The John Grant Manifesto

I am reading the brand innovation manifesto book at the moment. The book is great and charming. Blissfully thanks to John Grant of Brand Tarot blog for doing a small Q&A session for me. Let’s get to the point.

The brand innovation manifesto book

1.What are the inspirations behind writing “The brand innovation
manifesto”?

It wasnt based upon any one insight or revelation. It’s a continuation
of the ‘New marketing’ project. But I felt that since my previous two
books the selection of supporting case studies had got richer, the
principles a little clearer. Mostly I wanted to write a useful book,
something fellow practitioners could dip into and use as they work. For
selfish reasons it is useful to me to have something current to share
with clients, conference audiences, readers of articles – to keep my
own brand up to date.

2.What have you learned after writing this brilliant book?

Thank you for saying it is brilliant. I prefer to think it is ‘not bad’
and save my perfectionism for the next venture 🙂

In the last year since the book I have learned a lot. Principally from
all the ‘2.0’ developments. Plus the green and sustainability (and
possibly spiritual dimensions) of branding are a current fascination,
and not just for me. I already have in mind a next book – centred on
the brand enthusiasm theory which I have been developing on my blog –
but I need to find a spare slot to write it and there is no time
pressure, so maybe I will wait a while and let the thoughts develop.

3.Would you elaborate this quote, Only liars need to be consistent, in
your book?

That quote was originally in a ‘not a brand book’ I developed for IKEA
ten years ago. They had a task force looking at the possibility of
developing a global brand bible. I argued quite strongly against this;
they are one of the few brands with a free inventiveness, falling back
upon some core company values rather than struggling to maintain a
facade of consistent brand expressions. Also they are a retailer; their
job is to cut costs, not build false brand price premiums. The line was
originally placed next to a photo of Richard Nixon. The point is
obvious; if you are true to yourself, you dont need false executional
constraints, acting like a mask. It’s about being authentic, also
relating to a point I made in my first book that a strong brand is an
author; their works can be diverse, but people still join up the dots.
I greatly admire Nike in that respect.

4.What would you say to a marketer who still adheres to the brand image
approach?

Good luck!

Seriously though it is all about doing what is right for your business,
market, brand. Perfumes are bought on image, as is fashion, probably
most drinks too. But even in image markets another position
differentiates you; for instance Benetton’s (former) emphasis on
politics. My view is really a corrective to the idea that everything
needs to be advertised like a perfume; a view which dominated
advertising and marketing since the 50s. The other question is
authenticity; people have higher standards and are more sceptical. In
many FMCG markets bad products hid behind glossy image advertising.
Today many of these are getting found out. It’s not just that they need
to change their ad strategy though. They need an idea to differentiate
themselves. One of the central themes of the book is that brand and
innovation today are very nearly the same thing. I developed the idea
of a molecule to show how successive innovations, both in product and
marketing build to create a compelling overall story.

5.What is your favourite brand of 2006? and why?

My personal favourite was (RED). Such a simple idea. But so smart. It
is predicated on the idea of making other brands look good. Plus I am
glad to have another example of consumer marketing which is doing a bit
of good and not too much harm. The individual (RED) campaigns are great
too. I think my favourite was UK newspaper The Independent who did a
whole (RED) issue. If anyone isnt familiar check this:
http://www.joinred.com/

6.What is your favourite future of branding?

My current expression of where things seem to be heading is marketing
enthusiasm. A company engages its customers by finding a broader
enthusiasm to share with them. Pampers and immunising babies in the
developing world. Nike and its city runs (Run London). The inNYC amex
card that connects with a network of venues in New York, enhancing your
chances of booking somewhere nice and having a decent social life. Lego
Factory
and its Ambassador programme. Innocent’s Fruitstock festival.
Many current internet successes are built upon shared enthusiasms:
ebay, YouTube, blogging, Wikipedia, and Amazon, which functions as a
massive book club.

The marketing enthusiasm initiatives are often strongly branded in the
sense of having catchy names and an identity. But they are third space
brands; satellites of the original trademark. They are not based upon
communicating a brand promise, they are about doing something together,
building a relationship. With increasing possibilities to have a rich
dialogue with customers (via the internet and other means) I imagine
that relationship will increasingly be the central term in planning
rather than ‘target audience’. Brands yesterday were like the Woody
Allen quote: “enough about me, what did you think of my movie?” – their
urge to brand and control every facet and frankly a tendency to brand
narcissism left little room for involvement.

7.You got 3 sentences, what would you say to our readers about “The
brand innovation manifesto” book?

It has some interesting current brand theory. It contains over 200
reasonably current international case studies. It is designed to help
you develop good ideas.

I think you can find this book at Asiabooks store, Bangkok or order it via Amazon.

Oakie 🙂

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