There's a rather good series of articles running at Marketing Week
to celebrate the publication's 40th anniversary. I remember Marketing Week
if not 40 years ago, then - ahem - certainly 30 years ago. Of the "trade publications" we received, it was my second favourite after Campaign
, and certainly infinitely more readable than The Grocer
, which seemed to smell vaguely of brown paper.
The articles are written by industry luminaries, and I was pleased to see my old boss from my Saatchi days elevated to branding royalty with this excellent article
. Rita Clifton reflects on brands and branding over the last few decades and concludes that for success, strong brands must remain the anchor point, organising principle, heart, call it what you will, of a business.
One thing that hasn't changed in my decades of marketing and advertising is the continual dichotomy: (long-term) building the brand and (short-term) sales - today characterised as "taps, clicks and bricks." I expect our arguments in the last century weren't helped by so much mumbo-jumbo surrounding the idea of a brand. The whole idea seemed vague and airy-fairy, with the continual reference to 'brand image', as well as the contrived and frankly up-their-owm-backside ways that various practitioners conjured-up an enigmatic 'brand essence.'
Images and essences aside, it's interesting that today's most powerful brands are what we used to call single-shot or mono-brands in terms of brand architecture. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Instagram, Pinterest and Co. don't lurk in the depths of mysterious 'brand temples' - more mumbo-jumbo - these are completely clear and upfront in their presentation.
One more reflection on the article: back in the last century, brands were dominated by what we used to call FMCG - Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Groceries in plain language.
It's ironic that the biggest changes that have impacted on branding in the last couple of decades are to do with speed and scale.
When those 20th century marketeers talked about Fast-Moving, they didn't know the half of it!