Mr. Pradeep Edward- President of SLIM Brand Excellence & Mr. Roshan Fernando- Vice President of SLIM Brand Excellence
As the curtain comes up on one of its major events - the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards, the luminaries of the country’s National Body for Marketing, apprised the public on the role of the organization and the successful re-launch of its event for 2018. The President of SLIM, Mr. Pradeep Edward and the Vice President, Mr. Roshan Fernando recently addressed queries from the media about the organization’s success in implementing new developments to help the local industry stand among the biggest and best players in the international arena.
Q: Describe the inception of SLIM and its foremost purpose
P: The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing was founded in 1970 as a means of building a cohesive network amongst the country’s marketing fraternity. It was incorporated by an act of Parliament, recognizing it as the National Body for Marketing. The difference between SLIM and any other institute is its open environment, which welcomes marketers from all backgrounds and companies. We have had Presidents who are graduates from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, PIM and CIM among other groves of academe. As such, SLIM could be considered the Maha Gedara of Marketing in Sri Lanka, bringing all of the country’s marketers together under a single banner.
How do events by SLIM contribute to the development and growth of professionals in the Marketing fraternity?
VP: We organize several national level events. Apart from Brand Excellence we have the Effies, the SLIM Nielsen People’s Awards and NASCO. This year we have initiated two new events – the SLIM DIGIs, which will be held next year in January, and Brand Week, which is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and will serve as a link to SLIM Brand Excellence. These are the national level awards programs organized and hosted by SLIM to provide platforms of recognition and education to various sectors of the industry. We have also introduced a special CSR project titled ‘Gamata Marketing’ as a means of boosting entrepreneurship, and Marketing Rocks a program for school children, which is dedicated to encouraging and educating the next generation of marketers. In all, we have eight major events through which we contribute to the growth of the Marketing fraternity.
What kind of developments do you see in the country’s Marketing and economic sphere due to the efforts of SLIM?
P: The activities of SLIM are segmented into two primary parts – events and education. However, most of SLIM’s events consist of an educational segment. At SLIM we don’t just introduce a product, we ensure its continuity. For example, the Brand Excellence program includes a number of informative workshops in order to educate participants on the best practices in the industry and most effective methods by which to boost their brands. It is not just about organizing an awards ceremony but about ensuring that those who participate in our events leave with much more than a trophy.
We have always made sure that the projects, programs and products we introduce are relevant to the industry. In the case of Brand Excellence, our objective is to introduce Sri Lankan brands to the global Marketing community. Before the inception of Brand Excellence, we noticed that Sri Lankan brands took a back seat to Indian, and other foreign and multinational brands. Following the introduction of Brand Excellence, we have seen many Sri Lankan brands that have won awards, go global, build their presence in other countries and become market leaders across the world.
What are the most significant changes made to SLIM Brand Excellence over the past seventeen years?
VP: The original SLIM Brand Excellence blue print was devised by the late Professor Uditha Liyanage. Brand Excellence was launched in 2002 under the presidency of Mr. Taslim Rahman. This year we will be celebrating the 17th anniversary of Brand Excellence. At its inception SLIM Brand Excellence was the primary platform for brands to judge their performance and effectiveness. The past seventeen years have witnessed major brands battle it out amongst themselves for the ultimate prize.
As the National Body for Marketing we asked ourselves “what is our next step?” The obvious next level is to encourage local brands to compete with global brands, to be recognized as international players. We realized that the next stage of Brand Excellence is to open a star gate for our local brands to reach the global sphere. To do so we decided on a 360-degree re-launch of the entire process including the award itself and the logo. I would like to thank Mr. Thushara Perera and the Blue Print Committee for their hard work in coming up with and implementing all the relevant changes.
One of the main changes is the inclusion of SMEs. We simplified the entry kit and encouraged members of the SME sector to present their brands with no language barrier whatsoever. We simplified the entry kit to give them a basic knowledge of branding, and how to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of their brands. This time we reached out to all twenty-five districts, with our committee fanning out and conducting many presentations and training programs. This was a tremendous achievement for us, as it serves as a testament to the fact that as the National Body for Marketing we have spread the message of Brand Excellence throughout the entire country.
What post-event results do you hope to see following the conclusion of this year’s SLIM Brand Excellence campaign?
P: I look forward to seeing more Sri Lankan brands enter the global community. Our infrastructure is currently laid out in such a way, with the ports and infrastructure development, which this is the ideal time for exports to flourish. I personally believe that tourism and exports have the potential to become two of the fastest growth areas for Sri Lanka.
One main result we hope to see is the development of the SME sector. We made significant changes to this year’s SLIM Brand Excellence blue print to make sure that it was not only for the big boys but for the smaller players of the industry as well. So we would definitely like to see a lot more SMEs coming up to the level of global brands.
We have also seen a significant number of new entries this year, so maybe we will witness some significant changes in the results of this year’s Brand Excellence. We are also confident that we will see a number of brands going global.
As the President of SLIM, I would like to thank Mr. Thushara Perera, a past president and his team who were in charge of the entire turn-around process. I would also like to offer my gratitude to Mr. Dinesh Nalliah the Head of the Judging Panel and all the judges for their commitment, and the Brand Excellence Committee headed by the Vice President of SLIM, Mr. Roshan Fernando.
What do you foresee for the future of SLIM Brand Excellence?
VP: In the near future we will set up the platform and begin the journey towards taking SLIM Brand Excellence out to the region. We hope to develop and expand the new model further next year, beginning with the CMO Forum, including Brand Week and concluding with the Brand Excellence Awards.