Marketing Branding Interview with Ramon Vullings, Creativity Today

Ramon Vullings and Godelieve Spaas are co-authors of Creativity Today (along with Igor Byttebier).

Ramon is a consultant at New Shoes Today, and is a champion of selling ideas around creation, innovation and change. He has a knack for stepping back and looking at everything from a much bigger picture.

Godelieve is also a consultant at New Shoes Today, and is an expert on guiding organizations through change.

In short, if we were forming a world-wide committee to restructure the marketing and advertising industry, they would be some of the first people I would call. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to squeeze some fresh, juicy and innovative thoughts on marketing and branding out of them.

Q: What is your view of the state of organizational marketing and branding? Where should creativity fit into this?

Ramon: The state in general? A very mixed landscape. Creativity is used (understood) in 2 ways, the PR-people who ‘own’ creativity in terms of new ways to grab the customer’s attention and the radical new way of positioning a product or service. It requires a lot of creativity to come up with new views especially in mature markets/products.


Q: In what ways do organizations tend to limit themselves in their thinking and actions in regards to their own capabilities and their industry?  How can an organization overcome this tendency and use it as a point of differentiation amongst their competitors, specifically in their branding efforts?

Ramon: In many ways, here a lot of presuppositions come in play. Many industries still limit their view on ‘how this industry works’ while actually you can redefine an entire industry by challenging the basic assumptions, the takes taken for granted. A few examples: EasyJet has clearly redefined the airline industry (do we need tickets? do we need allocated seats? do we need free newspapers on onboard? etc…). Their totally new view on the way things always have been done has opened up a full mature market.


Q: What are presuppositions? And how can reinforcing them and also breaking them play an important part in an organizations marketing efforts?

Ramon: Presuppositions are assumptions on which on view on things is based. Presuppositions are a marketer’s strongest enemy and friend if it comes to new experiences. People expect something form a product of service. Yet by breaking presuppositions you can play with the experience, doing something people don’t expect, add value where they didn’t expect it or take out cumbersome steps in processes. All aimed to alter the experience.


Q: With the introduction of social media, and the rise of conversation on the web, what new opportunities to do see for organizations to harness the power of creativity?

Ramon: The rise of social networking opens up so many options to be creative. Creativity is a value neutral term, is works for good and bad. From a marketing perspective you can be very creative with all the personal data available on the web (in example see the enormous amount of spam which is being pushed out these days), yet this is probably a bad way of using the information. Being creative in a positive way is that you can now look for new combinations in areas you would not have thought there was a connection, between people, brands and behaviors.


Q: What would you say to an organization that is clearly stuck in the old model of marketing, which is rapidly losing it’s effectiveness? Is creativity the answer to overcoming their apparent risk aversion?

A creative basic attitude helps, yet creativity is nothing without clear leadership. The guts to let go of things (products, services, ideas) and the power to push things through, as it takes a lot of leadership to introduce new ideas.

Godelieve : Creativity is only partly an answer to that. In fact what is needed is what I call responsive marketing. Responsiveness has always been a very important capability of marketing and sales, and it will be key in the future. The focus will change from awareness of what is, to what is changing. So from one form to what is in between two forms, in between two situations. The more you are capable to respond to what is to come the more effective you can be. Of course, the moment you know what is coming up, your creativity comes in very handy, to find an answer for that.


More with Ramon and Godelieve:

Creativity & Innovation Part II