Brand building and consumer growth

Brand about
Andrea Syverson
2011, pp 207
Rs. 295

Andrea Syverson’s Brand About could have been titled ''common sense branding''. Now, that is not meant in a derogatory sense, but rather, more in the way of describing what the book does best.

In many ways, it is a throwback to the past and urges readers to go “back to basics”. The title and theme of the book are probably inspired by Tom Peters, the man responsible for the revolutionary concept — ‘mbwa’, or in its full form, ‘management by wandering about’.

The book talks about branding and discovers some aspects of it with the help of many old world, but still relevant, concepts. It asks the readers to take a less serious look at their life, customers and brands. “Work does not work without play,” the book states, and adds further — “work hard, play harder”.

The reality is that many of us take our lives, our professions and our brands far too seriously, sometimes with disastrous results. I am reminded of the poster that Saatchi and Saatchi had created for Concorde, the fastest airplane in the world, with the proud line: “Breakfast in London, Lunch in New York”. Below that, a customer had angrily scribbled the lines: “And baggage in Bermuda!”

Thus, the author urges the reader to not take our brands seriously and advocates the need for sabbaticals to help unclutter the mind and help it think creatively. After all, a brand’s creativity lies in its difference from the rest. This is better realised if you keep your mind free.

Today, we spend more time in front of our laptops than with our consumers/customers. The author reminds us of things that we were first taught in our marketing classes — empathy.

Empathy here refers to “walking the extra mile in the consumer’s shoes” and “the value of simple things like eye contact”. She gives the example of global giants like GE, which spend much time with their global customers to get to know them better. More significantly, they bring together customers from various quarters, thereby enabling them to network and share their experiences.

Networking and being close to your consumer are not necessarily new thoughts or concepts. But in the choice-driven, time-compressed, technology-dominated society of today, we have just forgotten the basics. The book reminds us of that. One of the other challenges of
today is that of people and businesses tending to operate in silos, knowing very little of what is happening in their own companies, outside of their teams or their own targets.

The book lists some simple exercises that teams can use to re-emphasise the importance of sharing goals. These exercises are further validated with examples of big brands like Ritz Carlton.

The book is a ‘must read’ for those in business. It might have greater relevance for small and medium enterprises as this thoroughly researched book provides the reader with hundreds of practical examples, examples that many other companies have been following.

It also has relevance for trainers and those working in the Human Resource departments of their organisations. This is mainly because the book comprehensively lists a number of team building and role-playing exercises which can be put to use in many companies.

This book will definitely have you reading through the night. The best part is that even if you lose sleep, you still end up learning something in the bargain — handy tips about brand building that you can eventually put to practice in your own fashion.


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