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market niche. MTV is also shown to be a good example of how to deal with the problem faced by any youth brand, namely that eventually your audience outgrows you. MTV has dealt with this problem by setting up VH1, ‘a music channel aimed at a slightly older and calmer viewership’. Another youth brand analysed by Haig is the jeans brand Diesel, whose pioneering self-referential advertising lampoons the over-inflated claims of rival brands that promise to improve or add meaning to our lives simply by selling us a pair of jeans. The author describes how Diesel deliberately advertises a kitsch, uncool, 1950s-style ethos, which paradoxically makes it even cooler.

When it comes to concluding what sets apart the durably successful brands featured in ‘Brand Royalty’ from less successful brands, Haig suggests that the examples in this book are successful not because they conform to a neat little set of laws that apply to all brands but because they follow their own individual path with confidence; successful brands are similar in that they all have a clear vision, but that vision is never the same. The reader should find plenty of inspiration and ideas regarding clarity of vision and distinct brand identity throughout this well-written, very well-informed book. Keith Dinnie Book Review Editor

Creating Passion Brands
by Helen Edwards and Derek Day
Kogan Page, London; 2005; ISBN 0 7494 43707; 238pp; paperback; £25

The blandness of consumer-led brands is the central theme underpinning this intellectually invigorating book. Edwards and Day contend that the obsessive consumer-centric focus of most of today’s brands results not so much in customer satisfaction or delight, but rather in a drab homogeneity wherein brands strive to pander to fickle consumer whims rather than boldly asserting their own brand personality. The authors take the view that ‘current brand management practice, with its

slavish devotion to consumer whims and directives, is leading brands on a road to nowhere’. Their proposed solution lies in creating the passion brands of the book’s title, brands which remain true to themselves, maintaining a keen awareness of consumer attitudes but leading these attitudes rather than following them. CEOs, marketing professionals and MBA students are the stated target market for this book. Perhaps for this reason, some flattery is thrown in the
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BOOK REVIEWS

direction of academics in what is otherwise a very hands-on practitioner text: ‘Practitioners can learn from academics — despite the latter’s lack of practical experience, and arcane terminology. We decode the gobbledygook and show how the latest thinking from academia can transform your brand.’ While there is no doubt that gobbledygook flourishes in academia, the two authors here are not averse to ladling out some of their own. When describing their ‘Brand Trampoline’ model, whose four corners comprise ideology, capability, consumer and environment, readers are informed that ‘each of the four corners has become one of the trampoline’s legs; the Passionpoint is now a small area in the centre of the trampoline, a kind of sweet spot, from which propulsion is at once most forceful, effortless and accurate’. Although talk of trampolines and sweet spots may seem a bizarre terminology to employ in the context of managing brands, the metaphor is a useful and actionable one, with its clear identification of the need to achieve strategic fit between brand and environment. While at pains to point out that they are not anti-consumer research, Edwards and Day emphasise the risk of sterile conservatism if brand strategy is predicated purely upon what is generally termed consumer insight. The authors believe that ‘innovation is blunted by the need to stay within the consumer’s comfort zone’, and that ‘by communing so earnestly with consumers about what they want from the brand or the sector they tether creativity to the limits of the average person’s imagination’. A brand must therefore have the courage to filter consumer opinion through its own
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culture in order to provide truly innovative differentiation. The familiar example of the Sony Walkman is trotted out to justify this standpoint, a product which was launched based on faith in its appeal that was not at all justified by consumer research conducted prior to the product launch. One of the most insightful observations made in this excellent book concerns the excessive use of focus groups in contemporary brand management. The authors point out that 85 per cent of marketing’s total qualitative research budget goes on focus groups. This is despite the existence of many alternative forms of qualitative research that brands could draw upon, if they displayed the imagination and vision to do so. Some of the less used qualitative options include ethnography, friendship pairs, cooperative enquiry, accompanied shopping trips, video diaries and discourse analysis. But it is the relative ease and low cost of focus groups that drives their ascendancy in the realm of qualitative enquiry, according to the authors, who also rightly stress the artificial nature of the focus group conversation and the exaggerated and contrived level of detail with which brands are discussed in a focus group context. A more holistic view is suggested by Edwards and Day, who suggest that a more useful way of employing qualitative research techniques would be to aim for a more rounded understanding of the way people lead their lives and go about their day — ‘consumers on consumers’ rather than ‘consumers on the brand’. Some good examples of passion brands are cited in order to illustrate the book’s main themes. Innocent, Camper shoes and Google are deemed

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BOOK REVIEWS

to be exemplary in their clearly stated foundational beliefs, while there is a very illuminating case study entitled ‘A tale of two Co-ops’ in which the contrasting fortunes of the Co-operative Food Retail Stores and the Co-operative Bank are described. The Co-op food stores are judged to have foundered as a brand because they allowed their beliefs to remain passive and inert, whereas the Co-operative Bank has prospered through rediscovering and reinterpreting its longsuppressed beliefs. As the authors point out, the irony is that both brands are closely related, in terms of their social history and core beliefs, but one brand has made its way in today’s world while the other appears to have lost its way. Three defining characteristics are described as being possessed by passion brands. First, they are brands with active beliefs; secondly, they have confidence rooted in capability; and thirdly, they stay vibrant in an everchanging world. Unilever is presented as an example of a company with brands which fulfil the above criteria, particularly in the case of its stainremoval laundry brands which have the confidence to proclaim ‘Dirt is good’. As the authors indicate, in a category where others are screaming ‘whiter than white’, this is brilliantly disarming. Other brands identified by Edwards and Day as displaying con-

fidence, momentum and ideological clarity include Mercedes, Burberry, Virgin, Sony, Nike, Samsung and Hugo Boss. Having described in some detail in the first half of the book what they mean by passion brands, the authors devote the second half of the book to how such brands may be created. A number of key points are made, such as someone senior should own the project; team involvement for key stages; cross-discipline teams are better; a neutral moderator can overcome hierarchy; outsiders will broaden perspective; identify creatives and mavens; be clear on roles and responsibilities; build internal support through involvement; and finally, be tough on timing. Anyone who is familiar with the new product development process will have seen all of that before; however, it is less usual to see such a process advocated for brand rather than new product development. This exemplifies the authors’ holistic view of best practice in brand management. Edwards and Day offer a refreshingly rounded view on brand management, and their belief in the need for brands to remain true to their essence in a rapidly changing world is an inspiring one. Keith Dinnie Book Review Editor

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