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Leslie Budd on... branding

Updated Thursday, 15th July 2010

Leslie Budd explores the role of 'brand' as a symbol of business power.

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The branding of cattle is a symbol of power in Westerns.  Ranch barons competed over territory and used cowboys to enforce their will through brand loyalty.  We now find that brands are the symbol of business power enforced by the velvet glove rather than the iron fist.  Many companies are collections of activities organised around a central brand; for example, Virgin.  Other less powerful brands, like Hoover and Xerox, give their names to everyday products we all use. But brands are a bit like buses and businesses; they come and go.  The glamour of the 1960s American advertising world was associated with brands like Peter Stiverson and Pan Am.  Today it could be Guinness and Emirates.

But how do you revive a dying brand or create a new one?  Well there are cycles to brands just as there is a business cycle.  It depends which sector you operate in and whether, and especially, if you’re in the fast-moving consumer goods markets.  In the face of brands like Primark, some people might experience a certain nostalgia for C&A.  The bottom line answer is if your products are not competitive enough, creating a new or reviving an old brand will not come to your rescue as the hero sheriff does in Westerns.  

That’s my view.  You can join the debate with The Open University.





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