The Marketing Strategist:

Elevating Brand Perceptions: TCS Creates a Global Peer Group

July 18, 2013

When a company grows by 30% per year for eight years, perceptions often lag reality. Customers know what the company was a few years ago; they may not know what it has become today. Such is the case with TCS, which by the end of 2011 had joined IBM, Accenture, and HP among the top four global IT services firms in terms of market cap, number of employees, and net profit. The problem was that most customers and prospects didn’t know the extent of the company’s evolution. Many still thought of TCS as an Indian outsourcing firm. The brand had not caught up to the business. And in an environment where only a few of large firms typically get on the shortlist to bid on big projects, brand perceptions matter. To address the problem, TCS embarked last year on what became known as the “Big Four” campaign. The company approached a third-party brand valuation firm, Brand Finance, and enlisted a well-known marketing authority, Philip Kotler, to help make its case. Brand Finance carved an IT services category of ten companies out of the large and undifferentiated “computers” category, which contains companies as disparate as Apple and Amazon.com. Ranked by market cap, four firms in the IT services group stood out. IBM dominated, while three others—Accenture, HP, and TCS—were essentially tied for second. In terms of the brand valuation—the net present value of estimated future cash flows attributable to the brand—TCS was fourth out of the ten. Every marketer knows how to match product attributes to customer segments. TCS gave the idea a twist. The “product” was the company itself. The product features were company attributes that made it similar to a handful of more well-known global IT services providers. By placing TCS in the context of three giants—which are actually similar in terms of market cap, number of employees, and profitability—TCS established and elevated the value of its brand. The “Big Four” concept received wide media coverage and is now part of every sales proposal. The CEO now tracks brand value alongside market cap, revenue, net profit, and number of employees as a core performance metric. To discover how TCS created and executed its brand enhancement campaign, read the ITSMA Case Study, Elevating brand perceptions: How TCS reframed its peer group.

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