Don't get too hung up about brands. They're not that complicated.
You can learn all the theory you need to know from Eat The Big Fish and Truth, Lies and Advertising. Or a couple of other similar books. There's about two books worth of theories and stories you need to know. Everything else is experience.
The real art of planning isn't about brands, it's about organisations. What a good planner really learns is how to get organisations to do stuff. Early on it's the account group organisation; account person, creatives - you learn how to get them to do something. Then it's a few clients, or the whole agency, then the marketing department. Eventually, you learn how to get huge global organisations to do stuff. Not necessarily the right thing, not necessarily what you think they should do, but something. That's really, really hard. That's a good skill. That's what you should pay attention to and study. What does it take to get Organisation A to do something? Research? Powerpoint? Video? A manifesto? What happens when Organisation A has to work with Organisation B? How do you help that happen?
Start thinking about that. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't. Get good at that.
Then you can go and get a proper job.
Russell Davies is founder of Open Intelligence Agency, former Global Brand Manager of Nike and former Planning Director at Wieden + Kennedy
Part 1: Russell Davies