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Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time Hardcover – May, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Kogan Page Business Books (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749439270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749439279
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,673,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

""Haig, a marketing consultant, is one of a new breed of writers producing marketing primers for the hyphenated age of e-marketing. This type of work is characterized by breezily written snippets of success or failure as either encouragement or admonition for the practitioner or for a new category of reader: the business voyeur. Thus these works are written in a readable and appealing format, as e-business fables. Examining 'the 100 biggest branding mistakes of all time, ' Haig organizes these 100 ""failures"" into ten types, each with its own moral and admonition. These types include classic failures (e.g., New Coke), idea failures (e.g., R.J. Reynolds' smokeless cigarettes), extension failures (e.g., Harley Davidson perfume), culture failures (e.g., Kelloggs in India), and technology failures (e.g., Pets.com). The idea behind this work is that with knowledge these failures can be avoided, but this reviewer regards it as akin to Monday morning quarterbacking in its validity as an activity. None of this takes away the schadenfreude of this well-written, quick read. Useful more as a cultural artifact than classroom text, this book could serve as supplementary reading for advanced marketing courses and for business voyeurs who like a good read. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate and graduate students; and practitioners."" -- S. A. Schulman, CUNY Kingsborough Community College

About the Author

Matt Haig is an acclaimed author and journalist. His books include: E-PR: The Essential Guide to Public Relations on the Internet; Mobile Marketing: the Message Revolution; and The E-marketing Handbook (all Kogan Page).

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Customer Reviews

This is a lively, well-written, thought-provoking book.
Robert Morris
These may be exceptions, but they do make me question just how much research was put into the cases presented in the book.
Adam Rutkowski
Write in depth about a handful but make the case studies meaningful.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Adam Rutkowski on November 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great collection of brand-related failures, and many of the incidents covered in this book are both entertaining and informative. However, while all of these cases show failure, I don't think that they all show mistakes. By 'mistake', I mean that the company made a foolish decision that they could reasonably be expected to have made differently at the time.

A lot of these failures we can see in hindsight were because of certain decisions, but it many cases, based on the information provided in the book, it doesn't seem that the decision was wrong given the knowledge and information at hand at the time.

In the end, this book is definitely a fun read for the most part, but most of the time the 'lessons learned' presented at the end of each case seem to be contradicted by some other company somewhere that made the same sorts of decisions and succeeded. Because of this, the only real lesson this book can teach is that there are no absolute rules to successful branding, and while there are certain guidelines that can usually be followed, there are always exceptions to the rules, and quite often the biggest successes have been the companies that defied conventional wisdom.

On a different note, I'm not sure how reliable the information in this book is, since two of the examples provided, the Chevy Nova, and Gerber's baby food in Africa, are regularly repeated examples, however they did not fail for the reasons presented in the book (which are the same reasons usually given by people who tell these stories). These may be exceptions, but they do make me question just how much research was put into the cases presented in the book.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What we have here in this especially interesting as well as informative book is Haig's version of "the truth about the 100 biggest branding mistakes of all time." With this subtitle, Haig immediately sets himself up for lively disagreement concerning (a) the reasons for why certain brands fail and (b) his selection of the failures themselves. I value this book so highly because Haig (by assertion or implication) challenges his reader to examine her or his own current problems with branding. Frankly, his explanation of brand failure makes sense to me and all of the 100 failed brands he discusses serve seem worthy of examination. He identifies what he calls "the seven deadly sins of branding": amnesia, ego, megalomania, deception, fatigue, paranoia, and irrelevance. One or more is evident in each of the 100 brand failures on which he focuses.
Haig carefully organizes his material within ten chapters. It is easy enough for those who read this brief commentary to check out the Contents so I see no need to provide it. (Thanks Amazon!) He provides a "Lessons from...." section at the conclusion of most extended analyses. All of the usual suspects are discussed: New Coke, the Ford Edsel, Sony Betamax, McDonald's Arch DeLuxe, Campbell Soup (souper combo), Harley Davidson (perfume), Ben Gay (aspirin), Colgate (kitchen entrees). Pond's (toothpaste) in consumer products; as for dot.coms, Pets.com, VoicePod, and Excite@home. He even examines a number of PR fiascoes.
I take at least three lessons from Haig's book. First, even the largest organizations with the greatest resources (including some of the brightest people) can make bad brand decisions and sometimes repeat them with another failed attempt.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
I went into reading this book with the highest of expectations both because of the other reviews on it and because I am really interested in the topic.

It started out interestingly enough but quickly went downhill. The first few case studies were pretty in depth and interesting but towards the middle of the book they got really short and shallow. It is almost as if the writer became impatient with his own book. If you don't want to write in detail about 100 brands then just don't. Write in depth about a handful but make the case studies meaningful.

The subtopics were also not logical for me. For me a better format would have been: Chapter one / Lesson one: Research your market. Then give some examples of brands that failed to do so. Chapter two / lesson two: Kill the product not the brand. Then some examples. And so on. But it was not arranged like that. In fact none of the lessons seemed to tie together that well. Surely the author could have found some more logical groupings.

Overall I give the book two stars.
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Format: Paperback
Non-fictional books are never useless. The only difference in its productiveness is how much information you can glean, whether it be how to do, or not to do. And in this book, there is much to glean, however, there are also parts that miss their marks.

"Branding Failures" is about failures in business, which is always great to study, as to not to repeat history. Each of the 100 cases looks at a business failure (classic, idea, extension, PR, cultural, people, rebranding, tired brands, and E-Failures) its story, and it's reason for failure. Each conclusion is mostly logical, even with a little help. In fact, not a case goes by where the author does not cite, or use another's writers explanation. Chiefly mentioned is the classic market manuel "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing," and authors Jack Trout and Al Ries. However, there's a point where these sources are cited so often, you're left wondering, 'why not just buy their book?' However, a book examining all these failures in one place differentiates itself from others, in addition to the great advice is gleaned from it. The author himself even adds some great advice every once in a while.

Also keep in mind that the author is of the UK, so there are a few companies that haven't crossed the pond, or are just local. For example, there's a London nightclub, and a few other British companies. So, there is a bit of a cultural barrier in understanding a few of the companies. It's also written in British grammar, so percent is written "per cent," and words will be spelled a bit differently. But the vocabulary is pretty comprehensible.

While books like "22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" primarily go into the principles of marketing, and only bring specific companies up as examples in aid to their teaching, "Branding Failures" goes in depth into why the case failed. While the book could have been better, it's still very informative, and it's at least worth a trip to the library.
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