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Customize the brand: make It more desirable and profitable

Broadly speaking there are two types of business book. Those written by high-profile individuals who write in a charismatic, individual way and those written by the worthy. This book definitely falls into the second category, writes Paul Seligman, managing director of Communicator.

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Did it excite me, make me laugh, make me question my fundamental beliefs? Sadly, no. It is one of those serious "American style" books that preach in an all too obvious way but whose arguments are essentially sound, if a touch obvious.

I suppose it is the very Americanisation that wound me up. Why not "customise"? After all, the book is published in the UK. But, alas, the book is American through and through. It has that irritating habit of putting certain patently obvious statements in bold:

--Just do it!... More information -- better decisions... Document the brief and strategy to keep the process on track... Markets fragment leading to more choice and competition... Define the brand and keep the brand discipline...

It also has a number of highly simplistic diagrams that reminded me of those basic communication courses we have all been sent on in our time.

So what's the book actually all about? Well, its basic premise is that "average brands are no fun and will not remain profitable" and the solution is to customise them. I am not sure what fun has to do with it, but apparently a customised brand is one that "delivers to each customer an individualised, differentiated brand proposition and a brand experience that is totally relevant". The key to customisation is segmentation. Use customer information to build a better "mousetrap".

Haven't we heard all this a million times? It sounds remarkably similar to one-to-one marketing, but Nilson insists that they are different on the basis that the scope of one-to-one marketing is limited ("the range is fixed"). I can't help but think that this is based on his, obviously restrictive, view of one-to-one marketing. Nor is much time spent discussing the fact that customisation is bound to work better in some brand areas than other -- or indeed the extent to which we can segment markets and more importantly respond effectively in brand terms to such segmentation.

Nilson argues that one of the main reasons that many companies have failed to utilise customer data fully (in building customised brands) is the "conflict between the IT world's... 100% precision way of working and marketing's approximation approach". Hmmm, not sure about this at all. I tend to think that the real problem lies in the excessive wealth of data most companies have and the various ways they store it.

To describe this book as "radical brand thinking" is pushing it a touch too far. It is useful brand thinking probably best for assistant brand managers and those going into marketing. Seasoned practitioners may well find statements like "Define the brand platform -- and do it before going any further" a touch patronising.

Overall, however, the book makes some sound points. Does Nilson need 170 pages to articulate his views? No, but then 150 pages is probably the minimum number that a publisher requires.

To buy this book click on the link below


ISBN number: 0470848227

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