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Managing the brand: interview with Ramón Ollé


One of the main purposes of my blog is to create content that is not linked to a certain piece of news or temporary circumstance, in order to increase the number of visits and turn it into a reference website. In this sense, I would like to re-publish an interview with Ramón Ollé which took place in 2009. I had just started my first blog, grasp, and it was one of the first entries. At the time, it seemed important to talk about what it means to manage a brand. Five years later, it seems to me that it is still important to insist upon these essential concepts.

Ramón is a pioneer in introducing branding in Spain and promoter of some of the most interesting initiatives in new brand management in Spain. He stands out both as an academic and as a professional, as a Brand Management professor at Esade and as Strategic Planning Director at Grey Group.

We are going to talk about his book, "El nuevo Brand Management" ("The New Brand Management"), co-written by David Riu, who is also a consultant and a professor.

The book transmits a passion for the activity and a great clarity of ideas.

Managing a brand, he tells us, means "capturing the essence of an offer, thoroughly working on an attractive personality, filling it with meanings and connecting it emotionally with a certain magic".

"A great work of analysis which will later be fixed on an extremely simple, yet powerful, idea"

Q.And yet, so many companies omit it. Both the thorough analysis and the realisation of a communicative synthesis. What do you think is the reason for this? What are the risks involved?

A. This is the first paradox that us working in building brands have to face. The offers tend to become more and more sophisticated, but communication requires synthesis. We have, on the one hand, products aspiring to be novelties, to constantly supply value through innovation, to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and, on the other hand, consumers who only pay attention to simple things that can be easily understood. The big challenge in brand management consists in observing this process from both sides (the client, his products and the consumer, his cultural context). Many brands suffer from trying to see reality from one of these perspectives only, losing their ability to connect. The perspectives of both supply and demand are complementary when it comes to designing a good brand.

Q. Speaking of personalities, achieving an attractive, almost magical, personality that connects emotionally with its audience, is not an easy or trivial task. Is acquiring a brand status only a possibility for a few?

A. No, the examples show otherwise. Every year we come across examples of companies of different sizes and categories which manage to create brands that are valued by consumers, that create a special connection or that simply generate something extra when compared to their competitors.

Q. If we're all different and have the ability to stand out, what is the risk of not communicating this difference?

A. The brand is one of the main assets of a business, together with its clients and employees. Not taking it seriously and not learning how to manage it can mean a risk for the business because it makes us compete without one of our best medium-term weapons.

Q. You always speak of supply, sales, market... and yet, it seems as if brands have gone past the commercial borders and now everything has become a brand. What do you think are the limits of branding? Where does our activity begin and end?

A. It is true that it seems that today "everything is a brand". We refer to politicians as brands, to countries, to political ideas... In our cultural context everything has meanings but I like to think that in a brand these meanings can be moulded and strategically managed. They are not just the result of a historical situation, of chance or of casual thinking. A brand is a meaning with a specific commercial target, and this meaning has an intention and is developed through very specific techniques. It has to be measurable and sufficiently flexible as to be adaptable to a specific demand.

Q.  Internet is revolutionising the way companies communicate in an irreversible way. What do you think will be the role of branding consultants now that users and consumers also want to be creators?

A. In my opinion, the brand expert has to have a more holistic vision. Before, we used to solve specific problems with certain particular aspects of a brand. Through logos, advertising campaigns, packaging... Nowadays, we can see that all the different aspects of a brand are closely related. The perception we have is determined by the interaction of consumers with different contact points. Understanding this relationship and the impact of each contact is a different role. Internet shows us how important communities are for brands and allows us to establish a dialogue with consumers. Brands have gone from being static to becoming entities that are constantly changing, and consultants must offer a more global point of view in order to work coherently within the same territory.

Q. In this new context it seems like the winner is always the one who tells the most relevant story. What can we learn from writers, scriptwriters... and in general all great storytellers? What can they teach us?

A. Consumers talk among themselves, they give their opinion, they recommend, they often distort brand messages and end up building their own world, which is the one that truly strengthens brands. Brand owners suggest, inspire, point in a certain direction and offer materials which the consumers turn into stories. When these stories make sense, the brand lives and grows. Storytelling teaches us that if we organise the information we have and structure it as a story, this makes our brand much more prone to being understood, to generate emotions and to become viral. In our book we propose a model which is built on these premises: having a good structure when conveying our personality is more effective. Knowing in what order to tell things and at what pace constitutes the difference between having a strong brand and having a meaningless logo.

Thank you, Ramón. 


1 |

Cool! That's a clever way of lonokig at it!

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