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Dharini Mishra

Global Head of Brand | 16 Jan 2012

Every brand must communicate what it stands for, its promise, its relevance in the audiences’ life and times, what it adds to the community, and most importantly, what it means to the individual consumer. This is the ‘mantra’ we have followed in creating P.A.L.S. and its success speaks for itself… We have seen very strong support and trends for social branding, participative advertising and digital innovations. We see the challenge – and opportunity – for 2012 in taking these learnings and aligning ever more closely with our business audiences.

With more than 16 years of experience, Dharini Mishra is a strong believer in creating the right balance of the science and art of brand management. She heads the Suzlon Group Brand for all its companies across the globe.

One of her biggest achievements is launching an Indian brand globally, building brand equity and sustaining it across the 32 countries with global strategies, customised to local execution. Developing award winning properties on leading international media like CNN and BBC, Mishra has successfully positioned Suzlon as a leading green brand championing the cause of sustainable development.

Managing brands in crisis and resurrecting them has been a core area of expertise. Having recently launched the hugely successful ‘Pure Air Lovers Society’ (P.A.L.S.) brand campaign for Suzlon in India, Mishra has keen insight and great expertise in building credible green brands.

One of the first propagators of digital reputation and brand management in India, Mishra is a frequent speaker at conferences and communications institutes on the subject.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Mishra traces the success path of P.A.L.S campaign and interesting insights into brand management in the digital space.

Q. How was the year 2011 for Brand Suzlon?

The year 2011 has been a very good year for Brand Suzlon. Suzlon was voted the 6th most green brand in India by the global ‘Green Brands 2011’ survey by Landor, and named a ‘New Sustainability Champion’ in a World Economic Forum – Boston Consulting Group study of “fast-growing, high-performing companies” from emerging markets in terms of their environmental and social initiatives. One of the highlights of this year has been our highly successful ‘Pure Air Lovers’ Society’ (P.A.L.S.) campaign. With over a million members, this has become the largest social cause community in India in record time.

Q. The P.A.L.S campaign is one of the major clutter-breaking promotional campaigns seen on digital media. Could you throw some light on the core concept behind the campaign?

With Pure Air Lovers’ Society, or P.A.L.S. as it is better known, we wanted to reach out to the youth of this country with an issue that not only concerned them, but also what an individual could do something about. We started P.A.L.S. with a focus on creating awareness about air quality and converted this awareness into action by empowering the audience with tools and means to be a part of the solution. The issue and the campaign have struck a chord nationally, particularly in the digital space.

Q. How are you planning to further take forward the P.A.L.S. campaign?

We have achieved our first major milestone with a million-strong P.A.L.S. community. This is a great achievement and makes P.A.L.S. one of the fastest growing social cause campaigns in India. In the next phase, we will focus on leveraging digital media and giving this great community the platforms, tools and knowledge to take this movement to the next level.

Q. What are the various points that a brand needs to keep in mind before positioning itself in the digital space?

The digital medium has immense power today, and I think there are four key elements to any great digital campaign:
Be unique: Copying the success of others seldom works, the strength of this medium works differently for different brands
Know your audience: Knowing your target audience is the first step. No campaign can be successful until you figure out what you need to invest and what you want from it
Be clear: Today’s audience is incredibly sophisticated. Gimmicks for the sake of creativity alone will not work. Focus on your message
Commit: Short term or fleeting engagements can do more harm than good. It is very important to plan and execute initiatives that can be sustained in the long term.

Q. What according you are the five key messages that a brand must convey to its target audience?

Every brand must communicate what it stands for, its promise, its relevance in the audiences’ life and times, what it adds to the community, and most importantly, what it means to the individual consumer. This is the ‘mantra’ we have followed in creating P.A.L.S. and its success speaks for itself.

Q. What were the challenges that you faced while launching an Indian brand globally with global strategies, customised for local execution?

The challenges that Suzlon faced were no different from what any brand faces when going global. To our advantage, we are in a young industry that is recognised for its positive impact on the future of the world. This has allowed us to use a healthy mix of global brand salience with high levels of local customisation to create a unique positioning that is right for us.

Q. You are known to create the right balance of the science and art of brand management. How has this helped you take the brand to the next level?

Let us take P.A.L.S. as an example, we used focused research with behavioural insights to identify an evocative issue and create a strategy that broke through the clutter with the application of creative communication and drove engagement to make it one of the fastest growing campaigns of its kind ever in India. This is a good example of the science of brands and the art of communication.

Q. After the success of the P.A.L.S. campaign, what is the major marketing initiative planned for Brand Suzlon?

P.A.L.S. is very much alive, and with the second phase of the campaign set to roll out in the coming weeks, it’s much too early to look at what our next effort might be.

Q. Is there any particular pattern you will be focusing on in your communication in the next financial? If yes, please elaborate.

We have seen very strong support and trends for social branding, participative advertising and digital innovations. We see the challenge – and opportunity – for 2012 in taking these learnings and aligning ever more closely with our business audiences.

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