By Tim Brown, MAS, QCA Executive Director, Operations


Last week, I traveled to San Francisco to participate in the American Marketing Association’s Summer Academic Conference. It was an intimate gathering of 300 or so attendees, most of whom were marketing professors and marketing researchers.


Many of these professors and researchers represented some of the top business and marketing schools in the country. Which is why I was so surprised to learn that most of the professors at these institutions didn’t teach their students about brand protection.


However, nearly every professor I spoke with immediately took to the message and wanted to learn more. One professor mentioned that he would be interested in doing his next research project on the subject. Several wanted more information and content that they could share with their students. A handful were so engaged with the topic that they asked if I could be a guest speaker for their classes, which I am happy to do.


Buyers of Tomorrow

Ironically, the value of brand protection is something most of these young students already “get.” They see the damage that can be done by social media campaigns like #DeleteUber, which can go viral and crush a brand’s reputational value very quickly. They know that a brand’s identity and reputation have never been more in flux — or at risk. These students will be the end buyers of tomorrow.


Once they graduate with marketing degrees and get entry-level jobs, they’ll likely be the ones ordering promotional products. I’ve talked to a lot of end buyers who’ve told me their primary objective is to build and protect their brands. So, they expect you to take care with the products they’re buying and on which they’re putting their logo. They want to make sure their brand has reputational value and they want to prevent a loss of brand integrity.


Getting in Touch

My conversations with marketing professors at the AMA conference reminded me that, until now, marketing academia had not given much thought to promotional products. However, with PPAI’s “Get In Touch” campaign and their efforts to work with the AMA and others, I see the beginnings of awareness and interest in our medium from marketing professionals, professors and students.


The marketing professors I spoke to were able to quickly make a correlation between QCA Accreditation and ISO Certification, or FLA Certification and other similar programs. Once that connection was made, they wanted to learn more and were very interested in how they could integrate brand protection into their lesson plans.


Now that we have engaged enough professors to get the “brand protection” message out there, it will only be a matter of time before it will be commonly top-of-mind for the next generation of marketing professionals.


What’s Next

In the coming weeks, I will be contacting the professors I met at the AMA event who expressed interest in having us come present to their students. It’s an opportunity that we do not want to miss. We are also going to engage more with AMA to offer content for their members, including white papers and other strategies for brand protection.


I walked away from the AMA conference thinking that the traditional way of providing any old product and slapping a logo on it is dying out. As that happens, those who focus on quality products with longevity, along with brand protection and stewardship strategies will be the ones left standing.


A strong brand is valuable and, like any asset, it should be protected. Because the stronger a brand’s reputational value, the greater the profits.