We should never look back and do our jobs passionately

Meghendra Prakash Giri, Chief of Branding and Communications at SuryaJyoti Life Insurance Company Ltd., boasts 25 years of experience in marketing, communications and branding in media, multinational company and insurance sector. His pivotal role in the successful merger campaign of Surya Life and Jyoti Life insurance companies underscores his expertise. SuryaJyoti Insurance holds the distinction of being the country’s premier life insurance company in terms of market share, branch network, paid-up capital, agents and policyholders.

Giri, a distinguished marketing, branding and communication professional, has received accolades, including the Best Advertising Campaign at the Kriti Awards 2019 organised by the Advertising Association of Nepal. His contributions extend to introducing effective and innovative communication campaigns and branding strategies within the corporate sector. In an interview with The HRM Nepal, Giri shared insights on branding, communication and marketing.

Q: How is SuryaJyoti Life Insurance positioning its brand?
A: Brand positioning refers to the strategic process of establishing a distinct identity and perception for a brand in the minds of consumers, relative to competitors. It involves determining how a brand wants to be perceived by its target audience and then crafting messaging, imagery and experiences to effectively communicate that desired positioning.

I firmly believe that effective brand positioning helps create a clear and differentiated identity for the brand, making it easier for consumers to understand what the brand stands for and why they should choose it over alternatives. The company’s vision and strategy guide marketing and communication efforts, ensuring alignment with the brand’s positioning strategy and objectives. Overall, brand positioning is a critical aspect of building and managing a successful brand in today’s competitive marketplace.

Our logo, colour tone, brand name and tagline reflect the uniqueness and major USP of our company. When you observe our logo and colour tone, you will notice that they are distinct and different from the overall insurance industry. A simple and memorable logo and tagline help people recall our brand when discussing the life insurance industry.

Various companies have their own brand positioning. For instance, Coca-Cola sells happiness, celebration and positive life experiences packaged in a bottle, while Nestlé prioritises keeping its products at the forefront of consumers’ minds in terms of quality, nutrition, health, wellness, innovation and variety.

SuryaJyoti effectively positions its brand around key elements, including customer-centricity, innovation, being first movers, social and community focus, transparency, integrity, trust and quality for all stakeholders. SuryaJyoti consistently believes in and positions itself as a company that offers unique life insurance products, emphasising customer trust, satisfaction, happiness, accountability and the goal of reaching every individual from each household across Nepal. Our differentiation in the market lies in building strong trust and loyalty with our customers, with a focus on driving long-term success and growth.

Q: As a communication and branding professional, how would you describe your experience in the insurance industry?
A: With 25 years of experience in Marketing Communications and Branding, I worked for over five years in the life insurance industry as Chief Communications, Branding, and Public Affairs at Nepal’s leading life insurance companies. My career transition from media to banking, where I initially served as a Brand Manager in a commercial bank, marked my first step. During that time, there was a noticeable absence of separate departments dedicated to handling communications and branding. However, as corporate houses and multinational companies recognised the need for distinct branding and communication wings, the landscape evolved. In the financial sector, particularly among banks, financial institutions (BFIs), and most insurance companies, the absence of dedicated departments for branding and communication was evident. These responsibilities were often assigned to marketing and administrative teams.

My 12 years of experience and performance at Kantipur TV equipped me with creative skills, the ability to foster strong relationships with advertising agencies and media personalities, and an in-depth understanding of production and content creation. I harnessed this experience in the fields of communications and branding, successfully contributing to life insurance company branding activities and promotional campaigns. Our unique communication and branding strategies not only stimulated the market but also created a positive image. This impact extended beyond the insurance sector, influencing BFIs and inspiring other organisations to adopt similar branding and promotion practices.

My career in branding, communication, and marketing has significantly impacted the market. I collaborated closely with advertising agencies, contributing to business growth. At insurance companies where I worked, I successfully crafted positive brand images. Additionally, I facilitated better communication with audiences, enabling informed choices about product offerings. As a one-person team in the communication and branding department, I established strong relationships with media and stakeholders. Together, we hosted events and executed corporate social responsibility initiatives. Smoothly managing both Above the Line (ATL) and Below the Line (BTL) marketing, I designed and produced campaigns and promotional materials collaboratively. My enriching experience in the life insurance sector allowed me to express creativity, expand my capabilities, and work alongside remarkable individuals in both the media and financial sectors. Rather than merely having a job, I approach my work with passion and dedication.

Q: Why are branding and communication important for the overall growth of the company?
A: Communication and branding strategy is one of our organisation’s most crucial assets. It provides our organisation with an identity, makes our business memorable, encourages consumers to choose us, supports our marketing and advertising efforts, and instills pride in all stakeholders. With over 25 years of experience in marketing communications and randing, I would like to emphasise the importance of these aspects in simple terms.

Effective communication and branding aim to achieve several key objectives like building strong positive relationships with our target audience and stakeholders and conveying key messages clearly. They also aim to maximise visibility for our organisation and establish a robust brand image that sets us apart from competitors. It is also about being accountable to stakeholders and creating loyal customers who are brand-aware and recall our offerings.

In the past, traditional thinking held that ‘products create their own demand’, and investing in communication and branding was considered wasteful. However, in today’s competitive landscape, survival in the market is impossible without effective communication and branding. It is not just large organisations and corporate houses; even in politics and small businesses, the value of branding and communication has been recognised.

Why is this important? Because it promotes brand awareness within our target market. When our audience knows us, and we understand them, the sales process begins. Consistent brand experiences lay the foundation for better relationships and increased sales.

I firmly believe that communication and branding activities attract customers – acting as a pull strategy – while marketing activities serve as a push strategy. By introducing our products and services to customers and convincing them to make a final purchase, we contribute to the overall growth of company revenue.

Q: Digital innovations have eased branding and marketing campaigns in many ways. How has your company been utilising these innovations?
A: Certainly, digital innovations have revolutionised branding and marketing campaigns in numerous ways. Digital platforms allow for highly targeted advertising based on demographics, interests and behaviours, ensuring that marketing messages reach the most relevant audience segments.

We are fully utilising digital innovations in branding and marketing campaigns rather than relying on traditional media. It is cost-effective, time-effective and allows us to easily reach our target audience while evaluating results. Our brand positioning emphasises a strong digital presence as a key communication and branding strategy.

Digital platforms provide diverse channels for content distribution, including websites, blogs, social media and multimedia content. This enables brands to create engaging and shareable content, connecting with their audience. Social media platforms offer direct avenues for brands to engage with their audience in real-time, build relationships and receive immediate feedback, fostering brand loyalty.

Digital marketing strategies include optimising content for search engines to improve visibility and organic traffic. This ensures that brands are discoverable when consumers search for relevant products or services.

Digital innovations have transformed branding and marketing campaigns in significant ways. With the widespread use of smartphones, brands now have the opportunity to leverage mobile marketing tactics. These include mobile-optimised websites, apps and location-based targeting, allowing them to reach consumers on-the-go. Additionally, influencer marketing has gained prominence on digital platforms. Brands collaborate with influential individuals on social media to promote their products or services to their followers.

Email remains a powerful tool for nurturing leads, promoting products and driving conversions. Automated email campaigns can be tailored to deliver personalised messages based on consumer behaviour. Furthermore, brands can create immersive and interactive experiences using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. These experiences engage consumers and leave a lasting impression.

Digital innovations extend beyond content creation. Chatbots and AI-powered customer service tools enable brands to provide instant assistance, answer queries and streamline customer interactions. This enhances the overall customer experience. Overall, digital innovations have democratised marketing by providing accessible and cost-effective tools for brands to connect with consumers, build brand awareness and drive business growth.

Q: What type of campaigns do you think are effective for a company’s branding?
A: Well, this depends on the industry type, the company’s long-term vision, target audience, brand identity, goals and available resources. However, I can provide a general framework for developing a branding campaign that includes defining brand identity, target audience and setting clear goals. Furter, compelling messages are equally important to communicate the company’s value proposition that resonate with the target audience. Other fundamentals that should not be missed are designing visual brand elements, choosing effective marketing channel, creating content strategy and implementing engagement tactics, and tracking effectiveness of branding campaign with key performance indicators (KPIs). Moreover, we have to pay attention to continuously evaluating the branding campaign’s performance and gather feedback from stakeholders and the target audience as well as iterating strategies, tactics and messaging based on insights and feedback to refine the campaign and help achieve desired outcomes. By following the aforesaid ways and customising strategies to fit the specific needs and characteristics of the company, a comprehensive and effective branding campaign can be developed to enhance brand awareness, perception and loyalty.

Q: As per your experience, how effective is digital marketing?
A: Digital marketing has become increasingly effective in the 21st century due to several factors such as widespread internet access, target advertising, data analytics, personalisation, content and social media marketing. Digital marketing is gaining popularity due to its global outreach and cost-effectiveness. Most of the companies have adopted digital marketing strategy worldwide, from small startups to big business houses, by integrating these digital marketing strategies where companies can effectively target and engage with their audience, generate leads and convert that into the sales as well.

Q: What are the major differences you have experienced while campaigning with traditional media and digital media platforms?
A: Traditional media, such as television and newspapers, typically have a broad reach but lack precise targeting capabilities. Digital media platforms, on the other hand, allow for highly targeted advertising, enabling campaigns to reach specific demographics or individuals based on their interests, behaviours and demographics.

Traditional media and digital media differ in several key aspects, including their characteristics, reach, audience engagement, cost and measurement capabilities:
Traditional media typically refers to traditional forms of mass communication, such as print (newspapers, magazines), broadcast (television, radio), and outdoor advertising (billboards, posters).

Digital media encompasses digital platforms and channels, including websites, social media, search engines, email, mobile apps and online video streaming services.

Traditional media often has broad reach and can reach a wide audience, particularly through mass media channels like television and radio.
Digital media allows for more targeted and niche audience reach, as messages can be delivered to specific demographics, interests, behaviours and geographic locations.

Traditional media generally offers limited opportunities for audience interaction and engagement. Communication tends to be one-way, with little to no direct interaction between the audience and the content.

Digital media enables greater interactivity and engagement, with features such as comments, likes, shares, polls, surveys and live chats. Users can actively participate, share content and provide feedback in real-time.

Traditional media advertising can be expensive, especially for prime-time television slots, full-page magazine ads, or high-traffic billboard locations.
Digital media advertising often offers more cost-effective options, with flexible pricing models such as pay-per-click (PPC), cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), and cost-per-action (CPA). Budgets can be adjusted based on campaign performance, and campaigns can be scaled up or down as needed.

Traditional media measurement can be challenging and imprecise, with limited capabilities for tracking audience reach, engagement and conversion.

Digital media provides robust measurement and analytics tools that allow marketers to track and analyse campaign performance in real-time. Metrics such as website traffic, click-through rates, conversion rates, bounce rates and return on investment (ROI) can be monitored and optimised for better results.

Traditional media often requires longer lead times for planning, production and distribution. Changes to campaigns or messaging may be difficult or costly to implement once materials are printed or aired.

Digital media offers greater flexibility and agility, allowing marketers to make real-time adjustments to campaigns based on performance data and market conditions. Content can be updated, modified or replaced quickly and easily to stay relevant and responsive to audience needs.

I am confident that traditional media is more powerful and impactful and still plays a significant role in marketing and advertising in the context of Asian countries whereas digital media offers distinct advantages in terms of targeting, engagement, measurability and flexibility, making it an essential component of modern marketing strategies with cost effectiveness.

Q: What significant milestones in branding and communication stand out in the history of SuryaJyoti Life Insurance?
A: The major milestones in SuryaJyoti Life include introducing a new logo, brand name and tagline. We successfully executed a merger campaign for SuryaJyoti Life Insurance Company, establishing a distinct brand identity. Additionally, our impactful promotion campaigns, especially product campaigns, have strengthened our digital presence. The documentary on the successful merger and occasional audio-visual content have resonated well with people.

Q: How do you leverage sponsored programmes and Corporate Social Responsibility to promote your brand effectively?
A: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plays a crucial role in shaping companies’ marketing strategies. It enhances brand reputation, differentiates from competitors, fosters employee engagement, builds community relationships, ensures accountability with society and stakeholders, and demonstrates transparency.
To capitalise on sponsored programmes and CSR initiatives for brand promotion, companies can employ various strategies. First, they should ensure that sponsored programmes and CSR initiatives closely align with the company’s brand values, mission and objectives. Seeking partnerships with reputable organisations, non-profits or community groups that have a strong presence and credibility in the target market is essential. Collaborating with trusted partners enhances the brand’s reputation and extends its reach to new audiences. Integrating sponsored programmes and CSR initiatives into broader marketing campaigns amplifies their impact and visibility. Leveraging multiple channels, including digital media, social media, PR, events, and content marketing, helps promote the brand’s involvement and contributions.

Additionally, storytelling and content creation play a vital role. Engaging employees as brand ambassadors further amplifies the brand’s message and values to their networks. Transparency and accountability are crucial, and evaluating performance using key performance indicators (KPIs) ensures effectiveness. Community engagement through outreach events, workshops or town hall meetings solidifies the brand’s commitment. As a prominent player in the market, maintaining a long-term dedication to society and clients, rather than pursuing short-term, opportunistic initiatives, builds trust and makes a meaningful difference.

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