Manas Dewan: A Pioneering Force and Global Grand Strategist of Brand Kiln

Manas Dewan
Manas Dewan

The common link between globally recognized brands like Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Dow Chemicals, Cadillac, LG, Bosch, and Samsung is a world-renowned grand brand strategist and one of CIOLook India’s Best Brand Development Pioneers to Watch Out for.

Manas Dewan emerges as a pioneering force in the realm of brand development, leveraging over two decades of profound corporate leadership experience spanning across India, the Middle East, and Europe. Currently serving as the Founder Director of Brand Kiln Pvt. Ltd., Manas spearheads a dynamic team dedicated to offering full-suite Metaverse solutions alongside comprehensive consulting, eLearning, and brand development services. His illustrious career trajectory is marked by transformative roles, including his tenure as the Chief Operating Officer for the esteemed AJP Group, where he steered global brands such as Shelby cars, Scomadi scooters, and AJ Performance Studio towards unprecedented success.

Before his role at the AJP Group, Manas Dewan held the esteemed position of Chief Marketing Officer for the US$ 5 billion OTE Group in Oman, overseeing a diverse portfolio of 25+ global brands spanning manufacturing, logistics, automotive, and consumer products sectors. His strategic prowess and keen insights played a pivotal role in propelling renowned brands like Hyundai, Cadillac, LG, Samsung, and Bosch to new heights of prominence and profitability.

Manas’s illustrious career also includes a decade-long tenure with Mercedes Benz India, where he served as General Manager of Corporate Strategy, Product Management, Communications, and Business Intelligence. Instrumental in Mercedes’ repositioning and resurgence as a leader in the luxury car segment in India, Manas Dewan’s contributions have left an indelible mark on the automotive industry.

Beyond his professional endeavours, Manas is a passionate adventurer and published author, ranking among the top 100 global travel bloggers in 2018. His insatiable curiosity and zest for exploration have led him and his wife, Dr Anu, to undertake remarkable journeys. One of them is a solo motorbike expedition across 18 countries—a feat that earned them a national record in India.

With his multifaceted expertise, unwavering dedication to excellence, and boundless spirit of adventure, Manas Dewan continues to inspire and redefine the landscape of brand development, leaving an indelible imprint on the global business community.

Highlights of his interview with CIOLook India are given ahead.

Sir, as a trailblazer in the brand development industry, could you take us back to the beginning of your journey? What motivated you to step into this dynamic field?

As a child growing up in the Indian hinterland, books opened the door to a broader world for me. My passion for storytelling led me into journalism and visual media, eventually culminating in post-graduate studies in advertising at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management. This paved the way for a 23-year corporate journey, shaping brand strategies for global giants such as Mercedes-Benz, Dow Chemicals, Cadillac, and Samsung.

Today, at Brand Kiln Pvt. Ltd., I’m privileged to lead a team of brilliant minds working together at the intersection of Brand and Technology.

As someone with a background in science, advertising, and philosophy pursuing a PhD in Metaverse and didactics, how do you see the connections and intersections between such diverse disciplines?

My academic journey may seem diverse on the surface, spanning from an undergraduate science degree to a post-graduate degree in advertising. I am now pursuing a PhD in Metaverse and Didactics. However, at its core, it reflects a belief in the interconnectedness of knowledge and the importance of embracing cross-disciplinary perspectives.

Science taught me to question, observe, and analyse the world around meAdvertising provided a platform to communicate ideas effectively and understand the power of storytelling. Pursuing a master’s in philosophy deepened my appreciation for critical thinking, ethics, and exploring abstract concepts.

Now, focusing on the Metaverse and Didactics, I’m delving into the intersection of technology, education, and human experienceIn today’s era of convergence, it’s pertinent to embody the same spirit of integration into our personal framework.

Brand Kiln has emerged as one of India’s most innovative brand development companies. Could you share the guiding philosophy that has propelled your organization’s success?

Our success at Brand Kiln stems from a clear understanding of the distinction between innovation and improvement. We believe in disruptive innovation, constantly looking ahead to anticipate the technologies and interactions shaping tomorrow’s brands. Whether through my ongoing PhD focused on the Metaverse and Didactics or fostering a culture of curiosity and adaptability, we remain committed to leading by example.

In other words, while we act in the present, we focus on making client brands relevant for the emergent future.

Your leadership style is often recognized as a driving force behind Brand Kiln’s achievements. Could you shed light on your approach to leadership and team building within the organization?

I was lucky to work closely with brilliant minds throughout my corporate career- and I have been mentored by several inspiring leaders. From personal experience, I believe that effective leadership blends trust, empathy, vision, and customer-centricity.

At Brand Kiln, our fully remote workplace thrives on empowerment and collaboration. We prioritize talent and capability over hierarchy, frequently reversing traditional reporting structures to empower our younger team members to lead projects based on expertise rather than seniority.

In the realm of brand development, technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing efficiency. How does your company leverage technology to optimize its services and stay ahead in a digital age?

Quite honestly, we think tech-first, and we act brand-first. Our senior colleagues are a blend of technocrats and brand strategists. We believe that experience innovations are enabled when creativity and technology blend seamlessly.

We have developed our competence in emergent ecosystems like Metaverse, Blockchain, Crypto and AI in addition to conventional branding disciplines… and we leverage these to create memorable brand experiences for our clients across the world.

The workforce is the cornerstone of any successful organization. How does Brand Kiln foster a culture of growth, skill development, and empowerment among its employees?

I believe culture stems from the top. When I (and other colleagues) formally report to juniors leading different projects, it sends a clear message- of trust, mutual respect, reverse mentoring and collaborative team spirit. It resonates with folks and keeps us all focused on the task at hand. We genuinely try to create room for mavericks and talented folks- be they from hallowed pedigree or college drop-outs.

In short, we attempt to foster a culture where knowledge, integrity and customer centricity become the yardstick for success.

Your experience in the brand development niche has made you a stalwart amongst your peers. What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs who venture into the brand development niche?

I am truly honoured by your kind words- but I believe you give me more credit than I am due!

Nevertheless, I must admit that the Web as we know it appears to be undergoing a fundamental shift. The last time the Internet went through a shift of this magnitude, companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Google decided to ride the wave… they went from being e-bookstores and renting DVDs to names that are today synonymous with the Internet itself.  The stage is imperceptibly getting readied for the next dominant players of every industry to emerge.

In this emergent scenario, creativity and technology must seamlessly blend to deliver customer value. As such, width and depth of vision will both be critical parameters for tomorrow’s entrepreneur.

Brand stewardship, too, will need to synergize with evolving industry disruptions to deliver strong traction with new-age audiences. Classic digital and traditional methodologies will need an overhaul in the not-too-distant future, and brand managers need to be prepared for the oncoming tsunami of industry-wide disruptions.

Looking to the future, what is your vision for Brand Kiln? How do you aspire to continue making a significant impact on India’s brand development landscape?

As Brand Kiln evolves, our vision is to deepen engagements with forward-thinking enterprises, guiding them through integrating brand and technology in the emerging world orderWe aspire to continue shaping India’s brand development landscape through innovation, collaboration, and a steadfast commitment to excellence.