A brand is just a colored logo and a slogan, isn’t it? Wrong thinking behind successful branding is much more. HCL Technologies, an Indian global IT services company, recently launched a new brand identity. Zulfia Nafees, Global Head of Brand at HCL, told us more about this in an interview.

Especially for SMEs, building and maintaining a differentiating B2B brand is crucial for corporate success. Based on this, customers and those who want to become one receive associations. At best, these thoughts are of course positive. But how do you build a good and appealing brand?

An essential part of a good brand is brand identity. This defines how the brand should be seen and perceived. A brand identity gives the brand a visual introduction that precedes any positioning or narrative. So it really is the foundation of branding. Brand positioning, in turn, gives the brand a unique place in the minds of the target groups. Coupled with a channel strategy, this differentiates a company in the marketplace and contributes to its growth, value perception, and competitiveness.

As more and more SMEs also operate internationally, they should not forget the impact of brand identity in a global context.

Interview with a brand expert

But how does a successful international brand identity succeed and what should marketers consider? We spoke to Zulfia Nafees, Global Head of Brand at HCL Technologies. HCL Technologies is an Indian global IT services company based in India with offices in 52 countries. As a global company, it too faced the challenge of revising its branding. At the heart of it all: a new brand identity.

Editor: Why was it necessary to change your brand identity?

Zulfia: Our origins are within the HCL Group, but we were listed as an independent company under the name HCLTech at the turn of the millennium following our IPO on the Indian National Stock Exchange in December 1999. Since then 22 years have passed. Although we have since operated largely interchangeably under the name of our parent company – HCL – we felt the time was right to further develop our own distinct identity.

How did you bring the identity to life? How did you communicate the launch of the new brand identity?

The “active” part of branding is positioning, and at HCLTech our new positioning is Supercharging Progress. To kickstart the process, we have developed four different pillars and action plans that convey relevance to our four key stakeholders.

For our clients, this positioning embodies our promise to deliver business results quickly and at scale. We strive to solve everyday or complex challenges both pragmatically and resiliently. For our employees, the positioning underscores our commitment to helping them find the right roles and increase their career potential. For our communities and our world, it promises to create a more sustainable future through our long-term actions and agreements with stakeholders.

Why did you choose the phrase “supercharging progress”?

Supercharging Progress summarizes the essence of what we are doing today. And our drive to do more of it—at scale, at speed, for our customers, employees, communities, and our world.

For HCLTech, Supercharging Progress is about accelerating digital transformation for our customers every day, but also about the company’s ethos of advancing our people’s goals, contributing to a sustainable world, and empowering local communities across our global footprint.

How did you develop the new identity?

We have multiple platforms within the organization to take the pulse of the market and actively listen to feedback and needs from our customers and employees. So our first step in this transformation was to use this information. We also delved deeply into the changing dynamics of the technology industry and the changing expectations of stakeholders.

Based on these findings, we developed our new brand identity and positioning with the support of a creative agency. Our leadership team played an active part in this, and we were inspired by the rich heritage of our roots.

How did you introduce the new brand identity globally? Was there a big event or something?

We took a digital approach to launch our revamped brand. The launch, therefore, took place simultaneously worldwide. The focus was on a large, bespoke flagship platform for all stakeholders, followed by several smaller but consistently clever ideas: For our employees, we hosted a very interesting talk show-like webcast, complemented by a revamped intranet and local launch parties supported. For our clients, we focused on a “What does this mean to me” email campaign and for the rest of the world, our website and social channels became the focus of the action.

How did your customers react? Have you already received feedback from your customers about the new identity?

Yes, we have received many positive feedbacks from our customers from all over the world. Above all, they appreciate that our brand promise encompasses not only our own employees and customers but also the communities in which we operate and the wider world.

What advice do you have for other marketers who are also considering a brand identity overhaul?

Based on my experience, I think three tips are particularly important:

Involve all stakeholders – this yields a wealth of insights and ideas, each with different structures and perspectives that you might never discover on your own. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and certainly not by a single team!

People are your most important channel – people work with people, people work for people, and people definitely believe other people. Website, social media, outdoor advertising, and ads are good, but if you don’t educate, train and engage your employees, your brand will never reach its full potential.

Progress before perfection – I learned this from my boss and it became a very important part of my project management vocabulary for this program! We all strive for perfection, but sometimes just putting something on the road is good enough!


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