Remembering "Transparency College"

Really good teachers influence us long after the class is over.

My forthcoming book, a compilation of my best writings at the intersection of branding and social media, is called "Beyond Brand Transparency: How to Succeed In A Radically Different World."

I gave it that title at the last minute. I didn't know where it came from, but it just seemed right.

I registered it with the Copyright Office and then turned to update my list of publications. Wouldn't you know it. There on my list of books I had authored or edited was an online book called "Brand Transparency," written by Chris Macrae, a lead Advisory Board member at the Institute for Brand Leadership where I served as director from 2001-2003. (It's not online anymore...I am looking for it but haven't found it yet.) Here is the description from the created by another brand thinker,  Jack Yan, who participated in our branding discussions at that time:

<<Macrae: Brand Transparency. Washington: Institute of Brand Leadership 2002. 
Chris Macrae’s excellent collection of writings about brand transparency, edited by Dannielle Blumenthal, is one of the best in getting us to question dogma and convention, breaking through the business world’s conditioning and its use of falsehoods in the process. I appear in it once and am honoured to be amongst such illustrious company. Hop over to and learn more about Chris’s initiatives.>>

I recalled that when I edited the book I tried to make Macrae's thinking accessible to the average person. His basic thesis was that transparency is a way to unlock economic value by promoting trust, and thereby collaboration. But it's a little hard to get to that nugget through the dense thicket that is his website (worth a thorough review anyway...maybe the book is there somewhere? I don't know.).

Anyway, I just wanted to give credit where credit is due, as I consider Macrae along with the authors of this article in the Journal of Brand Management to be significant intellectual mentors in the field of branding. They wrote something called "The Brand Manifesto," and many contributed to a book called Beyond Branding as well. 

The thinking of this group was well ahead of its time and remains prescient today. I owe them an intellectual debt. If my book has any impact on anyone at all, I hope they will know that its ideas were inspired by others. To me this lends credence to the belief that progress is not about one lone thinker coming up with an idea-invention that changes the world. But rather that we take what others have done and mold it, like clay, into something hewn from wrestling with our own experiences and learning.

My way of saying, thank you to the Institute for Brand Leadership Advisory Board and all my teachers and mentors. Transparency College is forever.