Excerpts of India Power Talk with Emanuele Sacerdote

by | Oct 25, 2020 | Video Excerpts | 0 comments

Headlines

“Gandhi’s glasses were sold at an auction for $340,000. The glasses sold for such a huge amount because a legend wore those glasses.”

“Small companies can be leaders first and then become legends. It’s not an issue of geographical boundaries. It’s an issue of doing something disruptive.”

“Some legends began in a garage. Google or Yahoo began that way. Even small companies can become legends in a specific area.”

Quotes

“Tesla is a new brand. They have completely disrupted the category of exotic cars and electric cars. BMW, Mercedes and Audi are following Tesla because Tesla created a new trend.”

“Giorgio Armani said in April 2020 about the fashion community that what they’ve done in the past, as in before COVID-19, was wrong, so they need to change, and I think this is a critical statement that will change the fashion market in the future.”

“Think differently if it’s possible and try to do something consistently. Find out the moment of fame. Try to be distinguished in a certain way. There is very little room for legends in the market. But we also need good quality followers. If you cannot be a legend, at least be a strong follower.”

Summary

  • The secret of a brand becoming a legend is in the story-telling, and how that story is projected and understood makes all the difference.
  • The three key elements to understanding if the brand is a legend or not, are non-replicability, scalability and the ability to fascinate.
  • To become a legend, the product must be popular with the community, with the business community, with the press, with the consumer. It’s not an individual statement, it is a large consensus.
  • To become a legend, a brand needs to be disruptive, to generate a new category, a new standard, a new attractive solution, a new venture.
  • The founder’s history and personality is important because you understand exactly what is the role of the founder. There is no legend that does not have a founder in an important role.
Marshall McLuhan is universally regarded as the father of media and communication, and what he said 50 years ago appears to be very much relevant today. He said that we now live in a global village where time has ceased and space has vanished. We all are unbelievably connected with each other and global producers view the entire world as one market. Brand designers look with envy upon those that appear to have created global brands. Brands whose positioning, advertising, strategy, personality, look and feel are in most respects the same in the global market. Therefore the key question to answer is how to build a consistent and longevous brand strategy. Based on the inter-brand 2019 ranking of Best Global Brands, Apple is the first one estimated at $234 million followed by Google at $167 million and Amazon at $125 million. As you know, there is a very wide literature analysis and methodology to understand brands as fundamental business assets. Today when due to COVID-19 we are all facing a global lockdown, it has become even more important to understand the importance of global brands.

To gain insights on this very topic, I zeroed in on the highly experienced Emanuele Sacerdote from Milan, Italy, who has recently authored a book about legendary brands. Emanuele began his career in international advertising agencies Young and Rubicam and McCann Erickson and then moved to other companies in the role of strategic marketing and managing directions for brands like Levi Strauss-Dockers, Auto Grill, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Ferrari. Talking about his latest book Legendary Brands, Emanuele says, “The idea was to decode why a brand becomes a legend. For example, last August Gandhi’s glasses were sold at an auction for $340,000. The glasses sold for such a huge amount because a legend wore those glasses.”

Asked what really distinguishes a legendary brand from other brands, Emanuele analysed, “The secret is in the story-telling. Every company, every brand, every product has a story and how that story is projected and understood is important. There are three key elements to understand if the brand is a legend. The first is that it needs to be a product that is difficult to replicate. I am talking about the tangible and intangible value in the product and the brand. For example, a Ferrari 250 GTO costs a fortune – millions of euros. There are only 37 units in the world. So producing that car was absolutely not replicable. The second element is scalability. If you look at the Armani Hotel in Dubai, that is one part of the story of the business proposition of Armani. It is absolutely Armani. No other luxury brand or fashion brand can do it. If you have a legendary brand you can even scale-up in some other category or some other industry and build an empire. The last and most important element is that the legend should be fascinating. Meaning it should be distinguished but not dangerous. An example can be the Chanel little black dress. It’s an icon. To become a legend, the product must be popular with the community, with the business community, with the press, with the consumer. It’s not an individual statement, it is a large consensus.”

Giving more examples of legendary brands, he added, “Tesla is a new brand. He’s a newcomer so it’s not a long story. But they have completely disrupted the category of exotic cars and electric cars. BMW, Mercedes and Audi are following Tesla because Tesla created a new trend. The idea is to be disruptive, to generate a new category, a new standard, a new attractive solution, a new venture. The founder of the business idea is fundamental. The founders were contrarian guys, new visionaries. They were not interested in common things and wanted to go against tradition. Enzo Ferrari was born in 1898, but if he were born in 1798, he would have probably produced a horse that could run faster. The idea is that he is the only causality, the only randomness.”

Among the newer companies, Emanuele feels that there is no leader in the information business, in artificial intelligence, in drones. “So the next potential legendary will go in other new markets, or digital markets,” according to him.

Elaborating about the term ‘commercial creativity’ and the 10th principle of ‘a better world and wisdom’ in his book, Emanuele said, “The mind of the founder should have a need or should intend to find something that doesn’t exist or can be disruptive. So the idea of commercial creativity is to be revolutionary, breaking past rules to find new rules. Also, I was ready to release the book before COVID-19, but then I decided to stop because what I wanted to do is to understand what some of those brands were, what they can do in terms of practical things. The principle about the better world means that if you are a legend you are leading, you are observed by the business community, by the consumer, by all the others. So you must set an example for the community. It is one of your duties to create a better world. Larry Fink, CEO Blackrock, mentioned about the fundamental reshaping of finance. He was criticizing how we do finance. Ferrari created some ventilators for the hospital which were produced for free and distributed. Giorgio Armani said in April 2020 about the fashion community that what they’ve done in the past, as in before COVID-19, was wrong, so they need to change and I think this is a very important statement that will change the fashion market in the future.”

What was his prediction about the future of legendary brands? “I can do an estimation,” ventured Emanuele. “I think that the next legendary brand will be the company that will invent the vaccine for COVID-19. There is a long list of companies that are fighting to be the first, so the first one would be a legend. I mentioned earlier the great possibility of becoming a legend in digital because over there there are no frontiers, there is plenty of room to fill in. Facebook and Google didn’t exist 20 years ago. So we can’t predict when there will be a new legend. The most historical brands unfortunately will not last because of this situation, this crisis that we are living in is very critical. Maybe in two years’ time we will have some new leaders, some new legend in the market.”

Today the entire world is connected with mobile phones, internet and social media and through various devices. What would be Emanuele’s advice to small companies? “Small companies can be leaders first and then become legends. It’s not an issue of geographical boundaries. It’s an issue of doing something disruptive. I mentioned how some legends began in a garage. Google or Yahoo began that way. Even small companies can become legends in a specific area. We have learned during COVID-19 that e-commerce was growing very fast because there was no way to go offline and buy. Similarly, there was the local store right next door which became very important because of the proximity. Small businesses must learn from these stories. If you are not selling your products online, do it now or you will be too late. Maybe in the next two years, 15 per cent of your business will come from online.”

Is there anything very unique about legendary brands, I enquired? “The most important thing is the intention,” Emanuele pointed out. “The commercial creativity. You need to believe, you need to evaluate things with the heart, with the stomach and also to judge with the brain. You need to intentionally think differently, with a different perspective.”

On a final note, when I asked Emanuele what would be his one message to potential legendary brands, he advised, “Think differently if it’s possible and try to do something consistently. Find out the moment of fame. Try to be distinguished in a certain way. There is very little room for legends in the market. But we also need good quality followers. If you cannot be a legend, at least be a strong follower.”

About the speaker

Emanuele Sacerdote

Brand Expert

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