From Publishers Weekly
Branding expert Baskin plays the merry iconoclast in this witty guide that marshals the latest research and a good serving of common sense to debunk branding's many myths. The author's claim that branding is a waste of money is likely to be controversial, but his research is sound and persuasive: he covers the failure of the Gap's Red campaign, the useless Burger King mascot, why Starbucks' success has nothing to do with branding, and he revisits Coke and Pepsi's rivalry, which culminated in their multimillion-dollar dueling ads featuring Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera that had scant effect on sales. Baskin's understanding of consumer behavior is nuanced and sophisticated, as are his explanations for why branding myths have so perniciously persisted (he draws parallels between the longevity of outmoded marketing strategies and that of Ptolemy's geocentric concept of the universe). Baskin is impatient with the resources and energy poured into branding, and readers will be, too, when they realize how little it influences consumer choices—and his well-reasoned, well-written book will garner him a wide and appreciative audience. (Sept.)
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Baskin is a branding guru, but he states flat out that branding doesn’t work any more. He doubts that the Burger King mascot with the plastic mask has effectively sold one hamburger, or that the Geico cavemen have gotten anyone to switch car-insurance companies. We are inundated with so many images on TV and on the Internet that their effectiveness is almost nonexistent. What does work, according to Baskin, is placing a product in a time and context that creates value or a fresh experience for the consumer. Starbucks did this by taking the mundane cup of coffee and elevating it to a totally new level of quality, place, and convenience. He says by breaking the old habits of branding with goofy images and cute taglines, and putting more energy into finding out what consumers actually do—how products and services can affect behavior—companies can become more effective in finding and keeping customers. Teaching by example, Baskin intends to shatter the myths surrounding old-guard marketing and help companies to thrive on this new branding paradigm. --David Siegfried