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Book review A New Brand World: 8 Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century

by Scott Bedbury with Stephen Fenichell (contributor)


Penguin Group; New York; 2002; ISBN 0 670 03076 7; 240pp; hardback; $24.95

There are certainly many books out there about the rules or how to of branding. This book is different from so many of the other books. It is useful from two perspectives. On the more basic level, Bedbury lists eight principles for building and maintaining brand leadership. He cites examples from both Nike and Starbucks, two successful brands he has helped to develop. The stories told by Bedbury do an excellent job of illustrating his point while making the book a very interesting read. The reviewers company recently launched a new business model and a new brand which he had the honour of leading. He found this book after the company had launched the brand. Fortunately, the company got most of it right, according to the book. Nevertheless, the book provides a useful thought-provoking tool as the brand is taken forward. A key thread throughout the book is building and maintaining brand relevance and resonance rather than focusing on brand awareness. One has to start with the basis that the product or service has relevance to the end customer. This is a truth for everyone. A brand that does not represent a
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relevant product or service is destined to fail. As pointed out in the book, it is clearly important to understand ones customers and a brands relevance to them. With this understanding, one can begin to communicate with customers. Brands largely exist as perceptions. One has to understand that a brand is really made up of a set of experiences and actions that customers have with it. As pointed out later in the text, employees are a key aspect of creating these experiences through their actions. The author notes several historical success stories, where understanding the one thing a company is really good at and sticking to it is paramount. As Bedbury says, You have to understand your brands DNA. This understanding has to be combined with brand relevancy and resonance. For the history buffs, this chapter also contains a brief story of the development of the Just Do It campaign for Nike. This story is a good illustration of understanding and applying a brands DNA. The next chapter discusses expanding the brandwidth. To illustrate this point, Bedbury tells the story of expanding the Starbucks brand to include United Airlines. Given Star-

HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 1479-1803 BRAND MANAGEMENT VOL. 11, NO. 5, 424426 MAY 2004

BOOK REVIEW

bucks now ubiquitous presence on street corners and in shopping malls, grocery stores and airports, where it now also sells ice cream, this story illustrates the possibilities of expanding a brand. Equally thought-provoking are examples of brands that have overextended their brandwidth and succeeded in only diminishing the value of the brand. The key point is that just because one can do something does not mean that one should. The chapter on brand emotion was especially insightful. A key component of a brands success is the establishment of a relationship with customers. The three parts of this relationship are: creating a sense of belonging, longing and promoting relevance. The reviewer works for a chemical company. One would not normally think that people would develop a sense of belonging or longing for a chemical brand, but his company has seen it happen due to its brands relevance to its customers. It is doubtful that it will ever achieve the same sense of belonging as Harley Davidson, whose customers tattoo the Harley Davidson brand on their bodies, but everyone can dream. Chapter ve discusses brand environmentalism. It took a little more time and thinking to understand the point of this chapter. The authors point is everything matters. For the reviewer, the key point ties back to the fact that brands are the sum of the experiences and actions that a customer has with them. The author illustrates this point by sharing a story about Starbucks decision of whether to use one-ply or two-ply toilet paper. Chapter six discusses brand leadership. The analogy used is that brands are like children. They need steady

guidance, the long view, uncompromising values, products or services that are relevant and compelling, protability and time. Perhaps the most important thought in this book is that brands are an outgrowth of the people who drive the company. Whether one realises it or not, brands become an expression of ones visions, hopes and actions. Unfortunately, an understated portion of this book concerns the impact of employees and leaders on a brand. The book does a nice job of describing the value an advertising agency can have for a brand, but could have done more to address the impact of employees on a brand. Chapter seven discusses the challenges and opportunities faced by brands as they become bigger. As brands become more successful, they become potential targets for specialinterest groups. At the same time, big brands have the opportunity to give something back. The author gives examples where Nike and Starbucks have given something back in areas relevant to their customers. Chapter eight summarises the authors belief that brands boil down to three simple things: relevance, simplicity and humanity. A brand has to be relevant before anyone will consider buying it. The brand proposition has to be simple. People do not have the time or interest to understand more complicated offerings. Finally, brands that are successful can be actively described as a person with personality traits and characteristics. At its highest level a brand takes on a personality all of its own. Overall, this book was a very interesting and a thought-provoking read. As someone responsible for creating and growing a new industrial, business425

HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 1479-1803 BRAND MANAGEMENT VOL. 11, NO. 5, 424426 MAY 2004

BOOK REVIEW

to-business brand, the reviewer still found the consumer Nike and Starbucks stories inspirational for what may be achieved. While less academic than other books on branding, the authors use of real-life experiences and stories makes the book both an easy read and a source of practical examples. While attending a conference, the reviewer listened to a speaker talking about leadership challenges. He

referenced this book as not only a way to think about brands but as a way to think about oneself in the business world. Everyone has a personal brand. This book presents an interesting way to think about building ones own personal brand too. Mike Lanham Global Executive Director XIAMETER

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HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 1479-1803 BRAND MANAGEMENT VOL. 11, NO. 5, 424426 MAY 2004