No other Indian industry has created the same impact globally as IT. Infosys, Wipro and TCS are now preparing to compete with global giants. As the cost advantages of cheap labour get reduced, it is the value created by intangibles such as brand and intellectual property that will take these companies to the next orbit. Interestingly, all three companies are looking at this aspect far more seriously than in the past. Global positioning statements, big marketing budgets and brand valuations are being aggressively churned out!
The Infosys story is revealing: While it has been very visible in recruitment ads, no major advertising campaigns have been brought out by this company in India. Yet, this brand is valued at a steep Rs 31,617 crore in FY07! This is a big number for Indian companies, but it does not figure amongst the top 10 technology brands internationally.
In the initial years, Infosys was finding it hard to attract the right talent. The need to build a brand became clear: the company identified what it stood for: integrity and intellect. Surprisingly, no one was talking about such intangibles then. Infosys quickly realised the utility of doing things differently. It understood that it would have more recall this way than spending money in advertising.
Narayana Murthy's biggest contribution was his keen sense for brand building. Over the years, Infosys did many new things - the ESOP plan where the company gave out one third of its equity to employees, its Nasdaq listing, its international style campus… These became talking points and built a unique image for the company. Murthy himself became one of the most powerful CEO brands in corporate India. Infosys always highlighted the fact that it was founded with Murthy’s meagre savings and his middle class lifestyle became a celebrated fact.
Nandan Nilekani also played an important role in increasing Infosys' visibility around the world. Not many are aware that he lent his thoughts to Thomas Friedman who turned his phrase, "The world is flat" into a global best-seller by the same name.
In 2006, when Infosys hit the $2 billion mark, a global branding campaign was launched around the idea of winning in the "flat world." Instead of being seen as simply another offshore services provider, the company's goal was to build a reputation as a trusted transformation partner that can help businesses compete in a global market.
The impact of this global campaign is yet to be seen, but knowing Infosys, it is bound to convert this into a much talked about topic and eventually build the coveted international brand.
(Shibani Jain is the Consultant, Brand Communications and Market Strategy & Director, Craftsbridge India Pvt Ltd.)