There are some companies and products that are not merely proper nouns. They are common nouns and, more importantly, verbs, like Xerox, Google and FedEx, which are a measure of their success. To a lot of people Colgate is toothpaste and toothpaste is colgate (a common noun, hence the small c). After reaching this status, even a small enterprise can become the owner of a brand that is worth millions.
Take the case of Sony — known as an electronics company — which progressed in the ’80s and ’90s to become a global brand. The company manufactures televisions, computers, cameras and is even involved in gaming. Most people will identify it first as a good brand and then build the electronics connect.
“That move is a subtle one and it is where branding consultants can play a major role in creating a certain holistic image for a brand,” explains Prof Ashok Ranchhod, director, Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, who has done consulting work on branding and marketing for Philips, IBM, Titan and Malaysian Airlines, among others. “The development of a brand helped change Sony’s fortunes when it entered the games market.”
“A branding consultant’s role straddles commercial, market opportunity, consumer connect and future scenarios,” says Viren Razdan, MD India, Inter Brand, which is behind names like Barclays, McDonald’s, Godrej, GE, Porsche, Videocon, and Oxfam. “A branding consultant creates, manages or alters the brand’s construct and path. Each of the recommendations covers the entire gamut defining the brand, its business, its character, its architecture and how it would engage internally and externally,” says Razdan.
If you have passion for the work dealing with multiple industries, the scope “becomes unlimited”, says Sanjay Thapar, group president, north and east, Ogilvy & Mather.
Razdan talks about the ‘pros’ of the profession. “The variables that play a role in a product/service/company brand are immensely diverse. The consultant’s job to be able to immerse himself/ herself completely and then view the analysis objectively becomes a challenge. The opportunity to work across categories in-depth is a fantastic experience,” he says.
A postgraduate degree or diploma in general management, marketing, communication studies, or advertising can prepare you for this. However, the choice of training depends on the track you wish to take with brand consulting — account management, creative and planning.
Razdan elaborates. “Typically, there are various disciplines within a brand consultancy, especially at Interbrand: valuation, analytics, brand strategy and creative services,” he says.
As evident, the streams require a certain kind of disposition. Razdan adds, “Degrees or diplomas prepare you at a generalist’s level. However, while seeking to engage in a specific assignment, skills and competencies best suited for that domain matter. Being ‘passionate’ about a specific domain/interest would be a highlight. What would the aspirant want to passionately follow?”
What's it about?
A brand consultant helps a client build, manage, change or revive its brand image. S/he works with a team in the consultancy as well as with the clients’ marketing, advertising, merchandising, and legal divisions
9 am: Chat with colleagues on culturally or commercially developments
10 am: Plan your day, meetings
10.30 am: Quick conversation with boss — any new lead, new discussion
11 am: Finish proposal
Noon: Check on focus groups
1 pm: Lunch with creative partner. Discuss trends casually
2 pm: New biz mails — follow up
3.30 pm: Conference call with international office on a local project
4.30 pm: Meeting with client
6 pm: Back in office, plan the follow-up of meeting. Send off minutes with action points to all
7 pm: Plan the evening action
Depends on various factors but could begin at about Rs5 lakh to Rs8 lakh per annum in a good consultancy
. Strong business sense
. Be an extrovert and dynamic
. Curiosity to understand the company, the market, the customer
. Analytical and creative skills — ability to quickly gather information about a company and translate it into a branding plan
How do i get there?
The basic requirement is a Bachelor’s degree. What matters more in this field is passion, creativity and analytical ability. You can also go for a PG degree or diploma in marketing, general management, communication studies, advertising, sociology or psychology
Institutes & urls
. As the basic requirement is a Bachelor’s, it can be pursued from almost any conventional university
. As for a targeted PG qualification, institutes like MICA offer a PGDM (communications)
Pros & cons
You help give birth to, well, brands
Develop an insight into diverse industries; understand image-building
In India, many organisations may not understand why they should invest in branding
More brands, more work
A professor talks about the boom in this creative career
What are career prospects of brand consultants in India?
India’s economy is growing rapidly. New brands are cropping up, unlike in the West. So, the prospects are reasonably bright in a growing market. The avenues are open.
What is India’s share in the global brand consultancy market?
I would say that India’s share is probably quite low at present, but if you look at persons of Indian origin then the proportion will be larger.
How are Indian brand consultants doing globally?
Indian brand consultants are present in overseas markets. They play a fairly global role in brand consultancies, especially in the US, the UK and Singapore.
There are overlaps in the roles of fields such as marketing, advertising, promotion and branding. After all it’s all about communication. But in this matrix, Where does the role of a brand consultant begin and end?
That’s a vexing question that marketers and brand consultants have been trying to answer. A good marketer may also be a good brand consultant and vice versa.
After all, branding encompasses quite a lot — the vision of the company, the positioning in the market, the segments catered to and the public relations and stakeholder interactions related to the perception of the brand.
So, what is his/her core role and what is the outcome s/he has to deliver?
He or she has to look at the image of the company and the product, the promise of the brand and its future within a national or global context. The ultimate objective is that the company is well-known, so it has brand equity and on the other side, the client’s profits go up.
So, there are three things: image building, ensuring returns on investment by the client, and growing the brand such that it can be embedded in the consumer’s mind.
So is this just a desk-bound advisory profession?
No. You also have to go to the client site and get a feel of the company and its products or services.
Prof Ashok Ranchhod, director, Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad Interviewed by Rahat Bano