Branding. It’s one of the biggest buzz words in the marketing and PR industry these days. Everyone is talking about it, but few know what it is. I had the chance to interview Filiberto Amati of Amati & Associates, a multinational consulting firm that specializes in branding, co-creation and innovation, and he gave me the insider scoop on what branding is really all about and what business owners should look for in a consulting firm.
1. So Filiberto, tell us a little bit about Amati & Associates? What are you about and what excites you about helping business owners?
FA: A&A is a boutique consulting firm specialized in branding, innovation and international expansion. Our starting point is always a consumer or a customer insight, and we combine a traditional management consulting approach with creative tools derived from design thinking. We are ambivalent and ambidextrous in our approach. Our work is very exciting for two reasons: first of all, we are selective with the “space” we operate, and we have put boundaries to what we do, in a way that we are always excited about the next project. The second reason is the fact that each project is a new discovery journey and the destination is almost never where we expect it to be.
2. There’s so much confusion around branding these days. Everyone knows the buzz word, but few know what it is. Can you elaborate?
FA: I think the issue is that we have so many new media, new forms to build brands, that we often forget about consumers in branding. There is so many brand activities and positioning which have little no relevance from a consumer point if view, although they are looked at with satisfaction from the inside. Moreover I would say that while difficult, so many brands just follow each others’ steps, that consumers often can’t tell the difference between two competing franchises.
3. Consulting firms and management consulting firms are popping up left and right these days. What advice would you give to a business owner trying to find a consulting firm that won’t waste their time?
FA: This is a business were clients tend to be cautious about embrancing new consulting providers, and we spend lots of time in providing credentials or “what-if” scenarios of speculative situations, which require efforts on both sides but do not really reduce risks. It would be probably much effective if the client would provide a brief quickly, and expect a complete answer. If the approach proposed by the firm sounds right, the story is compelling and convincing, the budget looks right, then probably you have found the right firm for you.
4. Tell us a little bit about co-creation. I hear you have a book coming out about co-creation in the near future?
FA: Co-creation has been a passion of mine for at least 10 years. We often consuct co-creation workshop for our customers to add a consumer centric, more relevant and creative solution to a client’s problem. Both myself and Francisco Pestana, my business partner in Barcelona, are working on a PhD thesis which is co-creation related, so decided to build on my research and my experience in the field to write a book. The objective is helping the reader in learning about co-creation, by asking the right questions, not by providing them our answers. The book was relised in Italian in June (“Co-creazione: Mistero Risolto!) and we are now busy finalizing the polish and English version “Co-creation: Mystery Solved!”
5. What’s the single piece of advice you would give a business owner trying to innovate something in their industry?
FA: Innovation is about knowledge, is about learning and it is about failing. Successful innovation challenges and changes the rules of the game in a sector, so to be ready for that, a business owner needs to be open enough to challenge everything he or she knows. Even better if one goes through the process together with customers and consumers.
For more information on co-creation, management consulting and international expansion, as well as free resources visit the Amati & Associates website.