One size doesn’t fit all: Brand leaders on finding the right audience and connecting with them

In the second episode of Brand Studio Live, a monthly telecast live from the HT newsroom, seven marketing leaders shared their experiences and views on the evolution of branded content

New Delhi: Faced with shrinking brand-loyalty, companies need to think of branded content as communication beyond advertising instead of chasing universal metrics to judge the effectiveness of their campaigns, said Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer at Wavemaker, on Tuesday.

Nagarajan was speaking at the second edition of Brand Studio Live—an ongoing series which gets the brains behind India’s top brands to decode marketing innovations and more.

The event is webcast live from the HT newsroom, and is co-hosted by HT Brand Studio and DMAasia.

While in the past, brands focused on established media like TV ads or long-form articles to appeal to customers, now emotional marketing and mobile first content strategy are the buzzwords for companies to stand out from the clutter. This is why content strategy should evolve constantly and not be an extension of a company’s older media strategy, Solomon Wheeler, the Vice President - Head Marketing at Vistara said.

Weighing in on the conversation from a publisher’s perspective, Rajiv Bansal the Chief Executive Officer of HT Digital Streams said that while collaborating with a publishing house will lend more authenticity to a brand, care must be taken to rigorously fact check the content so as not to break the trust of the audience.

As brands increasingly try to tug on the heart strings of the customers, all the speakers agreed that marketers no longer have luxury of taking the “one size fits all" approach. They must keep in mind that emotions are key to how customers identify with the brand.

In terms of branding, the first step towards this is finding out what customers truly value and creating a brand story presenting it to the right people at the right time, said Himani Agrawal, Director — Integrated Marketing of Microsoft India.

Due to challenges posed by information overload and reduced attention spans, storytelling has become more important than ever, along with personalization of content in real time, Agrawal added, while talking about the role of Artificial Intelligence in branding.

As smartphones get cheaper and India’s digital infrastructure improves, more and more Indians are accessing content on their mobiles first. Noting the vast untapped potential of regional language users, Pankaj Rana from Panasonic pointed out how the Chinese think of Indians as largely an English-speaking nation. Breaking down the numbers, Rana clarified that there are only about 125 million English speaking mobile users in India compared to about 550 million users in regional languages.

Amit Bajaj, Content Strategy Lead for Nissan in India, and Vishal Chinchankar — the Chief Digital Officer at Madison and a veteran of India’s advertising sector, delivered talks on content v/s context and the need for sustained long term planning while deciding on a branding strategy.

The discussion concluded with Rameet Arora, COO and Head of Digital Brands at HT Digital Streams, emphasizing the need to evolve traditional branding to address the right audience and play to the medium without compromising on authenticity to suit a brand’s needs.