The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) will be hosting the 16th SLIM Brand Excellence Awards at the BMICH under the theme ‘Exhibit Your Masterpiece’, and the highly anticipated event will recognize popular brands vying for awards across 13 contested categories.
As the prestigious ceremony once again places the spotlight on the importance of branding, we sat down with Richlife Dairies Limited Chief Operating Officer Dinesh Nalliah, Head of the Panel of Judges at the competition to find out his thoughts on this year’s entries.
From this year’s entries what positives can you point out?
This year we have seen an increase of approximately 50 percent in the number of companies participating in SLIM Brand Excellence. Such a significant increase can only take place due to more companies becoming brand centric organizations, thus making the brand the heart or center of the business. Furthermore, there is a great improvement in the quality of the entries submitted. The information provided is strategic, focused and in many cases derived through proper market and consumer research. This year there is also greater participation from the SME sector, which augurs well for Sri Lanka’s economy too.
This will be the 16th consecutive SLIM Brand Excellence Awards, is it now safe to say that companies have embraced the idea of the ‘brand’?
Yes of course, we can say that companies have embraced the philosophy that the brand is probably the most valuable asset in the organization. As I mentioned earlier, the increase in number of organizations participating this year as well as the improvement in the quality of information submitted in the entries are evidence that organizations are becoming more and more brand centric. I believe that the role played by SLIM in conducting events like brand excellence has helped to drive the culture of brand centricity in organizations.
And how do you believe that this has translated into the way they differentiate themselves from competitors?
Well, in this instance of course, I would say that there is room for some improvement through innovative, out of the box thinking. I see many brands trying to still differentiate themselves on tangible product deliveries. In today’s rapidly advancing business and technological environment, it does not take time for a competitor to copy one’s product benefits. For long term sustainability, brands must try to look for ‘Image’ differentiation. Through this the brand must strive to gain and hold share of mind and heart of the brand’s target group. In the long run, it is the relationship between the brand and the customer which will bring sustainable results.
What is the greatest influence on strategy?
Many factors will influence brand strategy. Some of the key influences are the external environment, the competitive set, organizational capabilities, resources, and consumer behavior and attitude. Whilst all of these factors have a significant influence on brand strategy, I would believe that the most important factor will be the consumer. At the end of the day, it is the consumers’ familiarity and favourability towards the brand which will generate usage/consumption of the brand, generating sales revenue and profits for the organization. Thus, consumer insights will probably have the biggest influence on brand strategy.
In this year’s entries have you seen a great difference in the execution of strategy from previous years?
This year I’ve seen some brands using non-traditional channels to reach their customers. Utilization of digital marketing tools such as social media and creation of purchase opportunities through online and mobile platforms to compliment traditional channels of reaching customers is visible. However, many brands are yet to use the newer and non-traditional customer engagement tools, and still rely only on traditional means. While it is true that for many brands traditional channels will still generate the bulk of their revenue, one needs to keep up with emerging trends so that in the long run you don’t get left behind.
And just to finish up, what areas do you think SLIM Brand Excellence can improve on going forward?
Participation from certain business sectors such as exports, leisure and SME have room for improvement. Considering the impact of these sectors on the national economy, it will be great if SLIM could focus more on these sectors to increase participation in brand excellence. Furthermore, the entry kit for the SME sector is too complex as the brand owners in this sector are entrepreneurs as opposed to professional marketers. This needs to be simplified for the future. This year we will be giving merit awards to two categories on SME and Innovation in order to motivate SMEs and to foster a culture of innovation.