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Brands and branding: l'Economist parla del libro sul branding di Kellogg School Management


Tutta da leggere la recensione in inglese tratta da un articolo del 24 novembre

The last wordNov 24th 2005From The Economist print edition
The Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive ranking of the world's best business schools is unique in that it is based solely on the views of recruiters, the companies that employ the schools' graduates. It is also unique in that it asks recruiters for their opinions of the various schools' different academic disciplines, including finance, strategy and marketing. In some of these categories, individual schools stand head and shoulders above their rivals. This year, for example, Harvard Business School received more than five times as many accolades for strategy as did the runner-up in the category.
But in one category there is a business school that stands head, shoulders, torso and trunk above the rest. The Kellogg School of Management, part of Northwestern University near Chicago and named after John L. Kellogg, son of the founder of the cereal company, is the world's leading academic authority on marketingby miles and miles. In the Wall Street Journal poll it received 1,304 accolades for its excellence in this discipline. Its nearest rival received a mere 123 nominations; Harvard 89.
AdvertisementSo a book with the title Kellogg on Branding arouses high expectations. And this collection of essays, written by professors and other academics associated with the school, does not disappoint. Branding is a powerful weapon in today's marketing armoury; it can lift an indifferent product to cult status and high margins. The book defines it as a set of associations linked to a name, mark, or symbol associated with a product or servicea brand is much like a reputation. It is the difference between a Harley-Davidson and A.N. Other Bike. Water is merely a fungible commodity until it becomes a brand in a bottle. There is no shortage of books giving advice on how to weave this particular business magic. If you have time to read only one of them, make sure it is this one.
The book is rich in stories, recounting, for example, how close the BlackBerry mobile communications device came to being prosaically called PocketLink, and how Procter & Gamble dangerously let go of its White Cloud brand of toilet tissue. It is also rich in insights: showing how companies that are successful at branding are either a house of brandslike Nestlé, which owns some 8,000 of themor a branded house, like Dell or the Virgin Group, where everything produced by the firm carries the same name.
There is a description of what it takes to shift brand names from our short-term memory (where they live perilously, always in danger of falling out) to our longer-term memory, where they are more likely to stick, to be called upon later. There is a chapter on branding services, where the frontline employee is the brand for the customer; branding technology and valuing brands. And there are short chapters by practitioners, marketing folks in real companies who tussle with the issues of branding day in, day out.
There is also an intriguing chapter by an anthropologist, John Sherry, who describes a brand as a mental shortcut that discourages rational thought, an infusing with the spirit of the maker. Some are so infused that they have brands literally branded on their skin, carrying tattoos of their totem productsbe they Apple's iMac or a Gibson guitar.
One criticism of the book, and indeed of the Kellogg school itself, is that it is not an international brand. Although BMW and Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin airline, get a mention, the book's examples come predominantly from Americaas do its authors. But branding is an area of business where Europeans compete full-on with Americans. Think only of Gucci, Porsche, L'Oréal and Johnnie Walker. It would enrich the next edition of the book if its editors were to call upon at least one non-American author.