I have just returned from the 17th Asia Brand Congress, held in Mumbai, where I met some great people who had a lot of interesting things to say. I didn’t get to hear all the speakers due to the parallel sessions that were held, but here are some glimpses from the conference that should give you a feel for it.
Much was said about brand strategy equaling business strategy and the need to align a brand with all aspects of an organization and not just the marketing department. I enjoyed INSEAD marketing professor Amitava Chattopadhyay’s presentation which looked at the components of brand strategy.
The creative side of the brand industry was well represented by some of India and Asia’s most senior and successful creatives. Ravi Deshpande, the chief creative officer for Contract Advertising, spoke about the power of ideas and that “a good idea is a hidden truth waiting to be dug out”.
The topic of brands in the digital arena was covered by several speakers, with yours truly contributing on brands in virtual environments. Barney Loehnis, Asia network director for Isobar, spoke about the importance of creating content and brand communications that consumers wanted to spend time with.
Mobile was another area that was well covered with Nokia’s senior vice president for marketing, Tapio Hedman, explaining how being based in Finland, with its population of five million, taught Nokia to succeed by being better than the “big guys but with humility”. He also introduced the audience to the great Finnish word of “sisu” which roughly translated means courage and persistence and credited sisu to part of Nokia’s success.
It was great to see the growth of the networked agency model (the model we use at Sagacite) where teams of specialists are assembled around a specific project and then disband when it is finished. Derek Turner-Smith, CEO of JWT International, which employs this approach, spoke about “brand building through constancy of purpose an coherence rather than consistency”.
Other great speakers who enthralled were Rob Campbell, managing partner at Sunshine Brand Consulting, who blended marketing and product development. Jiggy George, executive director for Cartoon Network Enterprises in India and South Asia, shared some great insight in marketing to children. Sicco van Gelder is head of Placebrands and spoke eloquently about branding cities and countries. Chairman and national creative director of Lowe R “Balki” Balkrishnan spoke about the importance of video as a medium of communication. The whole conference was held together by Dr RL Bhatia.
I was very honored to have been presented with an award for brand leadership during the conference's awards ceremony and was pleased to share the stage with several very impressive people including including South African-based brand consultants Thebe Ikalafeng of The Brand Leadership Group, Terry Behan of The Fearless Executive, and Sean McCoy of HKLM. Johannesburg-based Vanessa Singh, head of card marketing at American Express, also picked up an award at the ceremony.
To those who view branding through the lens of the west, the conference delivered a strong message to look east and learn. It was Dae Ryun Chang, professor of marketing at South Korea’s Yonsei University, who summed up the growing importance of Asia by suggesting that world maps should perhaps be redrawn to show Asia in the center.
Asia Brand Congress