Adjusting to A Paradigm Shift
Md Raziuddin Sourav from LankaBangla Finance Limited explains that a successful brand much like a person evolves with time, revisits its goals and revises its processes to adjust to changing landscapes and market scenarios through a continuous journey of learning, accepting, adapting and updating.
You’ve been in the communication industry for 13 years now? How did your journey in the communication industry begin and what can you tell us about your experience?
It wasn’t a planned career move. After completing my graduation, I was searching for an internship. After trying my luck in many companies and getting rejected, one fine morning I had received a phone call from a renowned ISP company and from there my professional career had begun as a sales intern. I loved that job. Following my first internship, I received a call from Grey Dhaka to take up a position as a Management Trainee in the client servicing department. And after a couple of interviews, I got my chance to be part of the country’s leading creative advertising agency. Hence I entered into the world of communication, and in the process of learning so many new things came my way to make me a communication professional.
It has been more than 13 years since you joined this industry, can you share how you shifted paths from a common man to a communication person? In your career, you’ve shifted from the agency side to client-side? Can you share what are the important factors that instigated you to change the industry?
I have gained a significant amount of experience in both agency and client. There are differences in the team structure and work pattern in both aspects. Agency work revolved around brand communication, but over here I have to deal with the full circuit of the brand role. The learning pattern is also totally different now. In agency, I was responsible for supervising client servicing part of a brand; but now I am the custodian of one specialized brand and its multifaceted activities and its sensitivity. It is an everyday learning process. It helped me to strengthen my base. Over the last 13 years, I kept focusing on my core area which is brand and communication, investing time to learn and gather experience from others, making and accepting errors, welcoming changes and adopting the changes. To me focusing, learning, adopting with the change and investing time is the main force of shifting.
People live on dreams and hopes and we all want changes in our lives. I am not a different one. I have my own dreams and own goals, to achieve those I need to move and it’s a very continuous process. For instance, when I was a university student my dream was to get a job from where I can go beyond, and fortunately, I got a very good opportunity. After a couple of years doing a job and investing my time in the communication and branding sector, I settled upon it as my career with an appetite to go further with honesty and integrity, bring some positive and result-oriented changes in my job place. To learn more, to get more experience and to be a positive change-maker, we all need to accept challenges and push our boundaries. To overcome challenges, you need to explore new windows which are full of opportunities and risks. This might take me down rocky terrains, but I have that much faith in my strength and it consistently gives me the courage to keep pushing forward. My confidence in myself and my quick adaptability along with rising unknown challenges are the key drivers of my professional life. And when a new challenge will arrive with a new opportunity, I will welcome it without fear.
When you joined the brand and communication industry back in 2007, the industry was different than now; can you describe this transformation?
Yes, the brand and communication industry has changed a lot, and a lot of it has been very positive. Corporates are beginning to grasp the importance of building sustainable brands. Image building, creative awareness and expert assistance will allow corporates to survive in this competitive market. But every good change brings with it negative aspects too, like many agencies delivering sub-par jobs due to cost issues. In doing so, they compromise the brand and call into question the effectiveness of the industry. I think there should be an industry average to maintain a healthy industry growth. Developing and managing brands is not cheap, but it is crucial to understand that spending is not always expenditure, it is also an investment. This is the secret to creating and establishing a sustainable brand.
We want to hear from your agency life experience and how it works? Does your advertising agency experience help you with what you do now?
Grey was a school for me and we all know if schooling is good then we don’t need to worry about the future, you can go beyond. Grey was and still is like my family, and I am grateful for what I have learned in my time there. Working at Grey empowered me, it taught me self-confidence, being responsible, accountable, and adaptive, accepting and fighting through the hard times. How to smile when you close a task. I was quite independent and could do my job freely, but that does not mean I am individual. As a client service manager, I worked closely with several renowned conglomerates and brands of Bangladesh. I dealt closely with creative, finance, media and production houses. At Grey, we all had a positive attitude regarding completing a task and bringing revenue for the company. This can-do attitude is my biggest earning from Grey. And for that, I especially want to give thanks to all team members and other Grey family members.
You have been at the helm of your duties at LankaBangla for going on almost 7 years? Can you share your experience, what you have learned?
It was at the end of 2013 when I made the jump from the advertising industry to lead the brand and communication development in the financial sector. I realized that my knowledge reservoir wasn’t enough. Till before joining, I had focused on developing brand materials, but to become a good communication expert and brand custodian we all need to know many more things. After deciding to shift from partners’ to clients, I have learnt something new every day, keep updating on new issues and come up with new solutions. I am thankful to LankaBangla Finance and management for keeping faith in me and giving me a chance to develop my learning curve. There is no end to learning and there is no shame in not knowing – this helps me in my career. Under prudent guidelines of management and support from my peer groups, I am enhancing my knowledge, evolving my tactical understating and increasing my horizon of work scope. My journey so far has been interactive, positive and motivating.
Can you share your thoughts for brands in the ongoing pandemic? What is the best way to position a brand in the market that ensures the brand remains relevant?
Currently, we are going through an unprecedented time and new challenges are arising. But every grey cloud has a silver lining. In this current situation, brands need to be human-centric and focus on tailoring solutions and also on problem-solving. They need to be convenient and easily accessible. Brands should position itself as a tool to revive and restructure people’s life. Identify new windows to interact with people. Digital transformation is the call of the hour and brands need to align with these changes. People’s insight is changing, brands should understand that change. If a brand cannot accept those changes and act accordingly, then it will be very difficult to survive after this pandemic. For instance, a restaurant brand needs to accept that their brick-and-mortar location will not attract the usual lunch crowd, instead, they need to adapt to online sales channels, partner with delivery channels and follow hygiene guidelines, rearrange physical location to overcome the pandemic situation and stay alive. We all know brands are evolving day by day by adopting changes. Therefore, for a brand, it is important to accept change, bring innovation and to act in accordance with changes and shift to a new platform.
How did you shift in this pandemic situation? What new strategy and tactics are you taking to improve the impact of communication and build the brand?
We are shifting ourselves into a strong digital platform where our concern is to maximize the relevant brand presence along with keeping customer’s comfort in mind. We strongly believe that digital transformation will give us strong leverage in the market. People are now more empowered to choose and pick due to technological superiority and understanding. They know what they want, how to get that and where to get that. And they also want a very easy, convenient simple method to avail offers and services. Therefore, we need to address customers’ demands, incorporate those and bring innovation in offers. Like AI-based customer service, automation in the application process, the maximum number of payment channels, financial apps, making a partnership with online shops and service, and bringing automation in the process all are for reengineering our brand. But it is also important to be physically engaged with our customers as well.
PR is a growing concern for any company; do you agree with this? Also, what is your concern point regarding social media?
Indeed PR is very important for any company because it has a great impact on the brand positive image. It is not only dealing with brands, but it also deals with the human resources of the organization. Thus a communicator knows how to create compelling stories. Make it believable to all the people. And with that, gain publicity from trusted channels and build trust and credibility of the brand. When other people talk about brands, it influences prospects more than above the line advertising.
Social Medias are giving us the chance to constantly remind customers about the products and services that we offer. It is the easiest way to reach customers, and social media gives customers a convenient and accessible way to express what they feel about the brand. But the most important concern is to use social media in a responsible way. Without knowing the true facts, it is not wise to respond to any issues.
Do you think there are any rules that heavy industry communication and brand personnel are not suitable for the FMCG category?
I have to disagree. Communication and branding are dynamic in nature and it changes every day. Evolve with new tools to be present to the peoples. We need to learn every day, need to incorporate new things every day and it is applicable for all categories of the brand – starting from heavy manufacturing industry to small candy to the financial market. The difference is in the customer mindset and to understand that I don’t think a brand manager needs to come from the same industry. Branding is a blend of science, emotion and rationality. A brand manager who is aware of these three things can work in any industry. In fact, I would say that recruiting from a cross-industry brings innovation and creativity into a brand.