“Brand character is one of the most important elements of brand strategy” – Saumitra Prasad, CMO, Koyuko Camlin

Saumitra Prasad is the Chief Marketing Officer at Kokuyo Camlin. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, he’s a Nike fan, and believes brand positioning in fundamental to building long term vision for brands. Excerpts from an interview:

Q: Please tell us a little about your professional & academic background along with a small brief about your role in your current organization?

I am a management graduate from NMIMS, Mumbai (batch 1995-97) and have over 20 years of experience largely in marketing in FMCG and consumer products.

The organization where I spent maximum time was CavinKare, where I have spent over 10 years. I would truly call this place where had the maximum learning primary due to the great leaning culture created by the founder C K Ranganathan and many great leaders during my stint including a long term CEO Mr. K S Ramesh who had background of Procter & Gamble.

One of the most memorable experience was launching Spinz range of products in the categories of deodorants, talcum & perfumes. In the times when new products were finding it difficult to achieve success, Spinz became the third largest brand in category within two years of national launch. Another great experience I had when I was Head of Haircare – the most competitive categories and the portfolio in the period contributed almost 70% of the company’s topline. It was a great moment to see Chik Shampoo being the strong number two brand in the competitive shampoo category, ahead of so many global brands.

I have been working with Kokuyo Camlin as the Chief Marketing Officer of the company since May 2013, heading the marketing department which includes brand management, new product development and promotions.

Q: What is your favorite advertising campaign in the present scenario?

One of the recent advertising that impressed me the most was Ariel, ‘Share the Load’ campaign as today a brand has to communicate not just rationally & emotionally, but also socially. Ariel has already established itself as a leading washing machine detergent brand in India and would aspire to be the first choice of the modern wife who is not just a homemaker but a working woman too. In India, their plight is not understood by the men until they see their daughter face the problem. This is a very powerful piece of advertising which should do a lot for the brand and make a difference to the society.

Q: Do you think having a “Brand Character” is an important component of a successful brand strategy? Who is your favorite brand character?

Brand character is one of the most important elements of brand strategy, which is mostly ignored by non-marketers and sometimes even by marketers. But the powerful brands will have a strong and enduring brand character.

One of the basic reasons of the importance of brand character is that in every category when the product differentiations become less and in the evolution process of every brand improves its product offering, it’s the brand character which creates the differentiation. In short without brand character a brand is just a product.

My favorite brand character is that of brand Nike which I would define as an athletic and rugged companion for outdoor adventure. Nike is the leader in athletic performance apparel and shoes. One of the reasons why it stays at top is its brand character.

Q: What measures do you take to ensure a better brand positioning vis-à-vis your competitors? Cite one such example.

A brand positioning is the one of the fundamental work for the brand that every marketer undertakes which defines the long-term vision for the brand.

When we looked at defining the brand positioning for brand Camlin the challenge for us was that the brand had a very large and diverse product portfolio and target consumer group. Based on the current perception of the brand amongst its consumers and the long-term vision, the power tools were used to position the brand on the benefit of “Making Learning Fun”. The positioning has helped the brand bind the diverse portfolio into one and gave the brand a clear path to growth.

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