The day one of the 17th Asia Brand Congress 2008 got underway in Mumbai on September 25. Marketers and brand managers shared their views on what goes behind the making of a successful brand – the challenges, the communication aspect and the consumer connect.
Hemant Sachdev, Group Director-Brand, Bharti Enterprises, spoke on ‘Airtel - An inspiring life experience’, while Rohit Sharma, COO, Zapak Digital Entertainment, shared his views on ‘Internet and New Media - Challenges for the marketer in the changing paradigm’. The presentations were followed by keynote sessions of Rajesh Sawhney, President, Reliance Entertainment, and Nirmalya Kumar, Professor of Marketing, Faculty Director for Executive Education, Director, Centre for Marketing, Co-Director, Aditya Birla India Centre, London Business School.
Hemant Sachdev highlighted the importance of three Fs – Freshness, Fairness and Forever – which played a key role in building a brand. According to him, a brand was more than just a communication, rather communication should play the smallest role in the brand.
Sachdev added, “To build something from nothing and to add to that constantly and make it a living thing that stays in one’s mind for a longer time becomes automatically special. We’ve got to see brands as part of the product, consumer and culture, and not merely communication.”
Stressing on the three Fs, he said, “Our desire has been to create things that are new and fresh and to deliver experience that is fresh, which many brands have delivered so far. We all want freedom and so do our consumers, and if the brand is able to deliver the freedom the consumers want, it will build your brand, thus giving consumers their freedom.”
He urged marketers to “Start thinking of your consumers, make them feel part of your brand and create a suitability of your product, consumer and culture. Please make communication the smallest part of building your brand.”
Zapak’s Rohit Sharma elaborated on the challenge for the marketer in the changing paradigm. He spoke of the need to get interactive with Internet users and to get user friendly with the importance of language.
Sharma said, “Brands and marketers need to create communicative strategies which cater to Internet users. It is all about customisation and being non-intrusive. In a way, niche has become mass. We also believe that this is the age of ‘screenagers’, where even languages have become very important. Everybody in the new media has his own language and we need to understand it. The challenge has become bigger as the language has changed from passive to interactive.”
He further said, “It is the consumer in digital media who is in control. The age of social networking sites and blogs has brought in a lot of freedom of expression. The world is changing and new worlds are being made formed in the gaming space and the coming years will see India playing a huge role in the gaming space.”
The keynote address was given by Rajesh Sawhney and Nirmalya Kumar.
Sawhney said, “Managing business and brands in today’s world is hard enough, and building and nurturing a brand is equally challenging and expensive.”
Kumar was of the opinion that in order to build a brand one did not need to depend on advertising alone. In fact, a brand could be created without advertising.
Kumar said, “If you are going to build a new brand, you have to create a differentiation. We need to understand what brand innovation is all about, communication is important but you have to start with a clear brand vision. To build a brand, what is also important is to find out how many people hate your brand because a great brand is loved by many and also hated by some. You have to say what your brand stands for and have a consumer insight of their unmet need and try to meet that need.”