An effective sustainable development policy plays a positive influence on overall brand perception

An effective sustainable development policy plays a positive influence on overall brand perception

Jacob Mathew
Head - Image & Communication, Zuari Cement
While designing a campaign or planning a branding exercise, our top three priorities are identifying the communication objective, deciding the campaign message and optimum communication channel mix, and determining campaign effectiveness, says Jacob Mathew, Head-Image & Communication, Zuari Cement. Excerpts from the interview.

How important is it to create a separate brand image for a product like cement?
Cement being a commodity, it is very important to build a strong brand image. The truly differentiating factor in cement is only the brand. This is where an effective branding and marketing exercise plays a vital role.

What are the channels available for building a brand? Which of the medium do you find more effective?
Across industry, above the line (ATL), below the line (BTL) and through the line (TTL) methods are used for effective communication. We use an optimum mix of all these methods according to our requirement.

What suggestions do you have for smaller companies with tighter budgets trying to build a brand?
The primary step is to identify its attributes and promise the value offered by the brand. The USP tells your target market the compelling reason to buy a brand. Once the USP is identified, then you begin to build and communicate your brand aspects based on the same. Tighter budgets are not necessarily a constraint. We have been very successful in building our brand on shoestring budgets.

Which characteristic of your brand are you trying to highlight through advertisements?
Innovation and strength. Our TTL approach had a television commercial with the brand mascot, ´elephant´, performing flip flops on a trampoline, supported by a print and outdoor campaign depicting the mascot having a leisurely time, perched on various structures. The focus was to be innovative and creative in the communication strategy.

Do you feel green products appeal more to customers?
Yes. The modern day customers are aware of the environmental aspects, and are interested in products that have a green commitment.

Do rural and urban markets require different campaigning strategies?
The overall strategy would remain the same; however, the approach towards the market will differ as per the target group composition, which is different in different markets.

How do you look at celebrity endorsements? Does it bring more value to a product?
It is a highly subjective option. Personally I am not in favour of celebrity endorsements. However, if the brand is new and needs a credible vehicle to build confidence, this could be an option.

Apart from cement´s strength, what are the other factors important for consumers?
In the long term, trust vis-a-vis product quality and durability are the most important factors.

What would be the top three things that one must keep in mind while designing a campaign or planning a branding exercise?
The top three priorities are: identifying the communication objective, deciding the campaign message and optimum communication channel mix, and determining campaign effectiveness.

How does one evaluate the ROI of a branding exercise?
Our brand experience shows that there is a correlation between the investment and its impact on sales. Additionally, it creates higher recall and loyalty of the consumers towards the brand and adds to the ´premium´ effect of the brand. The payoff is a gradual reciprocation of the branding exercise.

Could you share examples of non-traditional methods adopted by you to promote your brand?
On Women´s Day, a radio campaign´Har ghar ka champion´ was one such initiative. The concept was to celebrate women in all aspects of life from our home to our neighbourhood, from history to the women of today; all of them who have shown strength. It was our simple effort to communicate and accolade these women, who have displayed great character and thoughts to become true champions and stand as a symbol of inspiration for other women and men at the same time.

The inherent strength that the cement impresses upon any structure is well-distinguished. On a similar note, to connect to the women of strength, ´Har ghar ka champion´ was a thoughtful project to aptly demonstrate the brand principles and ideologies.

How does CSR impact corporate branding?
An effective sustainable development policy does play a positive influence on overall brand perception.

How does incentivising dealers compare with spending on advertising?
Incentivising dealers and advertising spending goes hand-in-hand. A proper equilibrium is required in order to achieve your brand goals.

Please share percentage-wise breakup of your spending on promotional activities?
Generally BTL dominates our spend through specific connect programmes followed by ATL and TTL spends.

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