Branding has always been around from time immemorial. If we go back to the times of Mahabharata, the conch shells used by each warrior and the flags on their chariots represented their own brand. Pitamah Bhishma wore white that made him stand apart in a battle field. The sound of the Gaandiv announced the arrival of Arjun. The Ashwamedh Yagna is another example of branding to establish the supremacy of a kingdom in ancient times.
It was always branding that helped you identify the good from the bad, the team, the tribe, the community that you chose to belong to identified itself with its individual branding communicated to sounds, colours, customs, beliefs and values.
The basics of branding have not changed in the last few thousand years only the methods of achieving the goals have changed.
You will agree that corporations have made branding commercial. For practical purposes, let us look at branding pre-social media and post social media so that we stay relevant to the topic of branding in context of commercial enterprises.
In the pre social media era, branding was usually a monologue. It was expensive. One relied on mass media like television commercials, radio spots, print ads to depend on branding. Editorial coverage added to the possibilities but it was not easy to get regular editorial coverage. It was therefore difficult for new companies with low budget to invest in branding. And it was an undue advantage for bigger corporations who had heavy purses to brand themselves and grow.
The emergence of digital and social media has been a great equalizer in the world of branding. It has not only made globalization of brands easy & possible but has also has given every brand the equal opportunity to market itself. Another transition and a big change that happened with the advent of social media is the emergence of branding as a dialogue. Today, thanks to social media, brands can reach out to the target audience across the world at minimal cost.
How can companies engage themselves with their target groups in this new era by combining the best of the old world and new world?
1.Encouraging direct real-time connection between companies and stakeholders:
Thanks to the new media, it is easier than ever to reach out to your audience directly and have a real time interaction. The companies could develop forums where the senior management can interact with the stakeholders at a regular basis. This can help answer a lot of queries first hand. The companies can brand themselves as real and humane by sharing their views & vision and at the same time get a real time view of the pulse of the audience. This can help in creating an image of your company as straight forward, honest, responsive and humane. It will help you retain customers and attract more in the future.
2.Leverage the network of your stakeholders:
Word of Mouth (WoM) is a powerful tool. In fact, in today’s world, it is the most powerful. More and more customers are relying on other users for their experiences before they try out something new. It is therefore an opportunity to encourage your followers to spread the word. Reposting their posts and thanking them for their support can sometimes be easily one of the most effective tools to encourage regular followers of your brand. It can help you create visibility but more importantly, these followers will support and fight for you in occasions of crises. And thereby protect your brand.
Employees are your biggest brand ambassadors. The image that they portray to the outside world can make or break your reputation and the brand. The social media can be effectively used to engage the employees by highlighting their achievements and making them feel valued. We must remember that the more we are able to promote our employees, it indirectly promotes our brands.
4.Be a good corporate citizen:
In today’s world, just making a better product is only half the task. It is also important to show the world how you are making the product. What is your contribution to your communities? How are you impacting your surroundings? Are you taking a stance on the happenings in your markets?
It is easy to take a stance in today’s world and using the various forums on social media, one can easily show the good work they are doing for the community and the country. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a huge opportunity to showcase your involvement towards making this world a better place.
Everything comes at a price. The ease and accessibility has given rise to the problems I would like to refer to them as the 3LoCs – Lack of Control, Lack of Concentration and Lack of Correctness. What I mean is that the risks in branding have gone up in recent times. Since anyone from anywhere in the world can use the social media to write about you or your brand and more often than not you are in a position to control it, it is highly advised to be proactive and vigilant about your reputation. You must take appropriate measures to mitigate any risk that you foresee or perceive.
Change is always for the better. The changing landscape for branding is a huge opportunity for businesses to harness and use to their benefit. The possibilities are bigger, the opportunities are larger and therefore it is a wonderful chance for all of us to build global businesses. Let’s benefit from it.
Mr. Ashish Tandon is the Managing Director of Egis in India. Under his leadership, the Company has successfully strengthened its position across all infrastructure sectors to emerge as an integrated infrastructure company. Today Egis India is a debt-free company with sufficient revenue and is generating enough liquidity to fund its future growth plans. Mr. Tandon is instrumental in making Egis India the cornerstone of the Egis Group. Under his leadership, Egis in India is playing a crucial role in expanding the reach of Egis group in Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh & has been made one of the three ‘Pole Countries’ for the Egis Group.
A meritorious engineer from AMU of the 1981 batch, Mr. Tandon started his career with then English Electric, which later became GEC Alsthom, then Alstom and thereafter Areva T&D. He rose to become the Country Sales Director for T&D. He joined Reliance Infrastructure as the EPC head and then BGR Energy as President (Sales and Marketing). At BGR, he was instrumental in procuring the bulk order for 660 MW TG & Boilers from NTPC.
Over the years, in the industry and amongst his peers, he has developed the reputation of being the spectacular turnaround man.
Mr. Tandon is a sportsperson and has been a part of competitive Cricket and Hockey. Today he is an avid regular golfer.
His motto in life is – nothing is impossible and strongly feels that whatever one envisages, one should carry out with honesty and should excel in it.