Origins of Consumer Markets,
Brand Identities and Package Design
Consumer brands, and the retail marketplace that supports them, have evolved through several stages in the last 500 years. Each strongly influenced by radical changes in culture, technology, and the nature of markets. This course will review the historical formation and evolution of consumer markets, over time, though the lens of retail brand identity and package design. It will review the long history of brand identities, beginning early in the 16th century, and the global aesthetic and cultural influences that have shaped their path. While reviewing these historical precedents, this course will help students develop a sense of where CPG brand identities are today and where they may be headed.
Century by century, from the 1500s through the 2000s, the long history and development of consumer markets will unfold in three stages, and include the eras of the merchant, the manufacturer, and the retailer. With brand activity evolving toward a focus on consumer experience and lifestyle, the last decade has seen the birth of a fourth era. This course will allow students to identify the historical precedents of the previous three eras and clearly identify the tools necessary to shape the future of CPG brands in this new era of Retail 4.0.
A Unified Theory of Branding
Leading the definition and evolution of a world-class brand requires more than intellectual rigor and insight. You must unify and leverage the expertise and efforts of an astounding array of people—leaders, followers, scientists, artists, magicians (consultants), engineers, establishmentarians and revolutionaries. In this course, you will learn to use powerful frameworks that harmonize and focus the efforts of diverse teams as they develop ambitious brand programs.
Using real-world case studies—including Caterpillar, Bank of America, DuPont, Harley-Davidson and National Semiconductor—we will look inside the processes that enable organizations to define the future of their brands. The course will provide you with a unique perspective of how research, strategic definition, identity, expression, communications and behavior are shaped into great brands.
The Meaning of Branded Objects
Brands transform objects into meaning-bearers. This course will explore the collective and individual history of this transformation. As we have evolved from hunter-gatherers into robustly cultural beings, objects themselves have also evolved: from disposable, purely functional extensions of the body to deeply personal, even cherished, expressions of an individual’s life. We will examine the history and insights of individual and social psychology in shaping the context for 21st-century perceptions of, and relationships with, the things that surround us. Concretely, we will investigate the increasingly sophisticated manner in which brands have gained and integrated quantitative and qualitative insights into our lives (and our cultural contexts) to create opportunities for complex, meaning centered relationships between people and things. Students will use their own experiences as the starting point for this exploration into the lived-meaning of individual brands and their collective role in the construction of modern personal identity.
Well-Known brands disappear every year, reflecting the intensely competitive nature of certain industries and a primary reason why companies cannot afford to lag in efficiency, innovation or financing. Understanding a business behind a brand can contribute to the value of that brand for business owner and consumer, and is for anyone in a development or management position.
MBA 101 is designed to facilitate the development of business acumen and how business strategies and information can be conveyed to tell various stories, and be leveraged by decision makers in sustaining a viable brand in the global marketplace. Topics addressed in this course include: basic accounting principles, cost analysis, operations, business ethics, product liability and intellectual property.
Business and Branding Strategies
From developing a brand personality to discovering invisible brand assets, this multidisciplinary course is about creating brand value, strategy and business literacy. We’ll review core branding disciplines such as developing brand positioning, mission statement, brand character, naming and brand architecture. We’ll take a look at financial valuation models, as well as creative methods for discovery and ideation, and why a strong brand strategy is like an organization’s DNA, serving as a blueprint for strategy and informing other activities such as leadership, marketing, product development, communication, design and advertising. Discussions based on case studies and readings will also use worksheets as a lens, and provide a platform to examine forces and dynamics that shape brands from traditional corporate to entrepreneurial startups. We’ll touch on globalization, technology, critical thinking, culture and lifestyle.
Today brands operate in a global world. Thanks to the rapid expansion of information, technology and potential for economies of scale, multi-national organizations since the early ‘80s have been evolving into to true Global enterprises reaching many geographies and different consumers daily with their brands. In the attempt to make brands travel more broadly, some of them succeed, some fail, and very few become Iconic. Given the complexity that broader reach brings, managing brands at a global level typically requires a different approach to Brand Building and often also a different marketing and management structure is needed to enable success.
Brand Management explores how brands can achieve a high degree of similarity across countries with respect to brand equity, character, target, advertising strategy, product, packaging, look and feel, among other characteristics. This workshop starts with a specific business challenge and requires the students to show mastery of the brand building framework by applying it to a specific Brand and Region in the world. Each business team will present to the “board of directors” of the selected brand. Once the challenge is complete, the group is exposed to the process of rolling up regional strategies to a final Global model. It is an intense class that seeks to replicate the realities and complexities of managing brands in multiple regions and develop sensibility for the framework and processes to consider when working on Global brands.