A quick trip into brand management
Brand management has evolved since brand promoters and custodians discovered the virtues of giving personality to their non-living product or service. This evolution has kept pace with advances in market research techniques and mechanisms and a better understanding of human psychology. Things got to a point where brand custodians backed researchers to literally get inside the consumer’s head and a whole new world of neuro-marketing emerged until someone called it unethical.
With the advent of the internet and consumers spending most of their time staying connected, consumer digital footprint mapping has become the most sought-after source for brand managers. Yet the brand manager needed to be disruptive and intuitive to maintain brand relevance while at the same time keeping it ahead of the curve. And while all of this was happening, the corporate world was reshaping itself in a way that was not only more demanding of its employees, but also becoming intolerant of mediocrity. The Drifters and Smart Alecs who maintained the status quo were called out. The young brand manager had too many variables to work around and with virtually very little help. The lessons learned at School B only helped to keep things contextual, but the “demand” was much more. It was a daunting task and this ‘baptism of fire’ approach to seniors only added to the woes of young managers. Not anymore because help has arrived in the form of Brand advantage – a delightful book by veteran marketers Trupti and Arvind Bhandari.
Brand advantage is like a well-informed, well-meaning co-traveler helping you navigate the maze of consumer data and insights to better understand consumers. Things that will help segment, communicate, and engage with consumers and prospects. Interestingly, the book discusses “brand skills” – a hitherto uncommon concept in the field of brand management. Whether it’s a declining brand or one following a home-run-like trajectory, there’s meat for everyone here.
Drawing heavily on their rich experience, the authors urge brand managers to get to know their consumers well, like a close friend or family member. And while getting to know the customer intimately is necessary, the focus in Brand advantage is also to dive deep into the brand. Whether studying brand anatomy which includes not only the usual aspects of desirability and personality, but also critical elements such as a brand’s philosophy and worldview or check for market challenges, category shrinkage or brand fatigue – there are enough and more tasks eliminated for the brand manager. The book is actually an extremely useful, practical and easy-to-use guide to building a brand.
Brand advantageThe unique offering of is the way it balances brand skills with managerial skills. If brand skills are the hardware for brand management and managerial skills are the software, then office art is creating a fertile environment for skills and abilities to play favorably. The fact that the authors focused on the office skills needed to successfully navigate the volatile corporate world is reason enough for every young brand manager to dig deeper into this work. Office art is not something that is taught in most B schools, nor something you would find in books or even on YouTube! The way this element intertwines with brand skills and managerial skills content is clever. It’s practical, realistic, and that’s what sets this book apart from so many others.
Trupti and Arvind filtered through their wealth of experience spanning decades of working with great brands and extracted wisdom from Brand advantage for the benefit of new-age brand managers. Even the chapter “Can I shape a cult brand” is a very bold but honest attempt by the authors. Filled with examples, which they’ve sprinkled liberally throughout the book, it makes for interesting reading even if achieving cult status is a tall order and not so easy. They credibly navigate through this tricky aspect by cleverly drawing on psychologist Carl Jung’s twelve basic archetypes and that in itself makes this ambitious endeavor worthy.
The fact that Brand advantage kept this reviewer who has a lifetime of experience dealing with engaged brands says a lot about this book. As with any such book – the arsenal is there, it’s how the young brand manager uses it that will actually determine its success. The danger is that there are too many agenda items that the book suggests need to be undertaken and it opens up too many fronts. With younger brand managers having shorter shifts these days, that sounds ambitious. But then someone had to try this!
(Giraj Sharma is founding director of Behind the Moon, a brand consultancy)
About the book
Brand Advantage – A twelve-week blueprint for brand leadership and beyond
Penguin Trupti Bhandari and Arvind Bhandari
Discover the book on Amazon
January 17, 2022