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A Master Class in Brand Planning

A Master Class in Brand Planning

Book Cover

Neil Cassie is one of the top strategic practitioners invited to contribute to a new book which showcases 20 seminal articles by the late Stephen King, a leading intellectual and the founding father of advertising strategy and strategic planning.

Neil has written an introduction to King’s article, Branding Building in the 1990s, which was originally published in the Journal of Marketing Management back in 1991. In it, Neil calls upon the marketing industry to break out of its rigid conventions and adopt a more fluid approach to modern business practices.

In his paper 15 years ago, King predicted that that it would be people behaviour rather than rhetoric, research or marketing razzmatazz that would grow the value of brands in the future. He envisioned a future where consumer choice would be based not on classic brand or even service brand discriminators, but on the people of the company that provided the product or the service. In fact, upon the culture their collective being stood for.

“Because of his awareness that discriminators would be built on people within organisations, not on the things they produced, he knew therefore that companies would have to transform,” comments Neil.

King also foresaw what would not be needed: hierarchy; silos; chains of command; a control infrastructure.

In his introductory article, Neil says: “So much of what Stephen predicted came true but to a large degree, increasing wealth, stable economies, globalisation, technology and mergers & acquisitions ensured that demand for products and services remained relatively stable in the 90s.

This allowed companies to retain their somewhat rigid, highly structured, top-down approach to business. To meet predictive demand, process, systems, centralised decision making and command and control prevailed.

Today however, we have moved beyond the ‘push’ economies of the 90s to the ‘pull’ economies of the 21st Century. As we rush at headlong speed from predictive ‘push’ to non-predictive ‘pull’ demand, process is being displaced by people at the heart of modern business.

We are seeing dramatic shifts from hierarchical, siloed organisations to innovative, fluid human organisms. Within these new dynamic environments, talent marketplaces are being created where the talent of the business can flow to the point of greatest need at a moment’s notice.

In this new business paradigm, success is defined by the inherent, personal value of each individual being absolutely aligned with the vision and values of the organisation.

This alignment and fluidity creates a culture of productivity, innovation, localised decision making, knowledge and learning capture, transparency, spontaneous communication, interdependency and trust.

The recognition of the need to move to this ‘ideal state’ is now widespread amongst global business leaders (as it was to Stephen in 15 years earlier).

The questions they are asking are - who can help us transition from the tangible to the intangible whilst still ensuring the growth of our business?

Who can help us break out of our rigid, process driven approach to place people at the heart of our value creation? Who can help us link inextricably the growth of our people with the growth of our company?

Had we as a marketing and advertising fraternity paid more heed to Stephen’s advice at the time, I believe that companies would not be looking so hard now for the suppliers/partners with the right skill set to help them succeed.

Marketing and advertising people do have the inherent skill set to meet this redefined client demand but the question remains, do they have the will to break out of their own conventions?

Many have taken the luxury of ignoring Stephen’s parting advice over the past years, but from where I sit with my clients every day, the time to act is now. Otherwise, the large global management consultancies will eventually acquire the necessary skills and further displace advertising and marketing from the top table.”

A Master Class in Brand Planning: Stephen King, by Judie Lannon and Merry Baskin, is published by Wiley, price £27.99.