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Indian brands need clarity to stand with global names, says Interbrand’s Gonzalo Brujo

BestMediaInfo caught up with the CEO, EMEA LatAm to decode the best brand building exercises and how Indian brands can go global

Gonzalo Brujo

Indian brands will need to get clarity internally about what they stand for in terms of values, positioning and proposition in order to stand next to their global counterparts.

“On the external front, the Indian brands would need to show consistency, presence; be constantly engaging, authentic and relevant. Further, the brand would need to differentiate to a degree to which customers/ consumers perceive it to have a signature brand experience,” Gonzalo Brujo, CEO, EMEA LatAm and India told BestMediaInfo.com on the sidelines of the release of Interbrand’s Best Indian Brands in Mumbai.

Brujo said brands should always realise, apologise and reimburse the customers immediately in the time of crisis, noting that “In today’s world, there is no space for cover up and dishonesty.”

Excerpts:

There has been an increasing trend of Asian brands emerging as strong contenders to the global ones. What do you think about the Indian brands in this respect?

The Asian brands have definitely seen an impressive growth. We saw brands like Lenovo, Huawei and Panasonic featuring on this year’s BGB report. Five years ago, there was no Chinese brand on the league table and now we have Huawei and Lenovo. This goes to show that the future looks very bright for the brands from Asia and especially in India. As more Indian brands acquire businesses and grow global; the stronger and more effective they will become.

What will it take for Indian brands to stand next to the global brands?

Indian brands will need time to grow. We need flagship Indian brands that are reputed; have a good presence and innovative products. The brands need to grow in spite of a healthy competition, not only from the local players but also from international brands.

Tata taking over LandRover and Jaguar; Mahindra buying SanYong are classic examples of Indian brands strengthening their presence in the global market. It’s visible that these acquisitions have added value to the brand propositions.

For Indian brands to grow, they will need to get clarity internally about what the brand stands for– in terms of its values, positioning and proposition. Clarity too about target audiences, customer insights and drivers. They would need to show commitment internally and believe in its importance. The brands would need to practise governance. The degree to which the organisation has required skills and an operating model for the brand that enables effective and efficient deployment of the brand strategy. They would also need to show responsiveness– the organisation’s ability to constantly evolve the brand and business in response to, or in anticipation of, market changes, challenges and opportunities.

On the external front, the Indian brands would need to show consistency, presence; be constantly engaging, authentic and relevant. Further, the brand would need to differentiate to a degree to which customers/ consumers perceive the brand to have a signature brand experience.

Some decades ago, the Japanese brands were not well known to the world. But that changed; then came the Korean brands and the Chinese brands. Now is the moment for the Indian brands.

How difficult has it become for the brands to match the fast-changing pace in consumer behaviour, especially when social media has changed the dynamics?

Social media is very important for brands in today’s day and age. But it’s not only about how many people like a brand, but also about how many buy the brand. We need to have a relative view about social media. It talks to the masses. If the masses talk positive about a product and are loyal it, then it will definitely add value.

The most important aspect is to constantly find ways to engage consumers; to make sure that they talk about it and talk positively about it. How does one do that? Be real, remarkable and make sure that the brand is as transparent as possible. The best thing about social media is that it is a platform to help find a wider form of engagement for a brand; so that it may increase, improve, adapt and offer something that creates value for the consumers.

When it comes to handling crisis after making mistakes, which route is better – cover-up or apologise?

When there is a crisis, the most important aspects are honesty and ethics. One must respond within an hour; be as real and professional as possible. In today’s world, there is no space for cover-up and dishonesty. If you’re not transparent, people will cut off from you immediately. Hence, in times of crisis, always realise, apologise and reimburse the customers immediately for the faulty products that they bought.

This year's top brands will be building on the recently launched Best Global Brands 2017. How do you relate these two rankings?

The Best Global Brands report enlists the global brands while the best Indian brand report details the Indian brands and the Indian market. One needs to understand that while the brands can be big global businesses, they may still not make the cut in the global brands list.

The best Indian brands league table helps Indian brands get better insights and apply those insights to expand, to grow as professional businesses. BIB can help the Indian brands prepare; to compete with brands not only from India but from across markets. The combination of BIB and BGB reports is a very good combination for brands to get a perspective on both– the global and the local market.

In the best global brands study, which parameters were seen high in the Indian brands?

Indian brands have shown an impressive increase in their standards. A majority of the brands in the top 40 BIB are brands that are changing their strategy; by thinking of the consumer, evolving the product and by being purpose-driven companies that are committed to the society. These brands not only grow themselves, but also add value to the society. This is a common factor between them and some of the best global brands – the presence of a bigger purpose.

What is the purpose of launching the Interbrand ranking report? How does Interbrand benefit from it?

The purpose is to educate the industry that intangible assets are important and to communicate that the brands are those empirical assets for the businesses. It is also to emphasise that brands are interfaces between people and businesses; they are a way to connect a consumer to the companies. We at Interbrand give insights and ideas so that Indian companies can get better, expand and grow over time.

What is the most important aspect of becoming a good brand? Is it product, product service quality or a good marketing strategy?

It is a sum of all. One needs to make sure that the brand provides a holistic experience to the customer; that one connects with every single touch-point. It is no longer about only the customer journey but also about the overall experience. Thus, one needs to ensure that brands become an enjoyable experience for the consumer. This helps in building loyalty. The brands need to have a unique selling proposition that appeals to the consumers so that the people may buy the product. One needs to make sure that the brands have a good business strategy and a good brand strategy aligned to it. A good reputation strategy; a good social media strategy and good engagement strategy– to make sure that the brand attracts and retains the best talent that helps in driving the business.

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