Brand Owner's Summit: Building for brands

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | October 29, 2013
Day Two of the summit saw speakers giving ideas and suggestions about building brand strategies and enhancing brand values.

Raju Venkatraman

Mittu Chandilya

C K Kumaravel

Mayur Abhaya

G S Sundararajan

Tushar Vyas

Mahesh Murthy

The second day of the Chennai edition of Brand Owner's Summit, organised by afaqs! in association with The Smart CEO, focused heavily on building brand strategies and enhancing values. The speakers for the session on Day Two were Raju Venkatraman, founder and CEO, Medall Healthcare; C K Kumaravel, co-founder and CEO, Natural Beauty Salon India; G S Sundararajan, group director, Shriram Group; Tushar Vyas, managing partner, South Asia, GroupM; Mahesh Murthy, founding partner, Seed Fund; Mayur Abhaya, founder, Lifecell; and Air Asia CEO Mittu Chandilya.

Speaking about his experience in creating companies that became successful and bought over, Medall's Venkatraman recalled that when it came to branding, his initial focus was only customers. But he later realised that investors and venture capitalists were equally important. He added that one needed to constantly reinvent what the brand should be. "One brand that excites me is Starbucks. The brand's outlets have a peculiar smell, which acts as a powerful recall."

Meanwhile, Air Asia's Chandilya spoke about the Malaysian airline's philosophy and the principles it stood for. He emphasised that the airline was a people's airline, so every member of the staff was important. Also, the airline prided in being the only airline that was low cost but at the same time assured its passengers all the amenities which they would expect in normal premium flights.

Kumaravel of Naturals, while narrating the hair and beauty salon's brand journey, said how despite not having knowledge in the domain, one could create a successful business by observing the need gap in the market and offering services bridging this gap.

Finding such a gap in healthcare was another entrepreneur - Mayur Abhaya, who started Lifecell, which stores stem cells from the umbilical cord of new born babies, much like a bank. The venture faced challenges like a uniform name for the brand and the company, competition, creation of interest among doctors as well as parents, maintaining quality, skilled staff and continuous innovation in services offered.

According to Shriram Group's Sundararajan, building the financial brand was never a priority for the group. "We believed that sheer performance and word of mouth would help in building the brand," he said. While purpose creates advantage for a brand, what's more important is uniformity and consistency of the purpose and communicating this purpose to internal and external stakeholders and audience, he believed. However, he admitted, with changing times, the brand was now contemplating digital campaigns.

Building brands in the digital space is precisely what GroupM's Vyas addressed. He took the audience through the media consumption behaviour and the media itself that have undergone a sea change. With a large number of people preferring to be online, the data trail that is left behind by digital users is a gold mine for people in the media industry. "New distribution models are coming in content creation and that is affecting programming. Power of TV is enhanced by social media, with mobile devices becoming a primary source of consumption," Vyas said, highlighting that what used to be advertising is becoming content and brands are becoming more and more storytellers.

However, Seed Fund's Murthy had a different take on it all. Being quite vehement against advertising, he believed that brands need to get their branding communication and architecture right and then aim to become No. 1. He added that brands that claimed perfection were brittle brands. "It's far better to take a human position as your fallacies will be forgiven," he said.

Murthy further added that brands that spent less on media tended to become leaders, for instance, Google and Amazon. For him, the 4Ps of marketing were obsolete and what mattered were absorb, solve, plan, ideate, radiate, reorganise (your marketing), listen, analyse, inspire and spread. Finally, Murthy asserted that the next big thing was video, which had a lot of potential to enhance and create buzz for a brand.

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