What according to you makes a brand `hot’?

A brand can be ‘hot’ for several reasons. In today’s experience led economy:

  1. Relevant is the word which comes to me first as consumers should actually relate to it. If the brand is not relevant or responsive to the environment it will not be talked about and eventually forgotten about. Consumers will only feel emotionally connected with your brand when it feels like a friend to them. This implies that your brand should reflect their diverse lifestyles and changing aspirations.
  2. Longevity defines the relationship with a brand, if you have consistently been there in the market, you have a soft spot in your consumers mind, for example Coca Cola, recently celebrated its 100 years. That’s why it is a hot brand. For modern global brands, reinvention is the key to longevity, which means more than just a cosmetic change. It is about true invention from within as the brand breaks away from the traditional models. Take the case of Kodak, whose name once became synonymous with film. The company’s failure to look at digital photography as a disruptive technology and the inability to recreate the photography universe led to the company’s decade-long decline. History is replete with such ‘Kodak moments’, where brands have miserably failed due to their sheer inability to disrupt the equilibrium and reinvent themselves.
  3. Brand Authenticity is a key aspect that discerns long-term wining brands from fads. With Generation Y, authenticity is attained in another way than the traditional approach of claiming origin, heritage or history.
  4. Brand Advocates: Brands, to connect with consumers, need to foster advocacy and make it an integral part of their marketing strategies. Brand advocates help to “champion” the brand and are eager to promote and defend the brand. A Deloitte and Forrester report highlights that 92% of consumers trust brand advocates and customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

Experience Rich and Feature Poor: We should also not forget the consumers who are the reason de etre for brand to exist, wielding the ability to influence more than marketers or moneyed advertisers. For them brands that are asset heavy are not necessarily ‘hot’. For example, while booking a cab from Uber they don’t think about the infrastructure behind Uber but only the experience that Uber offers them. Brands are becoming more experiential and experiential brands are ‘hot’.

Ways in which you connect with the new age customers?

Traditional advertising is gradually losing its impact, new age customers hate being advertised to. With the attention span of the consumers reducing, the new-age customer or millennial has become smarter, savvier and socially active. They epitomize “I want it fast, and I want it now” behaviour. A Forbes finding reveals that, “millennial review blogs before making a purchase and look to social media for content written by their peers whom they trust.” This is a telling comment on how user generated content is the fastest to be consumed across all social media channels. With 4 Billion videos being viewed per day and 750 Billion pins on Pinterest, user generated content is the new influencer in the market and should be used to connect with the new age customer.

Today’s digital customer expects a seamlessness, personalized one-of-a-kind-experience at every touch point — anytime and anywhere, across channels. So what does this exactly mean for companies and their brands? For a B2B organization like HCL which depends on the quality of millennial talent it hires, it becomes even more important to embrace the needs and characteristics of millennial, while at the same time connecting with baby boomers in the digital age. I see three key areas where all marketers need to focus on, which include:

  1. The Art and Science of Storytelling: Every brand has a unique story to tell. It is never about the product, but the brand storytelling. Packaging is the prelude to content. If the packaging is not good, no matter how hard you try the product will not sell. Stories fascinate and make us care but facts bore.  How you connect with yours customers and make them experience your brand, amid the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, is the art you have to master. Story telling has to be deep routed to your brand and truthful to its identity. HCL’s Chronicles of Ideapreneurs, a graphic novel, is a great example here. The book has an assortment of true stories about unsung HCL employees who go above and beyond their work to create innovative, ground-breaking solutions for the company.
  2. Digital as a Channel: Digital is key for reach and engagement. With nearly 300Mn people using the internet in India, marketers must focus on the digital channels to engage and connect with the new-age consumers. HCL launched a viral video campaign, #Hiral videos (a combination of Viral and Hire), to hire the best talent and capitalized on use of social media by today’s professional to establish a direct dialogue with potential candidates. The #Hiral Videos generated 175+ million impressions and we received over 11,192 applications. Another digital campaign by HCL the #CoolestInterviewEver was designed to discover the new talent in IT field, wherein we planned to recruit through Twitter, to move away from the traditional modes of recruitment. The campaign received an excellent response from 102 countries and total engagement exceeded more than 250K. With this campaign, HCL became the leading IT industry player in reach on Twitter with more than 201K followers, ahead of global companies like IBM, Accenture and Indian Players like TCS, Infosys, and Wipro.
  3. Social Listening is Important: If you want to learn what your customers think about your brand and connect with them better, social listening or media monitoring is important to mine customer intelligence. Social Listening has helped HCL to turn negative sentiments to positive with the help of tools such as Hootsuite, Simply Measured and Twitonomy.

Has the Indian consumer changed the way they consume and how?

The impact of the internet on the Indian consumer has been extraordinary. The expectations and the consumption patterns have changed. User Experience and Design have become the game changer in such a market, with Google hiding its complexity behind a simple door and Uber removing the concept of cash and cards for payment completely, the times will only change further. Consumers now expect a seamless experience across devices, they want to navigate on the go, and communicate in real time. When consumers go online, besides saving their time they get choice and access and transparency. With smartphones changing the game for Indian consumers, they are turning to social media to discover, consume and share information. With such a drastic change in the behaviour and expectations of the consumers, brands have no option but to offer hyper-personalization across devices and tap into the changing behaviour of Indian consumers.

What makes Delhi NCR a unique brand?

An amazing quote by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib says, “I asked my soul, what is Delhi? She replied: The world is the body and Delhi its life.” What makes Delhi the soul of world is the vibrancy and exuberance it exhibits in different forms and shapes. The pace of development here is the hallmark of growth for other states, be it in the political field, commercial, corporate or entrepreneurship. Delhi-NCR is home to more than 250 of the global Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Facebook, Toyota, Shell, and Walmart etc. The city has painted the success stories of some of the hottest start-ups like Snapdeal, Zomato, Paytm and AirBnB. On the political front, the AAP’s recent stunning victory which triggered an electoral landslide has put the city on the global map. Talking about globalization, a 2014 European Occupier Survey, states that India was named by 48% MNCs as the country where they intended to expand their operations. Clearly, Delhi’s status as the emerging economic hub and world-class infrastructure has particularly contributed to this growth. An interesting way to explain the uniqueness of Delhi/NCR is the Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism.
Delhi as a brand

If Delhi was a person it would have bling, with a pompous and stylish attitude it would be one of the few personalities you’d count on to get out of any sticky situation. With his short temper, it would be very hard for anyone to mess with him. Being a resident of Delhi the citizens (consumers) think the whole world is under their command. With a high spirit they are confident enough to take risks even when the times are tough, which they always are. In addition to being a “Jugaadu” they are perceived as patriotic but are keener on showing off their class.

With a bandwagon culture Delhi/NCR is always the first in the consumer adoption life cycle giving India the major chunk of the early adopters. Even with a power-driven culture the residents of Delhi/NCR “don’t give a damn” but when they do they are seriously unpredictable, mostly because of their short temper. But at the end of the day, you find peace and security in all this chaos, and that’s why Delhi/NCR is home and home where the heart is.

Profile: Apurva Chamaria heads global Brand & Digital Marketing for HCL Technologies (HCLT)

HCL Technologies (HCLT) is a 6.5 Bn US$ IT company and Apurva  is responsible for brand marketing, employer brand, employee marketing, thought-leadership marketing , proposition development and marketing and digital marketing.  Under his leadership HCLT debuted at InterBrand Top 100 Indian Brands at No. 19 and grew 35% y-o-y on brand value and in the Brand Finance Global 500 2015 at No. 497 with a brand value of 3.1 Bn US$. In the last 2 years the HCLT campaigns have won 40 prestigious global and regional brand and marketing awards. This 10 years at HCLT, he’s performed various roles including being CEO’s Vineet Nayar’s EA, Sales Director at HCL America driving business development and leading Marketing and Strategy for Enterprise Applications Business.

He has worked in various sales & marketing positions at Ranbaxy Laboratories (now a part of Sun Pharmaceuticals).

He’s also been a journalist and a client servicing executive at an advertising agency. In various parts of his career he’s worked in Asia-Pacific, India, Africa, U.K. and North America.

He’s also a regular speaker at conferences like IAMAI MarCon, DMAI GMAW, Oracle Cloud World, LinkedIn Tech Connect, Microsoft Ignite, Paul Writer Great Indian Marketing Summit, Hindustan Times Top 50 Brands, Exchange for Media Pitch Top 50 Brands etc. and teaches a full credit digital marketing course at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) & Great Lakes Institute of Management. He’s a columnist for the Pitch magazine. His upcoming book on “Social Selling” is being published by the international publishing house Bloomsbury.

He holds a double master’s in business management (PGP from IMI) and advertising (from IIMC, JNU). He completed his schooling from Mayo College, Ajmer.


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