menu

Why Effective Branding Is About The Study Of Human Behavior

Why Effective Branding Is About The Study Of Human Behavior
Advertising

A graduate from SVA’S Masters in Branding describes why understanding what makes people believe in something bigger than themselves is the key to success. [Partner Content]

PSFK Labs
  • 24 february 2013

Brands aim to convince their customers that they are worth following and worth staying loyal to. That’s why, as Jessie McGuire, has discovered during her Masters in Branding course, it is crucial to forge strong relationships and be a super connector. In the lastest installment of partner-sponsored SVA Alumni interview series, McGuire discusses what she has taken away from her studies and how this will help her as she progresses in her career.

Branding is certainly not a modern notion, it’s centuries old. Why do you think this is such a unique area of study that is now gaining traction in both the creative and business worlds?

As with anything that has existed for centuries, branding has gone through many life cycles and has evolved over time. One of our classes took us on a historical journey of branding from iron brands to Bass beer to President Obama. Historically brands have always been about connecting a product with an owner. Today, however the concept of a product and an owner is constantly in flux. Now we talk about brands as experiences and promises. A product can be tangible or intangible; think daily newspaper or twitter feed. An owner can be timeless or fleeting; Washington Post or Sh*t My Dad Says. Branding is truly the study of the world around us — what connects us, what moves us and how we make meaning. Who wouldn’t want to study that?

What is one common misconception about Branding that you think people have, or you had, before entering the program?

When I told my mother I applied to a Branding program she was thrilled at my prospects as a logo designer. I knew better than that. When I entered the program I thought branding was a career within communication design. I even completed my application essay with that very sentiment. I believed branding was my gateway to something a bit bigger than design and logos. Two things happened while I was in the program. First I realized there are a lot more people both in and out of the industry that have the same misconception of branding as my mother – logos and packages. Second, I was also wrong about what opportunities a Masters in Branding would offer me. Branding for me is not only design, but the opportunity to study human behavior, and understanding what makes us believe in and belong to something bigger than ourselves. The program has helped me to understand that as a brand steward, I have the opportunity to be a dot connector, a relationship builder and the glue that holds an ideal together.

Many graduates of the Branding program go into different fields of strategy. How did the program change your approach to business and brand strategy for small and large businesses?

Prior to the program I always believed strategy was how a brand and company wanted to be seen or consumed, a very extroverted approach. Throughout the program we examined companies, brands, leadership and industries. What became clear was that basic fundamentals and internal cultures are what drive external messages. Whether on the client side or agency side, setting the strategy or executing the strategy, there is a certain amount of introspection that must take place. I believe strategy for any size business is the crystallization of a vision. For brands and businesses to set a clear vision, they must take an honest, internal look at where they’ve been, what they’re doing and what it is that they hope to become.

How has having a Masters in Branding has helped you to further your career?

I have a background in advertising and design. When I entered the program I figured I would continue my work in advertising. My plan was to look for a role in planning or brand strategy within an agency. However, half way through the program my husband asked me a very simple question. He was impressed with the exposure I had to industry thought leaders, so he naturally asked me who inspired me. When I made out a list not one person came from the advertising world, though they all worked with advertising agencies. This made me question my career expectations. It just so happened that everyone on my list worked on the client side: Google, Hershey, Kimberly Clark. With this new perspective my career options opened up and I started looking at company’s big and small, agency and client. I went from thinking I could work within an agency to realizing I could contribute to change within an industry. Today I am the design manager for Kleenex®, a billion dollar brand loved around the world. Every day I contribute to something that lives in the hearts and minds of consumers, a career I never would have imagined before the program.

What was the greatest challenge you faced while in the Branding program? How did you overcome it?

One of the books we read during the semester was The Paradox of Choice. The book details the anxiety we feel when overwhelmed by too many choices. This sums up my biggest challenge with the program, the abundance of information, exposure and choice. Many of our projects tackled larger concepts and hypothetical situations, which were equal parts exciting and daunting. What became difficult to wrap my head around was how to take these larger questions and apply them to the everyday. When it came to detailing our path after the program and years beyond I was overwhelmed by the options and opportunities, not only for me, but for the discipline of branding in general. I’m not sure I have fully overcome this challenge, but I do believe I am where I’m supposed to be, working on world-class brands and constantly questioning this ever-changing industry.

What do you feel is your most valuable experience or memory to come out of the Branding program?

When I first read this question I started making a list of my favorite projects. I begin thinking about which pieces and parts where the most valuable, then I saw a pattern. It wasn’t the content or the process it was the people. There were 24 of us who started the program, all with our own agenda, all slightly nervous and all certain a Master’s degree was exactly what we needed to launch our career. Speaking for myself, the agenda, the nerves and the career opportunities all met my expectations, what exceeded expectations were the friendships and relationships that were built over the year. Some of the best memories happened at the neighborhood bar, where we built hypothetical companies and conceptually changed whole industries. The intensity of those conversations is what continues to inspire me today and drives me to elevate the brands I work on. Not to mention that I speak to a majority of my classmates every day on Gchat.

If you had to offer one key piece of advice to interested applicants, what would it be?

Get a Twitter handle, an iPad and tell your friends you’ll call them in a year.

The Masters in Branding at The School of Visual Arts is a one-year Masters Degree program that examines the relationship between design and strategy, the power of design thinking and the decision-making processes of design and business. They are currently accepting applications until February 23rd 2013. Please contact: J’aime Cohen for more information or Apply here!

 

Advertising
Trending

Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World's Largest Open-Air Gallery

Culture
Asia Today

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Today

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Health Today

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Today

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Related Expert

Greg Lindsay

Journalist, Urbanist, Futurist, and Speaker

Design & Architecture Today

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Today

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

Fashion Today

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed september 26, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs Today

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Automotive Today

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

Op-Ed Today

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Today

Mischievous Drone Will Drop Paint-Filled Balloons On Targets Of Your Choosing

A German photography team developed the flying device to accurately deliver a payload wherever needed

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Fashion Today

100 Backpacks Made For The World’s Top Influencers

Heineken and TUMI have collaborated on a unique custom NYC-inspired bag

Financial Services Today

This Peer-To-Peer Insurance Company Is Powered By Bots

Lemonade is a new product designed to lighten the paperwork and provide instant, helpful service when needed

No search results found.