India Brand Conclave: Purpose does not guarantee success: D Shivakumar, Aditya Birla Group

D Shivakumar, Group Executive President - Corporate Strategy & Business, Aditya Birla Group, shares insights on the real meaning of brand purpose

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 29, 2019 9:43 AM

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D Shivakumar Aditya Birla Group

The exchange4media India Brand Conclave 2019, which was held at the ITC Maratha, Mumbai, had a plethora of talks on the key pillars of a brand, the need to build connections with communities and more.

D Shivakumar, Group Executive President - Corporate Strategy & Business, Aditya Birla Group took to the stage to deliver insights on the topic, 'Is purpose important for brands?' and shared insights on the real meaning of brand purpose. 

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 Stating the role of marketing and management, Shivakumar said that it has always been to propagate new ideas, new concepts and broadcast them. Citing a few examples, D Shivakumar said, “We’ve always been told that companies with more women board members outperform companies with fewer women board members. We should’ve have put them all on Jet Airways board,” he quipped.

Speaking about another misconception, Shivakumar said, “We’ve always been told that, innovation matters. If you are an innovative company, you will last longer. Enron was one of the most innovative companies, a year before its leaders went to jail.”

“Just because you have a tag of innovation or purpose, it does not guarantee you a business of success. You need to do a lot more,” he stated.

Shivakumar went on to tell the audience that the great entrepreneurs always had purpose - Tata’s, Birla’s, Lord Leverhulme, Procter, Gamble, Cadbury - they didn’t broadcast it, they didn’t have social media, they didn’t talk about it. “Their purpose was' I live in society, I will build schools for society, I will employ people from society and that’s how I will build my company'. They were rooted in the society they were born in. Brand purpose should come naturally to the brands, purpose is not something that dawns on us, we have to commit to it,” he shared.

With a statutory warning, Shivakumar said, “I am not saying that purpose is unimportant, I am that tagging a brand with a purpose statement doesn’t guarantee success.”

Shivakumar also spoke about a survey conducted in association with Kantar about the value of purpose. The survey showed that what purpose means to consumers. It showed that a lot of consumers didn’t understand the purpose of brands. The survey also stated that 56% of consumers will stop buying brands that are unethical, 91% of global consumers are willing to switch to a brand that supports a cause. According to the survey, most consumers believe that brands cannot solve society’s problems even if they claim to do so.

Going forward, Shivakumar said that when you look at purpose, one should think of three things. “What the world needs, what you are good at, what you are passionate about. The intersection of these three gives you an idea of purpose.”

To give clarity, Shivakumar shared a few slides citing examples of the brands which have connected with the consumers and where a consumer has understood the brand's purpose. He said brands including Uber, Apple and Indian Express stood out and have connected well with consumers.

He also mentioned the name of the brands which made tall claims and didn’t deliver as promised. “Writing a purpose statement is an easy FAD, living it is very difficult,” he shared.

He concluded the session by saying, “Purpose is important, but it is not a guarantee of success. Brand purpose is the binary game- either you do it or don't do it, there is no shades of grey”

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