Redickaa Subramanian and Dakshen R co-founded Interakt Digital Communications Group in January 2004 with just $6,000 in their pockets. Their dream was to be pioneers in the digital space – and they have never lost sight of that.
Today, Interakt is a full-service digital communications firm that delivers creative solutions at the intersection of business, marketing and technology. With its signature approach of “Communications inside out”, Interakt helps leading brands, such as Citibank, The Estée Lauder Companies, Levi’s and Lenovo deliver their brand promise through:
• Internal communications that connect employees with the brand and help them protect and enhance its meaning and value
• External communications that engage audiences, inspire them to action and sustain long-term relationships
MO: Can you talk about the early days of Interakt, the challenges that you faced and how you overcame them?
Redickaa: My business partner, Dakshen, and I founded the company in 2004. We had both just left a global IT services firm where we worked together to create many large-scale projects that combined the best of interactive design and engineering. We were pioneers in the digital space, and as an independent agency, we had our fair share of successes as well as challenges, especially in the Asia-Pacific market, where most small agencies get swallowed up by the bigger fish. We had many acquisition offers, but ultimately chose to stay true to our vision for
Interakt and the brand we had created. We’ve always managed to pull through the challenges, each time coming out stronger than we started. Nine years later, we are thriving.
MO: When things were tough what prevented you from giving up?
Redickaa: We are passionate about what we do. The driving force behind a business like ours cannot be only about making tons of money or selling services as fast as possible; you need to have faith in your idea and a real passion to make it happen. My dream has always been to create something that will leave a mark on the industry or our profession, something that will remain long after I’ve gone. Staying focused and seeing the positive impact Interakt has been able to make on brands both large and small has kept us going strong for almost a decade now.
MO: Can you expand on your philosophy of Communications inside out™ and how this has helped shape the direction and vision of Interakt?
Redickaa: This is where our way of thinking can have a real and lasting impact on brand communications. Traditionally, businesses place a heavy emphasis on external brand communications, but often fail to devote adequate time and resources to ensuring that the promises made externally are being internalized and kept at every touch point. At Interakt we help our clients ensure proper alignment of the brand from the inside out. We’ve even developed a proprietary model for it: ALIGN, which stands for articulate, lead, inspire, grow and nurture.
In a nutshell, strong brands build from the inside out – every employee and channel partner working in alignment – to create and deliver consistent value to customers. Before a company can position its product, service, or campaign for external impact, it must first internally enable the organization and its employees to understand the brand promise, their individual role in keeping it and how that relates to meeting customer expectations and creating brand loyalty. This is why we say we help build strong brands through Communications inside out
MO: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked really well for you?
Redickaa: With 15 years of experience in a variety of executive positions that range from advertising to consulting to technology, I’ve learned there is no definitive science to marketing strategy. What I do know is what works for me and my clients and that is taking the lead and challenging the status quo.
What makes this work is strategy derived from deep experience, keen insight and a pure instinct for knowing what will create the winning edge for brands I know and admire. In 2008, I suggested to one of the leading apparel brands that they create a brand page in Facebook — that was back when Facebook was not nearly so dominant in that market. I knew it was just a matter of time and that we needed to move fast. I remember the client was very resistant — no other brand in that region was doing it yet. I convinced him to trust my judgment and persuaded him to cooperate. The brand acquired a million fans among its highly targeted market in just 12 months.
The essence of the principles that have guided me throughout my career: Take the lead and challenge the status quo. Follow others only if it makes irrefutable sense; never adopt a strategy or tactic simply because everyone else is doing it. Have the courage to challenge the client to do what you know will work for the brand (and love the brand so much that you will know.) Then go all out to make it succeed.
MO: What are some key insights that you’ve gained from working with some of the world’s largest brands?
Redickaa: I’ve recognized that, while conscientious CMOs share some basic approaches and principles, the most successful ensure that their brands specialize in how they live their values. For larger brands especially, when you no longer have the cohesiveness of everyone working under the same roof, keeping all employees engaged and on the same page is incredibly important. It takes a lot more effort to keep every individual informed, up to speed, and working harmoniously toward common goals.
MO: Congratulations on opening your first U.S. offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco last month! Can you talk a bit about the process behind the recent expansion and how you knew that it was the right time to enter the American market?
Redickaa: First of all, thank you! We are very excited about this expansion and have already seen many exciting opportunities stem from this recent growth. After growing our business in Asia-Pacific and serving US-based brands like Citibank, The Estée Lauder Companies, Lenovo, Levi’s, Ecolab and Nalco from our headquarters in Singapore, we decided there was no better time than the present to truly establish ourselves in the United States with our three new offices.
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