‘Significantly invested in branding over the past six months’

Argho Bhattacharya, Head of Marketing, Niyo - on the importance of branding from day one of starting a company

e4m by Neeta Nair
Published: Oct 5, 2021 2:42 PM  | 7 min read
Argho Bhattacharya

In an interview with IMPACT, Argho Bhattacharya, Head of Marketing, Niyo talks about why it is important to focus on branding from the day you start a company and why OTT is an integral part of their media mix.

Niyo is a very young brand. Tell us about Niyo’s brand vision & mission. 

At Niyo, we are focused on creating a banking experience that is simpler, smarter and safer for all our customers by simplifying finance with technology. So, anything we say or do with our communication should align to elevate the banking experience of our customers. 

We generally see the new-age companies focus more on the performance part of advertising. What has been your approach?

The marketing mix is a balance between performance and brand, and what marketing mix you select depends on what stage the company is. Branding and product performance have always helped us keep our customers interested and invested in the product. But we have always been cognizant of what a brand campaign can provide. It is a boost to accelerate growth, sort of a tailwind to your own performance campaign. It has the ability to gain mindshare of people who currently might not be in the market but are part of our target audience.

Niyo was launched in 2015, when did you start focusing completely on branding?

The day you start a company, you start nourishing the brand. At Niyo, we too have gone through different product cycles. One of the products which we launched was ‘Niyo Benefit’. It was basically a B2E2C product - business to enterprise to consumer. Then we had ‘Niyo Bharat’ which is a B2B2C product touching upon relationships, B2B marketing, lifecycle management, and a bit of performance marketing. Over the past two-and-a-half years we have been a hardcore B2B or B2C company and have had the focus on brand building ever since then. You can build a product or a company in a silo, but as soon as you take it to the market, it becomes a brand. Everything we do as an organization, from day one, culminates into a brand success in one way or the other. So, to say the focus on branding has always been there, but over the past six months we have increased our investment on branding significantly.  

How do you narrow down the media mix for your brand building efforts, and which are the platforms you pick? 

There are three basic elements that define our media mix. You need to know – a) Who are your customers; b)  Where can they be found; c) What do you want them to do viz-a-viz your brand or product. Once you are confident about answering all these to yourself, the media mix itself gets defined. For us, our customers are millennials and digitally native. So, we have a pre-dominantly digital media mix. We also had to infuse relevant audiences from the finance-led content or media publishers. Then OTT also took a significant share in terms of the marketing dollar fight. 

Why do you feel OTT is effective, and it helps solve the problem?  

OTT is an integral part of our media mix. It’s a large component of what is essential in the digital environment today. With OTTs, we do a lot of third party data layering, which helps us measure the effectiveness of the engagement. On the business front, the brand and performance team work very closely with the branding team. Thus, we’re able to measure KPI metrics – such as conversion cost of sale, organic or direct download, and help in better retention or adoption. And while there are multiple OTT platforms today, there’s high user retention loyalty which enables us to reach out to customers over a longer period of time. It gives us full opportunity to market and re-market to the consumers.

What is the kind of break up you have between branding spends on television and on digital platforms? 

If you look at the branding pie, Television/Print would take 30%, rest 70% would be Digital. Out of the total digital spends, 60 to 70% would be taken up by OTT. 

What are the OTT platforms on which you spend a substantial amount of your media budget?

Disney+Hotstar is one of the leading OTT players in India. So any media mix, which has digital, will have to have Disney+Hostar. It provides a unique opportunity when it comes to marketing to millennials. First of all, it has a lot of marquee events. There is IPL, T20 World Cup etc, advertising during these events not only adds huge volume and accelerates your growth, it also adds incremental stature to your brand. Interestingly, once these events are over, some of the consumers may come back to the OTT platform to consume regular content. That’s when you again get an opportunity to keep following up on the initial boost you got. There may be others who will not come back. But during these large scale events they would have visited your digital assets. This is where the performance marketing cycles pick up, and hopefully convert some from there. 

Can you share some examples of your branding campaigns on OTT platforms?

We have run three campaigns on Disney+ Hotstar. We rolled out short communications during the IPL - ‘Just can’t wait’ and ‘#WhatMore’ – which saw huge traction. Secondly, we did sponsorship and advertising during the World Test Championship. The third campaign is an ongoing one.

How do you pick an OTT platform? Is it a content-driven approach or audience-driven?

Marquee events are to capitalize on the audiences. People who don’t even vouch for cricket also watch IPL because it’s an entertainment event. So, when you advertise during IPL, your content or communication should make sense. Also with IPL, you don’t just hope to reach masses; you are there for scaling rapidly and for high visibility. On the other hand, the Test Championship gave us the sponsorship opportunity. In a way it gave us a chance to test how we can build the brand stature. Thirdly, the Business As Usual (BAU) campaigns helped us build traction in terms of conversion, website visit or app downloads, and all other brand matrix possibilities. So, we measure it by the feedback we get from the ground - consumers, the stakeholders, content versus visibility. Then we look at the performance metrics like direct traffic conversions, other KPI, etc. 

What would you advise to brands who are evaluating branding as a next step?

Just ‘Take the Next Step’! Today, digital gives you an opportunity to start small and experiment with brand building. Branding can be done on a hyperlocal level or even on an individual behavioral level. So, now is the best time to take the next step. But some of the basics of marketing & advertising need to be taken into consideration. Whenever you're trying to start branding, make sure that your product is ready for customer interaction which is beyond intent-based selling. Secondly, will the communication that you intend to put out be able to carve a niche in the consumer’s mind. Large campaigns will always help you make the necessary noise and give you speed, but incremental steps should be taken to build a brand. 

With inputs from Sunit Roy

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