Exclusive | A novel concept in branding: Brands Of Desire's Saurabh Uboweja

Saurabh Uboweja is the Director, Brand Strategy, at Brands of Desire. He consults mid-size and large size companies in India and Internationally on their Brand Strategy along with offering a complete spectrum of branding solutions leading to an effective and consistent use of Brand Communications.
Saurabh holds a post graduate diploma in management from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management Kolkata (IIM-C) with a specialization in Marketing and Finance. He also holds a BTech degree in Information Technology from National Institute of Technology Bhopal (NIT-B). He is also a regular invitee for guest lectures in leading management institutes of India such as FMS, IIMs, etc.
Brands of Desire is probably India's first true strategic brand consulting and design company modeled on the lines of International brand consulting firms given that the brand consulting industry is nascent in India and is dominated by either design agencies, ad agencies or boutique brand consulting firms started by ad agency veterans.
Employing a workforce from top institutes such as IIM, IIT, NSIT, NIT, NIFT, they  have successfully branded or re-branded about 70 small, mid and large enterprises across 20 industries in 5 countries in just over 3 years. Today, they are running a silent revolution of sorts where they are educating their stakeholders about the difference between branding, advertising and marketing which formal education doesn't cover very clearly in India.
They are currently targeting mergers, splits and business diversifications in India and overseas which may seek a company like Brands of Desire to create their new brand.  Brands of Desire proudly models itself around international brand consulting firms such as Landor Associates, Interbrand, Lippincott and Wolf Ollins.
Adgully met Mr.Saurabh Uboweja ,Director, Brand Strategy, who spoke about his company Brands Of Desire and the role  they play as brand consultants and a design company. Following are the excerpts from what he had to say "Brands of Desire (BoD) is a strategic brand consulting and design company. According to Mr. Uboweja the concept started with the aim to fill a more than evident yet distinctly invisible gap in the Indian industry. He says “Indian businesses historically have been great when it comes to selling and are also impressive when it comes to marketing or advertising their products and services. However, branding has been completely neglected from their list of focus areas. Globally, on the other hand, especially North America, Western Europe and in Japan, businesses place their brands above everything else.”
Advertising too is a highly evolved and mature industry in India but there are very few brand consulting firms. Ad agencies sometimes double up as brand consultants but rarely do justice as branding is a completely different ball game altogether. “When we began, we were cautious about starting out in a new and unpopular domain but our decision has been vindicated with resounding success as it has given us a first mover advantage and priceless experience working across several industries by now,” says Mr.Uboweja.
Stake holders have been benefiting since the launch of Brands of Desire. This he attributes to the fact that they cause significant transition in companies. “For instance we have renamed a 50 year old organization as part of a rebranding exercise. Most of our work revolves around causing a change in the mindset of organizations. We help them understand the importance of branding and transform them into becoming contemporary, professional, consistent and clear in their branding and associated communication,” he says. It is not an easy task for them. Convincing one or two persons is fine, but causing an organization-wide change is tough and challenging to implement. In this way their customers have benefited immensely.
The need for branding in the Indian industry has been felt more recently but the requirement has been there always. Whenever a new company is formed or a new product is launched, ideally the brand must be created first and in an integrated way. Companies have done branding either by themselves or through different types of agencies – graphic design agencies, ad agencies, PR firms, website designing companies, etc. This is where their contribution comes in and they have brought to the ecosystem an integrated and consolidated method of doing branding.
Brands Of Desire provide  branding solutions in various fields . Mr.Uboweja says, “BoD is a specialist in providing branding solutions across verticals like Technology, Hospitality, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Software, Manufacturing, Power, Retail, Textiles, Logistics, Infrastructure, Real Estate, Travel, Wellness, Internet Portals, Telecom, Security, Defense, Financial Services, Automotive and Non-Profit Organizations. While we have garnered considerable experience working for companies across the above sectors, we have also done end to end branding assignments for group of companies which operate across several verticals.”
With regard to end to end branding requirements for organizations Mr.Uboweja elaborates on the various steps that are involved in the process. He says, “We work on two main types of assignments: creating a brand from scratch or rebranding an existing brand. It starts with naming a product, company or even a group of companies. This is followed by developing a comprehensive brand strategy which includes writing the mission and vision for the organization, core values, brand promises, brand positioning, philosophy and brand architecture. We then get involved into creating the brand identity of the brand which includes logo design, color palettes, typography, symbology and imagery. We now provide services in smell branding as well in addition to the visual identity. Once the identity is created, we create a complete and consistent communication system around the new brand which includes marketing collaterals, internal branding, packaging, digital branding, etc.
Finally, we create very detailed brand manuals that explain how to use the brand correctly across different usage scenarios.” What is unique about BoD is that it is probably the only brand consulting company in India that provides brand training to the staff members of the organization that has undergone rebranding. This he feels is absolutely essential because the success of a branding exercise lies in its acceptance and understanding across the organization and brand training becomes critical in this.
Brand Valuation and Asset Management is another aspect that BoD’s service profile. The Brand as an asset is becoming an increasingly important part of the balance sheet of progressive companies, internationally. BOD offers Valuation services using sound and strong financial tools. Competing with the big names in the nascent industry such as DMA, Chlorophyll, and Vertebrand in India, Brands of Desire is a niche consulting company that sets itself against benchmarks set by Landor Associates, Inter Brand, Lippincott and Wolff Ollins, the most prominent global names in Brand Consulting.
Speaking about the workforce of their company and their contribution in branding and rebranding organizations he says, “Contrary to popular belief, branding is not like art, it cannot be done by one person. It is a science which requires meticulous research and planning and involves a big team. The workforce at BoD works closely on each project depending on their skill areas and is responsible for the success of the comprehensive branding assignments we undertake.”
Facing challenges is but natural in any industry today. In this regard Mr. Uboweja says, “I think the biggest challenge is to bring a subject like ‘Branding’ into a mainstream discussion point in the boardrooms of Indian corporates. Lack of knowledge on the subject and the lack of formal education in the system are key deterrents in this endeavour. We plan to introduce formal training into the Indian education system, especially through the MBA colleges. I am quite sure the next generation of managers and leaders will appreciate the subject much better. Having said that, we are already seeing the winds of change. Most Indian businesses are family run and the big, successful ones now have the second or third generation at the helm of affairs. Many of these young leaders have been educated in Western universities and cultures where branding and being brand conscious is important.” Studying abroad helps them to realize that their companies back in India need a qualified and experienced brand consulting firm to help them improve their branding.
Can their clients expectations become illogical? “Absolutely not!” says Saurabh Uboweja “Our clients are clients because they have a lot of exposure to the world. They know how to make money and save money too. They are quite practical. They might not understand the subject of branding the way they should do, but a few sessions with them works wonders and they begin to appreciate why they need to become a brand of desire in their operating environment,” he says.
Thus Brands of Desire is evolving as a silent revolution in India today with a view to offering a complete spectrum of branding solutions leading to an effective and consistent use of Brand Communications.

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