Brand Is a Four Letter Word: Positioning and the Real Art of Marketing

Austin McGhie, Author
Austin McGhie. Advantage Media Group, $22.46 hardcover (281p) ISBN 978-1-59932-327-5
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If Sloan Wilson’s classic The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit personifies the top-down business culture of the 1950s, individuality rules today. And businesses must embrace this evolution, McGhie suggests in this perceptive exploration of evolving marketing doctrine. With the Internet impelling unprecedented cultural change, cookie-cutter conformity ensures mediocrity; the most differentiated, strongest products come from “oddball entrepreneurs.” Contrary to conventional thinking, McGhie argues that a brand is not imposed on the market but is awarded by the market; it is “a consequence, not an action.” This shift in perception manifests the need for a dialectic between producer and customer, with sincerity at the core. McGhie draws on his extensive marketing background to show how brands engage customers in company culture and persuade them to participate in the corporate “sense of mission.” Whether the reader accepts or condemns McGhie’s contention that the model of one-way persuasion is obsolete, the heightened significance of customer word-of-mouth reaction, or its electronic counterpart, seems unassailable. The customer, not the marketer, controls the brand in the brave new world of viral marketing. And McGhie’s argument that traditional marketing theories, though still adapting to new media, are not necessarily obsolete should intrigue both industry professionals and marketing neophytes.
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