MK Anand: 'A logo change gives me an episodic shift'

Times Network’s MK Anand speaks to Campaign India about the reasons for rebranding initiative

Apr 13, 2015 11:04:00 AM | Article | Umaire Effendi

Times Network, formerly known as the Times Television Network, revealed its new logo and tagline during Goafest 2015. Speaking with Campaign India, MK Anand, CEO and MD of Times Network highlighted the reasons for this change, which was not just cosmetic but also in the way in which the organisation functioned.
Speaking from a historical operational standpoint, Anand noted that the network's corporate identity was actually made of a series of channel  launches. “Our products have launched over different times and have been run by different teams. So when Times Now got launched, it went into its own space, when ET now got launched it went into its own space and so on. There is a need for a single voice in which the company needs to be speaking, needs to be articulated now. I’m talking about sales, and distribution and not just content people (teams)."
This shift, according to Anand is a watershed move that began a year ago when he joined the organisation. “The hygiene part has been done and now we are getting into the marketing part of the plan. 2015-2016 is going to be the year of marketing and standing up and being counted as an adult player.” The introduction of the new logo and tagline is an extension of this thought. Anand explained, “We need to bring it all together and the Times Network logo was a loose pneumonic to sort of say we are one company. It needs to be bought out front and contemporised.
I need people to start believing and acting like Times Network people and not Times Now people. While we have to do that, a logo change gives me an episodic shift where I can talk to people like you. The old logo was made about 10 years back. Since design and fonts have changed, this gives us the chance to make it contemporary, play with it and unbox it.”
Going on to explain the reason behind the Network dropping the word ‘Television’ from its name, Anand said, “Three-word brands are too chunky. The word network is used by everyone - it is the television connotation."
Now or nothing
When asked whether the new tagline looks to leverage Times Now equity, Anand replied in the negative. He said, “We are not looking to do that in 2015. But when Movies Now or ET Now got launched, we most definitely did. ‘Now’ is a very important media, content filter. The most important for content to be relevant is that it has to be rooted in the Now and has to be relevant as it can be and better than the others.”
“The whole thing about fast, quick, speedy, right and relevant is encapsulated in the word Now. So yes we are using the whole value that has already been created by the word Now over the years. Today, Movies Now is as successful in the movies language segment, ET now is bigger than CNBC. From a trade point of view, these brands are individually equal to Times Now. Also for the individual viewer, a Romedy Now may be more important than a Times Now. We are however trying to articulate to people that there is a lot of value in the word ‘Now’ and it is not by happenstance that we are number one” he added.
On the possible opportunities coming out of the rebrand, Anand reminisced about the beginning of his tenure. “There was a large deficiency in the distribution of the products. We were distributed only in about 200 networks, which was only optimised to eight metros. I thought that we cannot distribute only for the advertiser, because the advertiser only wants to be in eight metros. We talk about Times Now being a national news channel, but towns in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar don’t even know of it. I said that we should go orthodox with distribution and not connect it with ad sales. We are now up from about 200 to 750 (distributors). In the next one quarter, we’ll get to 1500 networks across the country.”
Having corrected things on the operational side, he hinted that expansion on the cards. “Movies Now Plus for example just got launched. Extensions for ET and we might launch Hindi channel - I’m not saying it will happen. These will happen as a regular course and I think every year one or two channels will get launched.”
“This year we have a 50 per cent increase (October to march 2014 v October to march 2015) in overall revenue. EBITA wise we are better off, we’ve had immense top line growth and we well poised when it comes to our ad rates. We’ve had an almost 100  per cent improvement in ET, 50 per cent in Times Now, 50 per cent in Movies Now. Ad sales led corrections are always good corrections. They are always stable. Once you get to a certain position you are not expecting to lose that position unless you really screw up (and we are not going to screw up) on your products,” he added.
He concluded by giving a snapshot of the marketing spends for the upcoming year. He said, “The marketing spends will be 100 per cent more than what it was last year and we are putting ourselves out there because we believe that we bring more value.”