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Berlin Brief

Interview with EMBA participant Kazi Monirul Kabir

September 5, 2014

Executive MBA participant Kazi Monirul Kabir, Bangladesh Country Consultant at Google, and founder of Carefountain, makes sustainability a main focus of his branding strategy. Recently, his efforts were recognized on a global scale when he was awarded the Brand Leadership Award at the World Brand Congress 2014. This year’s theme was “Brands That Last: The Role of Sustainability in Innovative Branding.” We sat down with Kazi to talk about his branding and leadership strategies, as well as how the Berlin School of Creative Leadership helped him on his path to success.

Tell us about the award. Why is it important?

The Brand Leadership Award is given in recognition of my years of work in sustainability branding across tech, retail and CPG industries. As the global consciousness shifts from single focus consumerism towards a more balanced approach of universal well being, companies and brands are very conscious of the environment from within they operate. And, this environment not only consists of consumers but also of societies, ecologies, and economies. Having this heightened level of awareness is key for any brand of today to be part of the buying consideration set. Sustainability is no longer a word just for corporate reputation or the Annual Report. It is the core competence and delivery of any successful brand today and any brand in the future.

World Brand Congress is seen as the single largest rendezvous of the best brains behind some of the world's most successful and sought after brands. The Congress is a meeting place for over 500 of the world's branding and marketing elite under one roof. Every year the congress meets and discusses brand-building and rapidfire ideas on marketing to reach out to the consumer. From the Asian Point of view, it is the largest of its kind.

What projects have you been involved in that helped you win this award?

Over the last 7 years I have been involved in managing the reputation of multiple Telco brands and my key focus has been telling the brand story around the overall impact of the brand on the society, culture, economies and ecologies - not just the story of the consumer journey. Because consumers are part of all of this and in today's hyper-connected world, the consumer and the brand does not interact within a bubble insulated from nature and society. Rather, consumers are keen and conscious of the surrounding scheme of things. This heightened awareness and connectivity of “consumer- brand“ interaction has been the key focus of my branding communication strategy and I think society has taken notice of that.

What do you think the secret is to making sustainable brands?

I think recognizing the “smartness” of today’s consumers is the key in making sustainable brands. We often recognize technology has developed, societies have improved perceptions, and economies have become robust, but we often overlook the impact of that on the consumer psyche. We feel that analyzing consumer behavior online or offline is good enough. I think a sustainable brand tries to feel rather than only see what the consumer feels today.

How do you work with your team to create social awareness for a brand??

I think the brutal truth of today is that creatives cannot work alone anymore. The classical eccentric genius who creates an award-winning insanely popular idea / brand is irrelevant today. Your success depends on what not only your creative team delivered but also how that delivery impacted other teams, how they interacted and reacted to it, and at the end of the day, how it impacted the business, society, and the environment. And, most importantly, how your idea makes them feel. So when I think of the team, I not only think of my immediate team, but I think of the greater people surrounding the brand both near and far.

How did the Berlin School help change the way you work and lead for greater success?

The Berlin School has been the “dopamine” for my quest of creativity and innovation. Joining the MBA class is one of the best decisions of my life. It has not only enhanced my knowledge, network and perspective, but also it started me in this pursuit of “creative excellence” and I have not stopped since. I owe a big pledge of gratitude to all at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership.