Reviewed by Dr Jessica Backlund (MA, PhD) and Shaun Powell (Btech, AIMgt, BAHons) from the International Corporate Branding and Identity Centre...
Short review: Star rating 3.5 (out of 5) - A book covering a wide range of issues relating to brands and consumerism. It contains more than 200 colour illustrations and five rather general chapters with short snap shots looking at specific issues relating to the main chapters.
Full review: This book was published to coincide with an exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The book looks at a wide range of issues, such as the development of branding, different shopping environments, and resistance to brands and advertising. The authors come from a range of various disciplines, such as architecture and design, management and marketing, business, fashion and sociology.
The book has five parts, consisting of a longer main chapter and shorter snap shots covering issues relating to the main chapter. The book also has more than 200 colour illustrations, often quite large.
Chapter 1 looks at the general issues relating to brands, for example brand strength and value, and the development of branding. It contains snap shots on issues such as the branding of Britain, the clothing company Diesels branding strategy, and how brands adopt to local circumstances.
Chapter 2 looks at definitions of branding and the differences between brands and trademarks. It also looks at brands from a consumers point of view, and points out how brands can be helpful to consumers in simplifying their lives. Snap shots in this chapter cover issues such as why people buy counterfeits and customer proactivity.
Chapter 3 deals with the architecture of shopping malls as it has developed over time, and also looks at catalogue shopping, TV shopping channels and the internet. The snap shots cover petrol station architecture and holiday resorts and theme parks as products.
Chapter 4 looks at the consumer, and how personal identity can be expressed through consumption. The snap shots in this chapter look at Hello Kitty merchandise and what may happen to branded goods in the second hand market.
Chapter 5 looks at the issues surrounding consumer protests against certain brands, and how consumers have begun to take companies; green and social issues in to account. There are no snap shots in this chapter.
The main characteristic of this book is its 'designed' feel. The cover is bright blue, and the high quality colour illustrations are everywhere, sometimes stretching over two pages. It is in stark contrast to the average student textbook, usually printed on cheap paper and with only black and white diagrams as illustrations. But what about the content? It is a pretty general book, and academics working with these issues will probably not find anything new in it. However, the illustrations, and some of the snap shots, may be useful to university lecturers, wishing to back up arguments with real life examples. This book may also be of interest to students, as it explains branding, and issues relating to it, in an interesting and easy way. In short, this book is useful to those without much knowledge of branding and consumerism who wish to read up on the topic in an enjoyable way.