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Legendary Brands: Unleashing the Power of Storytelling to Create a Winning Market Strategy Hardcover – September 18, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
How does a swoosh come to stand for a heroic victory, or a common fruit come to represent individuality and innovation? Vincent asserts that the secret to the phenomenal success of companies like Nike and Apple is the narrative that communicates the underlying brand philosophy, one which engages and inspires consumers to use and stay loyal to "legendary brands." For instance, the story of grit and defiance underlying Harley Davidson attracts those who want to be a part of the open road myth, just as the clean-cut optimism of the Ralph Lauren story appeals to those who aspire to financial success. Among the many brands Vincent touches upon are Kodak, Ben & Jerry's and even Linux. How to create such compelling brand narratives remains elusive, though, since Vincent devotes many pages to theorizing about narrative structure, but doesn't actually break down the elements of success stories. His scientific tone and wordy descriptions of basic concepts are distracting (e.g., "Brand mythology acts upon the cognitive orientation centers of the brain in much the same way that religion and other deeply held philosophical beliefs do"). Although Vincent fills the book with myriad examples of legendary brands, he doesn't offer enough analysis regarding how the companies built persuasive brand narratives, not to mention maintained and expanded their success. Despite his good ideas, Vincent misses the most basic tenet of storytelling: show, don't tell.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In the best book of the month, [Vincent] describes how to craft and manage "brand mythologies" ... -- -The Business Reader Review, November 2002
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That sounds good to me. But that was about it.
He continues throughout the book to equate a person's Faith with branding. Again, I can see some similarities, but his attempt to "explain" the transcendent by use of the eminent is incongruent unless you believe that there is nothing but the eminent. He would have you believe that your deepest beliefs are simply responses to someone's effective branding attempts.
This book should set better with cynics and agnostics. I'm not reselling my copy-I don't want to spread his gospel.
Vincent introduces and then explains what he calls a Brand Mythology System. It has four components: a worldview comprised of a set of sacred beliefs, a brand agent, brand narrative (or "story"), and consumer participation through a special set of of consumer feedback activities. Frequent patrons of a local Starbucks, for example, have the same shared values as those who belong to a private club.
Some of the most interesting ideas are provided in Chapter 10 as Vincent examines different types of brand agents which can be persons (e.g. Hugh Hefner, Martha Stewart, and Colonel Sanders), places (e.g. Disney theme park, Sesame Street, and Augusta National Golf Club), or things (e.g. Kate Spade handbag, Mont Blanc pen, and Rolex timepiece). In each instance, the agent connects the brand with the consumer through the power of positive association: wearing Michael Jordan's brand of basketball footwear, entering the Magic Kingdom, or wearing golfwear bearing the Masters logo. Obviously, there are few Legendary Brands. However, those responsible for managing new or emerging brands as well as those attempting to revitalize established brands can learn much of value from Vincent's book by understanding his various concepts and then following the guidelines he suggests.
Those who share my high regard for Vincent's book are urged to check out Stephen Denning's Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations, Brands: The New Wealth Creators co-edited by Susannah Hart and John Murphy, and Bernd Schmitt Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act, and Relate to Your Company and Brands.
I particularly like that he makes the point that not only do customers tell each other stories, they also live trough story themselves and build and support their own life-story through their consumption: "consumers in the post-modern world seek a narrative (or narratives) upon which to base their identity" (p. 9), "We define ourselves, our lives, and our well being by what we consume." (p. 11). Essentially this makes it clear that consumers exhibit what I would call sense making through consumption, and Vincent recognises that.
I highly commend this book for anyone who considers exploring the powers of using storytelling in their marketing strategy, since it describes well how to create a brand narrative. I do however personally believe that building a brand narrative is just one way of using storytelling in marketing, there are other approaches to explore too.