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Sarva Colombo spearheads cult branding


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  • Sarva Colombo Chief Strategy Officer Sharmila Cassim conducts presentation for the local marcom community

Sarva Colombo recently concluded its recent Inspiration Session on ‘Cult Branding – The key to growth in tough economic times’ for clients, friends and members of the marcom community. The session was led by Sharmila Cassim, the Chief Strategy Officer of Sarva Colombo, and used global and local case studies to demonstrate the principles of cult branding. The talk shed light on how cult branding can help the ultimate form of brand loyalty – cult-like devotion amongst their consumers.



When economic times are tough and the level of competition is intense, many marketers resort to price cuts and promotions. This is detrimental for your brand as well as your brand value in the long run. This is why cult branding is crucial for Sri Lanka at this point in time, if brands expect to experience growth in tough economic times both now and well into the future. A former Head of Marketing for CIC Paints, Project Manager for ICI Paints, Asia Pacific and a key player in the market dominance of a range of Homecare products at Reckitt Benckiser Lanka, Sharmila holds an MBA from the Postgraduate Institute of Management. She has also worked on the transformation of one of the world’s leading companies and has been responsible for introducing the strategic marketing management process and structure into Sri Lanka’s market leader in decorative paints. 

 With over 20 years of experience in Brand Management, Strategic Marketing Consulting and Business Process Transformation, Sharmila delved into what it takes to become a cult brand. According to the principles of cult branding as demonstrated by Sharmila, the seven rules that can help a brand inspire fierce loyalty and devotion in its consumers are the golden rules of differentiation, courage, fun, listening, tribal imperative, openness and freedom. Each of these rules were elaborated on and supported by case studies of international cult brands such as Amazon, Starbucks and Harley Davidson. Sharmila noted, “The rules of tribal imperative, openness and freedom are particularly important as they require aspiring cult brands to understand and cater to the higher level needs of consumers. In order to accomplish this, at Sarva Colombo, we have sought the help of organisational/behavioural psychologist Rozaine Cooray, to help develop strategies that take the psyche of consumers into account.”

Speaking on cult branding in relation to an organisation’s employees, Sharmila demonstrated the importance of internal communication and culture transformation to make “micro ambassadors” of employees, using Lululemon Athletica as an example; a point that was reiterated by Managing Director Chrishantha Jayasinghe in relation to Sarva Colombo’s own culture transformation. 

“Internal communication becomes more and more important every day as we are in the age of ‘Micro Ambassadors’,” he explained, “Where your people are going to be a key touchpoint in delivering your brand values. That’s where Rozaine’s skill in behavioural psychology becomes invaluable.”

In addition to Sharmila Cassim coming on board as Chief Strategy Officer and Rozaine Cooray as Behavioural/Organisational Psychologist, the other recent additions to Sarva’s team include Naresh Abeysekara, Financial Strategist; Dharshana Senerath, Director – Brands; and Imesh Goonewardene, Chief Operating Officer. The strategic expansion of Sarva Colombo’s team will serve to enhance the agency’s position as a 720-degree total growth solutions provider.

Sarva Inspiration Sessions are knowledge sharing forums that take place quarterly. Here, notable business personalities and leading authorities in diverse fields are invited to share their experience and insight with others in the corporate sphere. The seminars are open to all and feature presentations and Q&A sessions.

Sarva Colombo, which recently celebrated its thirteenth anniversary, is reputed for effective growth-driven communications through strategies and insights based on research, many of which are conceptualised in Sinhala and Tamil. The agency continues to deliver exceptional results for high calibre brands in the banking and non-banking financial sector, and in the educational, telecommunications, medical, automobile and FMCG industries, respectively. Backed by a passionate and talented team, Sarva Colombo maintains that effective advertising is the only advertising worth paying for. 


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