The idea of a brand goes back to ancient times when ownership of livestock was asserted by burning one's mark onto the animal. This post is about a book called Brand Anarchy, so I thought I'd set the scene.
The mark would be applied to the animal with a burning stick known as a firebrand. That word has morphed over the years to describe passionate individuals looking to shake things up, so it is then with etymological pleasure that I note the authors of Brand Anarchy are firebrands.
I've known Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl from about the time we both started competing PR consultancies back in the day, and there's more than a few reasons why these two canny chaps managed to craft a distinctive and successful PR consultancy in a largely undifferentiated and saturated market. If you haven't had the opportunity to work with them, you can at least now read the book.
The authors are plain speaking – well, they are adept communicators after all. They have a visceral understanding of the PR and brand communications landscape in the 21st Century, one that has underpinned their personal business success. This book describes how reputations are formed today, and how transformed the process is from just a decade or so ago. This contrast is of course painted in many a book of recent times, but you'll appreciate the candour with which the authors describe how organisations must respond.
In fact, perhaps 'respond' is too reactive a word. The medicine here is to change how the organisation behaves, period. To be proactive. To drive engagement between an organisation and everyone involved in its success. To encourage participation and, without wishing to sound too liberal or post-capitalist about it, co-ownership. I mean this in the sense that an Apple fanboy feels a part-ownership of the Apple brand absent a stock trading account.
It does feel like anarchy out there, at least for those weaned on the 20th Century simple life. Actually, it's just complex. The authors strongly suggest you deal with it.