Brand Comm, the Bangalore-headquartered advertising, brand consulting and PR agency, completes seven years on December 18, 2005. With a near equal split in terms of work share between its advertising and PR practices, and a thriving brand consulting practice, the agency is betting big on ‘internal communications’ as an area of operation in the years ahead. The agency is set to close the financial year with 35 per cent growth over the previous year, up 10 per cent from the year before.
Said Sridhar Ramanujam, CEO, Brand Comm, “We have been trying to do some work to propagate interest in branding. The annual business leadership survey among B-schools and Brandwidth seminars are all efforts in this direction. I still think there is a very hazy appreciation of what branding is. Most of those aware of branding and the value of branding are the large MNCs and the like, and they are tuned in already. Most others tend to view branding as an identity.”
Ramanujam explained that while smaller companies had a need for brand consulting, they might not be able to afford expertise in the area. Valuation of brands was another growing area, according to him.
“Now, we see the media giving more importance to this subject. The signs are good and we are poised to take advantage of that. We see brand consulting occupying a significant place,” added Ramanujam.
Approximately 50 per cent of the agency’s business comes in from the public relations practice, and another 40 from its advertising practice. The remaining 10 per cent is from the brand consulting services.
A “significant shift is expected in the next couple of years”, given that many of the brand consulting assignments are larger. “We are in the fray for a couple of projects,” Ramanujam said. And being an integrated marketing communications agency had its set of challenges in an era of specialist agencies and unbundling, he admited. “The need for IMC is not very strongly perceived by clients. We have to communicate what we are offering.”
The next big opportunity is perceived by the agency in internal communication for technology companies. And ad agencies were not “too interested” on this communication need, from a business and visibility perspective, in Ramanujam’s opinion.
He explained, “With people coming in from different regions and cultural backgrounds, it is a challenge to communicate the values that the brand stands for, in a manner that is interesting, and a manner employees can relate to. For the Philips software division, we must have done at least 300 different pieces of work.”
A diversified portfolio was the focus for the year, and one of the reasons being that this was seen as the best way to retain talent. With a 60-member team spread out across its Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad offices, Brand Comm is in the process of strengthening its Mumbai and Delhi offices.
“As an industry, we in the business of PR are also responsible for some of our current problems. We will not move towards the stature of a consultant if we don’t offer strategic inputs. When a large agency offers 100 clips a month at Rs 40,000, it becomes difficult to move up the value chain. Advertising has moved up to a point,” he remarked.