Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Beware the Branding Beast
October 10, 2008, 12:35 PM
Filed under: Marketing | Tags:

The line curled down one of the most famous streets in the United States. On Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, hundreds of people queued for hours and waited with varying degrees of patience. Some had journeyed thousands of miles.With an assembly of this magnitude, the event was obviously something historic. Lucas Conley, author of Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and the Business of Illusion, shook his head in disbelief when he considered the line was for entrance to the grand opening of the Apple store. Yes, hundreds of people stood in line to go to a store that housed products the majority of them already owned. This exercise was less about buying goods as much as it was being part of a community.

Branding has undergone a revolution over the last 20 years, and Conley is quick to point out that the changes have not necessarily been for the better. Obsessive Branding Disorder cites that at one point, brands served the purpose of connecting price and value with a particular product. During the middle of the 20th century, families with more disposable income sought a lifestyle that elevated them beyond the purchase of necessities. This phase of branding began to attach products to elements of the American dream, perhaps best personified by “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.

In the 21st century, companies are trying to connect their brands to the core of a person’s being. The products an individual buys and uses are part of the fabric of who the person considers him- or herself to be. Scary sentiments abound for executives who pay close attention to Conley’s straightforward prose. For example, customization of a product was once considered the domain of the very wealthy. In today’s marketplace, the idea of customization is outright expected. Companies are forced to deal with the idea that a brand will be met out of the gate with questions about future upgrades and how much better it will be once those upgrades arrive.

Obsessive Branding Disorder is a must-read for marketing executives, but it would be an important book for leaders in a variety of roles to examine. Conley delivers his points well and some of the research that has been conducted on the impact of branding is astounding. Read more on Conley’s blog.



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