In our Brandification Interview with Magdalena Adamska, founder of BrandStruck, we talked about the importance of brand strategy, and she revealed to us which cases every brand manager should learn from.
Magdalena Adamska, thank you so much for being with us today! Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m the founder of BrandStruck, a company I set up 6 years ago. BrandStruck is the only online database of brand strategy case studies. This tool is dedicated to brand and marketing professionals and allows them to better understand the positioning of the world’s most admired brands. BrandStruck also offers brand consultancy services, helping companies with their brand strategy, communication and brand architecture challenges.
How did you originally get into the topic of brands? What fascinates you the most about the topic?
Since I was a kid, I’ve had a distinct interest in advertising. I loved TV ads and, to this day, it’s my favourite type of communication. So, when I was a student, I wanted to learn about the career of a brand and creative strategist. The more I understood, the more certain I was: this is what I wanted to do. After uni, I started working at advertising agencies and, a few years later, moved to the client side, where I learned the commercial aspect of brand management. Seven years ago, I quit my last corporate job and haven’t looked back since. Currently, I consult for both agencies and clients directly, as well as run BrandStruck. What fascinates me about this topic is how almost any company could significantly improve its commercial performance and market value by investing in brand building activities. And yet, despite this, few companies choose to do it. Since brand building involves creating some emotional impact which is not always easy to measure, senior executives often don’t treat this area as seriously as they should.
How did you come up with the idea when you founded BrandStruck?
When I first became a consultant a couple years ago, I was working on a project and needed a few brand strategy case studies to support some of the solutions I was suggesting. I was trying to find the information on the Internet but to no avail. There was a clear gap in the market and a need for a database of brand case studies where information for each brand is presented in the same format, enabling easy comparison. When I saw this market gap and need, I decided to create one. So, being a bit delusional about how much time and effort it would take to build such a database, I took on the challenge. One year later, BrandStruck was launched with 100 case studies. Now, we have more than 250 case studies as well as hundreds of high-profile clients from all over the world, even though we are still a small business.
Which one is your favorite case study and why?
Case studies which provide great lessons are the ones I like the most. For example, I believe that everyone working in this business should know the case study of Tropicana and what happens when you mess with distinctive brand assets. Another example is GoPro and how difficult it is to enter a completely new category (in this case, media). Aviva is a great case study on how to carry out a complex rebranding process. Another group of case studies that I really like are the ones which show how a strong but simple brand strategy and its consistent execution can deliver commercial results. Everyone should be learning brand management from brands such as Disney or Jack Daniel’s.
You worked with brands for more than 17 years. What are your most important learnings when it comes to developing and implementing brand strategies?
Now it’s more than 19 years!:) The most important thing from my perspective is to remember that the main role of a brand strategy and brand management is to grow the business. Brand strategy doesn’t have to be fancy or poetic and really there are no bonus points if a brand strategy sounds nice. What’s most important is that it is 100% understood by the wide variety of people who are going to execute it. Only with this ensured understanding can the strategy be implemented across many levels – in product, marketing, behaviours, tone of voice, etc. the strategy needs to guide distinctiveness, drive brand’s fame and mass appeal. There are too many strategies that only exist on paper and this is just a shame.
Which was your favorite brand in your childhood and why? And which one is it today?
Well, I was a child in the 1980s in Poland so there were not many brands available and often literally nothing to buy in stores. However, there was this chain of stores called Pewex, where people could buy “Western products” and pay in other currencies. I remember the smell of this store to this day! We believed that this is how America smelled. My favourite brands at that time were Chupa Chups, Daily (a chocolate bar) and Barbie (almost an unattainable dream to own one back then!). Today, I appreciate the brands that are focused on building consistent brand experience, don’t distract themselves with unimportant fads and also have a tangible, positive influence on my life. For some time now, my two favourite brands have been Headspace and DuoLingo.