REZWAN HABIB, Brand & Communication Manager, DBL Group

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Committed to Evolve

A passionate brand builder, Rezwan Habib expounds on the 3 pillars of DBL Group – Quality, Innovation and Sustainability and how change is inevitable and we must be adaptive to new measures and new ways of thinking forward.

 

Please share with us a glimpse from your 5 years of experience at DBL Group, how have you shaped the brand image & communication strategy of the conglomerate?
DBL is a diversified conglomerate with business in RMG & Textile, which has a strong backward linkage; knit composite facility with spinning, knitting, dyeing, accessories. When I joined five years back, DBL was nearing its 25th year of operations and I started from scratch to build the Brand & Communications team. I wanted to first work on the basics – what the company stands for on its 25th year and its vision for the future. Working with HR, we set the vision, mission and values, and redesigned our logo.

We came up with a vision to “Sustain and grow as a diversified global conglomerate” with sustainability at its core. The colours of the DBL logo represents the company’s environmental consciousness – blue representing water and green representing nature.

The new logo needed a tagline to encapsulate DBL’s legacy, and we came up with “crafting happiness, since 1991”. The cycle of making and purchasing clothes ensures that our workers have a fulfilling job and that consumers are pleased with their purchase. We are trying to craft happiness for the 37,000 people working at DBL. We decided that DBL needed a corporate brand image, resulting in the subsequent launch of DBL’s newsletter ‘INSIGHT’, our corporate websites along with curating corporate videos. I helped structure the corporate brand identity for the company.

We moved to diversify and branched into new businesses like Sewing Thread which is Eco Threads & Yarns, with the purpose to compete with global brands that are operating in the country. We launched a semiconductor design center which we call Neural Semiconductor. Our plan is to design microchips from Bangladesh. To meet excavating needs of the country, we launched DBL Dredging.

We launched DBL Ceramics in 2017. The ceramic tiles market is very competitive, with 28 manufacturers currently in the country, and new entrants emerging every year. DBL always believes in innovation breaking shackles by creating new trends. Since its inception, DBL Ceramics has positioned itself in such a way that whenever people hear the name DBL Ceramics, they recall the words- Innovation, Quality and Design. DBL is the perfect synonym of these 3 words.DBL Ceramics aspires to work as a lifestyle brand which beliefs in #BetterLiving. We sell dreams, not tiles. the long-cherished dream of a heavenly house; nature in the bedroom, a universe in the child’s room.

Along with the conventional approach of the building material industry, which mostly focuses on Trade Marketing and other Below the Line (BTL) activities, DBL Ceramics is considering other communication platforms as well. In this digital era, we can proudly say that we are the pioneer in digital media in the ceramic tiles industry of Bangladesh. Having foreseen the potential of digital media before it became the norm. We prioritised and started our digital activities from day one, By maintaining an active presence in digital media and Above the Line (ATL), we recently introduced versatile actress Jaya Ahsan as our Brand Ambassador. We are working on both pull and push strategy simultaneously which is a bold decision and eventually we believe it will pay off.

Additionally, we entered the retail business by launching PUMA in Bangladesh last year, with plans for future expansion. We also plan to launch a pharma brand – DBL Pharmaceuticals — in the early part of 2021. This was made possible because of the innovators and creative minds at DBL.

Launching and nurturing a new brand has always been my passion. In continuing to live out this dream, DBL has been recognised as a Superbrand. DBL Group has been awarded as one of the Superbrands of the country by Superbrands Bangladesh authority. Based in the UK, Superbrands is the world’s largest independent arbiter of branding that pays tribute to exceptional brands all over the world.

Since DBL is a diversified conglomerate, each and every venture has its own marketing aspect. The values of quality, innovation and sustainability are the common threads that tie DBL Group’s ventures together. We rigorously practice and align ourselves with the SDGs, implementing energy efficiency machinery and the appropriate green technologies. Our sustainability is rooted in five pillars – People, Product, Process, Community, and Environment.

 

Can you elaborate on the kinds of marketing challenges being posed due to the COVID-19 outbreak? What does DBL Group want to communicate with its consumers during this period?
COVID-19 hit Bangladesh in early March, and from the onset, DBL’s priority was to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its associates in factories and corporate offices and to take care of stakeholders. DBL Group took precautionary measures from the get-go – ensuring proper hygiene facilities were in place, distributing hand sanitisers, and checking employees’ temperatures regularly. The second thing we wanted to do was to take care of our stakeholders. Alongside this, there were projects that DBL undertook, where we asked ourselves how we can add value back to our community.

DBL Pharmaceuticals Ltd.conducted an online survey for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers and the results indicated a need for transport service for these healthcare professionals. This is when we initiated the Crack Platoon Transport Service. Authorised by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Government of Bangladesh, we ran this service free of charge for the healthcare professionals from 1 April to 11 May with a simple objective, to ensure that healthcare providers could travel to and from hospitals. The fleet consisted of 40 vans and cars and 10 minibuses registered with the DGHS to pick up the healthcare professionals from their homes and drop them off at the 100+ different hospitals in Dhaka. Transportation was available in three shifts: 8 AM, 2 PM and 8 PM, and was also available for any potential emergencies. Drivers were equipped with PPEs, vehicles were sanitised before and after each trip, and we ensured safe social distancing measures were maintained inside the vehicles. To ensure passenger safety, we sourced Uber drivers who registered their full profiles. Every day, approximately 500 of them over 1,900 registered healthcare professionals used this service.

DBL Healthcare’s initiative “Apnar Daaktar” enabled patients to consult with doctors from the safety of their own homes. DBL Healthcare sponsored and managed anRTV Online program, where doctors addressed audience questions (via WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook comments). All other concerns of DBL Group were empathetic to their suppliers, dealers and retailers and were by their side in times of need. As a professional, my job is to make sure the communication is ongoing but with messages tailored to the current situation. We shifted our focus on raising awareness about COVID-19, and precautionary measures that need to be taken. We posted awareness messages on the DBL Ceramics online platform during the quarantine period and wanted to promote conscious living. Challenges will always exist. We need to figure out the solutions to move past them. During the quarantine period, our message was “Stay Home, Stay Safe”.

DBL Ceramics pavilion at the Ceramic Expo Bangladesh 2019

 

DBL Group is known for trying to become a global enterprise by investing in foreign countries. What are the key components of marketing for a company with such aspirations?
Our vision talks about evolving into a global conglomerate and we aspire to represent Bangladesh globally. We invested in Ethiopia, began manufacturing and exporting from there. We want to export to the Middle East, Europe and greater Africa from Ethiopia to bring a substantial amount of foreign currency back into the country. We want to take Bangladesh to different parts of the world.

The acronym DBL stands for Dulal Brothers Limited. The D comes from the name of “Dulal”, the eldest of the five brothers who were martyred during the 1971 Liberation War. The liberation war and patriotism are at the heart of this group. We want to bear Bangladesh’s flag to the far reaches of the world.

 

How is DBL Group looking to evolve in terms of market dynamics? And how is the conglomerate working to remain competitive?
Quality, Innovation and Sustainability – these are at the core of DBL. Quality Control Circles at DBL Group has now become a tradition. Every single unit of the organisation is continuously trying to improve its Quality Circles. The term “Quality Circles” refers to a group of employees who meet regularly to consider ways of resolving problems and improving the production process in their organisation. DBL Group is the organisation in the country which organises Inter – Unit Competition every year. The purpose of practising the culture of Quality Control Circle is to enhance DBL Group’s quality of the overall production process, to reduce waste, to improve teamwork and team building, to eliminate unnecessary processes, and to instil the habit of innovation. There are almost 124 Quality Circles, having more than 600 personnel working in all these Quality Circles.

The Research & Development department also plays a significant role in this aspect. We never compromise on quality and innovation. We always go for the best machinery and always ensure that we are being energy efficient. Energy efficiency is the key to success. It may seem costly, but being energy efficient is a gift that keeps giving. Right now, we need to think about optimising resource utilisation. This approach exists in all operations at DBL. Quality, Innovation and Sustainability are the components giving DBL its competitive edge and making the company what it is today.

First-ever PUMA Flagship Store launch in Bangladesh

 

Currently, what are some of the emerging key segments of DBL Group? Why do you think this is so?
RMG is certainly one of our leading segments. However, DBL Ceramics is also emerging as a big brand in the ceramics sector. We have just finished our 3rd year and we have also opened our 3rd production line. We are producing 35,000 sqmt tiles every day. We have reached the milestone of 100 dealers and recently signed the versatile actress Jaya Ahsan as our brand ambassador. We will launch our 4th line of production next year. It will be one of the biggest facilities in Bangladesh’s ceramic tile sector. We aspire to export our ceramic to different parts of the world.

DBL Pharmaceuticals (which we hope to launch in the early part of 2021) will be another venture where we will uphold quality, innovation and sustainability. Our main agenda is to provide quality medication to the people of Bangladesh at the most convenient rate. We need more facilities and more resources to combat the diseases affecting the global population today, and DBL will emerge as a key player in pharmaceuticals.

With PUMA, we wanted to bring the experience of an international sportswear store to the Bangladeshi consumers, and it has been a resounding success with the youth of Bangladesh who has really expressed their appreciation for the flagship PUMA outlet. We want to move to online platforms and an e-commerce site soon.

Two things I’ve learnt from COVID-19 that change is inevitable and adaptability is the key to success. We can never take things for granted. Things have changed. We need to be adaptive to new changes – to this ‘new normal’, and adopt new measures.

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