Sumana Iyengar, CEO & Co-Founder, Goavega

Sumana is an experienced IT professional, having spent over 23 years in the industry. This includes global experience across the domain, which includes Delivery management, Risk management, operations management to strategic planning and consulting.  She has successfully executed several business plans and has a strong business acumen for handling channel management activities. Before starting Goavega, she worked in several large MNC’s and product companies. Some of her past stints include Symphony Services Corp India Pvt Ltd, where she served as a director for 6 years. Additionally, she was at AIG (American International Assurance), Singapore as Assistant Manager from Jun’01 – Apr’04.

 

Over the past few years, especially with the pandemic, there has been accelerated digital adoption across business sectors, disrupting operations, communications, marketing and brand and consumer engagement rules. Under this backdrop of a stronger digital first business ecosystem, there has also been a massive shift in consumer behaviour and preferences that now dominate how the brand connects with its larger stakeholders – partners, vendors, and government and industry stakeholders.

Moulded through digital and social media trends, the new business ecosystem has enhanced the need for brands and their spokespersons to become more visible, take responsibility, and clearly position the brand and personal philosophy to create a more human and emotional connect. As a result, the need for brand spokespersons to be more visible, vocal, and accessible, has become important. The value, expertise, vision, and overall thought process of the face behind the brand, now directly impact the success and acceptability of a brand, as against the earlier conventional drivers of quality, price, and availability. For eg., while Tesla is a well-known brand, its market price and brand image are heavily tied to the personal profile of its founder Elon Musk and his engagement through digital and social presence. Similar is the case for brand leaders like Anand Mahindra, Ratan Tata, Jeff Bezos etc., who have now become a vital pillar in forming and maintaining the larger image of their conglomerate brands.

However navigating these digital and social media labyrinths can be tricky, in the backdrop of an increasingly opinionated world, marked with uncertainty and volatility. Understanding some basic points can help brand custodians, leaders, and executives when engaging on social and digital platforms. These include:

Right messaging and right platform: This is one of the most crucial elements of brand leadership visibility and engagement. And while this is the cornerstone of any marketing initiative, it is also vital in terms of individual leadership profiling. From choosing positive, affirmative and result/ action-oriented messaging to expressing solidarity, taking responsibility to showcasing an emotional and humane stance on current events, immediate internal or external crisis etc., right messaging on the right platforms can makes an important impact on the way the overall brand image is perceived. Especially on the leadership, it is important for the leader to showcase and talk about the initiatives/ solutions that it brings to the community, than have an HR or a CSR representative share it on behalf of the brand.

Right Insights: This is the second vital step for brand spokespersons is to drive knowledge driven conversations that can be instrumental in building long term thought leadership position for the spokesperson and the brand as a whole. With key insights on economy and sector trends, innovative ideas for addressing existing challenges or forecasting data driven industry insights, can all help build trust, affinity and long term brand loyalty among not just the end consumer but the larger stakeholder ecosystem

Right Engagement: While the right messaging and right insight driven communications are key points for effective spokesperson positioning, it requires much more than just this for effective engagement on digital platforms. Consistency of messaging and communication outreach, coupled with extreme awareness of cultural, political, and ecological sensitivities, are factors that need to be significantly considered, when embarking upon a digital platform.

Lastly, while the above are some of the most basic pointers for professional/ brand leadership engagement on the social and digital platforms, the need for effectively chalking out the company core philosophies and aligning them with the stakeholder needs and thought processes is an important step for all business leaders. In addition to this, a number of Indian businesses – MNC’s, conglomerates, SME’s and start-up’s, are waking up to the urgent need of brand representation on the digital and social platforms, marking the beginning of an important business trend for a country gearing up to become a leader in global economy.

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