Friday, March 28, 2008

Virtual Interview with Rohit Bhargava on Personality Not Included

This past Tuesday Rohit Bhargava conducted a book launch experiment using social media. Through his blog, Influential Marketing he invited his readers and fellow bloggers to send him five interview questions about his new book Personality Not Included. Rohit gets coverage for his book and the bloggers participating get a nice interview for their blog. All of the participants and links to their interviews (when published) can be found here.

I loved Rohit's book launch idea and am happy to participate in it. So without further adieu following is my virtual interview with Rohit on his new book Personality Not Included.

Valerie: Was it companies that have excelled in building a personality or the widespread lack of personality in companies that served as the inspiration for Personality Not Included?
Rohit: I think it was probably the widespread lack of personality that mostly led me to writing this book. First because I thought it was a message that people needed to hear, and second because I thought it would be very useful to a large number of organizations."
Valerie: If you had to choose one company that was most in need of a personality, what company would it be?

Rohit: Hmm, tough to choose one company, but I can definitely single out a few industries. They are the usual suspects, but industries like cable television, airlines, and banks. The nice thing is, there is hope for all of them, as I share some stories in the book of efforts in each of these industries that offer a hope for all of them.
Valerie: What is the biggest piece of advice you have for a company that knows that it needs to become more authentic, but isn’t sure how to go about it?

Rohit: The single best thing any company can do is to lose their "employee silencing policy" as I called it in the book. This means allowing employees to have a voice and share more openly about what they do. I realize this is a tough prospect for many companies because it means giving up control ... but if they believe these employees are not already talking about where they work and what they do, they are misleading themselves. Being more open about this lets you tap the most powerful potential brand ambassadors you have, your employees.

Valerie: In your opinion, is it easier for companies that align themselves with a cause to be viewed as more authentic to their customers and prospects or does social integrity not play into the authenticity equation?

Rohit: This is a really good question. I think that it certainly plays a part, but having a social cause is not a necessity in most cases. There are industries that are exceptions ... pharmaceutical companies for example will rarely do a patient oriented campaign without some sort of cause element. The point your question comes down to is whether a brand offers something compelling enough to believe in. An element of the book is helping brands to identify what this is. In some cases, it would certainly involve a social cause ... but not all the time.
Valerie: What is the consumer’s role in crafting the authenticity of a brand? Should the brand be the leader or should the brand acknowledge and embrace consumer change, such as unexpected brand embracement by one or more subcultures?

Rohit: The most authentic brands are the ones that have the types of relationships with their customers where they are heavily influenced by their customers. I don't think requires a subculture (ie - niche) element, though. You raise a great point about change, though - because customers can very often be the best agents of change if a company is willing to listen.


Anonymous said...

Valerie, I liked your question about the role the consumer plays in creating the brand. The OPEN Brand ( is another book that talks specifically about that.. there is mention of a "love triangle" between the brand, the consumer and the community.

"Brands once ruled the top of the triangle, pushing their messages down to targeted consumers (and only occasionally to their communities). Today's consumers and their communities (comprising the other two vertices of the triangle) are often more engaged with each other than with the brand directly on topics of interest"

Marketing Engagement said...

The Open Brand looks like another great book. I'll be sure to download the excerpt. Thanks for pointing it out.


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