Aayush Jain – Founder of INK PPT, awarded as the Most Valued Professional (MVP) by Microsoft for 2021

The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award is given by Microsoft to technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community and demonstrate their thought leadership in a product or solution consistently for several years.

Recently, Aayush was awarded MVP by Microsoft for 2021, we are glad to share his experience in the form of a questionnaire so that people may take inspiration from his work and share industry insights with the people who require it most.

How do you feel about getting the MVP Award?

No doubt, being awarded MVP feels great, though it was never my goal to win MVP, my efforts were primarily targeted to help people present better.

What was your first reaction?

I wasn’t expecting the award, since I was already rejected once for the same but this time, I got excited to hear the news. More than an award, for me it was a validation that I am on the right path.

How has been the journey?

As the journey involved helping people, it was satisfying in every aspect and made me learn numerous new things.

Were you expecting this award to be given to you?

I just applied for fun, the expectation of winning MVP was close to nil but I am fortunate that Microsoft chose me for this.

What will change for you after becoming an MVP?

I will increase the efforts I put in to help people and motivate others to do the same. It is definitely like an energy drink on your uphill mountain trek so it will be a great booster to every single initiative we do here at INK PPT and myself as a professional.

Do you have advice for people who are aiming to become the future MVPs?

If people will keep doing for the industry selflessly and with complete integrity, awards, recognitions and opportunities like these are going to find their way.

What were the criteria under which you were screened to be there?

It involved subject matter expertise, community interaction, social presence and several other criteria. Although, I am not aware of much of the Internal activities at Microsoft for this.

When you started INK PPT, did you ever think about becoming an MVP?

I always worked for reaching unexplored heights, but being an MVP was never a part of the plan. It came as a relic and we will value every bit of it.

What role did your entire INK PPT team play in your journey to be an MVP?

I am not a ‘one-man army’ I rely heavily on my team for support, direction, knowledge and of course, growing together. This award would not have been possible if they would have not believed in me since the early days.

Experience centers are the fission reactors of innovation

In the pursuit of creating an experience of a lifetime, brands go out of their way and bring in something so innovative that is surprising even for the creators. Experience centers do not just carry the product or a service but they cumulatively bring the consumers to the front by proving an opportunity to feel amazed that remained unexplored due to the lack of innovative conceptualization of consumer engagement. 

Let’s dive in to discuss the importance of experience centers and how they could come to life.

Unlock possibilities

Whenever companies look to go live with their new product or service, it’s always suggested that they create an environment, same as the actual product or try to replicate the experience through Proof of Concepts (POC), MVP (Minimum Viable Product), Prototypes and other tools that help in visualizing the experience before the product/service is made available to the public.

According to Grand View Research, the global virtual prototype market size was valued at USD 210.4 million in 2017. It is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 19.4% from 2018 to 2025. That tells us the importance of simulated experience centers, adding to the value by reducing the chances of failure while providing the opportunity of efficient feedback and correction.

Future tech display

It’s not a new notion that our future has a lot to offer, we are well aware of the pace the technology is progressing and in the times to come, mankind will witness astonishing inventions at every stage of their lives. Currently, we see brands flaunting the future tech through modelling and other techniques, which creates an experience while allowing the users to understand the happenings over time. Likewise, the University of Vermont shared about the living robots that they have developed using a supercomputer. They also released a video showcasing the mechanism while creating an experience for the future tech yet to be implemented.

Holistic Ecosystem

If you want to have every single brand element under a roof that too with working capabilities, making experience centers is the best way. Tech-enabled, simulation-based ecosystems are developed to offer real-like exposure to the users who want to live your technology and get used to the working environment. There are numerous examples of holistic ecosystems created by the brands, which offer a bird’s eye to the consumers and to the world creating a buzz around the brand. The below picture of the experience center of Pon Holdings, which was located in the Netherlands worked on the Move Mobility Experience to offer simulations and top-notch tech in the environment suiting their proposition. Brands like, Tata Steel, Hindustan Uniliver and several others have their theme-based experience centers that represent their common objectives as organizations.

Source: Bruns

Personalized brand experience

The intent of the brands must be directed to ease the way users operate the products and services so that the experience steers the way for the actual functionalities of the product rather than any unrelated aspect, which is useless to the consumers. The personalized experience is the key to attract users and keep them using the services without looking at any competitor. Many brands have been going out of their way to create a personalized experience for the consumers, as was seen with Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, which started in 2011 in Australia and got extended to several other countries, including India and China. The below photograph is of the same campaign where they used the ‘Hindi’ language to make personalized bottle packaging and people went crazy to buy the one resembling their loved ones.

Source: Packaging News

Use cases and demonstrations

It’s always more inspiring when consumers get to see their products coming to life or at least near to life situations. This creates a buzzing environment around the product as you become a talking point concerning the thoughtfulness and creativity of the brand. If the demonstration or use case gels with the company’s positioning, it becomes even more fruitful for achieving the marketing objectives of a company. The below demonstration by Jhony Walker resembled a collaboration with ‘Game of Thrones’ to come up with a brand ‘White Walker’ the display creates an environment of the show and also adds to the brand value of ‘Jhony Walker’

Source: Repsly

Conclusion

Playing strategically with the campaigns is always a thoughtful approach, which aids in creating something innovative and unique that may establish an experience of a lifetime. The inception of brand-specific experience centers leads to an extensive list of opportunities, which usually go unexplored by the marketers. Numerous brands depict a tale of experimenting with the product proposition to remain in the eyes of the audience while gaining popularity and the desired brand positioning. Experience centers are attracting mileage as users are getting influenced by the creativity and also, social media is playing a part in spreading the word like never before.

How to sustain that brand identity of yours?

Coming up with a brand identity is one ball game and sustaining over the years is completely a different battleground for most brands. To maintain the identity while being in touch with the users requires frequent communication through emails, advertisements, social media activities, billboards and other Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) tools. Marketing frequently puts organizations at the risk of overdoing it, which could lead to misinterpretation at times. We have seen brands going wrong with their positioning numerous times as they jump in at every social media trend. 

We will discuss some ways to keep the brand identity in good shape even after years of brand establishment.

Staying connected

You don’t want your users to forget your presence even if there is no business happening. Numerous brands go out of their way to remind people of the previous engagement and future prospects when there is nothing happening at present. When the world was under rigid lockdowns and we stopped moving then also brands kept the communication going. Brands like Myntra were seen sending the newsletters giving positive vibes even when there was no scope of buying and delivering the products. As a result, the wish list kept getting bigger and when the markets reopened people ordered their favourite products.

Source: Times of India

New experience

Sometimes, it becomes crucial to stand out and create a buzz around the initiatives you take as a brand. Doing this helps in maintaining that brand image, which was developed by the brand managers. Microsoft has come up with a new Taj Mahal based office in Noida that corresponds to the heritage of India and creates a talking point for every person. Taking initiatives like these helps strike a chord with the local audience and creates human connection going a long way.

Logo placement and hygiene

A brand serious about its brand guideline and image will never let anyone use its logo, inappropriately. Even the slightest of tilt, which is not in correspondence with the brand guideline is not acceptable if you look at the big picture in terms of brand identity. The most important brand asset for any organization is its logo, and its usability on numerous occasions is always mentioned in the brand guideline. Logo options like square, round, rectangular, night mode one, logo to be used with other brands etc. are mentioned along with the dimension range, colour pallets, fonts, typography and several other instructions. A company must make a strict policy against inappropriate brand asset usage to minimize the chances of moving away from the established brand identity.

Brand coherence

To achieve the milestone of successful brand coherence, organizations need to make sure that every component of the brand including products, services, communication, appearances, CSR, should fit together and come out as a distinct, single unit carrying brand identity at large. Taking an example, if you look at the strategy of ‘Volvo’ you will see that every aspect they portray is related to safety and security. Due to the same reasons, Volvo is even joked as the brand of elderly because it’s so safe while driving, and youth prefer aesthetics over safety in most cases. This brand coherence never hurts Volvo as they are targeting a specific segment, satisfied with their offerings.

The target audience

You will be making that innocent yet sizeable mistake if you start branding for every target group in the market. Every brand, irrespective of its size, goes for set target audiences that correspond to its product or service. In the same way, branding is also targeted at every instance irrespective of any other variables. To bring in more perspective, take an example of ‘Royal Enfield’ and its outreach programs that are always targeted towards their target audience of bikers, who love adventure sport and activities related to bravery, and athleticism. The below tweet validates our statement; Royal Enfield was promoting its product ‘Interceptor650’ when the post was shared by a user. You may see the person with a surfboard along with Royal Enfield, which corresponds to their positioning of fearless lifestyle. Every other post will also offer you a similar perspective.  

Source: Twitter

Standing with a cause

Every company has some values and beliefs that are the driving force of their organization. On similar lines, brands must be seen taking a step forward for the real causes that are crucial for the public. If brands start speaking up for the cause, a lot changes in the perception of the administration as well as the public. Like many other brands, Netflix spoke out for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ initiative with a black background in an Instagram post. Not only that they have made numerous contributions to the cause like, co-founders of Netflix donated $120 million to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

Source: Instagram

Social media interaction

Social media is the most efficient and dangerous way of positioning yourself for building the desired brand identity as it doesn’t require much budget nor a team of many human resources(mostly). At the same time, it leaves a tremendous amount of space for misinterpretation and weak communication. Many brands have failed at times, the founder of Dolce and Gabanna posted a photo of sneakers that had the text “I’m thin & gorgeous” and was not taken well by the Internet users. He was seen as body shaming, tarnishing their brand image back then. We should learn from brands and only communicate after checking for several interpretations.

Source: Teen Vogue / Instagram

Following a consistent tone

Every single communication medium, be it a presentation, comment on social media, tv commercial or a public appearance, has a tone of your brand. This tone is to be embraced with utmost care so that it is consistent every time. Your brand must be having some values, approaches and opinions about the world, the same must be reflected in every single statement being made. Successful brands can maintain consistency from top to bottom in their communication, even the sales executives follow the guidelines if they are laid out for the employees. Here is the example of Coca Cola and their approach of using the brand colour ‘red’ everywhere possible that gels perfectly with their brand identity.

 

 

Robust approval process

Amongst every step to be taken strategically to position a brand, the approval mechanism stands out due to its critical impact on the outcome. The company may execute a perfect guideline, but implementation is in the hands of several employees being human and subject to honest mistakes. To minimize these instances, there must be a resolute approval process in place so that every single bit gets checked numerous times before getting out in the public. We have seen ‘Samsung’ tweeting from ‘iPhone’ and several instances like these, which could have been avoided if a strong process was followed. Though this could impact the timelines, the brand must make sure that only the responsible people are the stakeholders for maintaining the accountability and quick turnaround related to brand communication.

Customer service

For an organization, this goes without saying that customers are the most integral part. Every activity is centred to attract more customers and retain the existing ones. Often brands forget to service the customers effectively by neglecting a complaint or failing to resolve their issues. When that customer starts tweeting, brands come in action and come up with a solution straight away. It would be better on the part of brands if they resolve the issues before customers start to criticize them on social media.

Conclusion

At the start, every brand looks to ace the game of branding and maintain consistent brand identity, but with time, they lose track and deviate from the original positioning. There could be several reasons, but sustainable communication strategy lacks in most cases. Often, companies aim for the highest peak and end up as the brand with no identity of their own because sustaining the same brand language over the years demands constant and novel efforts. The brand should take a reality check at regular intervals and aim for the achievable positioning to grow consistent with their brand language.