Monday, 28 April 2008

Building Regional brands… lessons learned from India Everywhere- Davos -06

As a sequence to my earlier post on Regional brands, this post explores the "how to" of regional brand campaigns, and discusses lessons from the very successful "India Everywhere" campaign, at Davos 06, which I played an intimate role in.

As one of the co-creators of the campaign, I was very closely involved in India Everywhere campaign, which was brought to life at the World Economic Forum, Davos 06. To put into context, Davos 06 campaign around India was perhaps a high point in coordinated efforts to building the "India" brand, and sought to establish India as an equal competitor to China for world attention, resulting in increased energy and interest in India. The campaign was very successful in accomplishing that.

So, what were the things that worked well?

  • Sponsorship- you are sunk without it- imagine getting 8-10 of the largest companies (some of which may compete with each other) together to contribute a kitty that would be spent as an entity! You really need strong leadership back it- in this campaign's case, the business leadership was behind this, but there is no reason why political leadership cannot be the primary backer
  • Rally around "big ideas"- a ho-hum list of actions will not galvanize and get the group together- the need is to present a big vision, that everyone will buy into, and a set of "cool ideas" that can be executed to accomplish that vision- extremely important that the ideas come together
  • Focus on the region's natural strengths- India is known for its food, its costumes and the variety and for its culture- which were the primary elements of the senses, whilst the underlying core of the message was clearly business and economic
  • Governance/ Council- ideally, the campaign should not have one corporate leading it- the program management should be with an entity that is neutral. In this campaign, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)) picked up the program management slack. That said though, the program team should report into a central council of primary stakeholders (the ones that have contributed to the kitty.
  • Plan early, and plan well- since there is a lot of communication/ to and fro-ing and back and forth involved in such a campaign, more time needs to be devoted, hence increased lead times
  • Execution is key- there will be a lot of moving parts in a campaign of this magnitude- these parts have to be knit together in one cohesive whole, and hence program management and strong execution skills become key to accomplishing this.
  • Ensure that the governance comprises the big guns, and they are engaged- the governance council, the government officials etc were the top guns in the region, which meant that decision making was instantaneous, and best of the resources were brought to bear.

The execution was done through a common "kitty" of resources, contributed to by interested parties (corporate and the government), creating a shared program management structure.

This campaign received very good media coverage and was the talk of Davos-06, and the traction from this campaign resulted in serious benefits to brand "India".

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Relevance of country/region brands

Did you know that Latin America has had the best 5 years since 1492? The economy is performing as never before, never mind the politics- according to the Opening Plenary at the WEF- Cancun.

And yet, Latin America perhaps may not command the same excitement or mindshare as compared to <say> a China, not withstanding the occasional references to the BRICs (which of course includes Brazil).

Pray why building region/geo/country brand is relevant, one may ask. I think it is relevant because the region would benefit from the "mindshare" of the rest of the world. Whether it be in terms of investment into the region, or global talent considering this as their next opportunity,new technology infusion and general "feel good" in the region – the last one in particular, itself could be a huge galvanizing force-I see this already happening in China and India.

However, what is changing now, that would make regional brands even more relevant, is that going forward, China and india have already changed and are changing the game- when you think of one nation commanding over a billion people, you think huge scale, you think huge markets, and you think huge opportunities. Smaller countries, with their smaller access, have to get together and create larger regional "identities" to compete for the same global mindshare, or they potentially could lose out.

What could be the benefits? I will not list economic benefits because those are perhaps more obvious (taxation, single market, negotiations etc).From a brand perspective, creating a "cool" region/ geo brand is going to give a serious boost up to corporate brands- I know how much easier it has gotten to introduce ourselves and our organization, because of our focus on building the "India" brand, sorta giving ourselves an instant "invitation to join" in any conversation.