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What is a 21st Century brand? New book provokes industry debate

In a new book, to be launched at Advertising Week Europe (26 March 2015), esteemed current and future industry leaders stimulate debate and sharpen understanding on the future of brands.


Edited by Nick Kendall, Founding Partner of Bro-Ken and former Group Strategy Director, BBH, What is a 21st Century brand? brings together the best ‘I believe’ essays from 10 years of the IPA Excellence Diploma – the MBA of brands, accompanied by two essays from Nick Kendall plus commentary from leading industry thinkers, including Stephen Woodford, Mark Earls, David Wilding and Ian Priest. With a focus on challenging the status quo, the book asks us to question how we perceive brands, how to build them, and how to make them better.

The book, which has been produced to launch the IPA Excellence Diploma globally, offers:

  • A future-facing perspective: fascinating comparisons of how brands have evolved almost 50 years on from Stephen King’s seminal piece ‘What is a brand’.
  • A practitioner’s point of view: the next generation of agency greats offer invaluable thought leadership and tangible experiences of what a 21st Century brand is.
  • Multiple perspectives: the 20 provocations on what constitutes a brand provide a toolkit for approaching and improving business challenges. For example, Nick Docherty believes ‘brand’ is a word that has outlived its usefulness, Ian Edwards believes in the Darwinian evolution of brands and Tom Jones believes in gaming your brand.
  • A renewed mode of thinking: the focus should be on developing beliefs on which to act, rather than on action without prior thought. Underpin your strategy by first asking the question ‘What is a brand?’ Therefore what is a brand idea? Therefore, how should we organise to deliver? This approach, as the book provokes, will reap greater business rewards than the reverse process of asking: What we can do? Therefore what kind of idea can we create? Therefore what kind of brand do we want to be?’

Says Nick Kendall: “In our fast-moving, volatile and broken world I believe that brands can create coherence, clarity, and meaning. Ultimately we need brands and brand ideas to glue things back together, both conceptually and tangibly. 

“Not everyone can have the pleasure of learning from Messrs Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty,  but they can all study the shared texts, learnings and case histories of our business from the great and the good. And they can all be encouraged to think about what ‘they believe’ about brands and brand ideas on the back of that. If you want to take time to think about the fundamentals of what we do as a business – create and build brands – this book will be all the stimulation you could want.”

Says Patrick Mills, Director of Professional Development, IPA: “In order to stay fresh and stay ahead, we must continue to stoke the fires of invention. This is exactly what the IPA Excellence Diploma does – as evidenced so powerfully in this book - and it doesn’t just transform brands, it transforms careers and agencies. For any practitioner wanting to breathe new life into their thinking, their approach and their beliefs in order to build stronger brands, I urge you to pick up a copy of the book and, for the full immersive experience, why not take the course itself.”

Join the debate on What is a 21st Century brand?:

At the launch event: the book will be launched at a panel session at Advertising Week Europe, at 9.30am on 26 March.

On tumblr.

On twitter: #21cBrand

Pre-order your copy of the book, published by Kogan Page in April 2015, priced £39.99.

Find our more about the IPA Excellence Diploma.

Notes to editors:

*The IPA has launched the IPA Excellence Diploma globally either working with fellow professional bodies, or by creating the ‘Diploma Insider’ within agency groups.

The pieces published in the book are chosen from the IPA Excellence Diploma President’s Prize Winners and from the delegates who secured the Prize for the ‘Most outstanding body of work’, as well as a selection of Nick Kendall’s favourite pieces.

The IPA Excellence Diploma is aimed at practitioners (with a minimum of five years’ experience) from all disciplines, who are at the top of their game and fascinated by brands. It is the pinnacle IPA qualification providing individuals with an unparalleled expertise in brands, also known as the MBA of Brands. The outputs of this qualification have been described by past delegates and their agency CEOs as being the NPD for the advertising industry. It comprises a 12-month programme broken down into three deep-dive components and essay-based assignments, interrogating the nature of brands. The qualification culminates in a 7,000-word thesis.

Nick Kendall’s biography
Nick Kendall is founding partner of Bro-Ken, a vehicle for investing his 30 years experience of building brand ideas into business start-ups. He strongly believes the best brands are baked in from the beginning. He is former Global Strategy Director of BBH. His book includes award-winning work for Liberty, Levi’s, Boddingtons, Haagen Dazs, Johnnie Walker and Dirt is Good. He is a previous convenor of judges of The IPA Effectiveness Awards and editor of Adworks 10. Nick was invited to help create The IPA Diploma in 2004 as part of the IPA’s professional qualifications initiative. He has led the qualification and been Chief Examiner ever since. He is holder of the IPA President’s medal for services to the industry.

Last updated 14/04/2015

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