Interbrand India, a global brand advisory, is widely known for publishing the highly influential annual Best Global Brands ranking. Ashish Mishra, Managing Director of Interbrand India discusses in detail the motto of the company, and what Indian brands need to do to feature alongside top global brands.
As a brand strategy expert, Ashish has played a decisive role in some of the most acclaimed brand creations and makeovers of recent times, which include corporate branding for PepsiCo GNG, rebranding of Godrej group, and makeover of Union Bank.
Can you tell me more about Interbrand India, and what it does?
Well, our purpose in India is to identify the most valuable Indian brands—brands that are aspiring to go global, and to navigate their journey towards being a global brand. That’s what we want to do here.
Sadly, there are no Indian brands in ‘Best Global Brands’ list. So, what are we doing wrong?
We are not allowing brands to lead the businesses. We are making the role of brand confined by putting it in one of the functions of the organization—that’s marketing. Therefore, the potential of brands to create value is getting suffocated. If we feed it up from there and put it in the centre of the organization and allowed it to influence everything; if we allowed it to derive the shadow business strategy, and allowed it to influence not just marketing, but production, R &D, channels, and HR, that’s when brands begin to breathe and come to life fully and create value.
According to you, which one are the most promising startups that can make to the ‘Best Global Brands’ list, and why?
Well, the promising startups are definitely the ones that we included in our ‘Breakthrough Brands’ list— that are Zomato, Paytm, and Faircent. And the reason why we believe these are the most promising brands are because they do qualify the three things that we said are the criteria for a good startup—which is to have a great deal of focus, have a good operating business model, and have a capability to activate. They seem to be having very clear focus, a good business model, and they have the capability to implement. That’s why we believe these three are the most promising startups in the country. Whether they make it to the Best Global Brands is something that is in the realm of future. And if they do well, and continue doing well like they are, I won’t put it beyond them to make it to the list someday.
We have all observed the proliferation of startups in India. So, what kind of tips will you give to budding entrepreneurs on brand building and brand engagement?
It’s again the same set of three things which is what we believe brands can enable for startups. 99.9% of startups fail everywhere in the world. Why do 99.9% of startups fail? They fail because they have one of these three things missing in their mix. They either don’t have clear focus or they don’t have a good operating model or they don’t have the capability to activate. So, for any startup these are the three simple things that we’d like to recommend. Get really focused about the role you want to play in the lives of people. If you are not making a difference then what’s the purpose of your existence. Be very focused about doing just that and not try to do too many things. Have a damn good business model attached to that purpose. And have the capability to implement and not just be sitting somewhere remote and having a great idea. Build capabilities to activate that.
You have said this time and again that brands are nothing but a set of micro experiences. What do you actually mean by those micro experiences?
It’s an interesting thing where we say today brand is the experience and experience is the brand. So, brands create an orientation for the experience, create an anchor for the experience, and when experiences happen across multiple touch-points as micro experiences, there’s a cohesion around them. That happens because the brand is hot-brewed. And when that happens brand begins to feed back into the brand. That’s what we mean by micro experiences.
How do you think branded content is changing the whole scenario of branding?
So, branded content is nothing but a discourse around the purpose of the brand. Today, why we are talking about content is because that is what people consume, and people consume content that is attractive and useful to them.
Now, how do brands take part in this business opportunity that has come up now because of the technology and connectivity is through having content that is linked to the brand, which is why it is called branded content but is of relevance to people.
If you give some promos and expect people to come and like your Facebook page, it wouldn’t generate enough of interest for you to have followers on Instagram or Twitter or have humongous likes which is the only way in which you are successful. For that to happen, tricks will not work, gimmicks will not work, paid promotions will not work. You have to have a content that enriches their lives; that makes sense to them. That’s when they will come and read you.
So, you believe that content is still the king?
Content is a bridge between the brand and the purpose of the brand and the interest of the people. All the stuff that people really want today to improve their lives and experiences is need to studied and made the purpose by the brand and the discourse of the brand needs to address all those anxieties and concerns and interests. That’s branded content.