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Jio has become a milestone for us globally, says Interbrand's Borja Borrero

Borrero speaks how the field of brand consultancy has evolved in the country, the challenges the industry faces in India and what consumers seek from brands in this age of abundance

Borja Borrero

One of the world's leading brand consultancies, Interbrand is slowly cementing its reputation in India. After the launch of Jio in the country, Interbrand recently undertook the rebranding of Britannia, which completed 100 years in India.

While Borja Borrero, Executive Creative Director, EMEA & LatAm, Interbrand, did lend his expertise for Jio, Britannia is the first Indian project that he was completely involved in. Not surprisingly, it is also a project that is closest to his heart.

Borrero joined Interbrand 15 years ago as the head of the creative department. About four years ago, he started taking care of the sub-Indian content and some Middle Eastern and Latin American countries.

BestMediaInfo.com caught up with him to understand how the field of brand consultancy has evolved in the country, the challenges that the industry faces in the country and what is it that consumers seek from brands in this age of abundance.

Excerpts:

You recently partnered with Britannia to launch its new brand identity and positioning. Britannia is a 100-year-old brand. How difficult is it to reposition an already established brand and build a new identity for it?

When you have a smart client in front of you, everything becomes easy. When the client knows what they want and when they are open to suggestions, everything is easier. The challenging part was that when you are handling a 100-year-old brand, you have to be very careful not to break away from who they were in the past. It has to be an exercise of evolution rather than revolution. The brief we got from Britannia was to celebrate the legacy of the brand but also appeal to the new generation and Britannia wanted to go paint themselves as a whole foods’ brand. We used these points from the brief to build a narrative. At Interbrand, we are much more interested in creating a mantra or a purpose for the brand. We co-created a lot of the work that was done for Britannia with the brand team, which is something that Interbrand is doing a lot more. Not being passive by executing a project and then showing it to the client but rather incorporating the client in the decision making and creative process.

You have worked on both, Jio (a brand that you launched in India) and Britannia (an already established brand). What would you say is more challenging, helping to build a brand from scratch or rebranding an already established name?

For Britannia, the challenge was in balancing how much to keep from the past and how much to reinvent into the future. That is a challenging task, especially with Britannia, because it is a consumer brand. It has a very emotional connect with the consumers and so it becomes very tricky to touch that and not destroy it but rather reinvent the value that it has. Jio was a completely different story. Working from scratch with a white sheet of paper is always a little bit easier because you are free (or you think you are free) to do whatever you want (but you are not). With Jio, we were capable of finding the right narrative. I think our success lay in the fact that we created this multi-cultural, multi-layered expression and narrative that really connected with the consumers. Another thing that worked for us is that the brand team really wanted to launch the brand in no time. Sometimes, it is better when you have a tight schedule because the decision-making process becomes very agile. As a matter of fact, we had to build an in-house team to create the whole thing and implement it. Today, Interbrand talks about Jio as a milestone in their history globally.

How do you see the field of brand consultancy shaping up in India? Do you think Indian brands and brand custodians are more open to the idea now than they were in the past?

While branding in India is a growing field, there are many things to be done still. India is a complex country because it has myriad cultures and languages and, therefore, it is not as easy as it would be in a country that has just one culture and one language. The complexity of the population has been a barrier for bigger branding exercises because implementing brands that are relevant to everybody, especially when you have such diversity, is not easy. But now with all these projects that we are doing here like Jio and Britannia, we are seeing an awakening of the branding industry. Also at Interbrand, we rank the best global brands and then locally Indian brands so this has suddenly started a lot of discussions about what is the value of brands and indirectly this has got a lot of CEOs and C-suite people being aware and mindful of the importance of brands. So all these elements contribute to generating a bigger opportunity for the branding industry in general and for Interbrand in particular. Also with globalisation, Indian brands are realising that they need stronger branding to compete against other global brands that have been doing branding exercises for many years.

India has become a very important market for a lot of global brands but we still don't see a lot of Indian brands on the global canvas. What is the reason?

To me, India is a continent in itself. Brands in India have to deal with the diverse population, culture, languages, races and climates. That is why brands in India have been very inward looking because they have enough market and enough challenges inside the country to worry about. But the good thing about technology is that it makes things easier for everyone. Internet is making the world smaller. And brands in the digital era should be streamlined, simplified and open to any culture. I think there is a big opportunity through technology for Indian brands to become global.

Brand consultancy, as a field, is beginning to get a little crowded in the country with lots of small and one person-led consultancies coming into the existence. How will Interbrand tackle this competition?

We are seeing that the lines are blurring between industries. Now research organisations like KPMG or PWC are also entering the branding area. The key differentiator of Interbrand is that we bring the best of business consultancy, strategy and research to the table. We deeply understand the brand, the consumer, the market and the competition. We also have the biggest capabilities on the creative side. We have the best designers, programmers, graphic designers and fashion designers. So we have a 50% business consultancy mindset and 50% creative boutique mindset. Many of our competitors, if not all of them, are not capable of doing that. On top of that, Interbrand just recently incorporated C space, which is an agency that works on consumer insight.

Would you say the field of brand consultancy faces scalability challenges?

Interbrand is a global network. It is true that doing branding in the US is completely different from doing the same in Spain. I don’t think there are scalability issues though. As the world becomes smaller, everything tends to get standardised by technology. So, you can apply the same logic and the same tools and processes anywhere because unconsciously we are becoming similar to each other.

In this age of abundance, what do you think are customers looking for from a brand?

A lot of products and services are getting commoditised so people are looking for a brand with a purpose. The new generation is more attracted to companies that have a purpose and a role to play in the society that contributes to the good of the world.

Interbrand’s future plans?

For many years, we have been growing strongly in different markets and we wanted to have this expertise by culture. Year by year we are turning into a brand consultancy that have the best teams built for a specific project that happen in any market. So instead of being culture-driven or country-driven, we are becoming industry-driven. That is the future and that is how we are shaping our teams around the world.

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