The Prolific Wisdom community of Harvard alumni reviewed Kartikeya Kompella's new book, The Brand Challenge which is a compilation of thought-leaders' wisdom on branding. Here's our rating, review and FIRE Summary of his book.
Highly recommended reading, 5 out of 5 stars
Kartikeya, the Editor, did a great job of pulling together wisdom from some of the world's experts on branding. The Brand Challenge has broad appeal and is a compilation of essays covering various aspects of branding from some unusual perspectives. Its not just for brand managers but is for anybody interested in business strategy. The book is well written with many practical examples and gives a good overview of branding.
Topics include branding focus, identity, innovation, luxury branding, retail, B2B, managing media, non-profits, fashion, the branding of cities, technology, and football clubs! The luxury chapter was particularly enlightening. The first half of the book was particularly strong. The chapter on hotels branding was well-researched and referenced but a little dull.
We recommend this book to anyone looking to understand branding both at a high level as well as very specifically in industries ranging from luxury goods and financial services to not-for-profits and technology.
Here's the top things we learned from the book...
FIRE SUMMARY (Facts, Ideas, Resources, Expression)
The Battle For Your Mind
- The biggest misconception in branding strategies is people tend to believe branding is about market share, but it is really about mind and emotion share.
Respect & Love
- Brands are still about respect and love. Brands are people, their values, a psyche.
Top 2 Brands Dominate
- A market is normally dominated by two main brands. 20% of brands attract 80% of profits.
Branding Takes Time
- Branding takes time! Its about building the signals to generate associations. Its how the story gets told.
You Can't Hide Any More
- Consumers share more, more instantaneously. They'e more empowered than ever and brands MUST be faster to listen to them and adapt. There's incredible transparency now. You cannot hide.
Go Local First
- In most of the cases, brands are developed locally before being taken globally. It gives them some heritage, and helps them prove themselves out.
- The Economist makes readers feel like they are part of an elite club yet anyone can join. NY Times also continues to do well as a powerful media brand people are willing to pay for. They are strong leading brands.
Use A Visual Hammer
- The leaning tower of Pisa sees a hundred times moire visitors than the Panthenon in Rome because the message is simple. Its a leaning tower. Its simple to tell someone about the tower. "Focus on a single visual and then use it to hammer your word into your consumers' minds."
Marketeers Are More Technical
- Gartner predicted that by 2017 CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.
If They Go Right, You Go Left
- If you are not the market leader, be the opposite (Redbull vs Monster, iOS vs Android).
Become Known For Something, Or You Won't Be Known For Anything
- Brand focus: Before, brand managers were using USP (unique selling points) to position the brand by analysing competitors and identifying holes. Now, it is known to be better to focus a brand, be narrow, and then expand it. The brand has to address what the customers have in their mind. Examples of brand focus are Volvo with safety and BMW with driving experience.
- Narrow your focus. i.e. Saburu narrowed to 4 wheel drive only vehicles and reversed their downward slide in the USA.
Trademarks Are Identity Beacons
- Great trademarks are the tips of great identity icebergs. They were distinctive when conceived, continue to make sense and expert guardians have carefully managed their use over time.
Think About All The Senses
- Think about all the senses when considering brand. i.e. smell is more recognizable over the long term than visuals.
Brands Make Life Better
- Brands are a reflection of customers uniquely shared value. Brands capture an irresistible idea, and make life better. i.e. Nike swoosh is about confidence.
Stand For Something
- Brands have the power to change the world, not just to sell products and make profits.
Some Will Love It, Some Will Hate It. That's OK
- Innovating the brand purpose - What will your brand enable people to do? Be prepared to alienate some people. Some people will love your brand, and others will hate it.
Luxury Is Incomparable
- The goal of luxury is to create incomparability. Fashion is distinct, and not luxury.
- Luxury brands avoid simple feature-benefits against pricing. Its more about the art and indulgence, and culture. Its based on implied superiority and does not even acknowledge competition.
- Luxury is built on incomparability and timelessness.
Fashion Is Fleeting
- Fashion is fleeting, and not necessarily expensive, Quality is less of an imperative. Once the fashion is over, its deep discounted.
- Al Ries. "Companies should launch new brands with PR, not advertising."
- See the amazing Red Bull Media House (http://www.redbullmediahouse.com/) which runs the Red Bulletin (http://www.redbulletin.com). Its a great example of a brand using media to drive their position, and its actually its own profit center now!
Brands Working For Good
- See the new B Corporation for a new kind of corp that focuses on principles over profit.
- Find inspiration in Umpqua bank from Oregon. e.g. they allow people to sit down and have a coffee and then the teller comes to them.
- They also have book clubs and 'business therapy sessions.' They host local bands on Friday nights! Their experimental bank has a bowling alley. They aim to be interesting when most banks are boring.
HSN Is Good For Establishing Brand Stories
- Home Shopping Network and QVC TV networks are good places to display goods and start 'telling stories' to bring meaning to them, especially for fashion goods.
Consider Facets of Brand Equity
- Aaker's dimensions of brand equity. Awareness, Image, Perceived Quality and Loyalty
Book: Branding Examples
- Allen Adamson - The Edge: 50 tips from brands that lead.
How Does It Help People to Do Better?
- Describe how your brand enables people to do better.
Rationally - What does it enable customers to do?
Comparatively - Why does it enable them to do it better?
Emotionally - How do people feel about the brand as a result?
Connect these three to your purpose for your brand and articulate it in a memorable way!
Don't Interrupt! Tell Stories
- Interruption advertising is dead. Now you have to have brand resonance by telling stories that are relevant and timely to engage people during and beyond their purchase point and drive advocacy!
Be Careful With Brand Extensions
- Before extending your brand, carefully consider the brand and innovation journey, the sequence of which can ensure success or failure.
- What do you do better than anyone else and deliver value and impact. Define your unique leadership position and set out your promise. Do an internal valuation. What do you do you do best now and what can you do best in the future? Do an external valuation. How are you different from competitors? What space could you own? Then consider your core constituent understanding. What do key audiences and stakeholders value?
Mark Brooks (PLD 2014) - CEO, Courtland Brooks
Boris Tsimerinov (PLD 2013) - VP, CCC Investment Banking
Andre Lamontagne (PLD 2014) - Research Manager, Servomex
Hena Rana (PLD 2014) - Operations Manager, Beca
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