Book review – Managing Brands

This post reviews the core material covered in Managing Brands Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) professional qualification (Level 6 elective New CIM professional marketing qualifications – 2020 ( and the Cambridge Marketing College’s Marketing Manager Apprenticeship – a Level 6 Qualification ( It provides an overview of the Managing Brands workbook which was written by Kiran Kapur | Cambridge Marketing College. So here’s a book review – Managing Brands which will provide an overview and revision aid to students.

It has been exciting working alongside my apprentices at Cambridge Marketing College who represent some of the world’s longest-established leading brands in markets such as luxury jewellery and office products as well as those who are leading the field with newer brands in areas such as hospitality, tax services and construction products. Towards the end of the post is a review of a classic brands book “Brand Leadership” By David A Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler which I published some time ago. It’s interesting to see how brand management has developed. These reviews might also be useful to professional service marketers who need an introduction to branding.

Brands in professional services

Branding is a big topic for professional services firms (PSF). Although typically when a PSF takes on a brand project it is either from a narrow design perspective (usually involving external designers) or a full-blown brand review (typically using external brand specialists) which often occurs after a significant merger. Most M&BD professionals will have some involvement in brand work – whether through campaigns for brand awareness and activation or brand management (ensuring that all activities and communications are in line with agreed brand guidelines).

It’s interesting that in Best Global Brands – The 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ( for 2022 the top five are: Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Samsung. Cisco (technology) is at 15, J P Morgan at 24, Salesforce at 36, Goldman Sachs at 49, HSBC at 65, 3M at 69 and LinkedIn at 81. In professional services there is only Accenture at 31 (which has grown 15%). Brand Finance reported in January 2022 that  Deloitte: The world’s most valuable commercial services brand | Brand Finance

Increasingly employer brands to aid recruitment, retention and to form a differentiating element of the client service are becoming important – see the section on Employer Value Propositions (EVPs) at PM Conference Report 2022: Strategy implementation (

In May 2021, I produced a nine minute video explaining the basics of brands and outlined some of the most popular frameworks (Brand Insistence Model by Brad Van Auken and Kevin Lane Keller’s rational and emotional factors) Brand Basics (Video) – What is a brand? Why are brands important? (

In December 2020, Mishcon de Reya law firm launched its own brand management spin-off Mishcon’s brand management spin-off leads latest deals news – Legal Futures

In October 2022 Templafy published a series on branding for professional services which mentions Deloitte.

I attended an excellent seminar on the legal aspects of brands in early 2023 by Azrights intellectual property lawyers. Brand Tuned is the name of a separate website, book, podcast and an online course (with accreditation) created by the founder of Azrights, Shireen Smith Brandtuned ( The course also offers a helpful brand creation plan and a brand plan template (brand essence, brand assets, brand protection and brand strategy).

Just a few days ago, this helpful post was published by US professional services marketing consultants Hinge Proven Rebranding Strategies for Your Professional Services Firm (

Notable brand consultancies in professional services include (please let me know if you are aware of or recommend any others):

Professional Services: Branding & Integrated Creative Design Agency. London, Guildford. ( EY, Hart Brown, Wragge Lawrence Graham, Bishop & Sewell, Wilkins Kennedy, Cushman & Wakefield, KPMG

A Global Branding and Design Agency in London and New York | Coley Porter Bell

London Branding, Design & Digital Creative Agency ( Setia (Singapore)

Mytton Williams — Brand and Design Agency, Bath Addleshaw Goddard, D Young & Co, Trethowans, PM Forum, Wilsons, Rawlinson Butler

Overture London | Brand and business advisors for the legal world Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, 11KBW, Mayer Brown, Taylor Vintners, Blackstone Chambers, Wedlake Bell, Lewis Silkin, Fountain Court Chambers, Pinsent Masons, Charles Russel Speechlys, Browne Jacobson, Kennedys, White & Case, Osborne Clarke, Wiggin, Bates Wells, Taylor Wessing, Travers Smith, Olswang, Grant Thornton

Experience – Principia Brand Consultants ( PA Consulting, Mayer Brown, White & Case, Linklaters, Baker McKenzie, KPMG, Arup, Taylor Wessing, DAC Beachcroft, A&L Goodbody, Mourant, Ashurst

I am currently seeking a trainer/facilitator for a new course on branding in professional services for PM Forum . Please let me know who you would recommend.

Book review – Managing Brands

The Marketing Manager Apprenticeship – a Level 6 Qualification ( covers three main areas of marketing knowledge:

This post provides an overview of the Managing Brands material (focusing on that which is most important to Professional Services Marketing) which was written by Kiran Kapur | Cambridge Marketing College

Section 1 – Brand strategy

  1. Defining brands

In answer to “What is a brand?” – famous advertiser David Ogilvy said: “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes” and author Marty Neumeier said: “a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organisation” (2005).

A brand is a promise that it will deliver a set of attributes. Brands have attributes, values and personality – customers will perceive or make associations with a brand that can be positive or negative. Brands can also be aspirational.

“Brands are at the heart of marketing. When a company creates a strong brand it attracts customer preference and builds a defensive wall against competition” (Peter Doyle, Warwick Business School).

Branding benefits include: customer recognition, competitive differentiation, communication of benefits, customer loyalty, extension to other products and building brand equity.

The key elements that define a brand include: promise, perception, trust, values, voice and personality. Consistency is critical.

Consumers increasingly want to know a brand’s values which are intangible and increasingly demonstrate broader purpose such as environmental protection and social good. These are often expressed through the brand voice (which might be factual, formal or flowery) that conveys the brand’s personality. Aaker’s brand personality characteristics include: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness.

When an organisation has more than one brand, brand architecture describes the way it organises its brands. For example, corporate/umbrella brands, pluralistic (e.g. Unilever owns brands across many product categories) and multi-branding with corporate and sub-brands. There are also own-label brands.

Advertising giant WPP uses Brand Z™ to classify brands according to how well known they are and the strength of the following:  Clean slate, Little Tiger, Cult, Aspirational, Classic, Olympic, Defenders and Fading Stars.

Consultancy KPMG publishes an annual report into the effects of customer experience on brands using its six pillars – see Client Experience Management CEM Two research reports (

Brand positioning is how the customer perceives the difference between brands – where it is viewed in the marketplace and perceptual maps are used for this. See  Be more strategic – PESTLE, Positioning and Plans (

A strong brand can help to move a potential customer through the stages of AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) – although customer journeys are often more complex. B2B buyers go through similar stages but there are often more people involved in the purchase decision – Gartner (2020) offers a model with six stages (problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, supplier selection, validation and consensus creation). Google ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) describes this less as a journey and more as a flight map: Zero moment of truth (ZMOT) decision-making moment – Think with Google. Oliver developed the Expectation-Confirmation Theory to accommodate the customer’s post-purchase rationalisation. So Davis, Dunn & Aaker proposed the brand touchpoint wheel in their 2002 book – pre-purchase experience, purchase experience and post-purchase experience.

The final section of this chapter looks at how digital techniques can be used to build trust as an online currency to improve brand positioning. And use P2P (Peer-to-Peer) marketing to win further customers (a key part of referrer management strategies).

  1. Brand strategy 

Elements of a brand strategy include: line extension (a new item in the same product range), brand extension (company enters a new category), product extension (new forms of their initial product) and generic branding. Porter’s generic strategies (cost leadership, differentiation and focus) are relevant here. There are references to multi-branding and co-branding/partnership marketing also.

There’s consideration of corporate and brand purpose beyond growth and profits to sustainability, ethical practice and improving society whilst maintaining consistency and emotional impact (especially the desire to belong and be part of a social group).  Neuromarketing is used to scan consumer brains as they see and respond to brands.

Brand activation is where visibility is increased through engagement with the target audience through seminars, exhibitions, events, sponsorship, celebrity endorsement and product sampling.

The marketing tools for developing a brand strategy include:

Section 2 – Brand management

  1. The factors that drive brand identity and success

The factors that drive brand identity include:

  • The qualities of an organisation
    • Vision, Mission and organisational behaviour
      • Vision statements (4Cs – Conceptual, Compelling, Credible, Clear)
      • Mission statements (3Cs – Concrete, Conversational, Communicated) – Malcolm McDonald (2010) observed there were three types of mission statement: Motherhood, The Real Thing and Purpose. Three essential ingredients are needed: what you do, where you do it and how it gets done. (A more recent version in 2009 “The Golden Circle” by Simon Sinek talks about what you do, how you do it and why you do it) Brand personality, profile and positioning
      • Brand profile as a description of the brand
    • Relationship with employees and customers – particularly important in the service sector 
  • The effectiveness of the corporate brand
    • Corporate branding (instead of individual product brands) – encompassing the vision and values
    • Factors that support the creation of a brand identity and image
      • Brand identity – visual appearance
      • Brand name – from reviewing product features and benefits and customers.
      • Brand identity prism (Kapferer’s six elements: Physique, Personality, Relationship, Culture, Reflection and Self-image)
      • Brand value – the amount of extra value a customer will pay for one brand over similar products and services
      • Brand equity – how much the brand is worth comprising brand awareness, perceived quality, brand associations and brand loyalty What Is Brand Equity? | Aaker on Brands ( Methods of evaluating brand equity include: Interbrand, Brand Asset Valuator (BAV), Brandz and Keller’s Brand Equity Model (Brand identity – who are you?, Brand meaning – what are you?, Brand responses – what do I think or feel about you? and Brand relationships – how much connection I want with you?) across six building blocks: salience, performance, imager, judgments, feelings and resonance)
      • Building a brand narrative – the story (Emotive Brand’s five key elements: truths, promise, story, emotional impact and external expression).
      • Brand values across cultures and international markets
  • How brand identity is reinforced in an organisation
    • External and internal branding activity
      • External brand management – The Brand Iceberg by Hugh Davidson (there’s an interesting article showing how this model could be adapted for a law firm Hardwiring Values – Hedley Consulting)
      • Internal brand management – Communication with internal stakeholders
      • Managing a brand portfolio – the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix and relationship between market share and cash generation
        • Question marks – Brands with a relatively low share of a growing market
        • Stars – High share of a growing market
        • Cash cows – High share of a market that is no longer growing
        • Dogs – Low share of a non-growing market
  1. Developing a brand plan

Creating a brand plan

Brand plan’s objectives could include: brand activation, sales, awareness, reaching new audiences, enhancing or creating a brand’s personality.

Use Paul R Smith’s SOSTAC™ as a planning structure for a brand. Pricing strategies (reflecting quality) include: premium, skimming, penetration or economy. Distribution issues may occur if brand extensions are in a different location to established brands.

Market share and retention plan – there are several strategies for brands to remain relevant:

  • Continue to communicate the brand
  • Extend the product or service range
  • Retain current customers (loyalty schemes, subscription services)
  • Target key customers

Campaign objectives should reflect corporate, marketing or campaign aims and should be SMART.

Campaign plan headings might include:

  • Communications objectives
  • Target audience
  • Core message
  • Communication media and tools
  • Timetable (Big bang or Drip feed)
  • Resource allocation (include budget, people, training etc)
  • Monitoring and control

The brand plan and campaign plans must match the organisational marketing plan.

Barriers to brand building

Barriers include: market conditions and resource management (consistency, capability, continuity, clarity or VRIO – Valuable, Rare, Imitable, Organisation).

Considerations of trademarks, licensing and global legislation (e.g. World Intellectual Property Office – WIPO).

Converting data into insight

Max Shron (2014) offers a framework for thinking about data:

  • Context – What are you trying to achieve? Who is invested in project’s results?
  • Need – What needs can be addressed by using data? What will the project achieve that was impossible before?
  • Vision – What will meeting the need with data look like? Is there logic in the solution?
  • Outcome – How and by whom will the data be used and integrated into the company?

Market research and evaluation techniques for brands include: brand awareness, brand perception, blind testing, brand tracking, Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS created by Reichheld at Bain & Co) for loyalty  and Customer Effort Score (CES).

Data sources must be valid (are we measuring what we think we’re measuring?) and reliable (if we did it again would be receive the same results?). Evaluate the data you have sourced, for example: Evaluate Information and Its Sources Critically ( which covers accuracy, authority, relevance, currency and purpose).

Good analysis should:

  • Create clarity and drive organisational strategy
  • Enable effective decision-making
  • Adapt to changing environments
  • Create a focus of attention for management and staff

Use metrics in strategy formulation which may show up strategic gaps (sales, profit, information, skills gaps). Initial strategic measures might include: market share, profit growth, return on investment (ROI) or return on marketing investment (ROMI). 

Section Three – Brand metrics and managing resources

  1. Resources for the brand plan

Corporate culture is addressed. The cultural web by Johnson and Scholes looks at the pattern or model of the work environment through six elements:Stories

  1. Rituals and routines
  2. Symbols
  3. Organisational structure
  4. Power structure
  5. Control systems

Identified skills for brand management include: influence, engaging with multi-disciplinary teams, understanding customers (research and communication). There’s also comments about the use of external specialists and global vs local control (and standardise or adapt decisions).

Contribution of brand management to corporate reputation (and how it is defined). The 10 main elements of corporate reputation (Harrison, 2013) include:

  1. Ethical
  2. Employees/workplace
  3. Financial performance
  4. Leadership
  5. Management
  6. Social responsibility
  7. Customer focus
  8. Quality
  9. Reliability
  10. Emotional appeal

Corporate identity and image – positive and negative impacts. The basis of creating a corporate image is the same as creating a brand image: consistency, message, clarity and easy identification. Crisis management material mentios how Greggs bakery handled criticism in 2014.

  1. Brand metrics and adopting a brand plan

Key brand metrics include:

There is an example of a law firm trying to establish its take up by SME with each of its customer segments: consumer, public sector, technology, health and real estate. In health it determines there is a total reachable population of 1,800 firms. It currently sells to 87 firms in the segment. Overall it sells to a total of 325 firms in all sectors our of a total population of 13,000.

BDI therefore equals 87/2800 divided by 325/13000 = 1.2

As this is higher than 1 we can deduce that this law firm performs slightly better in the health sector than it does in the market as a whole. To complete this analysis the same calculation must be made across all segments which will identify which segments perform better than others and by how much.

Brand monitoring tools include Google Alerts, Social Mention, SproutSocial and Hootsuite. Tools are emerging which claim to be able to measure brand reputation automatically. For example, BrandEye from Quirk uses an algorithm to compute the number and frequency of mentions, the sentiment and the influence of social media mentioned in order to produce a “reputation score”.

Brand management dashboards (strategic, operational and analytical) cover reports, scorecards and visual analysis tools. There’s information on brand measuring goals tracking with KPIs.

Recommending revisions to the brand plan includes information on competitor intelligence (Society of Competitor Intelligence Professionals definition “The legal and ethical collection and analysis of information regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities and intentions of a business competitor”), analysis to adjust and optimise marketing activities, tracking trends, real-time metrics and long-term surveys and continuous improvement plans such as Kaizen (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain). And a mention of strategic drift when an organisation fails to respond to and change in relation to shifts in its marketplace and the wider environment.

Other brand book reviews – Brand Leadership By David A Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler

I published the following book review in November 2000 and it’s interesting to consider how things have changed since then.

The importance of brands for professional service firms remains a hotly debated subject. Until there is some agreement over their importance, marketers in the professions need to be familiar with branding fundamentals and up to date with the latest developments. Of course, this is easy if they are from a classical marketing environment but much less likely if they have grown within the professional services market or have a background in industrial or business-to-business (B2B) marketing.

This book is about more than brand management – it presents a case and a route map for “the evolving paradigm” of brand leadership. On this basis you might argue that the suggested processes and approaches are rather too sophisticated for the professional services market.

It is the third book in a trilogy – the first two are “Managing Brand Equity” and “Building Strong Brands” which I regret I have not read but may provide a better starting point for someone encountering brand theory for the first time. Alternatively, “Creating powerful brands in consumer, service and industrial markets” by Leslie de Chernatony and Malcolm McDonald (ISBN 0-7506-2240-7) is an excellent and comprehensive introduction to the subject. Also, “Understanding brands” by Peter Cheverton is accessible and was published by The Sunday Times.

Brand Leadership focuses on four themes: the extension of brand identity to incorporate brand essence, the problem of brand architecture, moving beyond advertising to build brands and the organisational challenge of managing brands in a global context.

The book argues convincingly that marketers must move from tactical to strategic management – to the point of creating business strategy as well as implementing it. The 340 pages are arranged in four parts:

  • Introduction (Brand management vs brand leadership),
  • Brand identity (clarifying and elaborating the brand identity, identity elaboration, role model identification, metaphor development)
  • Brand architecture: achieving clarity, synergy and leverage (brand relationship spectrum, endorsers and sub brands, house of brands, branded houses)
  • Building brands: Beyond advertising (the role of sponsorship, the web)

The book presents detailed and interesting case studies on some world leading brands including: Virgin Atlantic Airways, LL Bean (outdoor and activity equipment), GE Appliances, Marriott, IBM, Ralph Lauren, Mastercard and McDonalds. The detailed comparison of Adidas and Nike is particularly interesting.

The sections and ideas I found most interesting were:

  • Brand equity = Brand awareness + Perceived quality + Brand associations + Brand loyalty
  • Elements of strategic brand analysis (i.e. customers, competitors, self)
  • The seven keys of effective sponsorship (have clear communication objectives, be proactive, look for an exceptional fit, own sponsorships if possible, look for publicity opportunities, consider multiple sponsorship payoffs and actively manage the sponsorship).
  • “Brand essence is a single thought that captures the soul of the brand….one of its key functions is to communicate and energise those inside the organisation” – IBM (Magic you can trust) and Sony (Digital dream kids)
  • Creating effective brand identity systems – avoid a limited brand perspective, link to a compelling functional benefit, ignore constructs that are not helpful, generate deep consumer insight, understand competitors, allow multiple brand identities, make the brand identity drive the execution and elaborate the brand identity
  • Distinctions between a product and a brand (where it is argued that organisational associations – which must reflect the business strategy – tend to be most relevant for service, high tech and durable goods)
  • The Andersen Consulting case study (e.g. “its philosophy was that it made a difference by looking at an organisation holistically, whereas many of its competitors were specialists who generated marginal improvement by looking at specific problems”)
  • Four styles of leadership brands: power brands, explorer brands, icon brands and identity brands
  • Emerging leaders included in-your-face and different-paradigm brands.

The book is not an easy read. There are many diagrams which, on first inspection, appear to be the same. Even though there is a section on role models from Europe it would be nice to have some more European case studies and the section on the web leaves a lot to be desired. But overall this is an extremely detailed and practical book. The vast number of audit checklists and exercises to guide you through a thorough brand audit and analysis, assessment of strategic options and implementation planning for consumer and industrial brands make it practically a technical reference manual for good brand management.

Favourite quotes

  • “A strong brand commands a price premium, and a high price premium is an important quality cue”
  • “High tech and service firms are particularly susceptible to brand proliferation without the guidance and discipline of any brand policy or plan”
  • “The strong brands of tomorrow are going to understand and use interactive media, direct response, promotions and other devices that provide relationship building experiences”
  • “A brand is the face of a business strategy” (Scott Galloway, Prophet Brand Strategy)
  • “Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in the leader’s literary arsenal” (Howard Gardner, Harvard Professor) (NB: It notes that psychologists know that three times more information can be communicated in story form than by using bulleted lists)
  • “Differentiation is the key to strong brands” (Stuart Agres, Young & Rubicam)

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Are brands relevant to the professions? – Kim Tasso

Legal market research – Nisus law firm brand and service report (

Building a personal brand – Key Person of Influence (

Client feedback on brand at PM Forum Conference 2011 – Kim Tasso