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Brand building a much-larger task than what most people presume: Shashi Sinha of Mediabrands India

Experts discussed how brands can build themselves in a fast-paced world and still stay true to their purpose at the launch of Kantar BrandZ’s Top 75 Most Valuable Indian Brands report

Brand building is a much larger task than what most people presume, said Shashi Sinha, CEO at Mediabrands India at the launch of Kantar BrandZ’s Top 75 Most Valuable Indian Brands report.

At the launch of the report, a panel that included Sinha, Subhash Kamath, Chairman, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and CEO, BBH India, and Kartik Sharma, CEO, Omnicom Media Group, discussed how marketers can build brands in the fast-changing world. The panel was moderated by Prasun Basu, Head of Growth and Digital Transformation, South Asia, Insights Division at Kantar.  

Speaking at the session titled ‘Building Valuable brands in the new age’ Sinha said the brand building is a much larger task and cited the example of how HDFC Bank managed to be one of the top brands in the country. Sinha said that the bank did not invest any money towards advertising and marketing in the first five or ten years but instead focused on advanced tech. 

“The brand focused on building technology innovations. Today after 30 years it is one of India’s top brands. I think sometimes we see it from a very limited view of what communication and marketing is. I think it is much larger,” he said. 

Sharma of Omnicom stated that although the competition among brands is much stronger, a brand with an X factor will always have an edge. “If there are five brands to choose from - with the same pricing and product - the brand that has built intangible value wins. It’s called the X factor. That is not going to change even in the future,” he explained.

“The problem is that today a lot of companies are not focusing on the intangible factor but are focusing on short-term goals. Advertising didn’t change for many years, but today trends are changing every few days,” added Sharma. 

Speaking about the challenges that marketers face today, Kamath stated that the attention spans of consumers are shorter today. He further said that as a result, brands are focusing on short-term goals rather than thinking long-term.

Kamath further said brands should strike a balance between performance marketing and brand building. “I don’t think performance marketing alone can build brand love. It can certainly be scientific, precise and targeted but I don't think that kind of communication can build the kind of brand love that we've talked about,” he stated.  

Upon being asked how brands today focus on ROI at a time when they are focusing on short-term plans, Sharma stated, “New age companies, by definition, have to show value in every rupee they are getting from investors so they are far more ROI-driven compared to traditional companies. Today there is enough data, almost real-time data, where sophisticated models can be run to give you ROI.”

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