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BharatPe: From Business Metrics to Brand Purpose

Akanksha Jain, Head- PR and Communications at BharatPe, reveals the transformation taking place in corporate communications:

Ravi Lalwani: Describe 1 or 2 strategic initiatives under CorpComm in the last 12-18 months at BharatPe?

Akanksha Jain: BharatPe is a young brand that has built a credible name for itself in an industry dominated by global behemoths and established startups. As any brand grows, it is very important to communicate the brand story and its overall vision. At BharatPe, this was my first challenge as the story was not defined and hence, the brand was seen as another fintech company. Since I started my journey to the next 1 year, I worked on defining the brand’s storyline, streamlining messaging, and communicating the story to the right stakeholders.

Since BharatPe was growing exponentially and achieving big milestones on an ongoing basis, another significant aspect was to highlight the brand story and talk about the key milestones. Talking about the achievements helped us to build the brand as a credible fintech company in the payments, lending, and consumer fintech space. We celebrated key milestones in our business as well as in the industry (postpe dominates BNPL market and clocked annualized TPV of Rs24 billion in 3 months after launch). The objective was to build BharatPe’s brand equity in the fintech industry and I have been able to position BharatPe as one of the most sought-after fintech companies in India.

One of the key campaigns was to position the brand as India’s largest merchant focussed fintech company that is committed to empowering offline merchants and kirana store owners. To achieve this, we have aggressively scaled up the communications campaign over the last 1 year to reach merchants in 30 cities across the country. We have actively communicated about our new products, as well as created buzz about India’s first Covid Vaccination Cashback program and numerous initiatives rolled out to reward merchant partners.

Secondly, BharatPe’s foray into the consumer space was something that needed to be well thought through. The context setting began with the acquisition of PAYBACK India, followed by the launch of new products. The marketing campaigns and the ICC partnership were leveraged to further push the lever and create buzz for the company’s BNPL product – postpe.

What kind of data/information is becoming critical for effective decision-making for CorpComm?

Effective social media metrics, understanding of social media sentiment as well as keeping a check on social media chatter around the brand/spokesperson have become important with social media driving a lot of conversations in today’s times. It is no longer only about share of voice or the quantity of coverage. Another important data metric is to understand and evaluate the impact created – if the brand narrative is on the right track and the brand can make impact with the right messaging across media stories.

What social media metrics do you follow closely and how do you apply those?

Some of the social media metrics that we track closely include mapping social media exposure across channels, SOV across channels for key leaders, bifurcation by unique authors across channels on social media and online portals, tonality with emotions mapped, as well as key phrases / words driving chatter. Additionally, we track geo impact to understand the reach of the social chatter.

In times of crisis, we map these parameters very actively (sometimes on an hourly basis) so we are well aware of the trends building up across channels and take corrective action. Also, we closely map influencers who are talking about the brand to better understand narratives across social media and news portals/blogs.

Financial companies are partnering with companies in other sectors such as retail, healthcare, hospitality, travel, education, etc. Do you see CorpComm playing a role in empowering these partnerships? Please share some insights.

Certainly. The role of Corporate Communications has evolved and it is no longer restricted to interacting with select external stakeholders including media, analysts, influencers. Since communication professionals have an in-depth understanding of the topical subjects as well as have a good network across industries, I believe they can really play a big role in empowering partnerships for companies across sectors. Also, the communication professionals have the right skill set to successfully lead this.

While we at BharatPe, closely work with small merchants and Kirana shops owners, which cumulatively form a major chunk in the retail sector, the team also plays a role in interacting with merchants. We run several initiatives that are designed to share the story of merchants with the world, and hence, spend time interacting with merchants to understand their experiences, resolve issues if any, and also create awareness about the company’s product portfolio. This, in turn, helps enhance brand credibility and engagement amongst merchant partners.

How is creativity evolving within the CorpComm community? What major changes do you expect in the next 3 years?

Creativity has become an essential ingredient for a corporate communications specialist. Whether it’s a big fund raise or M&A announcement, the launch of a new product, celebrating the success of an existing product, the launch of a new marketing campaign, conceptualizing an employer branding campaign, or defining the content strategy for a company – it is imperative to think differently to reach out to a larger audience and ensure high impact. If the communication breaks the monotonous, routine, mundane, boring ways and is done through fresh ideas, the audience is typically more receptive.

There are several changes expected in the coming years. Firstly, the communication strategy will have to move from just talking about business and success metrics to a larger focus on the brand purpose. With the change in consumer behaviour, this is key. Also, communication strategies can no longer be only about traditional media. Companies will have to ensure that they have a comprehensive digital PR plan along with the traditional PR plan.

Thirdly, from an employer branding standpoint, brands, irrespective of the industries that they may operate in, need to understand that employees are the most important brand ambassadors. Additionally, employee communication needs to be multi-channel. The pandemic has also made it necessary for the leadership to communicate with the employees directly. The disruption of the last 2 years has forced leaders to be more visible than ever. Emerging from a prolonged period of turmoil and upheaval, employees are naturally anxious for clear, consistent leadership. Leadership communications play a key role in addressing employee concerns. This will become all the more prevalent in the future as it helps in driving understanding and will increase engagement with the employees.

Influencer marketing is already playing a more important role in maintaining and building brand credibility. It is expected to become a mainstay in any communications campaign as the PR landscape moves away from traditional PR.

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