Brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Jeff Bezos of Amazon famously said this and what he means is that your brand is the reputation your business/product/service has, it’s the perception people have about your business in their minds. As a business owner, you can only influence this, and this is where brand strategy comes in.
Brand planning is the steps you need to take to build your brands reputation and will include the following steps:
Understanding your why – as Seth Godin once said “people don’t buy products or services they are buying stories, relations and magic”. What is the purpose of the brand, what is the change you want to see, why is it on planet earth. This is becoming increasingly important to consumers as they become savvier decision makers and look for brands that they can buy into.
Why are you different? Why should someone choose your product/service over the alternative? You need to know where you provide the most value to customers and develop a clear value proposition.
Who are you targeting? Who will see the value in what you provide? An audit of your current customers along with market research will help you here. Get to know your customers really well (we call this human centred marketing), understand their wants, needs, fears, challenges, understand how they use products/services, what language they use. Develop in depth insights into your customers. This will really help you develop a strong brand.
Then you need to determine your brand promise, what you are promising your customers, your brand expectations, what do they expect, brand perception, how will they perceive you, and brand persona.
Brand planning is the process of building out your brand strategy, your brand identity (what people traditionally think of as branding – just the visual), and implementing it within your business at every relevant customer touchpoint for a consistent customer experience. To help your business nurture, flourish and grow in this competitive market, you always need experts help to take it to vertex. Today we are presenting Sangeeta Chacko Head – Corporate Communications Percept Limited who has been into the brand management, advertising, public relation, events from more than a decade. She is the backbone of Percept Limited and has helped 100+ clients all across the globe to be recognised in business and corporate world.
Lets Meet Sangeeta & see how she is leveraging the tacts of business and corporate communication to help the clients of Percept
1. What is the Name of Your Business Or Brand You Represent & What is your role in the company? Which department do you handle in your organization?
Percept Limited. The Group spans 15 diverse Companies specialized across the domains of Advertising, Public Relations, Content, Media, Events and owns Intellectual Properties such as Sunburn, Bollyboom, FLY and EPL.
I Head Corporate Communications at Percept Limited, a leading Entertainment, Media and Communications Company. I incepted the Corporate Communications Department in 2006 and have been responsible for designing the holistic Brand Communications program for the Group spanning Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing, Newsletters, Loyalty Programmes, Events & Conferences, Websites, Micro-sites, Corporate Intranet, CSR Programs, Knowledge Management & Archiving initiatives, Research & Communication Audits, Policy Documentation & Implementation.
2. What are your target Audience/clients?
All corporates, startups, sme looking to interact internally and with the outer world.
3. Where is your Business based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
Percept Limited is headquartered out of Mumbai, India. Additionally, we have over 42 company offices based out of Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru and Dubai. These locations enable delivering solutions and services to stakeholders pan India and across West Asia. Tie-ups with key associates enable Percept to furthermore manage services to clients and consumers across the globe seamlessly.
4. What are your products or services?
The Percept Companies construct customized Content, Assets and Solutions across the domain of Advertising, Brand Communications, Corporate Identity, Design & Packaging, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing, Integrated Marcom, Traditional & Digital Media, Brand Activations, MICE, Ad Films, Television & Movie Content Production for millions of clients and consumers across the Globe.
Percept also owns Intellectual Properties across the Entertainment, Sports & Media domain such as Sunburn, Bollyboom, Fight Night, EPL, and FLY. Sunburn has grown over the past decade to become Asia’s leading Electronic Dance Music Festival and an aspirational iconic Youth Brand today. Bollyboom is another interesting IP from Percept that presents Bollywood music with an EDM twist and has garnered rave reviews from stakeholders across age groups and geographies.
From integrated ad campaigns, to embedded content, to path-breaking live entertainment products, to innovative digital and media solutions, to iconic IPs, all of Percept’s services and IPs reach and impact consumers at every moment of their lives.
5. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Percept is the only Group in the world that provides Integrated services and solutions in the Entertainment, Media and Communications domain. There is no other company in this space that offers all 3 solutions and iconic Intellectual Properties under one roof, and this uniqueness gives us a massive competitive edge over individual players across this domain. Even as agencies and event companies were following the ‘norm’ over the past three decades, Percept decided to break the mould and branch out. At Percept we invented an entirely new industry called EMC. The Percept Group has broken many traditions, mindsets and cliché barriers to consistently launch innovative and path-breaking content, services and properties that are engaging, revolutionary, futuristic and customized to meet the needs of the diverse and ever evolving Indian and global audience.
While the Group as a whole faces no real competition, the individual companies face a slew of competitors in their respective domains. But we do believe that competition is also necessary to grow the overall market. Competition raises the bar and drives everyone to improve their standard and go that extra mile to innovate and offer unique services, productions and solutions to their stakeholders. Research and knowledge is vital for us to attain that extra edge and stay on top of the game. The basic essentials are business acumen, understanding of the consumer pulse and domain knowledge coupled with relationships to be able to create a successful brand or campaign. Competition and the thumb rule of a business life cycle have constantly propelled us to evolve, take risks and become the best, boldest and biggest in the EMC and Live Event business.
6. What best Marketing practices/tools that you always rely for the business development, marketing and branding?
Whatever Percept has learnt has been first hand, on the ground. We incepted many firsts across the EMC domain and when a company has been on the street long enough, it develops a swift instinct and an ability to anticipate market reactions and challenges. One doesn’t wait for the hurdle or change to pop up, but rather finds an innovative solution around it way before it happens. Percept’s greatest strength and best practises came from being flexible and open to change, finding strategic gap areas, taking massive risks and holding on to a strong position if the Company believed in that project. Staying relevant is a challenge in today’s dynamic and evolving business scenario. We believe it is very important to stay in touch with products and markets. In a consumer interfacing business like ours we can’t rely on board room discussions and spreadsheets, and have to step out there and connect with the consumer on ground. The feedback received both online and offline is always taken into consideration in order to help us to stay absolutely current, topical and ahead of the curve.
7. What skills do you want in your employees/team at the time of hiring?
Apart from the essential academics and basic skills of written & verbal communications, etiquette, poise under pressure and a pleasant demeanour, I largely look for Passion, Commitment, Discipline and Out-of-the-Box Thinking during the hiring process. Passion is paramount for survival and growth in today’s dynamic business environment. Doing something that you love pulls you through and helps you deliver brilliance even when surrounded with disarray, work overload and unrealistic deadlines. Commitment, Focus and Discipline ensure that the job will always get done, no matter what is hurled at you. And Creative Thinking is essential in our field of Communications and PR. That’s what gets your brands and services top-of-mind recall and respect.
8. What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
Percept One, the integrated Marcom business, will only grow from strength to strength as it gets recognized as a unique integrated Marcom solutions vertical offering Creative Services, Media Services and Other Marcom Services, therein having a massive competitive edge over individual players in this space as it continues to offer greater synergy and seamless operational efficiency in project deliveries to stakeholders.
Percept Live is all set to witness phenomenal growth as IPs like Sunburn, Bollyboom and EPL further reinvent and renew the experience for its fans. The current Sunburn Season 11 will Double in both size and scale with a host of new assets and formats being introduced therein catering to a wider audience both globally and domestically. In just a year Percept Live intends to double in magnitude and numbers from 750,000 to reach 1.4 million fans via amplification of engagement and events by targeting more markets across India and overseas. Sunburn Reload will expand from 25 shows to 50 large format shows across 26 cities. Sunburn Arena will also witness an expansion into 15 markets as it gets introduced into Tier 2 markets this year. There will be a greater focus on Digital outreach with Live Streaming and other Social Media plans. New formats like U21 are going to be introduced to widen the fan base across key cities. International growth will also see the brand extend its geographical footprint into Australia, Dubai, Colombo, Asia and the Middle East. Beyond this we are definitely interested in going into some new business lines with Sunburn, which again we plan to do in the next 12-24 months.
9. Where do you want to see yourself in the next 10 years?
I see a natural progression from my current space of Marketing Communications into accomplishing my aim of being a Speaker and Writer. I envisage myself travelling the globe, exploring diverse histories and cultures, embracing new age wisdom and disciplines from the Great Teachers, networking with the global community and sharing the amazing insightful experiences garnered through the pages of my books. My writings will veer around encouraging people to break free from the corporate patriarchy, developing new skills that would encourage greater creativity and independence, keeping an open mind to new age theories, encouraging progressive social policies and collaboration, and developing greater forbearance, parity and equanimity to the global village we occupy. The old era of greed, corruption, exploitation, self-gratification, industrialization and hierarchy is collapsing even as a new era of equality, sustainable living, transparency, tolerance and compassion emerge. Words are a powerful instrument, and I hope to do justice with them in this emergent new era in the coming decade …
10. What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
My greatest challenge is actually facing no challenges….things tend to get boring without a lofty challenge and that’s not a good head space for me to be in. Fortunately, I tend to be quite oblivious to daily challenges. Every barrier encountered has always been viewed as a great new opportunity to examine, learn new skills and grow. Each challenge conquered taught me the important values of persistence, endurance, determination, humility and gratitude. I realized that challenges tend to draw out your best qualities and enables you to grow into a more resilient, creative, wiser and improved edition of yourself.
11. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
My Mother ‘Rose Augustine Chacko’. A marvellous role model and my greatest Inspiration.
A self-made true ‘Sheroe’, she juggled multiple work-life roles so effortlessly and with such elegance and confidence. Her focus, discipline, persistence, altruism, creativity, pace and unwavering display of grace under pressure became a great learning curve and guidepost for me as I grew into becoming my own person. In spite of being an accomplished award winning actress, singer, dancer, model, poet and writer (who is also featured on Wikipedia), she stepped into the corporate workforce to gradually lose her unique talents and identity to the anonymity that comes with the corporate patriarchy. Maybe that is another reason why I encourage many young people through my writings to break out of the limitations of industrial thinking and realize the scale of their individual talents and gifts.
12. How has your current profile transformed you as a person?
As a Communications Specialist I enjoy the challenge of handling every type of communiqué that involves a vibrant exchange of facts, data, views, knowledge, advice and ideas across both business and life counselling areas. My innate fascination into the complex workings of the human mind drove me to major in Psychology and thereafter I went on to combine the skills and insights received from this Science with my innate gift of writing to enter the world of Advertising, Brand Communications and Public Relations. I loved handling the Marketing Communications portfolio of all the brands I managed including Disney Films & Characters, off-beat Destination Holidays at Kuoni and TCI, and Percept’s EDM Festival Sunburn. These brands enabled me to stretch my communication skills and pushed my limits in creativity when conversing with Stakeholders. Given the massive quantum of writing I do on any given day in this domain, it was very natural for me to progress into Creative Writing over the past 2 years. I kick-started my Blog – “Bridges & Barriers” a year ago and had to really discipline myself over the weekends to ensure that articles were authored and posted on a weekly basis. With over 50 full fledged articles posted up that seamlessly blend business practises, philosophy, ethics and spirituality, the writing has not only been a fantastic cathartic process, but has also translated into receiving some wonderful reviews and feedback globally.
Another area I totally transformed in was the domain of Public Speaking. I was extremely shy and afraid to speak up in my school and early career years. But the field of Marcom gives you no choice as it’s a front end job where you interact with diverse stakeholders. All of a sudden I realized that I was a natural in this space….and there’s been no looking back since then! I now effortlessly speak at industry forums, guest lecture at many PGD colleges and address many other trade and academic platforms.
It’s very heartening to receive letters from people who state that my blog articles and speaker sessions struck a chord and helped them tide over and resolve many situations both at a professional and personal front. Knowing that my views and words could help fortify or heal another soul is well worth the hard work that goes into juggling so many roles.
13. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Hmmm, I think I wouldn’t have self-doubted myself so much. I can’t believe it took me 2 decades to learn to let go of the trepidation and imaginary fears within, and embrace myself, faults and all, to finally mature into my own unique persona. That’s two decades of precious time lost, so now I certainly have to step up and make good for a lot of time lost. No more second guessing myself anymore, and no more paying a hoot to people’s opinions, criticism and judgements.
On the professional front, I may have chosen to become a counselling Psychologist. As there wasn’t much scope for this career in India in the 90’s I chose to bypass pursuing a Masters Degree in this arena and instead embarked into the academics and career associated with the emergent world of Advertising & Marketing.
No regrets though…today I blend and communicate all the sciences and wisdom garnered through my academic and career journey via my Blog – Bridges & Barriers and numerous Speaker sessions.
14. What is that One thing you would like to change in your organization/Business today?
Nothing really. The reason being ‘Change is the only Constant’ in Percept. Even as many other similar players died or got sold out, Percept is the last indigenous company that stands strong and tall due to its ability to innovate, adapt, innovate, think out-of-the-box, take risk, embrace change and leap forward. Change is now incorporated and accepted as a part of our corporate culture in Percept.
15. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or fellow business people?
Don’t take your eyes off the Prize. Be patient, disciplined, grounded and focused…real progress & victory takes time.
16. What is your company doing under CSR?
In addition to the Employee Philanthropy activities and many CSR projects that we have undertaken with the Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) for World No Tobacco Day, the Sunburn CSR project is another initiative towards the society we live in. Sunburn’s ‘Leave No Trace’ CSR was designed to inculcate environmental responsibility within the youth. Through the simple & smart principles of “Recycle, Reuse and Restore”, the campaign encouraged young Sunburn fans to celebrate the fest in an eco-friendly manner along with recycling garbage cans for plastic, glass and other items spread across the venue after the event. Beverage containers at Sunburn carry captions like “Trash Me” and “I Deserve a Bin”. Volunteers along with Sunburn enthusiasts clean up the venue during and after the event every single day to restore the environment to its original beauty. The festival supports energy conservation. Promoting reuse of paper, people also donate and borrow books at the fest’s flea market. ‘Leave No Trace’ reaches out to over 200,000 youth present at the Sunburn venue, and makes them aware of the importance of environmental sustainability.
We intend to scale up the Sunburn CSR project going forward. We did have a successful charity project last year and we are looking to do the same each season. There are some interesting and unique ideas planned as well to engage the fans and artists alike for the purpose of doing good for society. Our fans can be rest assured that the CSR tie-ups and ideas announced soon will not only ensure that their monies spent are being used wisely for causes aimed at the greater good of society but also win them some amazing and exclusive prizes and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that money cannot really buy!
17. Tell us something about your education & family background.
I completed my ICSE degree from Cathedral & John Connon High School, followed by a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Mumbai, a Diploma in Advertising & Marketing from Xavier Institute of Communication, and a Masters in Business Administration from Newport University, California.
As most of my family is located around the globe, and are in equally demanding careers like surgeons, doctors, investment bankers and running their own businesses in the Travel, F&B and Realty sector, we don’t get much time or opportunity to stay connected with each other. However, thanks to technology, the occasional update or greeting keeps us connected across continents.
18. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other Business in similar domains.
Percept is the only Entertainment, Media and Communications company in the world that can offer 360-degree Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) services and solutions to clients and consumers around the world. Given the evolving client landscape and associated speed of adaptation and innovation required to meet their pace and expectation, this IMC value-add is a phenomenal offering to clients seeking the same. We have an edge with both clients who wish for an IMC bundle of services as well as those clients who only wish to pick and choose specific services from our bouquet of offerings.
19. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Success is an unremitting pursuit, and its definition changes even as I evolve and transform every day.
I would rather vie to become a person of substance – one who has lived a life of equanimity, looked for the best in others and encouraged them to give the best they have, accomplished my purpose on this planet, become a better human being through this life journey and left the world a better place than when I found it.