The Branding Myth
What I mean by the inanities and insanities of marketing will emerge over time. While I don't have a manifesto, this piece I wrote in the Financial Times in 2004 is a good starting point and one with which I still largely concur. I called it The Branding Myth.
"The key point is that branding should never have become a verb! Indeed the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t recognise it as such. Brand was a collective term for a group of products produced by one company. Branding, on the other hand, emerged into broader business parlance as a result of the eighties’ obsession with putting intangible assets like brand equity onto the balance sheet for the purposes of financial engineering. Advertising practitioners saw a golden goose.
Therein lies the branding myth – it is not faux emotional associations that consumers want. It is whatever a product actually delivers that generates real emotional attachments. This originates not just from its functionality but also in terms of packaging, delivery and convenience. Despite what many gurus aver, it is not true to suggest that the vast majority of products/services are actually satisfactory and thus interchangeable.
Branding hype is not what people want. They want results. Furthermore, this is exacerbated by the frequent denuding of the alleged added value of premium brands by dint of
i) a slowness of premium companies to adapt to technical or style innovations;
ii) consumer cynicism towards irrelevant brand extension where companies sought to exploit their brand by stretching its "equity” into other areas; and
iii) the proliferation of premium products (or fake copies thereof) amongst individuals or societal groups that other consumers deem unworthy of respect.
Advertising/promotion – in whatever form it takes – is only a small albeit expensive part of marketing. Branding tried and continues to try to deny that. That’s why it’s dying."