What is Brand Thinking?
We live in a world with over one hundred brands of bottled water. The United States alone is home to over 45,000 shopping malls. And there are more than 19 million customized beverage choices a barista can whip up at your local Starbucks. Like any concept that dominates markets and public consciousness, “brand” is a challenge to define. Does it refer to a simple differentiator of the cereals in our cupboards, a manipulative brainwashing tool forced on us by greedy corporations, or a creative triumph as capable as any art form of stimulating our emotions and intellects? Maybe it’s a little of each, and maybe it’s something else altogether.
Whatever the answer is, Debbie Millman’s BRAND THINKING elevates the discussion to a stratospheric level. Millman, herself a design visionary whose ideas have shaped the branding of Pepsi, Gillette, Colgate, Campbell’s and many more, has compiled twenty-two interviews she personally conducted with the world’s top design executives, strategists, and critics. The result is an unprecedented forum on the state of branding today, what “brand” truly means, and how companies and consumers can best embrace the future.
In the turbulent world of design, BRAND THINKING is the perfect brainstorm. Each chapter is an extensive dialogue between Millman and a different leader in the field, with no time wasted getting to the core issues faced by all designers—and consumers. Asking questions informed deeply by her own expertise, Millman coaxes lucid, prescient answers from her interview subjects on a diverse range of topics:
- Malcolm Gladwell on the brand value of hospitals and the overuse of the word “brand” itself.
- Seth Godin on whether hope or fear provides better leverage for a brand, and what the Catholic Church can teach us about branding.
- Dori Tunstall on how the process of design can define what it means to be human.
- Virginia Postrel on how our brains are becoming hyperlinked, and the fundamental branding difference between Madonna and Lady Gaga.
- Brian Collins on how he revitalized the Dove brand by attacking the traditional stereotypes of beauty in the media.
- Wally Olins on whether market research perpetuates mediocrity.
- Stanley Hainsworth on how Starbucks got us to pay $4 for a cup of coffee and come back for more.
Slowly but surely, branding has become the umbrella under which advertising, marketing, and PR all reside. In the fluid, dynamic landscape of contemporary business, every forward-thinking person must speak the language of brands. BRAND THINKING cuts through all the empty jargon and buzzwords to expose the underpinnings of how people respond to the ideas of designers, and how the best brands can open avenues for cultural dialogue and be positive presences in our daily lives.