The Brand University – How to make a sustainable, successful brand

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Transforming your brand into a winning, learning organization

BrandChannel Brand University, The Myndset Digital marketing and brand strategy

This white paper, “The Brand University,” co-written with my ex-colleague and long-time friend, Eric Mellet, was published here by BrandChannel (October 2010).  Alternatively, since it is rather long to read on screen, I suggest that you download it via Slideshare (pdf). On BrandChannel, unfortunately, there is no way to leave a comment, so I have created this post in order to allow for commentary.

Brand University Executive Summary (as it appears in the BrandChannel):

The world of branding has, over a very condensed period of time, undergone a virtual and very real revolution as far as both the consumer and the employee are concerned. The challenge that companies are now facing is how to adapt effectively and efficiently to several convergent paradigm shifts. This white paper reviews some of the major changes and raises questions about the implications for today‘s leaders. This paper‘s position is that, more than ever before, companies need to evolve into Learning Organization and that instituting a company-wide Brand University can offer a compelling way to accompany such a change.


  • Olivier Riviere Consulting (closed down)
  • EzineMark published the article (review process)
  • Xing Chief Marketing Officer Brief
  • Translated into Chinese in the China Times (Taiwan)
  • Global Council of Corporate Universities (Annick Renaud-Coulon) – it’s a paying website, so no access for non members.
  • Hispanic CMO
  • Dissertations Gratuites (Paris)
  • Vietnamese Brand Marketing Site, Masso
  • The Branding Gavel (Nigeria)
  • Branding Today (Scribd)
  • Branding: An exploration of the changing definitions …  by Jennifer Onose, School of Media & Communication, Lagos:
  • The Black Renaissance – Hong Kong
  • Enterprise Collaborative

7 Comments, RSS

  1. Julien Perez

    I find this article highly relevant and potentially visionary. Indeed for many years the economy as a whole hass been completely destabilized by changes in the communication tools.

    Over the past 15 years we moved to a living in the ‘instant’. This had two direct victims: businesses and consumers who have not yet assimilated into, what is their very essence, these technical changes.

    Company culture used to be based on an inter-generational transmission. Today instantaneousness and immediate short-term profitability have destabilized the fundamentals of business operations.

    Commercial culture, organization and transmission are at the heart of the future of companies (whatever their size) and, therefore, those who make the machine turn and, themselves make their living via the company: the employees.

    The hypothesis of the Brand University has three advantages:

    1. Dissemination of belonging (such as you will find in the big universities or equivalent)

    2. Recognition of the value of the individual, whose potential is clearly understood as the organization offers them the opportunity to progress (see HERTZBERGER)

    3. Pride – just as our parents and grandparents had – in their enterprise, with the unambiguous desire to possess, consume and share the products/services they provide (one of the fundamentals of selling).

    This answers the growing disillusionment of our companies, generated by management which has only one concept of Time (the short term).

    The concept of the University suggests another more human era: that of knowledge and know-how, at a much less hectic pace, that puts the man — that is to say the customer — at the center.

    All companies should consider one thing: their employees are their customers.

    Quality in the normative sense has one purpose: to satisfy its customers … so its employees?

    Emerging countries have clearly understood this.

    Julien Perez

  2. Pierre Bancon

    How not to be aligned with what you wrote in this very good and deep note.

    I love the parallel between the 4P’s and above them the 5 E’s; The left brain and the right brain.

    Everything is summarized, on my view, on these 2 points. Of course, the new network technologies are changing the rules and beaking the silos.

  3. There are a few points in the paper that should be emphasized:

    «In order to rise above the strictly functional performance of a given product, the brand will need to demonstrate its "added value", whereby the consumer finds significance in — and identifies with – the brand’s values.“

    The Brands evolve now in a world where the products and services are more and more commoditized. The global competition is making Brand differentiation more difficult. And the world economy interaction (interest rates, currency exchange…) combined with the new channels of communication have given to the end user great tools for instant product comparison and immediate decision (as an example I never buy my running shoes from an Australian store, I order them online from the US , as the price, shipment included, is cheaper than locally).

    So it is not necessarily to the consumer to find significance in the brand values, but more to the Brands to identify the real customer desires and expectations, often hidden or not clearly articulated, that would make them want to be associated with a Brand.

    The most powerful Brands in the world want to govern the way their customers have to interact with them and their products, without caring of the attributes the users are really attached to. The main reason being that Brands are really struggling to understand how to embrace real customer centricity

    Brands have developed complex technological and industrial patterns that drive their business requirements. Their legacy capability, that was at a time their main assets, is now a heavy liability that carries heavy constraints and little flexibility.

    So whilst the” strength of a brand – and its ability to retain a sustainable loyalty – will lie in the development of a dynamic and evolutionary relationship..[where]. The key actor then becomes the employee”, it remains prominent for the Brand to firstly understand and carry the interests and desires of their customers.

    Most companies pretend today to be customer centric, and to put forward the interest of their customer at first. But they often make the mistake to create products or solutions that they believe is what their client want because they associate their own behavior with the one of their customers. The huge amount of data accumulated through market research and focus group only give them the trends of what a market is at a current state and how they believe it will evolve.

    With no doubt a strong social relationship has to flow between the Brands ‘employees, at every level of the hierarchical scale (and the Brand University is probably the only way to achieve that).It remains nevertheless essential that the Brands and their employees first get what it is that their customer hate when interacting with them. It will only then be possible to redesign the why, what &how to reestablish a love and loyal relationship with their customers.

    This message is what has to be taught and educated through the Brand University. But to get it right and understand the voice of the client (being the customer, the supplier or the employee himself (in the case of a call centre for example) the observational research has to be firstly made externally, because the employees of the Brand itself are already too much embedded with its ideals and beliefs. An external, naïve but methodical customer experience approach can only produce a valid Experience Promise that will lead every future decision and interaction of the Brand by its employees with the customer.

    Alain Mignonneau, Senior Consultant, « Different » NZ/Australia

  4. Stop Spamming start story telling | E' arrivato... l'Arrotino del Web!

    […]  How important is it sharing your beliefs and ideas with others? Well, I guess we all agree on that! However both Minter and myself agreed on one concept: Brands must get personal! Here’s a great article written by Minter “How to make a sustainable, successful brand” […]

  5. […] Minter Dial and Eric Mellet also claim that for brands to effectively use social media, brands must engage with audience. The most prominent instrument of engagement here must be passion and strong connection. They also stated brand must learn the principle of exchange. To them the principle of exchange rests on listening and dialogue. In addition to the above, brands must demonstrate its emotion. This can be done with element of surprise and celebration. Experience is also essential. To inculcate experience, brands must make them real life. The last factor that can aid use of social media channel by these authors is its essence. Essence has to do with meaning and authenticity. What are you doing? What are your thoughts? Let us share […]

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