Show me the money

“Obsess over the customer, relentlessly adapt to changing times and maintain a maniacal focus on values,” stresses Rajiv Lochan, the managing director and CEO of Kasturi and sons, publisher of the 136-year-old brand, The Hindu, during The Brand Owners’ Summit organised by The Smart CEO and afaqs!  His career graph, which includes work experience at companies like McKinsey and American Express, has given him some wonderful insights on the art of managing long-term brands.

Clearly, branding is a very important aspect of any business, be it small, medium or large, be it a B2B or B2C player and new companies or long-term players. It helps a customer understand the company; differentiate it from its competition and builds faith in the organisation.  In this two-day event, our speakers left behind some interesting thoughts on branding.

Any investment has to reap benefits. While an entrepreneur believes that his/her brand is absolutely great, it is truly so only if that brand is able to offer a good return on investment. According to Dr. Mohammed Rehan Sayeed, founder, Motherhood Hospitals, branding and communication, including its tagline, gave Motherhood more visibility and helped build the hospital’s business. Dr. Sayeed admits that there was a visible increase in its revenue after specific campaigns.

The aspect that came out was the power of brand ambassadors cannot be overlooked and often the brand of the ambassador can offset media buying costs. C.K. Kumaravel, founder, Naturals Chain of Beauty Salons can vouch for it as his salon grew from 80 to 430 with the help of three brand ambassadors – squash player, Deepika Pallikal and actors Genelia D’Souza and Kareena Kapoor. He believes that when a company starts thinking big, they need to create an image, which is bigger than their brand, and only a brand ambassador can drive that efficiency in to the campaign. A brand ambassador can not only reduce the cost of advertising, but also have an indirect rub off effect on your company’s image and a customer is willing to pay more.

Another thought that came out in this forum was that trial and error method is also a good way of understanding your brand’s communication strategy. Mahesh Murthy, an ad guru turned investor, takes the example of a company in which he has invested – MyDentist. The company used the “price list on the door” to attract people for a dental service like cleaning their teeth as a preventive measure. MyDentist arrived at this method after trying out various things, some of which were not effective.

Clearly, the marketing dynamics keep changing and evolve at a face pace, just as the consumer has evolved due to global exposure, multiple options in the market and, most importantly, technology. As Chandu Nair, an angel investor and entrepreneur who chaired a panel discussion of startup marketing, pointed out, “It is probably the end of push marketing era and the future is going to be all about pull marketing or in-bound marketing”.

Our endeavor has always been to leave you, our reader, with a lesson or two from the experiences of other leaders or industry experts. In this collection, we have captured ideas of the art of brand building from 12 leaders (investors, CEOs, marketing heads and entrepreneurs) with the hope that you can take away something to implement in your own business.

For us, the biggest take away from the whole summit was that, if someone says “I have built a wonderful brand”, the next obvious question is, “does it allow you to charge a premium to your customers?” At the end of the day, the brand’s value has to have an effect on the financials of the business. It is time to breakdown the wall between brand building and financial results.

It is time to show us the money.

Happy reading.

Poornima Kavlekar has been associated with The Smart CEO since the time of launch and is the Consulting Editor of the magazine. She has been writing for almost 20 years on a cross section of topics including stocks and personal finance and now, on entrepreneurship and growth enterprises. She is a trained Yoga Teacher, an avid endurance Cyclist and a Veena player.

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