Business Times

Effective branding is commitment from the top say industry experts

By Sunimalee Dias

Brands require commitment and attention at the highest level of the management, this means the CEOs should take note and be aware of how to market their product effectively, industry experts opined last week at a key business forum.

While strong brands are capable of outdoing their parents, the development and building of a brand is no easy task. These observations were made by speakers at the 35TH LBR LBO CEO Forum held at the Cinnamon Lakeside on the theme “Building Brands and Changing Lives: CEOs’ Role.”

Most often than not it is the corporate culture, the values everyone needs to live by that determines the brand, ODEL MD Otara Gunawardene said. She explained that today branding is commonly accepted as more than a marketing responsibility.

In this respect, at ODEL the company uses a simple philosophy of providing the highest possible quality when marketing the product and service while making it available at an affordable price. While ensuring that value addition was made in the branding of the product she highlighted the importance of connecting with the customer.

In a bid to achieve this objective, CEOs need to take an increased interest in brand building and become the “brand custodian,” it was pointed out adding that for the ODEL entrepreneur it was a “much more natural process.”

Speaking further on the topic backed by the experience of marketing a dairy product, Fonterra Brands South West Asia Managing Director Achyut Kasireddy said that their method was in engaging the consumer in becoming part of the brand.

This was carried out by ascertaining the requirements of the customer through a careful study of how osteoporosis can affect men and women and then going beyond to assist them overcome this problem through the development of the product Anlene.

In this respect, Mr Kasireddy observed the company invested US$50 million in bone research and through personalization and empowerment they were able to get women involved in creating an awareness of the acuteness of the situation.

This proved well for the product, which began in 1991 and was by 2011 a US$400 million brand, Mr. Kasireddy said. With a passionate team it is vital to get the message across in an innovative and consumer resonant manner, it was pointed out.

Meanwhile, GSK MD Sachi Thomas addressing the forum opened off by noting that “when there is a change in behaviour revolutions do happen,” noting that this is something that brands need to watch out for.

With people changing fast today brands have grown to become associated in people’s minds, he said.
While in the past, brands used to do the talking making people to listen, today this concept has changed with more people talking and brands doing the listening to find out what their customers actually need, Mr. Thomas said.

He pointed out that today with the changing times there is a need to be tech savvy and engaged with customers on the Internet and through social media in a bid to become more oriented with the requirements.

During the panel discussion that ensued during the Q&A session it was noted that while in the past marketers had it relatively easy with less competition today however, everything is different with a very complex world and intense competition.

In this respect, the need to increasingly listen to ‘your’ customer was stressed and it was observed that changes are seen with customers talking more about products themselves than from the companies themselves.

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