Over the past 17 years the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards program has been established as the leading platform on which brands and brand custodians receive due recognition, and a means by which to enter the global brand community. To select the best of the best the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) has chosen a group of professionals who are well-experienced veterans in the fields of branding, marketing and other related sectors.
Mr. Tilan Wijesekera, the Deputy General Manager of Retail Banking at Seylan Bank PLC, will head this panel of elite professional judges.
About his fellow panel members, Mr. Wijesekera said, “I think we have an excellent panel this year with the ideal mix of proven professionals of the marketing, business and other related industries. The panel includes some seasoned veterans who have been on the SLIM Brand Excellence judging panel previously. We have included a few new professionals as well considering the sustainability of the awards program for the future and also to infuse some new blood to the panel. The SLIM team has also strived to bring in some jury members from entrepreneurial backgrounds, since we felt that this aspect was under represented in the past, and considering the importance of this segment in the industry”.
When asked about the changes that have been made to the judging process of SLIM Brand Excellence 2019, Mr. Wijesekera explained that much of the process will remain the same, although the blue print has been improved slightly in areas where there was ambiguity. An additional award category has been added this year under SME sector. A Local SME Brand of the Year as well as an Export SME Brand of the Year will be selected considering the importance of developing the export sector while focusing on value addition and branding to drive it.
“Well in a nutshell there are four main criteria. Brand Intent, Brand Content, Brand Process and Brand Performance. Brand Intent has subsections focusing on what the brand intends on achieving from its vision downwards. Brand Content is broadly what the brand stands for and Brand Process is how the implementation takes place with Brand Performance focusing on the results generated, be it quantitative i.e. financial, market share etc. or qualitative like brand equity performance.
However, this is only a broad summary as each of the four criteria has quite a few subsections to be addressed, which really tests the mettle of the brand and its process to understand how strong the brands are, how robust their processes of branding are as well as the derived results. There are two rounds of judging. The first round is to shortlist the brands, where judges go through the submitted entry kits individually and assess if they are suitable to proceed to the next round. The second round is where the selected brands and their representatives conduct presentations before the judging panel. Following each presentation there is a Q & A session where the applicants are tested on the criteria mentioned previously with individual score cards. These scores are tabulated to arrive at the total scores in each of the award categories” said the Head of the Judging Panel on the judging process of SLIM Brand Excellence.
Questioned about his opinion on SLM Brand Excellence placing special focus on SMEs and export brands, Mr. Wijesekera stated, “I feel this is a good move. We define our SME and Private sector as the growth engine of the economy, but I don’t think marketing and branding have been harnessed to their full potential to add value to these businesses. There are many ways in which a strategic approach to marketing and branding can add value to SMEs, including giving them a competitive advantage, developing value propositions, syncing with the environment and consumer needs, enhancing margins and profitability, making the businesses more long term driven and being sustainable”.
“Considering the context of the country and our economy at present the number of applications seems very encouraging. In the case of this year’s award show we can definitely say that if a brand stands out and wins they will have truly deserved it, especially considering the current challenging environmental conditions”, said Mr. Wijesekera of the anticipated performance of the applicants of SLIM Brand Excellence 2019.
On the key characteristics that define a SLIM Brand Excellence winner, the Head Judge stated that brands and brand champions who understand their brands in depth, what their brand aims to achieve in the long run and what it stands for will define the winner. But also within that framework of sustainability are those who are willing to push boundaries, innovate, differentiate, develop deep routed links and relationships with their stakeholders, including their customers and prove that they harness their competitive advantage to achieve success. They must not only challenge their competitors but understand their environmental context, consumers and stakeholders to gain valuable insights in order to develop value propositions that truly deliver a competitive advantage. This in turn should be aggressively implemented with a robust process to deliver an exceptional level of performance both in financial and non-financial qualitative brand terms, which signify a greater degree of brand health and equity.