With newspaper brands trying hard to be like each other, consumers are confused as to which newspaper to choose from the lot. According to Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, brand-comm, the success of a newspaper in future would depend on the content and positioning. Sridhar was speaking at IfraIndia 2007 that got underway in Chennai on September 4.
He said, “At this point of time I don’t think there is clear positioning for any of the newspaper brands.” Sridhar’s multimedia presentation besides throwing light on the present status of the newspaper industry in India, illustrated how a brand should be built. According to him, “The challenge, particularly in the face of competition and developing economy like ours, is how we make our consumer’s life incomplete without our brand. Successful brands have always been different from the completion.” The same problem existed in the radio sector as well, he added.
“Today newspapers are competing with the Internet, radio, television, etc, and people are breaking news even when there is nothing to be broken. So, obviously the same level expectations that used to be there once from the newspapers are not there now,” he said, adding newspapers had not capitalised on the value of online editions.
“The customer is changing perceptibly, technology is changing dramatically, markets are changing globally, but we are still the same. Everything around us has changed. But we tend to be oblivious of the changes happening around us,” he lamented.
He concluded his presentation by saying that in future there would be just two types of brands – those that were quick and those that were dead – be it in media, consumer branding, durables, B2B or technology.
And Sridhar was not the only one to enthrall the audience. Marc Sands, Marketing Director of Guardian News & Media, UK, had some good news when he noted that the Indian newspaper industry had been registering a fantastic growth rate in the last 2-3 years as compared to the UK and Europe, where this industry was in immense turmoil.
Sands briefed the audience on how the The Guardian had successfully undergone changes in design and format from broadsheet to a unique Berliner size newspaper. He titled his presentation ‘A Strategy of Amplification’ because “that is the best thing a marketing campaign can do for a newspaper, to amplify its values… We don’t need to make up anything about newspapers because there are already so many people out there doing that”, he said.
B S Ramesh Kumar, Senior Planning Director, O&M, Bangalore, said, “At the heart of a great brand is a great product. Don’t avoid the extreme in staking out a position as different from your competition as black is from white, understand and adapt the product to the lifestyle decisions of your customers, and stay current.”
The other speaker of the day, Ashish Bagga, CEO, Living Media India, explained about the brand management principles followed in the India Today Group and how the Group integrated its brand with the corporate strategy and had become one of the best publishing brands in India. “The India Today Group began with a single magazine and today it is India’s most diversified media group with interests in magazines, newspaper, television, radio, Internet, books and music,” he pointed out.