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Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time Hardcover – May, 2003
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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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Who doesn't love reading about epic failures in marketing and product branding? A good "brand autopsy" can be both fun and educational, and can really help educate amateurs (like me) and marketing savvy experts alike on what pitfalls to avoid and how to properly package and market a new brand.
"Brand Failures" attempts to ambitiously tackle 101 famous branding mistakes and errors, from the classic "New Coke" to the failure of "Betamax" to Kodak's recent efforts to remain relevant in a world where casual consumers are increasingly turning away from film and to digital cameras. If there is a problem with this approach, it is that at 235 pages, each brand failure story is spread distressingly thin - most of the vignettes have less than 2 pages devoted to them. This simply isn't enough time and space to discuss all the factors that went into the failure of Enron, or Crystal Pepsi, or most of the other brands on display here.
The other problem with this approach is that some of the "autopsy analysis" statements seem a little questionable. It's easy, of course, to say when a brand has failed, but it's much harder to say WHY the brand has failed. Did "Earring Ken" really fail because his 'alternative' approach to masculinity alienated homophobic parents, or did he fail for the same reason that Ken sales have traditionally lagged behind Barbie - because little girls care more about the doll they can project upon? Did the leather substitute Corfam really fail because it didn't "feel" as good as real leather, or was it because the company failed to emphasize the animal-cruelty issue (which would still be a failure to correctly market a brand, but a different failure than what is given here)?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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. Read morePublished on December 23, 2008 by Flap Jackson
It is always good to know about brand failures. This is an excellent not-to-list that every marketing manager should read. Read morePublished on February 8, 2008 by N. Origgi
Matt Haig reveals no new insight into branding or marketing. I would rate this book a 4/5 as entertaining toilet reading, but if this book was suppose to teach a marketer something... Read morePublished on August 13, 2007 by V. Sacson
This book in worth reading even if you are not associated with any branding activities. Most of the examples are explained with logic (though few examples are debatable) and with... Read morePublished on September 21, 2006 by Yusuf Motiwala
This book is worth perusing, if only for the very large number of vivid examples of branding success and failure. Read morePublished on May 9, 2006 by Amazon Customer