As marketing director and product manager of the traditional Austrian ski manufacturer Kästle, Philipp Giselbrecht is on the move on a daily basis in dealing with the dynamic environment of brands. We talked to him about his experience in brand management and found out what current developments he sees in this area and what purple hair and piercings tell us about brand identity…
Philipp Giselbrecht, thank you very much for being here with us today! Let’s start at the very beginning – Which was your favourite brand during your childhood and why? And what is it today?
Twinni from Eskimo (Langnese/Unilever) was my favourite. Two different tastes of ice cream and then there was always) the thrill of seeing if you can break the two halves apart exactly before you started nibbling the chocolate. Today I am fascinated by sports brands that have managed to stand out from the competition with their products and stand for a very specific cause. The size of the company is not the deciding factor. The shoe brand On (at least in its external appearance) as well as Maloja and Gloryfy have, in my opinion, done a very good job in terms of brand positioning over the last 10 years.
In your experience, what works best internally to attract employees as brand ambassadors?
The company must always give employees easy access to its products so that they can experience by themselves what the brand stands for. But above all, there needs to be a “healthy and positive” core within the company. In owner-managed companies, this core is usually easy to identify and is fulfilled by the founder through a leader function. The other companies are all the more challenged at the management level not only to set values on a vision paper, but to experience them for themselves and thus create an attraction for the company and brand. Because a brand has to grow from within and the employees are the first priority.
Imagine that you have encountered a Brand Fairy who can fulfill your every wish. What would you wish for your brand?
No money, no new better employees… just a bag of candy. Whoever tastes them immediately recognizes the brand value of the traditional Kästle brand as well as the work and time that professional brand management needs – in the past, now and forever. When tasting the candy, the person recognizes that success often lies in “being different” and not in maxims. I would then put the sweets on the table at the beginning of strategically important meetings …
What developments and trends do you currently see in branding?
In the future, the product will only be the basis for success. Achieving a competitive advantage in times of abundance exclusively through the product will probably no longer be possible. Therefore, the values of the company and the product experience must be more strongly focused and managed at all brand contact points – this applies online as well as offline. Because in the analogue world, many companies have already neglected it before they ever arrived in the digital world.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 methods to win employees over for a brand in the long term?
- Personal appreciation
- Freedom of creativity, as soon as employees have understood the brand
- The certainty of being part of an active movement
In which corporate departments do you think it is particularly challenging to win over employees for a brand and why?
I don’t think it’s right to make this distinction between business departments. I am convinced that the key to success across all areas lies in addressing and selecting employees! I work for a ski brand. And my experience shows that in every area – from human resources and accounting to warehousing and customer service – there are enough employees who are passionate about skiing and the Kästle brand in particular.
With just one argument, how would you convince someone of the importance of the topic “brand”?
The origin of a unique sense of unity lies in identity! A young man goes into a hip cocktail bar in the evening. He opens the door, his eyes immediately fall on a young woman with purple hair and piercings. He feels attracted to her and addresses her. They quickly notice that the chemistry is right and they share the same values. Happy about the new acquaintance, the young man goes home and the woman follows the Instagram account of the tattoo studio of the young man while still in the bar. Equals join equals, but to do this, every person and every brand must have the courage to carry their identity to the outside world.
Finally, we would like to conduct a thought experiment: If you wouldn’t work for Kästle, which brand would you like to work for and why?
Another brand in the sports or food sector that puts quality before quantity and considers social and environmental sustainability to be important.