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Building a global brand takes time, but it’s worth it: Indegene CMO Milesh Gogad

13 Mar 2023

“Purpose-driven brands take a position - be it around sustainability, modernising ways of work, or something else. Stand for something to differentiate yourself and build recall,” says Milesh Gogad, Chief Marketing Officer, Indegene. According to him, brands need to show a vision and bring clarity to an often-amorphous definition of what digital means in their industry.

In this interview with Adgully, Milesh Gogad talks about B2B marketing, Indegene’s recent brand refresh, the use of AI/ ML in marketing, influencer marketing vis-a-vis paid advertising, etc. Excerpts:

What are the key aspects that B2B marketers must keep in mind to build global, purpose-driven brands?

Be authentic, stand for something, and stay consistent. B2B clients are highly discerning. They experience the brand not just through its properties, but also through its team. It’s important that marketers project a brand that is reflective of its team to avoid any dissonance in the experience. Purpose-driven brands take a position – be it around sustainability, modernizing ways of work, or something else. Stand for something to differentiate yourself and build recall. And finally, stay consistent with your positioning. Building a global brand takes time - but it’s worth it!

Indegene underwent a brand refresh a couple of years ago. How can brands and marketers reinvent themselves to keep pace in a digital-first world?

Brands need to show a vision and bring clarity to an often-amorphous definition of what digital means in their industry. While visions are bold, calling out interim milestones and outcomes along the way lends credibility. Marketers also need to be agile to rework their brand story as markets evolve. Digital-first is still a young concept in many industries, so agility is inherent to adapting to this world.

We applied the same principles when we did a strategic brand refresh. We help life sciences companies develop products, get them to the market, and grow their impact over the lifecycle. But many of their operations and processes are archaic. We positioned our brand as a digital-first commercialisation company that combines deep healthcare expertise with fit-for-purpose technology to enable our clients to be future-ready. It’s this purpose that drives our team and fuels our brand. And our logo, which personifies our brand ethos, is simple and minimalistic, yet modern and professional. This has helped us visually unify and drive a distinctive recall for the Indegene brand.

How are AI/ML reshaping marketing as a function?

Technology such as AI, ML, or NLP has an outsized impact when applied to solving problems with scale. Let me explain with an example of how we do it for our clients. Life sciences companies create a massive volume of content to engage healthcare professionals, patients, and regulators. It is a highly regulated industry, so the content has nuances and goes through a rigorous approval process.

We apply technology to break down the content into smaller modules. We tag content so it can be indexed and searched. We’ve developed life sciences-contextualised platforms that stitch content back together for a different context and enable reusability. We also apply technology to enable a faster approval process. Content that’s automated and modularized in this way is far more effective and efficient to develop at scale, thanks to technology.

The same applies to the way we help life sciences companies innovate their go-to-market approaches. Learning through a huge volume of persona and behavioural data, we understand our clients’ end customers’ digital affinity. Based on their content and channel preferences, we engage their customers when, where, and how they prefer to be engaged. It helps our clients drive a highly personalised customer experience, which in turn helps them grow their sales.

Influencer marketing vis-a-vis paid advertising in a digital-first world – which is more effective?

Both serve different purposes and are effective for the goals they are applied to. Industry analysts and client peers are typically the most important influencers in B2B technology industries. They lend credibility to your brand story and build confidence in your value proposition and differentiation. Advertising helps you reach a wider audience and build brand awareness. We apply both depending on the stage of the buyer journey.

What is your cheat sheet to create impactful content?

Content is a means to an end. The end objective is to engage your audience, build brand affinity, and drive business. We work in a very specialised life sciences industry with its own vocabulary. Our personas are senior leaders who appreciate nuanced, domain-driven content. So, our content is a mix of market-led and market-leading content. We follow a listen-understand-align method to create content. We learn our clients’ priorities from the industry councils we orchestrate. We contextualise them to our practices to create content that resonates. And we align it with our brand’s tone and personality to build a consistent experience. We also take inspiration from other companies and industries for our content.

What do you think of ChatGPT?

It is still early days and we have been experimenting with ChatGPT and other generative AI tools. They are especially helpful as early inspiration for new content and for creating derivative assets from existing content. For a specialised industry such as ours, they help accelerate the process of creating content, when augmented by human subject matter expertise that speaks the industry’s vocabulary.

You worked in different industries, geographies, and functions at GE. How did these diverse experiences help you become a better marketer?

The moves surely made my life and career exciting! That said, working and living in different countries helped me develop a greater appreciation for cultural nuances, which helps in communicating more effectively to a global audience. Exposure to different industries accelerated my learning curve. While marketing fundamentally remains the same across industries, I had to learn the industry’s vocabulary quickly. Working across functions made me more empathetic to conflicting priorities marketers must manage when partnering with other functions.

What is the defining trait of the marketing team’s culture at Indegene? How do you build it?

It is trust. We are a diverse team with varied experiences and qualifications. Naturally, we have differences of opinion on virtually everything – from the content’s tone to a campaign’s metric to the brand’s design. And we are pretty vocal about it! But through candid conversations, peer reviews of our work, and regular, open forums, we’ve developed a culture of constructive feedback and getting things done. We are driven by a common purpose and have each other’s back, always!

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