I read recently about Group M Indiaâ€™s digital transformation journey being re-constructed as a case study by the prestigious IMD Management Institute of Lausanne. We know by now how the valiant demonstration of the Taj Mumbai staff during 26/11 is discussed in Harvard as an exemplary instance of Culture while the Project Shakti of HLL India has been for years a poster-boy of Indian enterprise. There is compelling evidence to confirm that brands must invest in a strategic and not sporadic manner in creating documented cases to secure their role in posterity.
An enormous challenge faced by brands in this hyper-competitive environment is to establish meaningful influence that goes way beyond the transaction. To create equity that gets transferred to future customers while becoming a further reason for affiliation to the present user. That is why brands today invest in CSR initiatives, not just for regulatory mandates, while also spending serious time in building purpose and not just a consumption point-of-difference. When ITC B Natural juices invite us to join the Zero Concentrate cause, it is most certainly an invitation that goes beyond just the delight of usage, instead attempting to align the customer through semi-activism. Case studies or commissioned inspirational documentation of successes can become vital assets in the quest to create long-term impact, as they remain as conversation pieces and references for future actions. However, except a few exceptional cases, the culture of such writing does not exist in organisations due to a denial of value or simply a lack of priority. Also, the few such evidences are usually a function of interested academicians and not committed brand owners.
Every successful brand, unconnected to category, must thus immediately invest in a Case Study Strategy, a planned way to document, celebrate and indeed inspire. The first and most predictable way is to forge relationships with academic institutions in India and abroad, by inviting professors to assess the existing opportunities. Credibility is earned quite easily as a result, the opinions of a learned third-party classically journalistic in their neutrality. In such cases the challenge remains suitable dissemination, especially the ability to make it connect with the core stakeholder. This is why we must now explore innovative formats for development and presentation, not just from an academic but from a practical lens. The Corporate Communications Division can commission in-house cases that will appear as written documents as well as video cases, in shorter as well as longer formats, to ensure that the brevity sought by this generation is under consideration. They will feature not just in the websites as per convention but will be regularly fed in the social media in interactive conversational formats and even appear as paid advertising if necessary, proof of performance more potent that simply claims. Creative technology can lead to such cases being developed through genuinely interactive means, involving the user across the consumption chain.
If a student is attracted from a scientific or inspirational dimension, chances are significant that she will become an active patron of the brand. Thus, a Volvo can build credible cases on safety while the Macbook can become a valuable attraction before it becomes a necessary accessory, as in the case of organic foods and natural therapies. In fact, this approach of seeding cases across relevant forums can help create brand belief way before the performance gets evaluated, leading to easier patronage. For an existing customer as well, the establishment of stature through publishing and demonstration online will help enhance her respect for the brand, offering insurance for the occasional performance failure or lack of edge. Apart from every other consideration, the Tata brand is globally written-about as a case of nation-building and integrity, which acts as an overriding halo above every business venture.
Organisations must urgently consider the building of Case Studies as a key strategic tool and not a frivolous exercise connected to award entries, ideally connecting brand team evaluations to this under-rated dimension. When written about or produced as an audio-visual, brands earn an entry in the pages of history and not just the kitchen-shelf or refrigerator. Unlike most other opportunities, this simply demands rigorous imagination in execution and not remarkable excess in budgets, so definitely no excuses for ignoring.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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