Dr. Suvrashis Sarkar's painting tribute

My introduction to birds happened when I was a kiddo and my mother used to show them to me from our window while teaching me poems. The knowledge grew further when I started sketching and painting them in my school drawing books, in school drawing competitions, etc. I remember my first colour drawing of birds were the Common Kingfisher and the Golden Oriole -as mother had taught me then. My methodical study of birds began only in 1995 when I read an article written in Readers’ Digest by J. C. Daniel sir, about the Old Man of Indian Birds – Dr. Salim Ali. That lead me to join BNHS in 1996 as a life-member and then I gradually got engulfed in the subject matter of Ornithology. With my years of career progression, I never became a ‘biologist’ by academic qualification though, but continued to read and explore the wild to learn from nature herself.

While studying birds on field, I had developed the habit of sketching them in my field book to record what I had seen. My recording of birds evolved further to photo document them with a camera since 2007. My close friends who have observed me doing so, know this.

Today is 12 Nov 2020, a special day -the day to celebrate the very reason how watching birds, reading about birds and systematically studying birds, that could develop as a science in India. Today is the birth day of Dr. Salim Ali.

While I still cherish the days when I used to sketch and paint birds, I am happy to present one of my old paintings of the very beautiful pair of 𝗔𝘀𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗙𝗹𝘆𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀 (𝘛𝘦𝘳𝘱𝘴𝘪𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘪). This painting was made in 1999 and I found it among a few from one closet at home while cleaning the house during the recent lock-down. This used to be my mother’s one of the loved paintings made by me and used to hang on her bedroom wall in our previous home.

I have never shared any sketch or painting of mine till now on any digital/social media, but to commemorate the special day today, I just felt it could be a negligible but worthy tribute to Dr. Salim Ali and his greatness, due to whom I could know so much about birds.

What you see here is a picture taken on my iphone of the painting frame.

Flamingos in Mumbai rains

South-west monsoon ushers in as the harbinger of relief for Mumbai from its sultry summers. Mumbai’s monsoon is like no other in India with its own share of romance, good times as well as the annual water logging and tough days. Flamingos in Mumbai over the last couple of decades have become a definite attraction for environmentalists, birdwatchers or the casual tourist and likewise have become equally important subject matter of study for marine biodiversity conservation.

𝗟𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗿 𝗙𝗹𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗼𝘀 (𝘗𝘩𝘰𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘪𝘢𝘴 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘰𝘳) a near-threatened species, visits Mumbai’s coastline, creeks and mud-flats each year in growing numbers. The reason for their growing numbers in Mumbai has been studied and understood as due to increased biological growth of blue-green algae resulting from untreated release of human and industrial waste in the mud-flats, mangroves, and creeks which are also the perfect Flamingo habitat. These beautiful birds thrive on these algae and bless us each year in growing numbers with their magnificence.

This picture was taken few years back at Navi Mumbai in 2015, while I was exploring one such Flamingo habitat with two of my very talented younger photographer friends. I was not prepared for the monsoon shower that day but could not resist the temptation either to freeze this wonderful spectacle of Lesser Flamingos getting drenched in the thundering Mumbai’s monsoon. For me, being soddened in monsoon never felt like a pleasure before then.

Colours and Consumerism - The Neuroscience of Brand Marketing

©️ Dr. Suvrashis Sarkar. 2023.

One of the first things to talk about in this beautiful world is the plethora of colours that we see all around us. The appreciation for colours is not merely a poet’s imagination but of a larger importance in the commercial sphere considering why consumers prefer some colours over others and how businesses can market their brand by understanding consumers’ wisdom. If one had to understand why some consumers would buy a red car and while some others would prefer a blue one while some others would select white colour, it could be for the layman - merely a matter of preference, however, it is a science to understand consumers by focusing on the brain and its impact on behaviour and cognitive functions. That is neuroscience and it is paramount in modern times for businesses to position and market their brand.

For example, what would happen if the double-arched logo of McDonald’s becomes brown from yellow and the popular Bata logo becomes green from red today? Would consumers still accept them as much as they did yesterday? Will the consumers’ perception change? Will those brands be still able to sell as much? These are certain crucial questions to ponder while we try to understand the marketers’ role in understanding the consumer’s mind in Brand Marketing.

Our brain, which is the apex of our central nervous system with about 1.5 kilograms of complex tissue mass inside our head comprises mainly three sections. The forebrain is responsible for consciousness and reasoning based on what we see and hear. The midbrain is responsible for all our emotions and feelings like trust, love, fear, anger, etc. and also is the place where memories are formed and decisions are made. The third section - the hindbrain is responsible for our subconscious memories, which are also where our old habits are built and stored. Therefore for brand marketing, it is important to understand the brain functions and the impact it has on consumers’ behaviour. Our brain typically wants to feel happy and safe, avoid painful incidences, get recognition, attract the opposite gender, etc and each of these feelings corresponds to certain neurotransmitter hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, etc. The optimum level of these neurotransmitter hormones triggers the emotions in the brain and it likes to go for such neurotransmitters that it is looking for. While this can definitely vary from one person to other but most people show a patterned behaviour. These patterns make the brain comfortable and secure. These exact patterns are the “usual patterns” among people who seek such brands with which the pattern is very strongly associated. Our brain also remembers and engages with contrasts which excites attention by breaking a pattern. Contrasts provide options and variety with an increased flow of dopamine. Options and variety keep Brands young and alive and interesting for consumers. Brands to become the more marketable need to be pattern-fitting as well as different from competitors at the same point in time by different from the earlier version. For example, Apple has transformed over the years by being different from the competition and also being different from its earlier versions but following the same pattern-fit of ease-of-use, high-tech iOS and design simplicity for its customers. This fitment has happened by changing over from a colourful logo of the past to an all-white logo to a mirror-effect chrome logo of the present time which reflects the consumer as they are, thereby making it a preferred brand of choice for a growing number of people. 

From the way an Indian consumer buys the instant noodle brand Maggi, you can understand that brands are strongly present in the hindbrain based on what they have been perceiving in the front brain over a while. The two most prominent colours in the commercial sphere are Red and Blue. While Red is associated with excitement, energy, action, lust, anger, danger, etc. Blue on the contrary which is mostly used by corporates stands for trust, calmness, depth and maturity. Pepsi as a dominant brand has both colours exciting a concoction of emotions while its larger competitor Coca-Cola is predominantly red with a combination of white representing the purity of thought and peace of mind. Energy drinks brand Red-Bull although called Red has a combination of largely blue and white in its packaging with a hint of yellow which represents youth and so becomes a preferred brand of choice for young consumers. The first car that I bought in my 20s was a Red one and as a mature man, the second car that I bought is a blue one - probably for most it is a matter of one’s preference, but I can self-introspect and understand the evolution of my brain from an excitement and action seeker to a calm and matured one now, hence the preference. Certain more examples to quote concerning Reds the world would be brands such as Virgin, Bata, Netflix, H&M, Canon, Kellogg’s, etc. which represent excitement, energy and action while good examples of Blue would be Tata, IBM, Visa, Dell, Intel, Unilever, etc. which demonstrate trust, calmness, depth and maturity.

There are various factors which determine the right choice of colour for a brand that marketers need to understand to create that perfect brand-market fitment such as the visibility of the brand, the type of product category and possible extensions of the future, the style of product packaging, the selection of target audience and the brand lineage. It is always the right choice to understand the brand marketing objective and then select the colours. Some more examples to quote to substantiate this are: Tropicana uses green colour to portray freshness in their juices, Land Rover uses green colour to signify off-roading in the countryside or for outdoor adventure, Starbucks has green and white signifying positivity, young, fresh and natural taste of coffee, Louis Vuitton uses black colour to signify elegance and luxury, Lacoste uses green and black to signify young and elegant, Cadbury uses deep purple colour to signify royalty of taste and its tribute to Queen Victoria. Our brain typically wants to feel happy and safe, avoid painful incidences, get recognition, attract the opposite gender, etc. and each of these feelings corresponds to certain neurotransmitter hormones. The optimum level of these neurotransmitter hormones triggers the emotions in the brain and it likes to go for such neurotransmitters that it is looking for. Consumers, therefore, prefer certain brands based on the fitment of emotions they get from such brands from their visual perception -largely due to the colours. Understanding colours and the effect they trigger in the consumers’ mind, therefore, is one crucial thing to understand as the neuroscience of Brand Marketing.