Brand Yourself As A Lifetime Achiever!

JA New York Talks with JA Alumnus, David Vinjamuri


JA New York talks with dynamic, JA Alumnus and aspiring ACHIEVER David Vinjamuri – author of Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands. Adjunct Professor of Marketing at New York University and President of his own entrepreneurial enterprise, ThirdWay, Inc, a brand/marketing company, David Vinjamuri reflects on lessons learned from his JA experience and shares tips for branding yourself as a successful lifetime achiever.

When and where was your JA student experience? What do you remember most about it?

I was in an IBM-sponsored JA Company Program for three years when I was in Junior High School in Westport, CT. The most successful JA Company was during my second year in the program. We made these emergency lights constructed from a bicycle handle grip, a headlight and a toilet bowl plunger! We sold a huge number of our inventory. I was the treasurer and I thought it was crazy that we had to pay 40% of our profits to Junior Achievement instead of to our shareholders. So I increased our salaries by about 500% so that we didn’t pay taxes. Somehow this little innovative stunt won me the ‘Treasurer of the Year’ title for Western Connecticut and Region One.

How did you go about developing a career in marketing and branding?

I learned from the best. I studied branding at Harvard Business School while working on a Master’s Degree at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. Then I spent almost five years working in brand management at Johnson & Johnson and another two and a half years working in field marketing with Coca-Cola. Another two years in Internet marketing with DoubleClick and rounded out my professional training.

How do you define "branding" and "marketing"? What's an accidental brand and why did you feel compelled to write about it?

Marketing is the process of creating and delivering goods or services to those who could benefit from them. Branding is what happens when you gain the trust of consumers for demonstrating your expertise in a particular subject or area. Accidental Brands are created when individuals experience a problem they realize they can solve. I was compelled to write about Accidental Brands because they are almost always built by people who have not been trained in traditional MBA programs. The process of building an accidental brand differs from the way corporations build brands.