A Requiem For A Brand
R250 n pp 138
Pradip Chanda’s Requiem for a Brand begins with an underlying cynicism, which is quite understandable for someone who has moved beyond a corporate career and is now attempting to debunk all marketing theories that have been successful all over the world. It’s strange that someone who is a ‘brand expert’ should write a book on branding but with a title that is more obituary and less content.
The book meanders through well-known clichés and there is little that is insightful or analytical. He begins by defining the lack of engagement between consumers and brands in these hurried times and yet spends many chapters taking us through archaic case studies be it on Coca-Cola or Nike. Chanda is, more often than not, out of his depth in understanding the contours of what a brand is. Some of the analogies suggest an ignorance of the very basic tenets of marketing.
His logic suggests that because Coca-Cola today has spawned many variants, many of which bear other names, it’s an indicator of the declining value of Brand Coca-Cola. Strangely, we get to know very little of the author’s turn-around stories. Now, that would have made for compelling reading. There are some reasonable strands in the book but with very little follow-through. For instance, when Chanda talks about the price of community engagement, there are many stories that abound.
What would have helped is not just talking about the existence of these problems but how brands need to overcome them, especially in an age where the media are no longer the preserve of the fourth estate and what with blogging and the whole new world of social media, there are individual consumers calling the shots everyday, across the world and that too on the same brand.
While Chanda mentions the travails of a Walmart in America, there are neither insights into the strategic challenges that such companies have faced nor is there anything in the book that deconstructs this new-age consumer. Besides, knowledge consumers as a concept itself is an anachronism now that we live more in the ‘information’ or ‘peer pester’ age. Given Chanda’s claimed prowess on his deep understanding of brands and their influence over not just consumers but also in shaping (for better or worse) societal behaviour, the book is inadequate in terms of the domains of branding it addresses.
This is a book worth reading if you are at the airport and waiting to board a flight. But if you are looking at an insightful analysis into this wonderfully engaging world of brands, you’d be better off listening to Mozart’s Funeral March on your new iPad, which perhaps, according to Chanda doesn’t qualify as a brand breakthrough.
Suhel Seth is Managing Partner of Counselage India.