In his book "A New Brand World" (New York 2002), Scott Bedbury tells about his work at Nike and Starbucks and also gives his evaluation of the brand strategies of a range of other companies, with the predictable result: Harley Davidson "Good", Microsoft "Bad".
We all have our heroes. In the world of brands, the heroes are called things like Nike, Coca-Cola, Virgin, Harley Davidson, McDonald's, Starbucks, Gap, etc. Who aren't familiar with "Just do it" and Nike's swoosh? Along with a range of other elements they make up the brand that has been crucial for bringing Nike to the spearhead position it enjoys in today's market.
Or take a project like coffee beans. Who dares guess how many cups of terrible coffee are drunk worldwide each day? A company that has made it its cause to eradicate 'terrible coffee' is Starbucks, and they have in something resembling record time gone from being a small, local shop in north-western USA to become one of the world's leading brands. Coffee hasn't become particularly better in futurist circles, but the story of Starbucks has shown how a visionary company can turn a market upside down and start a wave that focuses on other parameters than "four for a tenner".
Nike and Starbucks have many things in common, including that their brands were developed by Scott Bedbury, author of "A New Brand World". Bedbury was with Nike for seven years and was the man who in co-operation with Phil Knight laid the foundation for "Just do it" and hence Nike's upswing through the 1990s. In 1995, Bedbury went to Starbucks where he through four years did his part to make the Starbucks brand global. Since 1998, Bedbury has worked as a consultant and is today advisor for e.g. Coca-Cola.
In "A New Brand World", Bedbury tells of his work at Nike and Starbucks and also gives his evaluation of the brand strategies of a range of other companies, with the predictable result: Harley Davidson "Good", Microsoft "Bad".
All in all, you have to be humble. Whatever Bedbury may write or think, he has proven that it works in the real world.
The book can be read at many levels. As Scott Bedbury's travels through the world of brands and the observations and experiences he had. Or as a cookbook for brand managers worldwide who may struggle with the eternal question: How do I create a world-class brand? No matter what the level of ambition is, this is an interesting contribution to the discussion of future brand strategies.
But if you set your expectations high - in this case as high as the recommendations on the back of the book - you of course risk being somewhat disappointed - and you will be. The disappointment is thus hard to swallow when Bedbury in the last chapter outlines seven brand development principles, which he considers true for all brands. The principles are:
When you see such a list, the first thought that hits you is that 7 is a sacred number (all good American management literature apparently resides in the 7th heaven with 7 principles for how to turn the smallest mom-and-pop store into a global corporation in 7 days).
The second thought is whether such a number of principles can stand the bullshit test:
"I would like to make a corporate brand, which is complex, made in a few seconds, irrelevant, hard to reach, inhuman, communicated to a small group, and at the same time very conservative."
You can of course say that it isn't fair to ask for the answer to what makes a world-class brand in a single book (especially when the author is a consultant). But Bedbury is precisely in a unique position compared to almost all other branding literature, which far too often is written by people who rarely have had the opportunity to dive into the very heart of a corporate brand and still have the ability and opportunity to influence it.
Bedbury is in line - and good company - with other brand gurus...
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