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India 2015: TOP 50 ANALYSIS | Q&A with Sagnik Ghosh

Brand communication tools are much stronger today, but so is the competition 

Customer service strategy and implementation are critical 

One of India’s largest privately owned banks, Axis Bank debuted in the BrandZTM India Top 50 this year, at number eight. 


 Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of brands in India over the next five years and why?

The horizon certainly looks bright for the future of brands in India. Among the factors this can be attributed to are the number of touch points and opportunities for a brand to tell its story. In the ever evolving digital, social and mobile world, it’s a lot easier for a brand to target, reach, and stay connected to its desired audience. Moreover, the plethora of tools available for measuring results, running custom audience campaigns, measuring performance real-time and optimizing campaigns real-time, empowers brands to be more scientific and result oriented in their marketing efforts. On the other side, the thriving competition is keeping brands on their toes and pushing them harder and harder to stand out and seek the consumers’ share of mind and wallet.

What is the most innovative way you’ve communicated to customers recently? A new commercial or social media campaign, for example?

One is our recently launched multi-social payment app Ping Pay. What was interesting is how a core insight brought to life a novel communication idea that wasn’t touched upon in the payment solutions advertising space before. It was based on the insight that instances of money exchange between friends do not involve just the exchange of money but also an emotional connection that sums up the story around the money exchange. With Ping Pay, the mobile user can text back and forth with contacts while asking for money or sending it. The commercials articulated this insight as Jab bhi Pay karo, kuch na kuch say karo, or “Whenever you pay, say what you want to say.” The thought is brought to life in the films, with friends exchanging comments and photos when they pay money to each other.

How has your media investment strategy changed over the past few years? Are you spending more on digital and in what ways?

Time spent by our target group on TV and Internet has been growing over the years. In fact, the time spent on Internet has drastically increased, whereas there has been a sharp dip in time spent on print in the same period of time. In line with this observation, we have been continuously evolving our media strategy to increase more exposure on digital and TV and reduce exposure on print.

We have been using digital very tactically, from creating awareness about the products to creating a separate channel of lead generation and fulfillment. In fact, we have been able to explore and exploit all the platforms of digital media, meaning search, social and display. We have been using search for intent-based targeting; social not just as any other advertising medium, but for engaging in conversations that are beyond transactions; and display for increased reach and content based relevant advertising.

When you think about what you believe are great Indian brands, what qualities do they share in common?

In my view, there are set of “three Cs” that form the cornerstones of successful Indian brands. These are: customized offerings, contextual advertising and customer service. First, there are brands that have made a considerable effort understanding demand drivers among Indian consumers and they’ve committed investments for real innovations. This ability to keep up with the consumer desires, or more importantly, to anticipate desires,

makes a great Indian brand. The second key is targeted contextual advertising – making your proposition and offering come alive at touch points where your consumer is likely to need them. Third, and most important, is a focused and well thought out customer service strategy and implementation. This depends on listening across platforms to gauge consumer sentiment, responding quickly to queries and complaints, and creating delight.

What is your brand’s particular commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and how important is it to the brand’s relationship with consumers?

Axis Bank as an organization strongly believes  that CSR and sustainability are vital pillars of continual success for its present and future. Axis Bank has set up a Trust – the Axis Bank Foundation (ABF) to channel its philanthropic initiatives. The Foundation aims to provide one million sustainable livelihoods to the underprivileged, in some of the most backward regions of the country, by 2017. The foundation was recognized at the Forbes India Philanthropic Awards 2014.

With emerging awareness levels of giving back to the society at an individual level, it has become of paramount importance for brands to adopt a more holistic approach towards CSR to build brand value. The consumers of today are looking out for brands that not only produce a better product, but are also doing something more positively for the world.