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Brand building vs Performance Marketing: getting the balance right

A to and fro between industry experts.

'Brand building vs Performance Marketing', it this conflict that was the core theme of a panel discussion conducted at the Star FLOW festival, a premier marketing and communications event initiated by The Times of India held held at The Leela Ambience in Gurugram, today. Panellists included Rajeev Karwal, chairman, Milagrow Robots; Shripad Nadkarni, founder-director, Maverix Platforms; Tapan Singhel, CEO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance; Hitesh Oberoi, MD and CEO, Info Edge India. The session was moderated by Chandrasekar Radhakrishnan, VP - strategy and insights, Coca-Cola India and South-West Asia.

(L-R)  Shripad Nadkarni, Rajeev Karwal, Chandrasekar Radhakrishnan, Tapan Singhel and  Hitesh Oberoi
(L-R) Shripad Nadkarni, Rajeev Karwal, Chandrasekar Radhakrishnan, Tapan Singhel and Hitesh Oberoi

Radhakrishnan initiates the session by taking the conversation to Maverix Platforms’ Nadkarni by asking if it is really an either-or scenario. Nadkarni responds, “It is never ‘or’ and is about ‘and’ but it is about sequencing and both aim to end in the same place.”

Radhakrishnan then approaches Milagrow Robots’ Karwal, he responds, “While joining LG in 1996, the then MD said I had to choose between sales and marketing. I refused. I wanted to make sure that sales does what marketing says and vice-versa. You won’t succeed if you don’t have that dichotomy. Marketing I always believe has to be performance-based. It is the art and science of getting to a consumer’s heart through the mind. You have to create an affinity, but it doesn’t mean that it does not need to be measured. While exhibiting products, I asked why can’t we sell at the same time? Brand building and performance has to go hand in hand.”

Tapan Singhel, asked about the scenario at an insurance brand says, “We didn’t have a tangible product. How do you build a brand here? We decided to build it on trust and delivery. And anybody who lied about the service gets fired. My spend on marketing would be the lowest. We have to offer ethical behaviour of the highest order.”

Hitesh Oberoi from Info Edge India adds to the issue of building online brands, saying, “It is more akin to distribution and sales. It is about creating that trial and the desire to buy a product. Why should he click on my ad and not a rival’s? It only brings the customer in and does not retain him. It is, in fact, the experience that determines if he will come back. We spend on performance but with specific objectives like registration, etc.”

Nadkarni further explains, “Is it related to categories or the stage of brand. The DNA has to be evident to the customer at all touchpoints. That’s critical. Performance is measured in sales but branding is measured more on bonding scores, loyalty, etc. The best measure is if there is an opportunity to charge a premium.”

Tapan Singhel mentions, “If I deliver my promises, why should I be worried about charging a premium?”

Rajeev Karwal disagrees with Nadkarni’s ‘premium’ opinion and says, “You can be a brand with many varying objectives. Product management is also a part of it and how your sales and advertising speak about is also important.”

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