Book Reviews

 
Branding

A New Brand World: Ten Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the Twenty-First Century...

Author: Scott Bedbury, Stephen Fenichell
Publisher Viking Adult
Publication Date: February 2002

Reviewer:Andy Marken
In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

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Suddenly there has been a rash of books on branding, articles in the business and trade press and the repositioning of advertising people as branding experts. Even Bedbury, the author, has renamed himself from being a marketing consultant to now referring to himself as a brand environmentalist.

At least he practices what he preaches.

But A New Brand World doesnít preach. He does draw heavily from his experience at both Nike and Starbucks which he helped become major global brands. He has organized the book into an appealing guide to brand development, management and protection that will assist everyone in the field.

He firmly believes that every company -- large or small -- has a DNA or genetic code that must be continuously told to core customers, potential customers, business partners and employees. Branding to Bedbury isnít something that advertising can do in a fish bowl. In fact when reading his book you come to realize that the best place to manage a firmís branding activities may just be in public relations because ďthe brand is the sum total of everything a company does.Ē

Fortunately, Bedbury doesnít paint one of those pictures that says branding can be done overnight and it will be extremely effective. In fact, he lays down eight principles to an organizationís branding activities that focus on simplicity, relevance and innovation. He also reinforces the concept that the organization must focus on the long haul rather than quick fix results.

Every company today is under financial pressure to slash costs unilaterally. He warns management that if they abandon their brand marketing and brand responsibilities in the short term they will suffer in the long term. The great thing is though is that he strips away the glamorous faÁade of brand management. He explains by examples how hard the work really is and how it involves everyone in the company and how the effort and the activity canít be held solely in the marketing or advertising department.

The problem is that most CEOs donít understand the importance of implanting the organizationís brand DNA on every employee. At the same time, a lot of marketing and advertising people donít want to understand that they can do very little to a firmís brand management except put new make-up on it. Bedbury points out that a brand is really a commitment and a bond between the company and the customer. Once that bond is broken it is difficult if not impossible to win the trust of that customer again.

But public relations people who build and reinforce bonds with editors, reporters, industry analysts and market analysts on a daily basis have a good understanding that itís all about simple relationshipsÖone to one. In todayís arena where competition for editorial attention and space is extremely competitive relationships are everything. If you donít work constantly to develop a deeper and more enduring connection you can quickly slip into being another commodity. Itís true of companies, it's true of products and itís true of public relations sources.

Bedbury draws heavily from his own day-to-day experience at Nike and Starbucks to give you an insiderís look at the work, effort and global focus that went into building and protecting these brands. In addition, he has a number of excellent case studies like Harley-Davidson, Guinness, the Gap and Disney to broaden his scope of credibility. There is a lot of practical, battle-tested advice in the pages of the book. In addition, in an analytical manner he discusses why some otherwise good brands failed.

A New Brand World is very well written in a relaxed, conversational manner and sometimes you get the feeling that youíre sitting in a comfortable chair talking to him one-on-one. Unlike some authors who tend to rewrite history, Bedbury gives you some excellent insights into some of Nikeís and Starbucks' branding activities that went sour. He gives you a firsthand account of the organizationsí activities -- warts and all.

Of course we can all cast sour grapes at some of the two firmís ďsuccessesĒ because the heads of both firms were visionary and autocratic leaders who were in essence the best reflection of the companiesí brands. Or said another way we can all say, ďheck yes I could have produced the same or even better results if I had a boss like Knight (Nike) or Schultz (Starbucks).Ē

Certainly bosses like these two can make your public relations job easier -- and at times tougher -- but keep in mind an organizationís brand isnít just about one person. Even if he or she is your firmís president, the boss is only one part of the companyís brand. Granted it is important if he or she realizes that the organizationís brand depends as much on the interaction technical support, shipping, sales and accounting people have with business partners and customers as does the firmís $20 million ad or $200,000 publicity program.

In todayís New Brand World the war is won or lost on seemingly insignificant battlefields around the globe. In this sense, perhaps corporate management, marketing, advertising and public relations really should begin thinking in terms of brand environmentalism rather than branding programs.

If we can get our organizations thinking along these lines it may be less difficult to obtain the resources that are necessary to keep the firmís message fresh, simple and relevant to people inside and outside the organization. Of course there will always be the myopic marketing or advertising person youíre going to have to deal with who firmly believes that branding is solely his or her area of responsibility/authority.

Rather than confront him or her head-on, talk in terms of brand environmentalism and how you want to spread the word consistently throughout the organization as well as to and through your business partners and customers.

When youíre at that point no one can stand in front of your management team and disagree with you. After all, who can be against the environment?