What does branding mean to you? This was one of the questions asked by Anura De Alwis at the 12th session of Talk The Walks. If you missed it, Talk The Walks is a series of monthly meetups where industry leaders in Sri Lanka share their views on specific areas for MBA prospects and empowering next-generation leaders.
As always, Talk The Walks began by Anura providing an introduction to the duo of guest speakers for the session. In this case, it was Linda Speldewinde – Founder and MD at AOD and Kasturi Wilson – Managing Director at Hemas Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd. The key area of discussion for the latest edition of Talk the Walks dealt with branding.
So, what exactly is branding?
Branding to me means being authentic and being yourself, replied Kasturi to Anura’s question. It also means consistently knowing who you are, she added. Doing all this will eventually automatically lead to creating a brand. Linda further added that a brand can also represent one’s value system as well.
“As a country, we are still trying to figure out our branding and what we stand for. It’s about sharing who we are to the rest of the world. “But we’re still trying to figure it out”, she added.
Kasturi shared that as a country we have not optimized any of our resources to have any prominent branding for ourselves. With corruption prevalent in the country, there’s nothing that we can really do to improve our branding. As such, there is much to be desired in the current status of Sri Lanka, she further added.
Can you put a budget on branding?
This was an interesting question directed to Linda by a member of the audience. Linda shared that from her perspective, she sees AOD as a movement that wants to make a difference. She added that everyone who joins AOD wants to become a designer. Her views were that you would pay a much higher price for advertising if you didn’t have an authentic product.
Her advice was to carve out your own niche for a product or service and then be the first to offer that product or service. Doing so takes care of the branding by itself.
Should you focus on a brand or the services offered?
It’s not really about a product or service anymore. Its more about telling your authentic story. This was what Linda had to say about the matter. Consumers are more likely to interact with you and your brand if they can relate to the story behind the brand. Essentially, it’s about the story you tell with your brand. The better the story, the more likely you will attract consumers.
That being said, there is also a strong inclination towards choosing foreign brands over local brands, especially in Sri Lanka. Linda explained that this again stems from the authenticity of the brand. If you are happy and proud of something that is made in Sri Lanka, then you automatically feel good using it and you would tell others about it a well.
Does having a brand make you work better?
Kasturi shared that if a company is able to motivate its employees to come into work the next day, just because they love their job, the brand image would automatically improve. If a company is aiming to achieve a certain target or goal, they would go about setting a strategy or set up a culture. What people perceive as a brand and what a brand actually represents can vary vastly.
There can also be a scenario where a person who has built up his/her own personal branding joins a new organization. If said person is still only focused on building up his/her own brand rather than the new company, that would lead to a conflict of interest.
“It’s all about Innovation”, Linda shared. She added that rather than just bringing yourself to work, it’s more about bringing you plus your soul to work as well. This adds authenticity to what you do. That in turn, helps you build a better brand.
Published vs Digital Media: What’s better for a brand?
Kasturi shared that with the evolution of the younger generation, the preferred medium of news and communication is vastly different. As such companies have to adapt to these channels in order to stay relevant.
Printed media, once the most popular is slowly being replaced with their digital counterparts. Be it reading books, to listening to music, everything is going digital. That being said, Linda shared that fashion retailers are going back to brick and mortar stores rather than simply making their products available online. Why? Simply because consumers want to have an experience.
Does the way you dress reflect your brand?
Linda explained that the way you dress shows how you represent yourself. She added that you don’t have to have the most expensive clothing. But rather, it’s the way you wear what you’re wearing. In short, personal branding matters. It represents your company as well.
By giving your employees the freedom to dress the way they wish, you give them an environment to be themselves. Too much freedom to dress the way they want can also harm your brand as well. So it’s always safe to stay in moderation
That wrapped up another session of Talk The Walks
Bringing things to a close, Anura highlighted three main points. The first was that branding is a journey of an organization or a person. Secondly, no person in an organization should be bigger than the organization.
The third, and perhaps the most important point of
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