Book Review: Bran Babble

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Brand Babble
by Don E. Schultz and Heidi F. Schultz

South-Western ©2004, 156 pages

Sense and Nonsense About Branding

The authors of Brand Babble, two marketing and branding gurus from Northwestern University, write that much of the current talk about brands and branding is merely nonsense posing as new marketing insight. To help companies break through the clutter and deliver the best value proposition to customers while increasing the financial value of a brand, the Schultzes offer a better way to brand.

The authors write that brands are built, maintained and succeed because of the integrated and aligned activities and inputs from the brand maker, as well as those the buyer brings to an encounter with the brand. In this integrated view, the combination of the manufacturer’s and the consumer’s input forms the basis for a successful brand. The authors explain that there is a need for integration and alignment of the brand across the marketplace by both buyer and seller.

Today, an integrated group of activities, efforts, products and channels, etc., make a brand a success. There is no single “ultimate secret” that makes the difference between a hit and a flop. To achieve marketplace success, the Schultzes write, a company must know the basics of consumer behavior, communication, marketing, sociology, information technology, graphics and design, accounting and finance, and all the other tools that must be used to create and build a brand presence.

Throughout Brand Babble, the authors challenge and often debunk many of the branding concepts that have been offered by modern marketers over the years. While questioning the theories and opinions of the experts, and knocking down many of their unproved hypotheses, the authors offer solid theories and scholarly work to back up their integrated approach to brands and branding.

The authors write that brand babble is the clutter and confusion that fills the marketplace posing as expert branding information, including all the “hocus-pocus models, diagrams, geometric shapes, and clever analogies to explain what most of us have trouble verbalizing.” To break through the brand babble currently inundating the marketplace, the authors present a rational and business-like approach to the subject. Throughout Brand Babble, they explain how brands are used, how they can help organizations, how they can be understood as a company’s intangible assets, and how companies can use them to make money. They write that a brand is simply a way for the brand owner to make money: an economic tool that provides value for its owner and buyer.

‘It’s What You Get Back’

The Schultzes point out that brands should not cost money. Brands should make money. They write, “It’s not how much you spend on a brand; it’s what you get back that really counts.” They explain that the reason a firm owns a brand is to generate future income flows.

To debunk the theory that a company must spend big advertising bucks to build a brand, the authors point to several successful companies that did not invest heavily in traditional media advertising. These include The Body Shop, Starbucks, L.L. Bean and even Dell computer.

The authors also dig into the underlying truth of brands and offer pointed advice about what makes them valuable. They explain that brands, “in all their intangible glory in the marketplace, really represent relationships. They connect the organization to the customer and vice versa.” While offering advice about the value of brand marketing, communication and positioning, as well as brand tracking and budgeting, the authors present informative details that can help any organization get more from a brand. ~

Why We Like ThIS Book

A brand is an elusive concept to pin down, but Brand Babble breaks through the fads and cliches to reveal useful truths that can be learned from the successes and mistakes of past and present brands. By casting light into the shadows of branding hype and revealing the hidden aspects of branding that create value and profits, the Shultzes ask the right questions and offer sound expertise to turn the babble into meaningful lessons.~

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