “physical pre-printed material with existing logo across India”. Myntra is an Indian fashion e-commerce platform founded in the year 2007 and was acquired by Flipkart in May 2014. It is one of the largest retail stores for clothes and accessories and has witnessed an increase of 51% in the website traffic in the year 2020.
Myntra has nipped the controversy in the bud itself by accepting to change the logo within no time. Although the company agreed to it, but the cost of rebranding the logo in every store, every corner and online platform might empty the pockets of the investors of Myntra. Since the company is well established and has a good outreach, it is affordable for them, but would it be the same if it were a Small and Medium Enterprise? If I am to give my opinion, I would say that the intentions behind designing the initial logo of Myntra were not mala fide and not intended to hurt consumer sentiments. It probably was just a simple logo artwork designed by an artist/designer made innocently.
Every individual has a different perspective and may perceive anything they want to from any image or logo. Likewise, the logo of Gmail – ‘M’ is quite similar to Myntra’s logo and it can be offensive too. The complaint filed may have tarnished the image of Myntra and its parent company Flipkart had they not accepted to change the logo. The question here lies is – was the change in logo essential? Would it really elicit a response which would be harmful for the society? If so, why has not any such incident been reported so far although the company and its logo is in existence for the last 13 years now. This move is an exhausting exercise especially in financially as rebranding of such a big organization may cause a loss of millions and it can be draining for the profit of the company. Had this issue been raised a decade ago, it would not have caused this impact because of less popularity and the company being a start-up. A simple perception of an individual led to a loss of more than millions to an entity. The big question is where does one draw a line as to which reactions should be given attention and which ones should be ignored. Who is going to put it on paper the specific guidelines to be followed also, take responsibility if a brand faces something similar in the future?
Nonetheless, this incident is definitely a lesson for brands which want to expand their portfolio in the Indian market. The brand name and logo should be free of controversy and unique in its own style due to the unavailability of trademark because of increased competition in the digital platform. It is best advised to do your research work and deep dive in the meaning and image used for the logo and brand name so that one doesn’t need to regret it later spending millions into the process. Although I don’t wish to get into the ‘right vs wrong’ discourse, I would love to hear your thoughts on the same!