[re]inventing the brand by Jean-NoëKapferer

published by Kogan Page (ISBN 0749435933)

'The Brand' is one of those terms thrown around in marketing speak. It has a nice jargon feel to enable marketing professionals to create an aura around their work but it is sufficiently vague to ensure that they cannot be held to account for how it works, or fails to work.
As Kapferer points out at the start of his book, new market realities have created a “new competitive market environment for branding decisions”. Huge retailers with their own-brand goods have shifted distribution power as fundamentally as the internet has redrawn customer power relationships. The challenge is how to create, sustain and make use of the brand in that new world.
Kapferer asserts that today, every company wants its own brand. “We brand, therefore we are,” he says, going on to argue that the US term 'bonding' should be at the forefront of marketers minds when considering branding. “The ultimate aim of all brands is to create a unique unbreakable bond,” he says.
So far, so guru, but Kapferer's message has a hard edge. He fears that in this new world, without proper research and planning, marketers are at the mercy of the 'herd-mentality' approaches of brand image surveys and lifestyle research. “A brand with no concept of its own identity is left with no alternative but to chase vainly after the latest fads and trends.”
By having a central message as well as an appreciation of wider cultural, political and economic contexts, Kapferer manages to ensure that his case studies and readings of company strategies have a coherence and a relevance that 'The Brand' often fails to do.
It may not be a book that will offer cookbook tips, but it will certainly ensure that you start from the right questions.