Akshita Bhalla : In Conversation With A Creative Brand Strategist

A hopeless brand romantic with over a decade of experience in digital marketing, Akshita Bhalla is all set to create her own space in the industry as an independent professional. She has worked with brands like Dabur, OPPO India, Domino’s, Bajaj Finserv and more.

Why are you into Advertising/Brand Strategy?
Because it is the most exciting world, full of imagination, ingenuity & impact. People rarely care about the business but they will connect with a brand. They influence everything, from our basic daily choices to pop culture – so I enjoy being a cog in the system, and taking a brand’s vision and purpose further. The thrill, the challenge – I love it all!

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I did, in Communications. Bachelors in Mass Media & Mass Comm (BMMMC) from Delhi University.

Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Not necessarily. There definitely must be impact on sales, but most brands don’t look at award campaigns as a tool for selling, they look at it to highlight impact on society or to take a stand or simply for brand love. If we take the example of Cannes Lion winner ‘The Swedish Number’ definitely did wonders for its tourism numbers, but what Visit Sweden truly got from the campaign was a chance to showcase the nature of hospitality, their personality as a country. That’s what made it tick, really.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has always been a role model for me. His standards on work ethic, service to nation and purpose-driven success are core to my life philosophy. My dream is to make India proud of my work some day, just like him.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
It’s impossible to get to one name here. My career has been thoroughly shaped by supportive managers and colleagues, fellow copywriters in the industry who fire up my spirit with their brilliant work. Not a single day goes by when I don’t go: “Why can’t I think like that?” and that always pushes me to do better.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
From the world around me, literally. I love learning something new every day.

Tell me about a typical first meeting with a client regarding BrandStrategy/Communication?
A typical first meeting is an ice-breaker session. Assuming you have had some time before the introduction to read up about the brand, you would have some first-level thoughts/assumptions/questions that you will clarify. You get a sense of the task ahead of you, and what is the strategy trying to achieve. You should walk away from the meeting with a clear roadmap which the client is aligned on, and enough material to absorb & deliver on, for the next meeting.

Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
Something is in the works soon. I do see a giant gap in industry practices and the way creative talent approaches work. We all really need help in hacking the system to deliver our best work and meeting our professional goals.

How receptive do you think clients are to out of the box thinking?
It really does depend on the client and their risk appetite. Speaking generally, I think there is still a lot of room for out-of-the-box thinking on the client side of things. Some of the best ideas are actually lying in the neglected/rejected folder.

What do you think of the state of Print advertising right now. At least here in India, the released work is most often too sad?
Print is a different advertising beast altogether. We still live in an ecosystem where print reaches places internet doesn’t. Sure, brands use to enhance reach or PR-ability; but as long as the medium is active, there is always scope to use it tactically. You just really need to know your readers. A print ad fails if it’s not consumer-centric or insightful, but gimmicky.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
The only advice I can give is that there will be many to give you a lot of advice in a lot of matters, but at the end of the day, all you really have to do is trust yourself, chase your goals and take all the shots you get.

What is your dream project?
I want to create a national if not global-wide stir with a very bold, very polarising but very necessary conversation through my work. Fingers crossed

Mac or PC?
Am a PC gal for life.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Aman Gupta. I really feel like we would vibe over Butter chicken and brands. Fingers crossed

What’s on your Spotify?
Tracks come and go, but my playlist ‘Safe Space’ with old Hindi film songs will stay on forever.

Whats your Instagram handle?

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