How I Built The Satyam Brand
How I Built The Satyam Brand
১১ আগস্ট ২০২০ ২:৪৭ অপরাহ্ণ
A brand guru said that it takes years of diligence to create a brand but only one moment of madness to kill it. The Satyam case may be a live example of this adage.
Late July 1996 I got a turn a Saturday morning from one among the most important headhunting companies within the country asking me whether I wanted a change of job. Their Hyderabad manager wouldn't tell me the name of the client company as he was afraid I might refuse the prospect on the phone itself because the company was small and comparatively unknown compared to the one I used to be working in.
However, I did attend to meet him and that I was rather disappointed when he told me the corporate 's name though the company was Hyderabad based and that I was within the same city, too. He persuaded me to a minimum of meet the corporate management. an equivalent afternoon I met Ramalinga Raju, Chairman, Satyam Computer Services. I had no clue what the corporate did because it wasn't even in my radar being more from the engineering and automotive industry. In fact, I even had a stray thought that they assembled grey market PCs.
The meeting with Raju lasted quite an hour and was very pleasant. He found as a mild person and really polite. Very soon I got a suggestion for an appointment from Satyam. My wife mentioned a couple of people in Bangalore within the IT field before I accepted it. Of course, the financial offer was very attractive, too
I joined Satyam as head of corporate communications on August 16. The next day I got a call from Economic Times asking me for a discuss a story that they were running a few check bouncing case against Satyam. This troubled me as I had never experienced anything like that within the past. I just mumbled that there was no truth therein story.
About ten days later we had to print some invitation cards for inaugurating our fresh technology center. It surprised me when the printer asked me for 100% advance. He was an equivalent printer who wont to give my earlier company thirty days credit without questions. I started to stress whether I had made a serious error of judgment in joining Satyam. I now remembered that a number of my friends in Hyderabad expressed surprise once I told them that I used to be leaving the number one multi-national company to hitch Satyam.
Anyway, it had been too late to try to anything about it. And in 1996 driving a fresh Maruti Suzuki Esteem around Hyderabad was a balm on a hurt ego. I put all negative thoughts aside and decided I might carve a positive role for myself and do what was right for the corporate.
The Company Negatives:
1) Nobody knew who ran the corporate, including investors. This was surprising as Raju was within the office regularly from 9 am to 9 pm.
2) the general public and investors still associated the name Satyam with construction and textile spinning and not IT.
3) The promoters supported the flavor of the season had entered all types of companies within the past and failed, including such diverse fields as aquaculture and shoe uppers.
4) Satyam was still perceived as a little Hyderabad based company.
5) within the Dataquest ranking of Indian IT companies, Satyam stood a lowly 13.
6) Publications were reluctant to interview Raju as he wasn't really forthcoming with comments or together with his plans for the corporate. Further, his speaking style at that point wasn't very fluent. The face of the corporate at that point was the top of sales & marketing.
7) People perceived Satyam more as a body shopping company than a significant IT player (this was actually an unfair charge as at that point most Indian IT companies were actually just that).
The Company Positives:
1. the corporate made profits
2. The client list was quite impressive
3. The working ambiance was friendly
4. The urge to grow was there
5. Raju gave tons of freedom to the senior staff (though this itself created fiefdoms)
1. In my career, till then I had never handled the editorial or journalism. I used to be always in advertising, marketing, and advertisement.
2. PR was something absolutely new to me. during away, I had joined Satyam under false pretenses, because when Raju asked me at my interview whether I knew anyone within the media the sole name I could tell him was that of an honest friend who handled the advertising function for the most important media group in AP.
3. once I joined Satyam I had never sent an email in my life nor knew anything about something called the web. it had been an alien subject to me. I used to be basically an engineer.
I found that the Bangalore based advertising and PR agency handling the Satyam account wasn't really contributing much though they charged a high fee. We sacked them and thru a knowledgeable selection process appointed one among the highest advertising agencies within the country to handle our paid communication business. the primary collaboration effort was to bring out the company identity manual, called the Satyam Covenant. This was to form sure that each one corporate branding effort across the planet would be cohesive.
Knowing that an ad agency is usually not clued into PR, I made a decision to handle the media myself rather than incurring further expenditure in hiring a PR agency. My first effort was a disaster. I prepared a handout for our annual result without a headline. the subsequent day each publication interpreted the leads to its own way. it had been rather embarrassing seeing a number of the headlines early subsequent morning.
It was time to start out earning my salary. I wrote out a reasonably decent brand strategy plan. On top of the list was something I titled "Brand building the CEO". I made a slide presentation to Raju defining various brand positioning attributes for his image building.
We debated all the positioning points and that I explained to him why all wasn't right for him. His previous enterprises weren't really successful therefore the first one was out. As he wasn't technically qualified, the second and third points would be difficult to erupt. The fourth one too would are a far cry from reality. Luckily, Raju wasn't an egoist so he accepted my role as a debater with some amount of amusement.
Finally, I showed him the crucial slide. Through the months of interaction with Raju one thought that hit me was that he rarely came to the small print of the running of an enterprise. All his statements were a touch philosophical and holistic. He also attended to explode on a tangent sometimes. to offer him a branding that he would be comfortable donning I recommended that he be positioned as a Visionary.
"Raju may be a visionary who features a global view of the industry and where Satyam would head within the future. to form his vision a reality he hires the proper people and empowers them to seek out ways to require the enterprise forward."
Raju immediately accepted this hypothesis. Subsequently, altogether internal and external communication, I might create statements on his behalf that might match the new brand positioning. For any media interviews, he would speak holistically and one among the opposite senior managers would get into the detailing.
I traveled to all or any the offices than to satisfy the Business Heads and obtain 'masala' from them for any newsworthy story that would be highlighted within the media. I visited various media offices across the metros and need to know the business correspondents. I found all of them pretty professional and intimate in the industry. Many of them still remain my personal friends after numerous years.
Every Monday I might release a story to the media highlighting some aspects of our business. The third paragraph of all of them would have a quote from Raju. I took an enormous risk with my job as I wrote and released these statements without getting his prior approval. However, I knew his thought process well and also the type of words he used regularly so there was nothing controversial about any statement.
In fact once Raju and that I was traveling together in his car to a function when a senior correspondent of a weekly news magazine rang me and asked me which baron was Raju's model. I covered the mouthpiece of my phone and asked Raju. He said, Jack Welch. He was touch stunned when ahead of him I gave an in-depth statement on why he admired Jack Welch of GE. The magazine quoted Raju verbatim within the next issue.
The turning point came when in late 1997 or early 1998 BusinessWorld magazine called me and wanted to interview Raju for a story thereon in India. the first concept was to possess Narayanmurthy of Infosys, Premji of Wipro, Nadar of HCL, and Raju on the duvet. I picked up the correspondent and photographer of BusinessWorld from Hyderabad airport and was driving them to the Satyam Technology Center, a few 45 minutes' drives. The photographer asked me whether there was something interesting about Raju which he could shoot. I told him that Raju was comparatively an understated person but recently he had received a Mercedes- Benz car as a birthday present from the family. But I used to be unsure whether he would comply with pose with it.