- Programme: Strategic Branding
- Nationality: British
- Job Pre-programme: Vice President of IHG Corporate Brand and Cross Brand Services
- Job Post-programme: N/A
"This programme is about building a business and strategic brand management is absolutely critical to achieving that and driving growth. Some programmes are often too theoretical, but this was a practical course that gave me skills that I could leverage immediately at IHG"
For Louise O’Shea, branding is everything. Since becoming vice president of IHG corporate brand and cross brand services at InterContinental Hotels Group in 2014, she has been responsible for driving and leveraging the organisation’s values and reputation.
Louise’s role is a critical one in a hotel group with strategic brand management at its core. She took the five-day Strategic Branding programme at London Business School to gain the knowledge and expertise needed to manage a portfolio of brands under the IHG umbrella.
“This programme is about building a business,” she says, “and strategic brand management is absolutely critical to achieving that and driving growth. Some programmes are often too theoretical, but this was a practical course that gave me skills that I could leverage immediately at IHG.”
During the programme, Louise and her peers focused on defining and managing brands, bringing them to life, and how to establish a positive market and public response to their organisation’s vision and values.
“I particularly felt the portfolio management, what makes brands successful and managing the customer experience sessions were highly applicable to my organisation,” she says. “For example, there was a really good case study on hotels.com, showing how they adapted their website to drive consumer purchasing behaviour. We learnt how a little thing such as the colour of the ‘book now’ button on your website can lead to more conversions. It was a practical tool that could be applied to any business.”
She adds that the programme encouraged her to challenge conventional wisdom around branding within IHG. “It let me step away from the company and look at our brand from a different perspective,” Louise says. “I had time to think strategically about the challenges we face and how to solve them.”
One of Louise’s programme highlights was looking at the brand challenges facing other companies. She and her peers took part in a real life case study involving Charlie Bigham’s, the UK ready meals maker. Working in groups, the participants studied Charlie Bigham’s product range and profitability, and discussed how to improve its retail and distribution strategy.
Time well spent
Spending time with people from different industries, regions and organisations was another major programme highlight. “I enjoyed it,” Louise says. “The groups were small enough so you could build a team ethic even though it was for a short period of time. Everybody had something different to add and the best teams were the ones that really leveraged everyone’s expertise.
“We also had several networking opportunities, so I had time to exchange views, discuss ideas and challenges we face in our respective organisations and get to know people throughout the programme.”