Following the conclusion of the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards, marketing guru Mr. Dinesh Nalliah, the head of the panel of judges, was kind enough to spare some time to share his views and opinion on this year’s awards program. Given below are some of the excerpts from the interview.
Q: Along with the re-launch of SLIM Brand Excellence, what changes have been made this year?
A number of critical changes had been made that have made a significant impact on the prestigious event. In keeping with the vision of inculcating a brand building culture within Sri Lankan businesses, we focused on the SME sector by simplifying the entry kit. Although simplified, the fundamentals of creating and marketing a brand were comprehensively covered.
In addition, the entry kit was translated into Sinhala and Tamil to facilitate greater participation. Right throughout the event, participants were free to present their case in the language of their choice. Indeed, with more than 50 SMEs entering the competition the event proved a stunning success.
Another aspect that emerged was the fact that most of the organizations had been carrying out their CSR activities without a cohesive strategy to fit their brands. In order to overcome this lapse the entry kit format and marking scheme were changed to compel competitors of the CSR category to link their CSR function to the brand intent and content.
The International Brand of the Year Award was moved in to the main award category, to enable multinational brands to vie for the coveted Brand of the Year Award. This year we saw many multinational brands entering Brand Excellence due to this change.
Over the last two years, a marking guide was introduced for both rounds of judging to ensure that marking was carried out in an impartial manner.
How have these changes affected the process of judging?
The judging system has mostly remained unchanged, as the process is quite robust. In the first round each entry is marked by at least four judges so that fair play is adhered to. Entries that score over and above the cut-off mark are selected for the second round. In the second round each participant is invited to present their brand story, which is followed by a Q&A session. The average marks (after eliminating outliers) are taken to select the winners. The selection is actively debated by the panel to ensure not just the good, but that the great brands win.
What key qualities make up a SLIM Brand Excellence award winner?
At the outset I need to clarify that I will be referring to a brand and not the brand custodian. A brand that deserves to win an award must demonstrate that it has clear and strategic goals in terms of a brand vision, a brand mission, a brand purpose and quantitative objectives in terms of financials and brand health. Thereafter, the brand needs to adopt a clear process to meet the desired goals. The process will be driven by the marketing mix where innovation is critical for success in today’s competitive market place.
In simple language, great or winning brands need to ensure they continuously acquire and retain customers / consumers.
How would you describe the performance by the candidates this year?
The performance of participants in 2018 has been outstanding. I have seen the quality of entries and presentations improving every year. This year in particular has been exceptional. The final selection of winners in each award category was a tough ask as the final scores among brands was so very close.
What is your opinion on the re-launch of SLIM Brand Excellence this year?
I think the re-launch has worked well, with Brand Excellence becoming rejuvenated and energized with a whole new look and feel. In terms of delivery, we saw a record number of entries this year, which shows that local businesses are placing greater importance on brands. Further, it is not just the quantity, but the quality of the entries too has improved significantly, which augurs well for marketing as a profession.