The first edition of this book was published in 1992 in France. The edition I had the opportunity to read and review is the 5th edition, published by Kogan Page Limited in 2012.

Jean-Noel Kapferer is a global brand strategist with a Ph.D from Northwestern University and international consulting experience stretching from Europe and North America to Asia.

If i had to use just one word to describe this book I would say it is comprehensive. Other words that would characterize it well are relevant and global.

The book is structured into 4 parts:

Part 1: Why is branding so strategic?
Part 2: The challenges of modern markets
Part 3: Creating and sustaining brand equity
Part 4: Brand valuation

As you can probably judge by its structure, this book is comprehensive because it provides guidance through the entire branding process. And it all starts with an overview of the importance of branding in the overall business strategy. Kapferer provides the modern definition of a brand:

A name that symbolizes a long term engagement, crusade or commitment to s unique set of values, embedded into products, services and behaviours, which makes the organization, person or product stand apart or stand out.”

It’s difficult to highlight a specific chapter in a book as comprehensive as this one. One thing is certain: there is plenty of useful information for Brand Managers in charge of launching, growing, rejuvenating, and taking the brand internationally. No aspect of Brand Management is left untouched: brand identity and positioning, naming, brand extensions and brand valuation, to name a few.

The book brings an interesting perspective on Asian brands, and how they differ from the European and American ones. The author’s assessment is that “despite their success measured in market share and often market dominance, these brands still lack dream power and intrinsic desirability.” I completely agree.

The book is relevant  because it addresses today’s biggest challenges in Brand Management: dealing with low cost competition and the surge in popularity of retail brands. It contains a very detailed guide on how a manufacturer’s brand can respond and emerge successful in this ongoing battle.

The section dedicated to luxury brands is intriguing. In today’s economy dominated by the invasion of low cost competitors, and where the innovation advantage is short lived, it’s hard to believe that one viable growth strategy is to launch a luxury brand. This books proves that it’s possible, and details what is takes to succeed.

Kapferer pioneered the concept of “brand identity” in Europe in 1986. He developed the “brand identity prism”, a model used by Brand Managers to assess the identity of any brand. According to this model a brand’s identity is represented by a hexagonal prism: physique, personality, culture, self-image, reflection and relationship. A very simple and yet comprehensive model with practical applications.

The content is structured in such a way that allows the reader to find the specific information that’s needed at a particular time. The books is not meant to be read as a novel, but rather be used as a reference guide by marketers involved in Brand Management.

You will not agree with everything that’s presented bwtween the covers. That being said I fully understand and respect Kapferer’s opinion on topics that I approach differently, such as growth strategy through brand extensions. That’s the beauty of Marketing: there is no right or wrong, just different avenues for reaching the same goal.

In summary, this book is a very good reference guide in the brand building process. Although not an easy read, it was well worth my time.

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