The Chartered Institute of Marketing Sri Lanka (CIM SL) concluded its third Talking Point Programme under the thought-provoking topic ‘Is Branding Losing its Relevance?’
The keynote speaker for the programme was Fairway Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd Group CEO Imal Fonseka, while the panel consisted of Unilever Sri Lanka Marketing Director Home Care, Foods and Water Makshoodh Meerasaibu, Spa Ceylon Co-Founder Shalin Balasuriya and HSBC Sri Lanka Head of Marketing and Communications Tharanga Gunasekera, who also moderated the discussions.
Attending the programme were a host of senior managers and executives keen to know how to manage and influence the personality and character of their brands for the local market.
Cautioning the audience, Fonseka said, “Our approach in marketing and branding is no longer what it was. You have to relook at what you are doing.”
He advised, “Look at brand objectives, as a brand person, take the leadership and start seeing the future. As marketers you have what nobody else has - you represent the customer and understand the customer best. Igniting the passion is what it is all about - drive the change, create the change.”
Stressing on key enablers, he noted, supply chain, innovation, differentiation are vital to influence customer experience.
“As brand people enhance your scope and influence within the enterprise and that way your role will be more relevant in the future,” encouraged Fonseka.
Urging participants on the importance of sustainability and differentiation, he said, “Your sustainability and success will be based on your ability to create disruption in your business model. Anyone anywhere can create a brand and succeed overnight but you need to be ahead of the curve, understand the curve and find a space to be really connected with your consumers, find ways to make it more relevant to the market.” Gunasekera stated, “With today’s consumers becoming web-savvy, the consumer is now more empowered. The brand is seen as a promise, relationship and an experience.”
Commenting from an FMCG perspective, Meerasaibu said the fundamental eight principles of branding is very relevant. However, the consumer is evolving and is constantly seeking to change. He advised the audience to constantly be cautioned about how to keep pace with the ever changing demands and to know whether ‘branding’ going to communicate or is ‘branding’ becoming facilitators or enablers of conversation. Balasuriya noted, “Attention spans and brand life spans are getting shorter. We need to be continuously giving our consumers new experiences, tweaking their interest, and that is what we do.”
Balasuriya opined that branding relevance relies on transformational innovation.
“We keep learning from our consumers and the brand lives in the mind of the consumer. You need to engage with the customer and start connecting with people’s lifestyles so that you are relevant to your consumers,” he said.
The programme concluded with a vibrant and lively question and answer session between the panellists and audience. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) UK is the world’s largest professional body for marketing. CIM Sri Lanka is the first international branch of CIM UK comprising the largest number of members, both professional and students of CIM outside the UK.