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Q&A with Kartikeya Kompella

2nd December 2014 | Kartikeya Kompella

Kartikeya Kompella discusses the current state of branding and how he wishes President Obama was in his new book.

The Brand Challenge (9780749470159) We recently sat down with Kartikeya to ask him some questions about branding and his new book The Brand Challenge: Adapting Branding to Sectorial Imperatives, which provides a comprehensive and topical examination of branding across a variety of sectors including luxury goods, finance and not-for-profit. Here's what he had to say:

Why did you think of this topic for a book?

Basically, every time I met a new client he or she would ask me what categories I had handled and then tell me to forget all that I had learned because his/her category was unique!

Branding is a bit like a kaleidoscope – the contents are the same, but every time you shake the ‘scope it throws up new patterns. It’s exciting when you see new interpretations or definitions that open up new insights and add richness, but often enough it’s an exercise of creativity to look at the subject from a new angle for the novelty than for the value.

What is the current state of branding?

Everyone knows brands are the most valuable assets that companies have, but not too many CMOs are becoming CEOs. This suggests that either they are not doing enough with their brands or are not being recognised for it.

How do you view branding theory?

Sometimes it gets a bit much – the same thing rehashed ad nauseam said in more powerful ways. There is great content out there, but often it competes and loses to middle of the road stuff. When I last checked on Amazon there were over 5,000 books on the topic. It seems like the easiest thing to write about by anyone with a smattering of common sense, but unfortunately much of that only adds volume and not value to the subject. The mediocre books are hiding the gems.

Is there any aspect of branding that you think will gain prominence in the times to come?

Brand valuation is a really big one. It’s a way of creating sustainable, disproportionate value from brands.

You seem to like editing books. What makes you prefer this approach to writing books yourself?

Although I have written a few books, I like this approach of condensing information from experts into just the right amount readers need – it's variety with intensity.

Are there any interesting people you would have wanted in the book?

Yes, I would have liked to have a chapter on President Obama and how to build a personal brand. He’s the best example of how great talent could have gone unnoticed if he didn’t become a brand.

Are there any topics you feel have been left out of your book?

The branding of political parties: we need to realise that we are choosing political parties based on their promise exactly the same way we choose Crest for fewer cavities.

You’re from India. Do you see India as being a hub of branding?

Not really – there is the potential, but I don’t think we haven’t seen a disproportionate value contribution to the subject from India the way we’ve seen it come from US, UK or France. We don’t have thought leadership in this subject here. We don’t seem to value thought leadership in branding much anyway.

For more information about The Brand Challenge, including sample pages, please visit the product page.

About the editor: Kartikeya Kompella is the author of Applying the Branding Iron and Building Brands, Building Meaning. He is also the editor of The Definitive Book of Branding. Kartikeya has written on branding for many websites and ran a column for five years on brandchannel.com.

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