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Old Indian uncle to newly placed college grad - "I heard you got placed? Where are you working?"
College grad to uncle - "I got placed in Google, uncle. I am very happy!"
Old Indian uncle - "Oh, you didn't get Infosys?"
College grad - *Facepalm*
The brand of a company matters a lot, especially when it comes to hiring talent. Infosys, for example, has a brand perception of being a provider of steady livelihood for software engineers. But how did this come to be? How did this company that started off in a room with about 6 people become one of the largest brand names in Indian IT?
To answer this, we must understand a little bit of branding.
In the last decade or so, the definition of a good brand has drastically changed. There used to be a time, where the consumers used to be exposed only to what the organisations conveyed through advertisements. And advertisements are in essence buying an audience and conveying a message to them. And this worked wonders for them.
Back in the day, some of the biggest brands to work with were, say a Pepsi or a Coca-Cola. When you think about them as products, it's just coloured water. But the advertising was so good, that the drink stood for something and it created an aspiration among people. However, things are changing, and changing drastically.
Any brand perception survey today will tell you that the coolest brands today are the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google. Do these three companies advertise? Of course, they do! However, that's not what makes them cool. To understand that's given their brands such recognition, we must realise that marketing itself has changed quite a bit.
Building a brand is no longer about buying an audience and pushing a message to them. It is about doing cool things. It's about building cool products. Think of all the products that these companies have built. Would you and I talk about them? Of course, we would! Who wouldn't talk about a phone that would work on voice commands? Who wouldn't want to talk about computers that you can wear like glasses? Who wouldn't want to talk about being able to find your long lost school friends using a simple search option?
The truth is the advertising mechanism or buying an audience and pushing them a message never worked, without a good product. Unfortunately, companies with money invested it all in advertising and compromising on the product. This is the worst practice from conventional branding and advertising and it still persists today.
This is particularly good for startups. Even if there are loads of money being spent on building a company's brand, the fact that you're doing something cool will attract bright talent to your company. We're in the age of the millennial, and the millennial will choose cool and impactful over whatever is being fed down advertising channels that have been purchased.
Coming back to Infosys, it was a company that started on July 2, 1981, with Mr Narayana Murthy borrowing Rs 10,000 from his wife. The company, as of 2011, has a balance-sheet of Rs 26,000 crore with Rs 11,623 crore paid out as dividends, according to the annual report.
Since its inception, it has been a remarkable journey so far for Infosys in all major factors. In the last 30 years, the company has grown from 50 customers to 620 customers; from 10 projects to 6,500 projects; from 100 employees to 1,30,820 employees; from 100 sq ft to 28 million sq ft; from 100 investors to nearly 4.50 lakh investors.
Now that is cool. And hence the brand.