Paddy Rangappa on how to harness ‘the power of insights’ for your brand
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Paddy Rangappa on how to harness ‘the power of insights’ for your brand

How do you get a powerful insight for your brand?Let marketing guru and author Paddy Rangappa answer that.

books Updated: Jun 13, 2017 17:58 IST
Paddy Rangappa
Paddy Rangappa
Hindustan Times
Paddy Rangappa,Spark,Insights
Paddy Rangappa has authored Spark: The Insight to Growing Brands.

Business leaders use jargon to sound important, especially when they don’t have anything important to say. Two such popular, lofty-sounding words are ‘synergy’, which could refer to the merger of two telecommunications giants or the serendipitous meeting between two executives in the bathroom, and ‘core competency’, which might be Google’s computational prowess or a secretary’s typing skills. Then there are the less lofty, but no less popular, everyday phrases that could mean anything… or nothing, like: lifting the game to a new level, thinking digital-first, making a paradigm shift and displaying a keen sense of urgency.

While these words don’t achieve much, at least their usage is harmless. When we hear them (yet again), we smile wryly and continue doing our work. But there is one buzzword whose repeated use – or rather, misuse – can actually create confusion and cause some harm. The word is insight. It has intrinsic appeal to a world inundated with data. While lack of data may have hindered decision-making twenty years ago, today a surfeit of data may be causing the same problem. We have business data, financial data, customer data, shopper data, competitor data, market research data, big data, small data and medium data. (According to Bernard Marr, we will have ‘44 zettabytes of data’ by 2020).

Paddy Ranagappa is the author of Spark: The Insight to Growing Brands, published by Simon and Schuster.

Inundated with data, someone cried out in anguish, “I need insights!” And the word was an instant hit with CEOs and business analysts, marketers and strategists, finance gurus and info-tech geeks. They grabbed ‘insights’ with both hands and began to replace data with insights… literally. So we now have business insights, financial insights, customer insights, shopper insights, competitor insights, market research insights, big insights, small insights and medium insights. For example, data showing that ‘people hit by the mortgage crisis spend less than they did before the crisis’ is deemed a ‘shopper insight’ though it offers no insight!

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an insight is ‘the act… of apprehending the inner nature of things.’ defines it as ‘an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, “an insight into 18th century life”, for example’.

There is an aspect of ‘hidden truth’ in these definitions. In the realm of a brand making an emotional connection with its consumers, I like to define an insight as an emotional human revelation relevant to the category that is leveraged to build a brand.

The right insight can shape your brand’s strategy and help it to make a subtle emotional connection with its consumers, thereby increasing its mental availability. There is no better example of a brand doing this than Ikea in this heart-warming advertisement featuring a mother amusedly watching her six-year old boy shop for furniture at the store with the insight being revealed only in the last scene.

But how do you get a powerful insight for your brand? Some marketers will use an insight if they happen to stumble upon one. Others may leave it to their ad agencies to generate the insight. Both approaches are wrong! The development of the insight, which can be a powerful, long-term source of brand growth, should neither be left to chance nor be abdicated to the agency. By following this simple, rigorous five-step process, employing brainstorming techniques, you can generate insights to address your specific business problem:

1.Define the business challenge

2.Collect all data relevant to the challenge

3.Build knowledge from the data

4.Write insights from the knowledge

5.Build an action plan based on the insight

Teamwork is critical: company people bring their expertise of consumer and business knowledge (steps 1 to 3), the agency brings its creativity expertise which helps in writing insights (step 4) and together – shared expertise – they can develop a full-fledged action plan (step 5) to get the most out of the insight.

Paddy Ranagappa is the author of Spark: The Insight to Growing Brands. He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and has worked in marketing for more than twenty-six years.

First Published: Jun 13, 2017 17:58 IST