The global chief marketing officer of HCLTech, Jill Kouri, breaks down the intent behind its new brand identity, the marketing plan for its reformed brand purpose, strategies they are developing for sports brands and more…
Oct 18, 2022 07:54:00 AM | Article | Noel D'souza Share -
While HCLTech is now a 23-year old Indian headquartered global multi-national company, the vast majority of its business which is across IT services and software is in the US which accounts for 60% of its business. The rest of the split is between the UK, the Middle East and Asia.
This is why Jill Kouri was onboarded as the company’s global chief marketing officer and has been given a global remit across the organisation in July 2021, to build and transform the brand to build awareness in markets like the US, Europe, the Middle East and the rest of Asia.
Recently, the tech brand announced its rebranded identity with a proposition of ‘Supercharging Progress’ for its clients. HCLTech also rolled out a campaign conceptualised by its in-house team along with SomeOne from the UK.
It also announced its quarterly results last week. The company generated a 7% YoY growth (INR 3, 489 crores) revenue.
Campaign India caught up with Kouri during her visit to India last week to understand how they faired on the revenue front during the quarter results, the rebranded vision, and how they build brand awareness through sports partnerships.
Did the quarterly results exceed your expectations?
We did exceed the street's expectations and I’m not surprised. I see the impact we have daily with our clients.
The main reason for this impact is because of our focus on all things related to digital transformation, and a special focus on cloud solutions. Currently, a lot of our clients and prospects are leaning into the full suite of services that we bring to the market which resulted in this market response.
Two weeks ago, we launched our new brand identity, 'Supercharging Progress', and one could say that we supercharged progress on our earning results.
You've spent a little more than a year with HCL now. What are your learnings with the company, and how is it different from the likes of Accenture and JLL (your previous stints)?
One of the big reasons I joined HCLTech is because, at both Accenture and JLL, I had marketing teams that were global and had a large presence in India. So, I developed a real passion for working and travelling to India. I wanted a new challenge to work for an India headquartered organisation that had potential but hadn’t come to life through its brand narrative and its external market placement story yet.
I was fortunate to work for Accenture for over 14 years, and I joined the company the day Anderson Consulting changed its name to Accenture in 2000. So I went through many brand transformations with Accenture that helped on a foundational level as I was starting my journey here at HCL.
At JLL, the global corporate real estate company, I was the CMO for the American market and was again working towards a brand transformation there.
Coming into HCL, having the deep experience of transforming a brand at Accenture, targeting the same clients and having the same perspective employees gave me foundational knowledge. I was armed with the knowledge of the pitfalls and best practices while going through a brand transformation phase while entering into HCL.
The brand was revamped from HCL Technologies to HCLTech last month. What was the idea behind the rebrand?
One of the foundational elements of our brand positioning was to develop a purpose that everyone in the organisation can recite and lean into. Our purpose is to bring together the best of our people in technology to supercharge progress. It is deliberately broad and works across pillars which are our clients, our people in the organisation, and the communities we serve in our mission to safeguard the planet.
There was no better time than the present to launch this new identity. We are on the journey to grow our brand awareness on a global scale.
The first order of business that is critical while doing a brand launch is to win the hearts and minds of your employees. I’ve got a team of 2,20,000 people who can be the best evangelist in the world if they are receptive to the new brand voice or they can be neutral, ambivalent or even negative.
We had a global webcast with all our employees online when we launched the new brand identity and it was critical. When I presented on the webcast, I exclaimed that we burst this reformed identity out, but now it's all about you (the employees) to live, own and evangelise the brand.
We also launched a social platform called ‘Viva Engage’ for our employees where they posted supercharge possess with blue and purple coloured clothes, which are our brand colours. This shows that our employees are embracing the new identity and taking it to other platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter as well.
From a visual identity toolkit, we have a lot of designers around the organisation. So we let them play with all the elements of our visual identity for several months before we went live. Through my experience in the past, I’ve learnt that sometimes we have launched things a little too quickly and then realised that there were things that didn’t work or were challenging for the designers to lean into.
We were very transparent with the whole marketing organisation to get key learnings that helped shaped what we ultimately brought to market.
What is the brand doing globally and in India to create a buzz about this new identity?
Regarding earned media, we have had several media interactions in the US, Europe and India. But on our owned media, which is our HCLTech assets, we are doing a certain amount of paid display ads, paid digital ads and search engine marketing.
We are also heavily promoting the ‘Supercharging Progress’ positioning but also our three core services digital, engineering, and cloud.
We also experimented with doing a little bit of advertising on YouTube. The film was just a one-minute short video which showcases the essence of the ‘Supercharging Progress’.
We are trying to put ad spots on digital platforms where we know our clients and prospects are. There is a Gartner report that says that by 2025, 83% of purchases will be made as a direct result of interaction with digital advertising.
HCLTech is known to partner with sporting leagues to get its brand message across. How will the company leverage these partnerships to spread the message about the new identity?
We have a recent partnership with MetLife Stadium, and two American football teams, the New York Jets and the New York Giants.
On the day we launched our new brand, we also announced the partnership that we are the official digital transformation partner and IT services partner for the MetLife Stadium and the American football teams. We have branding all over the stadium, which reaches out to 80,000 people on the stadium and is in a location where the majority of our clients are situated in.
We get brand exposure also when the football games are airing on national TV in the US.
We do have a vertical business that only focuses on partnering with sports brands for the US markets. At the end of the day, it is all about the fan experience. In the case of MetLife, 83,000 captive customers are sitting in the stadium together, and there are endless amounts of opportunities to better engage with the fans which have an ideal time during time outs and half time.
We also want to maximise these partnerships with the acceleration of 5G. Internet connectivity was a roadblock at these stadiums due to the number of people gathered to watch the games. However, now there is an opportunity to provide this technological infrastructure to these teams and for fans.
A lot of teams also change their logos regularly, and we have developed tools for the teams to identify anyone on the internet who is using the wrong logo on their uniforms or apps and then replace them with the re-branded identity through AI.
HCLTech partnered with the football club Manchester United in 2015 for its digital transformation. What were the marketing strategies you'll had chalked out for the football club?
Our aim with Manchester United was to find revenue-generating opportunities for the club. For the club, we empowered their app by transforming it and building new technical elements and also improved its services. We built the Manchester United app with our HCLTech service called the ‘Platform X’. The app received a lot of fan interaction, especially when Cristiano Ronaldo came back to join the football club again.