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Brand building through the eyes of the C-Suite

What does it take for brands to survive and thrive amid the impact of pandemic – fueled brand disruptions felt across industries? We asked myriad leaders to put on their thinking caps.

Everywhere we look, the world around us has changed, with the manner in which we approach the everyday having evolved.

In this changing milieu, the nature of branding too has taken on a new life. Operating in a fragmented marketplace (virtual and physical) is now commonplace, with consumers greedily devouring every morsel that brands have on o­ffer across channels and formats, often quicker than you recognise. Look in the mirror, and you’ll know it to be true; the modern consumer is a canny creature that wants it all, all the time, wherever, whenever.

And while all of this might have been in flux, the essence of brands remain timeless. Cast your mind to some of your favourite brands, and you might come to realise that many of them stand for values and espouse qualities that resonate with your own. And again, just as you have evolved and grown with the passage of time, so too have brands to keep step with the demands of a new breed of consumers and a new world order.

As companies look to chart a course through an evolving landscape with soaring consumer demands and expectations, strengthening the core strength of the brand will become an ever-more-important strategic pillar. It goes without saying that this is a daunting challenge, and it is but natural that we pick the brains of diverse industry leaders as we seek to gauge the pulse and sentiment of the industry. Here are their diverse perspectives, all in one place.

“As brands, we are directly or indirectly through our products or through our communication. When we envision a better society or a better tomorrow, it must be a holistic view from the point of view of the planet as well as the wellbeing and safety of our consumers. One way in which we can do this is by adopting a ‘Consumer Centric’ mindset.

As a brand, when you are truly Consumer Centric, i.e., focused on delivering the best for your consumers, you will ensure the best quality of material used in production, high-end technology, safety, and convenience of use. Each of these add to the longevity of products, which in turn helps create a sustainable world, as products can be used for many years at a stretch. On the communication front, we as brands, need to be more conscious and selective about the portrayals, the language and the lifestyles we showcase through our ad films and other promotional material as these may indirectly influence behaviours. Today, the recognition for Bosch Home Appliances as the ‘Brand of the Year’ is a testimony of our consumer centricity, which is focused on a better tomorrow.”

NEERAJ BAHL
MD & CEO
BSH HomeAppliances (India & SAARC)

SUNIL NAYAK
CEO
Reliance Jewels (Reliance Retail Limited)

“The Jewellery industry is one of the most traditional industries in India. The most important criteria for the buyers are the need to touch, feel, and wear the products while selecting the jewellery pieces. This in turn is the main reason why offline sales have always dominated. This has not only led to the slow growth in the e-commerce space, but has also resulted in the industry being one of the slow adopters of technology.

Keeping this challenge in mind, when the pandemic struck, we expected a big slump in sales and lost all opportunities to convert customers. This led us to re-evaluate the business model by implementing an omni-channel approach with an enhanced digital strategy to boost sales. This became our first major step to tech transformation We also started value-add services like 1 day dispatch, 5-day delivery, and augmented reality. This enabled customers to try and purchase virtually.

We will continue to infuse technology in our business keeping in mind the rapidly changing dynamics of the Indian consumer.”

SATYAKI GHOSH
CEO – Domestic Textiles
Aditya Birla Group

“To keep pace with ever evolving consumer needs, we have launched several first-of-their-kind innovations in the category to add more dimensions to the Linen wearability experience. Some of these innovative products are Uncrushable (100% linen wrinkle resistant range), SmartCare (100% linen stain resistant range), Lino-stretch (Linen comfort stretch range) SmartCool (Thermoregulation & odour absorbent range), Fabroma (Fragrance & feel fresh range), and Lin shield (Anti-viral wellness range).

We are committed to continuing to creating ‘good fashion’, ensuring sustainability practices in each stage of manufacturing is our way of life. Our Wealth-out-of-Waste is an initiative centred around the idea of a circular economy and involves recycling and reusing materials and industrial symbiosis. Here, the waste that is generated during flax production, is upcycled to create blended yarn, linerich fabric and even ready to wear apparel. The result of this reuse of materials reduces energy and material requirements and the production of an overall greener product.”

PRAVEEN JAIPURIAR
CEO
Continental Coffee (CCL India Products Ltd.)

“One of the most important parameters for brand success is its connection with the right consumer insight backed by a strong product. Tapping onto the consumer needs and providing them the desired product at the right time and right place. The brand has to be more human in nature and connect with consumers with a creative and consistent message.

Continental Coffee has a strong R&D and quality expertise which helps us to deliver different kinds of blends catering to different consumer palatability. Basis our research in India, consumers in the South and North have different palates, and hence we have different offerings from our end.

When it comes to filer coffee, consumers prefer to make it their own way as they believe that preparing it is an art where the right blend of coffee and chicory needs to be perfectly roasted and ground to size to have a perfect coffee decoction. Continental Malgudi has been prepared with a lot of care and precision to deliver what these consumers expect.”

SILADITYA SARANGI
Country Head – India
Figaro Olive Oil – Deoleo India

“Consistently delivering brand promise is the most important aspect that the brand must aim for, and that’s what Figaro has been doing since years in the country.

Our offering will continue to be more and more consumer centric. Given the increasing potential in middle class segment in India and with advent of health, wellness & dietary preferences, we are focusing towards making Olive oil more accessible to consumers through diversified portfolio. Olive oil and its association with skin care are known, and we intend to bring in scientifically proven superior product into the market and pass on the Spanish heritage of Olive Oil to India.

India is a key market for us, and we will continue to invest more to make the best of opportunities ahead of us. Since we started managing our own imports, we have strengthened our distribution, manufacturing, and marketing capabilities.”

NARESH CHANDER OBEROI
CMD
Powerica Limited

“To delight customers is a common goal for companies trying to build or maintain a healthy brand image. However, at Powerica, we strive to exceed our customer satisfaction goals even in times of uncertainty. In doing so, we build relations with our clients and vendors based on confidence and trust. If times are good, our customers are confident that we will get the job done. and when times are bad they trust us to do the same.

We rely on our workforce expertise to ensure world-class support for every customer requirement. With our high service standard, we foster customer loyalty ensuring their needs are met at every stage of our power solution.

As a carbon-neutral company, we seek to provide the most sustainable products to our customers, and in doing so, aid with their own sustainability goals. Additionally, we prioritize a hundred percent compliance in community outreach.”

AJAY S. SHRIRAM
Chairman & Sr MD,
DCM Shriram Ltd.

“The key factors for our success have been our focus on our core values and culture, which are deeply rooted in our heritage and reflect our conviction to build a vibrant, growing, and resilient organization. We are proud to be a part of the India growth story and have committed to strongly focus on ESG. We believe in giving back to society, and our policies are a reflection of our commitment to engage and work closely with the community and society. This recognition of our brand further strengthens our resolve to keep “Growing with Trust”.

DEEPAK GARG
MD
Sany India & South Asia

“Customer satisfaction is the foremost aspect we have in mind while manufacturing a product. Our products should be of world-class standards, and meet the expectations of the customers without creating a dent in their pockets. These tenets have always held us in good stead and helped us surge ahead on a success path. Our strategy has stayed the same since inception; all products are designed to stay true to the company’s vision. We have never compromised on quality and stood by our belief “Quality changes the world” even in the most trying times. This has certainly helped us to stay ahead of other players, expand our business and also gain a huge customer base. Best in class quality has not only ensured brand loyalty, but has helped us reach the pinnacle of success across the globe. We have sustained this success since inception, and the formula or mantra for achieving is not at all complex. Maintain quality, be genuinely concerned about your client’s expectations and grievances, resolve issues before it catapults into a crisis, and prioritize your stakeholder’s requirements at all times.”

ARUN SHUKLA
President
JK Lakshmi Cement Ltd

“A trend that we need to keep an eye on is the emergence of digital-savvy consumers. In the post-COVID era, the target customer of our brand has embraced digital media in a big way and the brand JK Lakshmi is also geared to transform the way we work and adapt to newer ways of communication and customer engagement.”

MADHAV THAPAR
VP – South Asia, Middle East & Africa
C.H. Robinson

“The past couple of years have seen unprecedented volatility and disruptions in global supply chains. We’ve been focused on leveraging our technology, global suite of services, unmatched scale and team of global experts to help provide the agility and resiliency our customers have needed to adapt and take quick action, especially as tight capacity and COVID-related lockdowns have added to the challenges. The real measure of our success is that we added to our customer base, improved both our Customer and Employee satisfaction scores and continued uninterrupted in our journey of building talent, product innovation, and technological investment.”

SUBODH PETHE
Chairman and MD
Waman Hari Pethe Sons

“From our perspective success is because of many factors. Firstly, it’s about staying true to your roots. Second, never compromise on integrity. Lastly, there must be a focus on Innovation. We have pushed the envelope to create lightweight jewellery, where we offer same-design, same-appearance, same-shine articles with 25% less gold. For a nation where gold buying and gifting is integrated into our rites, rituals, and cultures and is a matter of pride – this innovation is a boon.”

MEHUL NANAVATI
MD
Raj Petro Specialities

“Our success story is built on the four key pillars – Future Forward, Innovate Everyday, People Focussed, and Sustainable core. These pillars are not exclusive; they are interlinked. For instance, the products we are innovating today should be sustainable; if they are sustainable, they are good for the future, and propel us forward.

We believe our employees are the key to our success and growth, and work towards creating a future that’s positive for both business and society at large, challenging the status quo to deliver high-quality products, services, and solutions that delight our customers and partners.”

SUNU MATHEW
Founder & MD
LEAP India

“LEAP’s mantra of sustained success has always been to create a culture of innovation and excellence that brings people together around the shared mission of providing dependable and cost-effective solutions via our circular business model based on share and reuse. We believe that through the successful combination of our circular model based on the idea of share and reuse and our supply chain expertise, we are reducing operating costs and the demand for natural resources not just in LEAP but also across India’s supply chains.”

MAHESH. M
CEO
Creaticity Mall

“Thanks to the new normal, consumers need convenience and comfort combined with hassle-free, one stop solutions for all their home making needs. Today’s consumers are looking for a holistic experience, which is where Creaticity’s one-stop solutions comes handy by providing complete support on product selection, brand choice, and space design through meaningful knowledge sharing with end-to-end execution. By doing this, we create value in the consumer homemaking journey through co-creation and hassle-free execution, enabling joy at each stage.”

GOVIND SINGH
MD & CEO
Utkarsh Small Finance Bank

“As a Small Finance Bank, we focus on establishing relationships, creating a strong community connect to build trust and credibility, and increase community connect to spread awareness for larger audiences across locations. Fair and transparent relationship is the mantra everyone in the organization is committed to, and this enables us to continue enhancing our capabilities, nurture hope, and rekindle livelihoods.

To build a successful financial institution, it is imperative that there is a balance in approach to business. We believe in responsible banking that helps in bridging the socio-economic disparity.”

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