Aishwarya Ramesh

“Fearless execution is crucial for business plans": Lulu Raghavan, Landor

In the latest episode of Amazon Audible podcast ‘Masters of Business’, Lulu Raghavan talks about the nuances of marketing, brand identity and brand building.

‘Masters of Business’ is an Audible original series aimed at helping entrepreneurs understand nuances of business. In this episode of the podcast, Landor’s managing director Lulu Raghavan speaks about the importance of networking and marketing for a business. A company’s success can be defined by the time it turns into a brand, and marketing can help with that effort. Raghavan has spent over 20 years ideating, strategising and creating successful brands. Landor is a brand consultancy and design-centric company. This particular episode of the podcast was Chapter 8 in the larger series. Here are some key takeaways on branding and marketing your business.

“Marketing exists to create a demand for your business,” she explains. “Think of it as everything you do to woo customers, win customers and retain customers,” she adds.

She breaks down marketing into four basic elements – research, strategy, planning and execution. “Many times, entrepreneurs get stuck with tactics, and they forget that research, strategy, planning needs to come first, before attempting to execute. Execution without a solid strategy plan will lead you nowhere. It’s important to pay attention to these four phases, especially in the beginning of your business,” she says.

Lulu Raghavan
Lulu Raghavan
"Think of it as everything you do to woo customers, win customers and retain customers."
Lulu Raghavan

Raghavan stresses on the fact that it is imperative for a good marketing plan to be simple in nature, adding that sometimes, she challenges marketers by asking them to put their plan down in one page. “What happens sometimes is that the core essence of the business gets lost in the middle of 100 other aspects. Simplicity is important for me. It also needs to be clear on value proposition and which aspect of the market we are going to be playing in, and the types of competitors we have and what customers we’re going to serve. We have grand objectives, but lose out on execution. So, fearless execution, when it comes to the plan, is extremely important as well,” she explains.

How do B2B and B2C companies differ?

On B2B and B2C companies, Raghavan states that, in the former, there are a multitude of stakeholders and there is emphasis on relationship building at every stage of the business. “This is when the people, who represent the company, are often those who form the brand of the company. This doesn’t happen very often in the B2C sector. The emphasis on selling to people is much higher in B2B, but decision making also tends to take much longer. In B2C companies, the time between customer awareness of a new product and of them actually closing the sales is much smaller. In a B2B scenario, you could be pursuing a client for up to six months to make a sale, since there are a multitude of touch points to manage. With B2C, people often end up having control over these touch points,” she points out.

She adds that in a B2C environment, the dependency is on retailers and franchise owners to ensure that the brand message is effectively delivered. In B2B, the presence of fewer touch points ensures that there’s greater control in what message you deliver to customers.

The most important element of branding is deciding the reason for the brand’s existence in the first place, Raghavan emphasises. “The philosophy, and who it targets form the personality of the brand. Likeable personalities is what makes a brand shine through,” she says. Raghavan also admits that her favourite exercises are ones where she needs to work with her client to create a brand from scratch, as it requires a certain sense of vision and the ability to peer into the future, and the emphasis has to be on solving customers’ unmet needs.

"The brand's philosophy, and who it targets form the personality of the brand. Likeable personalities is what makes a brand shine through."
Lulu Raghavan

Building a brand identity from scratch

“Giving a brand an identity and character is like giving birth to a baby. First comes the name – it sets the tonality for the brand. As you allow the child to grow, you have to give it values, too – this is what your brand stands for and the things that will guide your actions and behaviours. How the brand manifests across visual and verbal touch points (through which brand messages are delivered) are also important. Simply communicating an identity is not enough these days, it needs to be really felt,” she says. Raghavan gives the example of a brand that may have simplicity as its core value. She elucidates that it’s not enough if that reflects only in the tagline – the customer journey and experience must be equally simple to ensure successful translation of brand values.

“Giving a brand an identity and character is like giving birth to a baby"
Lulu Raghavan

When it comes to brand and identity building, Raghavan stresses on the need for internal players, such as the CEO, CFO and other employees, to be involved. “Also involve those who love and hate your brand, and experts who can tell you where your brand can go,” she adds.

She also stresses on the importance of picking the right name for your business in light of trademark realities – since most business categories today have hundreds of players. Raghavan’s take on the importance of a unique brand logo is that it’s no longer as critical as it used to be in the past. “Walter Landor set up Landor Associates in the 1940s and in a way, he was responsible for the inventing the concept of brand logos. In the early days, he understood that a logo is a representation of what the company stands for. Today, the logo of a brand is important, yes, but the customer experience that you deliver is equally important. For many years, too many people have emphasised too much on logo, and not enough on the experience that a customer has while interacting with the company. A logo needs to be simple, communicate one key message, but we shouldn’t over-emphasise on it…,” she says.

"A logo needs to be simple, communicate one key message, but we shouldn’t over-emphasise on it…"
Lulu Raghavan

Brand identities and social relevance

She points out that brand identity and social consciousness are two very important things in today’s world. She takes the example of large consumer companies, like Unilever, which has, for years, claimed to practice conscious capitalism – wherein the company and the brands under it take on huge social responsibilities. “This is a powerful mechanism for companies to be more involved in creating value in this world. However, it needs to be authentic and deep. It can’t just be lip service in terms of what the company is doing. If brands can find a cause that mirrors their values, they can create magic,” she says.