Jonathan Salem Baskin - Why did you write "Branding only works on cattle?"

 

 
 

Jonathan Salem Baskin - Why did you write "Branding only works on cattle?"

I haven't read the book yet, hence it's unrated (if you have read it feel free to share your views). But I did have the opportunity to ask Jonathan Salem Baskin Why did you write "Branding only works on cattle"? the start of a whole new conversation about branding. He replied:

"Brands are in crisis, yet most marketers still believe that the problem is that their fellow execs, not to mention consumers, just don't understand, and need to be better educated. Our industry is busy with conversations about "how" to do things differently, but rarely asks itself if the "what" it's trying to do is even a valid belief anymore. No self-respecting scientist or economist would set out to find proof of a theory or expectation; their starting points are always to DISPROVE what they believe might be true.

So I started a thought-experiment, and asked myself: "What if brands exist only in the minds and wallets of advertising execs, media makers, poll takers and the other members of the infocabal?"

I mean, think about it: what are brands, exactly? They pop in and out of existence in response to survey or poll questions. Otherwise, they're only emotional associations and potential for action that are hidden inside people, like their souls, or a predisposition to binge drink. Yet somehow, otherwise intelligent business people have decided to believe that these vague, esoteric tendencies in people's forebrains are what matter - not the actual attributes of a product or service - and that every business needs someone, and usually an entire department, to spend time and money talking about "the brand" in hushed PowerPoint tones.

I saw in such certainty and mumbo-jumbo the clear warning signs of a disease called "the Conventional Wisdom." Economist John Kenneth Galbraith defined the affliction as an idea "raft" to which people cling because it "most closely accords with self-interest and personal well-being or promises best to avoid awkward effort or unwelcome dislocations of life." The Conventional Wisdom feels so right because it has to be, not because it is.

Nobody talks about it, but what if brands are similarly a workable description of reality that is nevertheless wrong, and companies spend many billions of dollars based on a hope wrapped in a desire inside a fantasy? What if consumers are harder to find, more difficult to convince, and nearly impossible to keep loyal because we're throwing the wrong things at them, even as the ways we do it are ever-more creative and technologically savvy?

What if brands are the emperor's new clothes?

This prompted a host of new questions to ask of brands and branding, which provide the content for BRANDING ONLY WORKS ON CATTLE.

I wrote it to be the business book you read BEFORE you read the next, latest and greatest answer-book on marketing. And I wrote it to be the guide for all business folks to get involved in the conversation about what to do with brands, as one of the main limitations to finding the right answers is that we've let marketers limit and control who asks the questions (and what those questions might be)."

So now I'm curious and will soon have the book in my hand so that I can read it! Definitely sounds interesting.

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