The early days
The legacy of TCS is that we grew up as a company in the Tata group. Everyone in India knew the brand. However, outside India, we were still a fairly small company up until the late 1990s. The Y2K crisis and the internet run-up really started driving our growth. Even as we started to grow outside India, the mindset of the TCS employee was still: “I am with Tata; everyone knows who we are.”
That was a real challenge for us because we were so used to not talking about ourselves. We do not have the kind of DNA to beat our chests and talk about who we are and how great we are. We had a kind of humble approach, married with this sense that we just had to do good work and the clients would come to you. But competitors do not necessarily think the way we do, so they are going to talk big.
How the IPO changed things
What the IPO in 2004 did was to make the management realise (the importance of) marketing. Suddenly everyone was talking ‘brand’. We had to cross the line between ”I have to do it because people are telling me to do it” to a real core belief that “this investment in the brand is critical to the company”.
That is a huge shift in terms of mindset. During the IPO we did some advertising, but we still did not have a sense of how to go about building a brand that was consistent from a marketing standpoint. We actually had a brand but we were not articulating it and we were not out there telling people what we stood for.
So one of the first challenges we had was to build basic stuff around the brand. We did not have a consistent look and feel for the brand. We needed to set up a set of graphic standards, a corporate identity. It started with an exercise in market research on competition, client needs and so on. We came up with a positioning to deliver business results at a higher level, expressed through the tag line ‘Experience Certainty’.
For the first time, as a company, we experienced a deep meaning behind this (tag line). There was a huge opportunity for us to get it together: everyone on a single page, same story, and also worded in something they could believe in. In other words, if people were questioned they would all say: “I understand it, I understand who we are, that is who clients see us as.”
‘Experience Certainty’ is still relevant but the definition of what that means is broad — it was all about delivery and excellence, which is great because we are doing what we promised. But now we are seeing that the environment has changed, clients have changed, our relationship with those clients has deepened, and we have changed as a company from what we were. So we really need to build a lot of depth behind that and kind of reinvigorate it.
Brand TCS vis-à-vis the Tata brand
‘Experience Certainty’ is essentially about leadership and trust; it’s the same message. The group ethos successfully permeates it. So, although we are a 40-year-old company, in many ways we are much older than that and we have benefited from the heritage of the Tata group.