Brand Manners: How to Create the Self Confident Organization to Live the Brand By Harris Pringle, William Gordon, John Wiley & Sons, NY, 300 pages, March, 2001.
Reviewed by G.A. “Andy” Marken, Marken Communications Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
With corporate public relations and communications budgets under increasing scrutiny, management is asking what the budgets are doing to drive sales. Whether we’re in tough times – which we are – or good times – which we will be – how you answer the question determines whether you’re part of the problem or part of the solution.
Of the more than two dozen new books that have emerged over the past six months on branding, Pringle’s and Gordon’s Brand Manners is one of the few we’ve added to our library because it covers all the bases.
Why must public relations play an increasingly important role in branding? Back in the mass-marketing era the goal of communications – advertising and public relations – was to build an image. Today we have rapidly evolved to a mass-customization and one-to-one relationship age. In this new environment the company’s reputation becomes the brand and no communications tool available can project and explain this brand reputation more efficiently or more effectively than public relations.
This is because today a brand is more than a logo. It’s more than a name. It’s more than an ad or ad campaign. Instead, good branding public relations efforts can build stronger relationships with the company’s many audiences. As management becomes more communications savvy they realize that they can’t build a brand by the sheer force of advertising but they can build it through PR efforts and third-party endorsements. Or as Al Ries, chairman of Ries & Ries Inc. (an Atlanta-based branding consultancy) noted, “PR people build brands and advertising people follow-up and capitalize on the brand.”
It logically follows that if branding is becoming an increasingly important part of your strategic and tactical work; original business literature like Brand Manners will become valuable guidebooks for you.
The authors point out that customers closely examine the four dimensions of a brand – rational, emotional, political and spiritual – to evaluate how a brand’s promise is created, conveyed and kept. To help you understand the dimensions, Pringle and Gordon include a healthy dose of case studies and practitioner briefs.
We found the book to be both enlightening and inspiring. We came away with a number of excellent ideas on how to help clients reinvent and bring their corporate “brand” alive and relevant to the consumer. In our increasingly depersonalized world, the organization's brand can be an effective means of bonding employees, strategic partners and customers to the company.
Unlike HP’s and Compaq’s CEOs that talked in antiseptic terms when discussing how they would save $2.5 billion by elimination 15,000+ employees, brand conscious management and PR people understand that they aren’t dealing with lemming-like employees who will run along sublimely happy until the ground disappears under their feet.
Unlike other branding books you may have read, Brand Manners doesn’t treat brand as a subset of marketing or product positioning. Instead, it takes a wider view where brand and culture/identity meet. It is at this intersection that public relations can make its greatest contribution to the organization’s long term success and relationship with the customer.
If you’re interested in many of the best-practice essentials will help you keep your brand contemporary, relevant and ahead of the pack.