The challenge inherent in books like “The 60 Minute Brand Strategist” by Idris Mootee is one of degree. From the outset, the writer runs the risk of, on the one hand, demonstrating that the topic is, in fact, just too complicated to be conveyed in the book you hold in your hands. And on the other hand, if the writer actually does explain something hitherto mystifying in sixty brief minutes, you’re apt to finish with a reduced impression of the topic, thinking “Really? That’s it? What’s so damn hard about that? In many ways, it is a no-win situation.
Thus it is to Mr. Mootee’s credit that he walks the exceptionally fine line that at once makes strategy understandable to the initiated and to the novice while at the same time arming the reader with the kinds of questions and processes that will allow him to put the subtleties and nuances of strategy to work for his organization.
Frankly, it is an exceptional accomplishment.
Mr. Mootee, who is the CEO of Idea Couture, a (as the book’s bio explains) “global strategic innovation firm with offices in North America, South America, Europe and Asia” explains in the introduction that his book was designed as “a 60 minute read that could be finished on a flight from New York City to Chicago or from London to Paris” and is “for those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to attend my seminars.”
A daunting mission indeed, and one that Mr. Mootee accomplishes by organizing his book’s nine chapters around three tasks. The first, comprised of the initial five chapters, explains the use, value and application of branding. The second is dedicated to the unique challenges and opportunities facing luxury brands – and is covered exclusively in the sixth chapter. And the third consists of tools and processes for providing more than lip service to strategic research.
Thus Mr. Mootee is able to lay out the foundations of branding in terms that are at once simple and inspiring, while simultaneously taking nothing for granted – not even the basic reasons that brands exist (something I personally have had to explain to marketing students and brand managers at Fortune 500 companies alike). As Mr. Mootee writes, in terms that even the most bottom-line focused manager can understand:
“Companies investing in brand building basically have three simple reasons for doing so: to drive customer loyalty, to maintain price premium, or to increase revenue growth. The real challenge is not just building great brands that drive revenue growth and loyalty, but building them at a lower cost and faster than your competition!”
Sounds logical, right? So why is there a problem? Mootee continues:
“Most businesses have a relationship with their customers that is based solely on price. That is why so many companies are having difficulties managing their margins.”
And if brand managers venture beyond the comfort of spreadsheets and price-offs into the dangerous world of emotions and brands, what will be the pay-off?
“…when brands connect to inspiration and epiphany – personal, collective or conjured by leaders – they enter into a realm immune to imitation.”
And what brand manager doesn’t want that?
Mr. Mootee goes well beyond the basics, however, providing some thought-provoking ideas on the nature of brands that, while they may fly over the head of the novice are certain to make an adept think twice, like this from early in the book:
“…[W]e have become desperate to socialize the profane. Distracted by the pace of change, unfulfilled in our personal lives, and feeling disempowered by our work, many of us turn to celebrities, rock stars, designers and brands to cultivate more meaning in life. But when work is empowering and life is meaningful, interest and engagement in high-consumption lifestyles will wane. De-marketing will happen. Until then, a brand’s role is to help to create meanings in every day life through commodities.”
Provocative indeed. As is the book’s design. And to be sure, some will be put off by it. Do not let yourself be one of them. The design admirably grounds the at-times highly abstract discussion of the nature of branding by splashing some of the world’s most famous and distinctive brands in energetic spreads that underline key points of the text.
But it does more than that. It also helps delivers the book’s own brand. It helps to make sure that you remember this one unique, memorable and compelling book amidst the hundreds of others it competes with.
And isn’t that the real lesson anyway?