Nepali Times
"A 360 degree approach"

How does a company differentiate its services from others and stand out in a competitive environment? Branding is not new, but awareness about brand-building is new in Nepal. It is to capitalise on this need that Nabil Bank is organising a BrandInsight 2004 exercise under the Excellence Series of workshops to mark its 20th anniversary.

BrandInsight 2004 is a one-day workshop with Ajay Gupta, the managing partner of Brand Prophet, India ( Gupta is the former executive vice president of Saatchi and Saatchi and an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahemadabad and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has over 25 years of experience in building home grown and international brands. Gupta is expected to convert concepts and ideas into practical branding value additions by answering questions regarding issues such as approaching competition, addressing a cluttered market and customer confusion, reviving tired brands and adding premium value to brands. Some two dozen Nepali brand and marketing managers are attending the workshop on Sunday at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza.

Nepali Times caught up to Gupta just before he departed for Kathmandu and interviewed him via email.

Nepali Times: Nepal is considered virgin territory as far as branding is concerned. What do you hope to achieve when you get here?
Ajay Gupta: My main purpose is to share and enhance the paradigm and concept of brand building amongst professionals and businessmen of Nepal.

From what you have seen so far, what prospects do you see for the growth of the Nepali advertising industry?
To take an example from the Indian experience, the stability of the country and economy driven policies will bring the growth. Once a critical mass level and proper direction is achieved, advertising growth will get a kickstart.

Is there a threshold level of a country's economy after which it becomes important for companies to pay attention to branding?
For smaller economies the niche position you create is more important. For example, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia have done very well through tourism and trade promotion. In case of Nepal, tourism, dairy, food sectors have great potential, while tourism needs a revival. Wai-Wai noodles is one of the biggest brands from Nepal in the region.

What is your short answer to those who feel that branding is a waste of time?
I would just quote Drucker: "Business is marketing". Or Brand Prophet: "Marketing is branding"! So, branding is business. If you are not in the business of building brands, you will be out of business soon.

But where does one draw the line between branding hype and essential promotion?
The science of branding is like an iceberg. What you see on top is brand personality, which is where the hype goes. What is below the surface is brand character, which is built through a 360 degree approach and living the brand by culturalising your people.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)