During this Northbound team Q&A, we interviewed Strategist, Aakanksha Sinha, to get to know the practitioners behind the work and what makes working at Northbound unique.
How did you arrive in the world of brand strategy?
My role as a strategist at Northbound is my first encounter with the world of brand strategy.
After graduating with a Masters of Management studies degree, I was interested in pursuing a career in marketing strategy. I was always intrigued by how consumers were willing to pay exuberant amounts for certain luxury goods to feel associated with the brand. I guess my interest in brand perception led me to the world of brand strategy.
What is your role at Northbound?
As a Strategist at Northbound, I am supporting my team with both qualitative and quantitative research so that our clients can make informed decisions. On a typical day, I attend meetings, take notes, and gather adequate information for solving client’s problems. Sometimes I get to tap into my creative side and brainstorm names for a new product based on creative briefs. I also get to attend focus group discussion and speak to beneficiaries of a brand to get first hand insights.
What are some skills today’s strategist must have that may not have been necessary to the role before?
I think critical as well as creative thinking is essential. With the plethora of information out there, a successful strategist will not only sift through the important information but also synthesize it into digestible takeaways. Strategy is seen as an objective endeavor while brand is open to interpretation. It is important for a strategist to reconcile these opposite forces.
What are the ingredients for a strong brand strategy?
The other day I was watching a documentary on how dictators were able to convince masses to commit horrendous acts and a significant theme was how they packaged their message. It is startling how impactful branding can be. It has the power of molding opinions and ideas. A strong brand would make full use of crisp messaging (tag lines), symbolism and association. It will have a brief message that it can imprint on all its offerings to drill down its unique selling proposition in its audience’s mind.
What does it take for a brand to be considered modern?
The brand must have a digital presence on social media. I also feel that a modern brand would associate itself with solving current problems. For instance, a modern brand would be concerned with issues such as gender equality, equal pay, anti-racism and so on.
A modern brand will also have a significant marketing budget focused on targeted approach, especially towards online audience.
What’s surprising about the world of brand strategy that a lot of people don’t know?
Customer acquisition is much more expensive than customer retention. Brand loyalty leads to customer retention. Hence a strong brand can lead to brand loyalty and can save you a lot of money.
What drew you to Northbound?
The fact that it’s a boutique consulting company owned by women. I love the supportive and familial work culture where your manager is constantly looking for opportunities to help you grow. As a minority and as a woman, I never feel out of place or afraid to express my opinions. Also, the range of work Northbound does is impressive.
What is unique about working at Northbound?
I often hear my friends complaining about lack of work-life balance or how they feel stagnant in their jobs. On the contrary, people at Northbound are more interested in what my career growth goals are and how they can assist me to achieve them.
How would you describe Northbound’s approach to brand strategy?
Holistic. We had a project in which we started out with competitive and comparative analysis, moved forward to quantitative and focus group discussion. Then we worked on naming the product, packaging the message and brand logo.
What are you most excited about with the work you’re doing at Northbound?
Each project needs a unique approach and is a new learning opportunity! I love how everyday is a new challenge.
What is something people would be surprised to find out about you?
When I am not working, you’ll find me playing the cello. I believe it is important to do things beyond work! Also, I have visited over 30 countries growing up. I absolutely love diversity!