5 Favorites on Friday — Favorite Brand Articles
I have a huge filing cabinet which is stuffed full with copies of articles, presentations, research papers, and speeches – but I find myself continuing to return to a few pieces time and again. These pieces, dog-eared and covered with notes and highlights, contain truths and insights which have informed my thinking about brands and marketing – and even though some of them are old (one was written nearly 50 years ago!), I continue to reference them because the content is so powerful and relevant to today’s business challenges.
Here are 5 of those great brand articles:
note: In order to respect the authors’ intellectual property (and copyright laws!), I’m including links to official sites from which you can access the pieces – in a few cases, subscriptions or fee payments are required (the content is worth it!)
1. Marketing Myopia – by Theodore Levitt, published by Harvard Business Review in 1960, republished in 2004. Levitt’s seminal paper introduces the famous question, “What business are you really in?” It challenges readers with the assertion that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products. The paper is about more than marketing; it’s about strategy and how to ensure your business continues to grow. That’s what I love about it.
2. What Great Brands Do – by Alan M. Webber, published by Fast Company, August, 1997 – Way back when Starbucks was still an up and coming brand, Scott Bedbury was the company’s chief marketer. Prior to that post, Bedbury directed Nike‘s worldwide advertising efforts and broke the “Just Do It” branding campaign. So this guy is a great brand-builder and when Fast Company asked him to identify his 8 brand-building principles, I listened up. This piece explains some of the best brand tenets I’ve heard, including “A great brand knows itself.”
3. Brand Leverage – by David C. Court, Mark G. Leiter, and Mark A. Loch, published by McKinsey Quarterly in May, 1999 — Reporting on research into the connection between brand strength and corporate performance, this article unlocks the mystery behind brand leverage – that is, the power of a brand to move into other business domains. It also prescribes success strategies for brands that are focused, and those that are more diversified. I found the piece clarifying when I first read it and I believe the principles still apply today.
4. Brands Matter: An Empirical Investigation of Brand-Building Activities and the Creation of Shareholder Value – by Thomas Madden, Frank Fehle, and Susan Fournier, published by Harvard Business School, 2002 – Like many other papers on brand valuation, this one reports on research which proves that brands deliver statistically- and economically-significant performance advantages such as stock returns and returns on equity. What makes this paper so remarkable to me, though, is that the research found that firms which had developed strong brands created shareholder value with less exposure to risk – thus supporting the role of the brand in reducing the volatility and vulnerability of cash flows. It’s convincing data to share with CFOs and other brand skeptics.
5. Varying Perspectives on Brand Equity – by Jonathan Knowles, published by American Management Association’s Marketing Management, July/August, 2008 – This article puts forward simple, but not simplistic, arguments that marketers can use to show how brand equity is a critical measure for demonstrating marketing’s role in adding to business value. I particularly appreciate the author’s instruction on how to use brand valuation data to frame the business case for marketing investment.
As with previous weeks, I had a hard time narrowing down all the great options to these 5 – but for now, these are my favorites. Please check back next Friday as I conclude the 5 favorites on Friday series with 5 of my favorite brand podcasts.
P.S. Please vote for best blogpost to help me celebrate the 1 year anniversary of my blog – and be entered to win a $50 Nike gift card – it’s my attempt to thank you in some small way for your loyal readership!