Strategic brand management is a key success factor for companies. But there is also an increasing trend for individuals to present themselves as brands – as artists, consultants and/or influencers. Personal branding refers to the process whereby an individual establishes themselves strategically as a personality, as a trustworthy and authentic brand. What specific aspects need to be considered when a person, rather than a company, is being marketed? And what role do interactions and digital touchpoints play in brand management today? Interaction design has become a key discipline, which essentially forms the interface between the brand and the user.

Two specialised publications explore the brand management process from different points of view.


Branded Interactions.
Dynamic brand experiences for a new era.
(OT: Lebendige Markenerlebnisse für eine neue Zeit
)

By Marco Spies | Katja Wenger

Verlag Hermann Schmidt (Germany)
3rd revised and supplemented edition 2018
Language: German
Softbound, 360 pages, printed in two colours, with over 300 illustrations, diagrams, sample forms and pictograms.
ISBN 978-3-87439-907-4
€ 70.00

Who is this book for?

It is for anyone who manages and develops digital brands, products and services:

  • User experience and user interface designers
  • Concept and information architects
  • Interaction designers
  • Product and service designers
  • Corporate designers
  • Information and generative designers
  • Sound and motion designers

And for anyone who works with branded interactions beyond the design phase:

  • Brand consultants and strategic planners
  • Brand and marketing managers
  • Project managers and Agile coaches
  • Product managers working in startups and corporations
  • Founders and entrepreneurs
  • Web and app developers
  • Creative coders

What is it about? What is the main focus?

The book focuses on the planning and design of branded interactions. The underlying premise is that interactive touchpoints between the brand and the user are essential for the successful management and development of brands, particularly within the digital space. A company’s approach to its design processes and customer interactions characterises its brand. Only a logical, well-orchestrated, strategic and multi-disciplinary approach, with a focus on the user, will ensure a strong brand identity.

“Branded Interactions” (german publication)

Who are the authors?

Marco Spies and Katja Wenger, owners of the Berlin-based design and innovation agency “think moto”, which has been advising companies on design, communication and branding since 2010. As the authors of Branded Interactions they provide insights gleaned from their own practice, and they introduce new processes, mindsets and strategic approaches which are central to interactive digital brand management.

The content has been completely revised and expanded for the 3rd edition (October 2018), with additional graphs and illustrations, designed by Katrin Schack.

How is the book structured?

The entire process is presented chronologically, with a logical and coherent structure. After an introduction which deals with team structures, process methods and technical background, the development process is then presented in five phases. Each section is supported with concrete practical approaches, strategies and methods. Graphs, images and templates help the reader to understand the content, providing a concrete illustration of how to implement the proposed methods.

The most extensive section is on “Design”, which has over 100 pages. This chapter covers the basics of branded interaction, as well as specific areas of application such as screen-based communication, physical interactions, virtual and augmented reality, as well as the design of Smart Things.

The process is divided into five phases:

DISCOVER – Research & Analysis

  • Research methods for understanding the company, the brand, and the user
  • Auditing procedures, personas, scenarios
  • Setting goals: using a target matrix to gain insights

DEFINE – Strategy & Synthesis

  • Turning objectives into strategies: planning communication and brand experiences
  • Planning the customer (user) journey and identifying contact points
  • Generating ideas: strategic models for positioning a brand

DESIGN – Concept & Design

  • Structuring design tasks, observing the basics of branded interactions
  • The development and design of interactions: screen-based interaction, physical interactions, virtual reality, etc.
  • Testing and prototyping

DELIVER – Documentation & Presentation

  • Creating templates and style guides, documenting animated and interactive elements in user experience guidelines
  • Supporting production and technical implementation
  • Project launch, debriefing and quality assessment

DISTRIBUTE – Roll-Out & Further Development

  • Delivering a design for practical application and implementation
  • Supporting rollout internationally if required, communicating the design concept, and training employees and service providers
  • Continuous product development using agile methods
“Branded Interactions” (german publication)

What stands out about this book?

  • The logical, well-structured lay-out, as well as the numerous illustrations, convey knowledge in a well-founded, practical and clearly comprehensible way.
  • Checkboxes and lists help the reader to ask the right questions for all the complex processes.
  • The book also presents a number of different methods and how to apply them, so that the reader can try out different approaches or choose according to personal preference.
  • More than 300 illustrations, diagrams, sample forms and pictograms, presented in three striking colours, create a visually interesting, informal look and feel, while at the same time reducing complex processes to their bare essentials.

Why is it relevant?

Since user living environments are subject to constant change, as are the user’s needs and expectations in relation to brands, the customer journey and interactions, branded interactions remain constantly relevant in the context of digital transformation. This book will be of interest to designers in various fields, from UX design to product and service design, as well as entrepreneurs and brand managers – and its relevance is unlikely to change much the coming years.

CONCLUSION

This is a very topical and visually appealing book which is well worth the read. It conveys the complexity that is involved in developing branded interactions in a clear and comprehensible manner, with numerous practical references, helpful lists, graphics and illustrations.


The Big Personal Branding Manual. Strategy – Marketing – Sales – Copy – Photography – Visualisation & Design – Image & Impact – Rhetoric – Body Language.
(OT: Das große Personal-Branding-Handbuch.
Strategie – Marketing – Vertrieb – Text – Foto – Visualisierung & Design – Image & Wirkung – Rhetorik – Körpersprache
)

Edited by Benjamin Schulz

Campus Verlag 2020, Germany
Hardcover, 482 p.
Language: German
ISBN 9783593511443
€ 69.00

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of their own personality in order to present themselves as an individual, authentic brand – and for the people supporting and assisting with this goal:

  • Current and future entrepreneurs
  • Service providers whose services are closely linked to their personal identities, for example consultants, therapists, trainers and vocational educators
  • People in the public eye: from artists, musicians, actors, and influencers to politicians
  • PR, communication and marketing experts
  • Brand managers and brand strategists
  • Creative directors, designers, photographers
  • Image consultants, rhetoric coaches, mentors

What is it about? What is the main focus?

This book examines the various aspects of personal branding. It is based on the premise that personality is the key to success, forming the basis for the successful brand positioning of an individual. The aim is to present a person’s uniqueness, authenticity and relevant know-how, to establish trust, and then to position him or her as a brand.

The first step requires the individual to engage in self-reflection and self-perception: Who am I? How do I define my identity? What are my values? What is my motivation? Communication, presentation, rhetoric and body language techniques all play a role in what follows.

Who are the authors?

Seven expert contributions explore various aspects of the complex process of personal branding. The publisher and co-author of the book is Benjamin Schulz, founder and managing director of the werdewelt agency, as well as the consulting firm Ben Schulz & Consultants. Schulz draws on his own experience as a strategy, identity and positioning consultant to companies, institutions and individuals. He shares his knowledge and gives practical advice, structured in three chapters.

The other authors are:

  • Susanne Wagner: Managing Director and Marketing Director of werdewelt
  • Philippe Fiedler: Co-owner and Creative Director of werdewelt
  • Uwe Klössing: Photographer and Visual Director, werdewelt Berlin
  • Petra Waldminghaus: Image Consultant and Managing Director of CorporateColor
  • Eberhard Jung: Rhetoric coach and speaker
  • Martin Richter: Performance coach and trained singer/actor

How is the book structured?

The chapters are organised along thematic lines, each discussing one particular aspect.

Chapter 1: The individual as a brand in brand positioning

Benjamin Schulz introduces the basic concept of brand positioning and sets out the content that needs to be clarified before embarking on strategic planning measures. This includes aspects such as origin and identity, target group, topic and the unique selling point.

Chapter 2: The individual as a brand in marketing and strategically-oriented communication

In this chapter Susanne Wagner discusses the various aspects of the ideal communication strategy; from selecting the brand name, planning the objectives, preparing the various steps, through to developing a communication strategy which follows the three principles of communication: consistency, continuity and follow-through.

Chapter 3: The individual as a brand in strategic marketing

Benjamin Schulz discusses marketing as a basic building block for success – which also proves to be the biggest weakness in 80 percent of his clients. His goal is to remove people’s fear of contact. He describes various methods for self-reflection and for making contact with clients, and he examines concrete strategies.

Chapter 4: The individual as a brand in copywriting

Susanne Wagner highlights the relevance of language in personal branding, analyses various types of texts, explores effective writing techniques, and how to establish trust and authenticity. She advises on style, perspective, the appropriate level of personal information, and outlines aspects of storytelling – from the conception of the story through to its publication.

Chapter 5: The individual as a brand in design and visualisation

In this chapter, Philippe Fiedler discusses the relevant aspects of visualisation and the role of the personal brand designer, who helps to present the client’s personality in an appropriate way. Fiedler talks about design development aspects, such as logos, colour choices and fonts, and explains their impact.

Font classes by Markus Wägner (based on Hans Peter Willberg) (Chap. 5)

Chapter 6: The individual as a brand on photos and on video

Uwe Klössing reflects on the role of the personal brand photographer and the most important aspect of his or her work: the desire to meet people. He takes the reader through the process step by step, emphasising the importance of initial talks, client briefs and selecting the right location. He also explains the essential aspects of the shoot, and of image selection and post-production.

Chapter 7: The individual as a brand online

Fiedler and Schulz address the peculiarities, possibilities and pitfalls of the online world. This is about image versus reality, trend versus individuality, and the benefits and dangers of social networks (key phrase: “shit-storm”). They place specific emphasis on the importance on having a strategic concept and analysing your target group accurately.

Chapter 8: The individual as a brand which reflects the right image and has an impact

Image consultant Waldminghaus addresses the aspects of self-presentation. The first step involves an objective (!) self-assessment and examination of one’s own personal beliefs. Next, elements such as intended effect and external appearance are put under the spotlight: the conscious choice of colours, dress style and hairstyle, or even whether to wear glasses.

Chapter 9: The individual as a brand in the sphere of rhetoric

Eberhard Jung explains the power of the spoken word – especially in contrast to written language. Because the spoken word has an immediate impact. Jung addresses aspects such as content, the style of the verbal presentation, the speaker’s role and sense of authority, how he or she conveys values and a world view, and how this contributes to the individual’s personal brand.

Chapter 10: The individual as a brand conveyed through body language

As a trained actor, Martin Richter is fully aware of the impact that body language can have. It can contradict the spoken message, or it can underline it. He gives practical tips on coping with nerves, breathing, how pauses contribute to effect, and presents exercises which demonstrate the impact that posture, voice, mimicry and gestures can have.

What stands out about this book?

This book provides a multi-faceted and well-founded presentation of the various aspects which need to be taken into account when it comes to personal branding. It takes the form of contributions from various expert professionals with practical experience, who explore different aspects of the topic.

What’s more, in each chapter the reader is given a code to access numerous online tools. These include:

  • Checklists
  • Working materials, exercises and templates
  • Additional articles and documents
  • YouTube Videos
  • Charts and graphs
  • Further practical examples and anecdotes

Why is it relevant?

This book is of great relevance to anyone who is in the public eye because of the service and/or expertise they provide, or to anyone who wishes to enter the public arena and position themselves as a brand, actively creating personal visibility. With the strategies and practical tips offered in this book, you will be able to better plan and manage your success. A well-planned approach is essential – especially in our digitalised world, where anyone can send out content.

CONCLUSION

This is a multi-layered publication written by experts with many years of practical experience. It provides in-depth insights, along with practical support and recommendations contained in the additional material. It is highly topical within the context of digitalisation, increased visibility and today’s multi-faceted communication channels.


Contribution from the ndion editorial team (sb)
Images: courtesy of Hermann Schmidt Verlag and Campus Verlag.

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