Is branding dead? ~ Brand Mix

Friday, October 10, 2008

Is branding dead?

Jonathan Salem Baskin was guest speaker at the Commonwealth Club last night, promoting his new book: Branding is only for Cattle.

The talk was titled: "Is branding dead?" and his opening statement was: "Branding is a waste of money." Provocative stuff for a brand strategist like me. But Jonathan doesn't really believe either that branding is dead or that's is always a waste of money. He just thinks that the focus of a lot of branding today is misplaced and needs to change.

Amazon's editorial review summarizes his perspective: "Modern consumers are harder to find, more difficult to convince, and near-impossible to retain. They make decisions based on experience - so what matters isn't how creative, cool, or memorable the advertising is, but how companies can directly target consumer behavior. Pretty pictures and funny taglines should be an after-thought: brands must target what consumers actually do. How companies affect behavior - whether via marketing communications, distribution strategies, or customer service - is how branding is being reborn."

Now that's something that's easy to agree with. Branding should be about the customer experience and marketers should spend their time on programs that help enhance that experience. That said, experience is heavily influenced by perception. Just think about how you are prepared to forgive some companies for mistakes that are out-of-character vs. others where even the smallest problem just proves what you've always thought about them. So, in my mind, there's still room for perception-changing activities too.

Still, despite his best endeavors, Jonathan and I are not that far apart and it was great to finally meet him in person.

In what may be a branding book first, Jonathan has created a supporting soundtrack. Here's the first song: "The Sock Puppet Blues" which explores the tragic story of a once-famous mascot down on its luck:

1 comment:

BIG Kahuna said...

Yea, I love him to death and he's a real out of the box thinker. But I'm with you, forming perceptions and aligning those perceptions with reality makes the difference. He'll never agree with us on that point but that's cool.

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