Think Branding: Sasha Strauss

Insights from the presentation:

1. Conflicting points of interests between students and business lecturers

It is not uncommon to find misalignment between lecturers (most of whom are industry practitioners for a good number of years) and Gen Y students (most of whom have their own mindsets on things, and do not take well to having things shoved down their throats so to speak).

The trick is, then, in creating that alignment, else learning do not take place in the classroom.

2. Overlooked segment in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Sasha Strauss highlighted an overlooked segment in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: all of us need something to have faith and to believe in. He labels it as the ‘void’. Strauss suggests finding a common topic to fill that void. Through techniques such as storytelling, make the topics (which could be anything under the sun) to be exciting and interesting to the audience. Then embed a belief system in the form of methodologies (although emotional resonance works just as well, if not better) into the topics. In the words of Strauss, there is now “a void in the belief ecosystem”. I believe that the essence of branding is about filling that void.

According to Strauss, this technique of filling in the void to achieve alignment between lecturers and their students works the same way as branding.

3. Organisations make up an image for branding purposes

Many organisations are endorsing their products and services through the use of celebrities and other entities that are not pertinent to the essence of their brand. This is not really effective branding.

4. Organisation are also using comparative terms to brand themselves

Consumers and customers are desensitised to the use of comparative words employed by organisations such as ‘cheapest’ , ‘longest’, ‘quickest’, ‘brightest’ , and often tune out such suggestive words in advertisements. This is ineffective and in the words of Strauss, he calls it the ‘ war of words’.

5. Organisations need authenticity

Authenticity is the recipe for building powerful and long-term marketing impacts.

6.  Seven practices of authentic branding

i.   Make no assumptions about the marketing environment.

ii.   Empathise with customers and do not treat them as customers.

iii.  Advocate your brand. Relate the brand to a lifestyle.

iv.  The relation between customers and the organisations is a relationship, not
a transaction. So authentic branding is really about building relationships with
customers, not about – in corporate speak –  hitting the Key Performance
Indicator (KPI).

v.  Organisations need to curate and package to customers’ specific lifestyle.
Organisations need to differentiate between different customer segment and
curate to them accordingly.

vi  There must be new learning, understanding and comprehension” in the branding
process. So, organisations have to teach, and not to sell. Business branding now is         about to teach, and organisations are now business schools.

vii. Organisations must exudes and exhibit care as part of their branding process.
When directed inwards, this builds employee morale. When directed outwards,
it increases customers’ loyalty.

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