London Connection Q&A: Professor Nader Tavassoli, London Business School

Brand expert Professor Nader Tavassoli talks to us about London Business School's forthcoming Brand Management MOOC
Dr Nader Tavassoli, London Business School
"The entire organisation needs to be aware of and aligned to deliver on the brand promise": Professor Nader Tavassoli
It is an area I am passionate about – how brands are delivered by what people do, rather than what organisations say, for example, in their advertising

In collaboration with the University of London International Programmes and online education partner Coursera, London Business School is launching its second MOOC, ‘Brand Management: Aligning Business, Brand and Behaviour’. The course instructor, Nader Tavassoli, is a Professor of Marketing at London Business School.

Professor Nader Tavassoli is the founding director of the Walpole Luxury Management Programme at London Business School. He received his PhD from Columbia Business School and was previously on the faculty of the MIT Sloan School of Management. He has acted as an advisor, coach and executive instructor to over 80 organizations, ranging from internet and high-tech start-ups to over 30 Global Fortune 500 companies.

The receipient of London Business School's 2009 Excellence in Teaching Award, and the authro of numerous books and refereed journal publications, Professor Tavassoli talks to London Connction about "challenging the adequacy of traditional branding."

We hear you're leading an LBS MOOC. Exciting. Tell us more.
As Confucius is supposed to have said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” In line with this sentiment, I was immensely curious about the new and growing phenomenon of MOOCs – massive open online courses – and I figured that offering one would accelerate my understanding. Moreover, in my past 20+ years in the classroom, my focus has increasingly shifted from “product centric” teaching, to “customer centric” learning, to “impact centric” doing. So this MOOC is all about learning by doing and learning to do. It is also an area I am passionate about – how brands are delivered by what people do, rather than what organisations say, for example, in their advertising.

So, it’s all about brand. Does that mean the MOOC is only suitable for marketing professionals?
Not at all. I designed this course for marketing and non-marketing professionals ranging from human resources to operations and finance. That's because the entire organisation needs to be aware of and aligned to deliver on the brand promise.

"This course takes branding out of the marketing communications silo and into people and organisational processes that underpin the delivery of the brand."

There is a lot of research out there on brands. What’s different about your research/ teaching in this area?
This course covers traditional branding fundamentals – including best practices and interviews from leading agencies – but it does so mainly as a point of departure. The main purpose is to challenge the adequacy of traditional branding in a world of “functional” parity. Today, brand differentiation is increasingly achieved by providing a differentiated experience that is delivered by people across the entire organisation. Designing and delivering experiences is radically different from designing and delivering products, services or communications. This course takes branding out of the marketing communications silo and into people and organisational processes that underpin the delivery of the brand.

Why is London Business School investing in MOOCs? What’s in it for the School?
Our vision is “to have a profound impact on the way the world does business.” In terms of impact, the doing aspect of this MOOC is to change the practice of brand management. Some firms – including LBS – are even sponsoring their people who want to complete the certificate track, in order to bootstrap the delivery of their own brands. Hopefully, the MOOC will also showcase London Business School as being practical and at the cutting edge.