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Branded Nation: The Marketing of Megachurch, College Inc., and Museumworld Hardcover – August 31, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743243463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743243469
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,999,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twitchell (Lead Us into Temptation) has made a name for himself explaining how market forces of consumerism have shaped all of American culture, but here he focuses on three key locations: the church, the university and the museum. He begins by boiling down the mystique of brand identity to a sort of "commercialized gossip," a collection of stories that companies tell customers about their products in order to make them distinguishable from one another. Some brands do such a good job of holding our attention that they become cultural icons in their own right, so it should come as no surprise that our highest cultural institutions use the same techniques to assert themselves, especially when millions of dollars are at stake. Twitchell breezily guides readers through churches the size of community colleges and museums filled with Harley motorcycles and Armani wardrobes, showing how the gatekeepers are working the crowds like Barnum to draw in even greater audiences. Twitchell's prose never degenerates into mere crankiness, and he draws out even the most erudite points with casual ease and good humor. His own secure brand identity will ensure the support of regular readers, while his ease of entry can do much to increase his customer base.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Twitchell’s basic premise—that organizations live and die based on brand recognition—isn’t new. In recent years, publishers have churned out dozens of marketing books trumpeting the importance of brand recognition. What sets Branded Nation apart is Twitchell’s richly detailed examination of how religious, educational, and cultural institutions are jumping on the branding bandwagon. Twitchell, a University of Florida professor and the author of previous books on advertising and culture, takes a couple of lumps from critics who found some parts of his newest work reductive or incomplete. But overall, Twitchell’s persuasive arguments and enviable story-telling ability make Branded Nation an enjoyable—and enlightening—read.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
43%
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43%
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14%
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See all 7 customer reviews
This is truly one to read and contemplate.
rodboomboom
I just felt it was stretched out waaaaaay too long - the last chapter on museums, especially, just dragged.
Heather A. Buettner
This book was well written and easy to understand.
Sewilletts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
James Twitchell has written extensively on advertising and consumerism, and knows that consumers are not logical. If we were, he says, we would know that we needed, say, a laundry detergent, and would research to see what detergent was best, perhaps checking to see what the boffins at _Consumer Reports_ might recommend. Then we would take the recommendation to the grocery store, where we would see a very restricted number of possible logical choices. It doesn't work that way for detergent, nor, these days, does it work that way for churches, museums, or universities. In _Branded Nation: The Marketing of Megachurch, College Inc., and Museumworld_ (Simon & Schuster) Twitchell has written a funny and scary evaluation of the pervasiveness of marketing in American life beyond the grocery shelves.

The problem with laundry detergents is that there are plenty of them, offered by many suppliers, and most of them are interchangeable. There is very little difference between them, so it is necessary for the manufacturers to create a story about the brand, how it is "clothesline-fresh", perhaps, or how the power-granules go to work on stains. Twitchell's thesis is that schools, museums, and churches are all supplying pretty much the same thing, and to up their market share, they are telling stories about themselves (branding) and as good consumers, we are going along with them. We think that museums have a higher calling than competing for a market share, that they don't really pay attention to the turnstiles, and that they are "... only the custodians of, shhh, please be quiet, don't touch, the deep truth." However true this may have been in the past, it is no longer.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frank Chen on June 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this lively book, James Twitchell helps illuminate some of the interesting consequences when non-profits -- embodied in this book as Megachurch, College Inc, and Museumworld -- borrow branding techniques to market themselves.

I found the introduction a little long and academic (e.g., he talks about how the romanticism of Wordsorth and Keats influences modern branding). But the book gets progressively better. In my opinion, his best chapter is on the college (appropriate, since the author is a professor at the University of Florida).

Here's an illuminating analogy from the chapter (which he cites from another source): "If Consumer Reports functioned like U.S. News [in ranking colleges], it would rank cars on the amount of steel and plastic used in their construction, the opinions of competing car dealers, the driving skills of customers, the percentage of managers and sales people with MBAs, and the sticker price on the vehicle (the higher, the better)."

This book is not a polemic: it isn't trying to convince you that churches, colleges and musuems _shouldn't_ market themselves. It's just trying to explain what happens when nonprofits _do_ market themselves. I'll never look at the college admissions process or a musuem gift shop the same way again.

The writing is lively, and the book has a few well-chosen images to underscore its points. Bottom line: it's well worth a read. It's one of those books which help you understand why things are the way they are -- e.g., why modern musuems have restaurants, why universities have development offices, and why parking is crucial to the growth of mega-churches.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ra2sky on April 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Twitchell takes a very ironic look at the way churches, museums, and higher education have used branding to survive. It's ironic in that while the effects of this might seem undesirable or even embarrassing, we the public are merely getting what we ask for...we're just consumers. Then Twitchell explains why, in some cases, the effects of this branding are not undesirable after all.

The most insightful section of the book covers the branded-ness of higher education (appropriately so, since Twitchell is himself a professor). Twitchell describes American higher eduction choices as a barbell, with elite colleges such as Harvard on one end and "convenience" colleges (think Wal-Mart) on the other end, with the institutions in the middle feeling the real squeeze to differentiate themselves. Also included is an interesting look at the US News & World Report college list phenomenon as well as a look at why convenience colleges might not be as bad as you think. Twitchell even includes some practical insight on where college dollars might be best spent.

I found the megachurch section to be only so-so. Perhaps because I am very familiar with megachurches I found many of his points to be pretty boring. (Guess what - megachurches have modern sounding music!?) The section on Willow Creek finding its marketing niche (men) was interesting, however. If you are reading this book primarily to learn about megachurches I might recommend The Transformation of American Religion by Alan Wolfe instead. It is a bit more scientific and objective in its study.

Twtichell's writing style is a bit odd...not bad, but just a little different. At times he does ramble a bit but then suddenly includes a dense and insightful sentence.
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