Master Brand IED – Branding Roundtable

Cristiano Mauri, Chief Operating Officer at CBA Italy, took part in the Branding Roundtable, an event organized by the Master Brand IED (European Institute of Design) focused on successful branding. The format is conceived as a roundtable discussion where industry experts express their opinions on important topics related to the brand, from the impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to personal growth journey. It’s a conversation aimed at inspiring and thinking outside the box.

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In addition to Cristiano Mauri, the event saw the participation of Antonio Marazza – General Manager of Landor & Fitch, Alessandra Iovinella – Managing Director of FutureBrand, Elena Sacco – Alumni and Communication School Director of IED, and Paolo Insinga – Executive Creative Director of Interbrand.

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Here are some excerpts from the event, featuring Cristiano Mauri’s insights.

If you had to choose just one brand as your absolute favorite, which would it be and why?

I think it really depends on your passion and interests. I mean every one of us has a his own heartbeat for the brand that represents his passions. To me are Fender and Leica for instance, because I'm a guitar player I'm a keen on photography. The thing is they don't talk about the product they sell, they talk about a wider angle. So Fender talks about culture music and Leica talks about the truth that comes through image. The the ability to tell not "a story" but "the story" is something that really makes my heart beat when I touch them.

How do you convince clients that some ideas could be the right choice for them? There must be a secret recipe...

There's not a secret recipe to to get everybody aligned on your target and on your goals. It really depends on the strength of the of the idea that you put on the table. I think that one of the biggest challenges in developing a project is keeping the goal, keeping the Polar Star as the initial spark, so going to the end of the project with the same enthusiasm, with with the same idea that you had at the beginning. Even though it passes through all the levels of the decision you come at the end with the same strength and the pureness of the idea that you had at the beginning. This is one of the most the toughest things that that I experiment every day. […] I think that we have another weapon on our back that is the research. I mean I think that we are living a transformation in our own business where the research is becoming more and more central in our way of creating meaning for people.

What's the trickiest thing to nail down a brand project?

As I mentioned before the trickiest thing is to align or to keep aligned the the client in the project goals. Very often happens that the way you develop a project changes direction. Different things happen and you lose your direction. So this is the one of the trickiest points that I see in my daily routine with with clients.

The complete event is available on the official YouTube channel of Master Brand IED.

Looking back on your professional journey, which project stands out as the most visually impactful, and how did it make a significant impact on both the brand and your career?

It's a fast-moving brand: Farine Caputo. It is an Italian flour brand and they get in touch with us for a packaging issue, because the packaging at the time was only for B2B market and didn't work that well. We started out living aside the entrepreneur, the owner, the people and while living with them we realized that it wasn't the product that we should have sold, it was the story behind, because people don't buy products. Products are commodities. Everybody can make a better product, but not the story. So we realized that Mulino Caputo was last Mulino (Mill) inside the city of Naples. So they were not selling flour, but they were selling Naples. This was the turning point in my career. I mean, I always keep Caputo or De Nigris (another fast-moving brand) as a Polar Star. Don't tell about your product, tell about the real tension you resolve, the real dream that you are following. So Caputo selling Naples found himself in this new narrative that is compelling, that is engaging and involves all the B2B clients that they have. And now even the B2C, the consumers, they buy Naples. You buy a piece of Naples, you don't buy Just flours.

There is a lot of buzz around the artificial intelligence. How do you personally feel about its influence and potential impact on the branding industry?

I think that artificial intelligence is a tool that can dramatically help us in our job. We embraced the the new wave as soon as we spotted it and we are working with it now. Honestly I don't think that it will substitute our job. I don't feel it nowadays. We will see, but by now I don't feel threatened by the artificial intelligence. It's true that it's moving fast so I'm not sure if in five years I would say the same. For instance I tried to ask chat GPT the same questions that you ask today to us and the answers that I got weren't mind-blowing. Nothing Innovative. Yes it was correct, but as correct as I can find in a in a book, in something that already exists. I think that, as a brand Consultants, we can take advantage of the AI to do better and maybe faster and more effective tasks

What do you think about the new generation of talents entering the scene? And how to unleash their potential?

I think that is pretty much a matter of of internal culture and method inside the the agency, just in order to find the ways to unleash the potential of young people, young talents, but adding a cap of experience. I mean experience works sometimes. So they have energy, they have connections, there is the blood on which we live on, of course, but even experience matters. Wisdom can help the organization to go to the point with brilliance, with the creativity, with something new but even with something right.

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