December Author of the Month: Mark Batey

Mark Batey, author of Brand Meaning, Second Edition, is our Routledge Psychology Author of the Month for December! Read our exclusive interview and learn more about his fantastic new edition!

Since its publication in 2008, Brand Meaning has been a sought-after text by business schools, universities and marketing professionals. It has been translated in several languages, including Spanish, Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese, and has been released as a special edition in India. This second edition of the book lays out new and fertile territory for the understanding of how brands both acquire and provide meaning.

Mark Batey draws on his experience with leading international companies to propose a compelling framework for the conscious and unconscious ways in which people connect with products and brands.Revised and updated, it contains contemporary as well as classic examples of brand meaning in practice from various countries. While the well-received structure of the first edition is retained, much new material is introduced, expanding on the theory, methods and applications of brand meaning.

The book’s multidisciplinary approach and concise yet comprehensive content makes it ideal for undergraduate, graduate, and MBA courses, as well as valuable reading for practitioners in the fields of marketing, advertising and consumer research.

Brands discussed include: Louis Vuitton, Evian, Pampers, Hummer, Ferrari, Patek Philippe, Dos Equis, Fiat 500, Bonne Maman, MINI, Belvedere, Marlboro, Jack Daniels, Harley-Davidson, L’Occitane, Bombay Sapphire, Sephora, Omo/Persil, and Johnnie Walker.

After many years of working with brands – both on the ad agency side and as a consultant – it became clear to me that those brands which are the most meaningful for their consumers are the ones which perform best in the marketplace. The question then is, how does a brand become meaningful, how is brand meaning created and how should all this be managed? Ultimately, the only meaning that counts is the one that’s in the consumer’s mind. There is, though, a meaning “ecosystem” at work, and a process of co-creation of brand meaning involving consumers, marketers, and other influencers. I wanted to explore that process.

What brand means and what brands mean. A brand is a cluster of meanings. It’s as simple and complex as that.

Yes, a couple of things. Firstly, people are more creative and resourceful than they realize. They can find meaning where none seems to exist; and create meaning out of limited material – from sounds, shapes, colors. I have a phrase in the book which says that we are hunters and gatherers of meaning. This is crucial when it comes to the visual and verbal identity of a brand. The other point has to do with narrative. Like the parables and myths of old, the task of a story is to impart meaning – brand meaning, in the case of brand story. The book describes how brands like Louis Vuitton and Jack Daniels have created a rich mythology, rooted in the brand heritage.

There is much new material within essentially the same framework as the first edition. This second edition has more case studies and examples. Many are from the last ten years or so, and are taken from a number of different countries. The subjects of myth and mystique are introduced in the book as they underpin the attraction and success of some notable brands. Among the other new topics covered are heuristics, audio branding and brand purpose. There is a completely new chapter on brand story.

I don’t think their role has changed that much in the last 7 or 8 years. But it has changed over the last generation. One example is that, whereas previously brands were acquired for their ability to confer values on their users, nowadays it’s more a case of people conferring values on the brands they choose. The “balance of power” has shifted somewhat. The idea of co-creation of brands and their meaning is more evident today than before. Brands today have to do more to earn the trust and loyalty of their consumers.

In today’s postmodern marketing world, transactions and interactions between marketers and consumers are, above all else, exchanges of meanings. (p.8)

Harley-Davidson’s success is due not to how it branded a product but how it branded a meaning. (p.10)

Marketers are engaged not so much in managing a stable brand meaning as negotiating one that is evolving over time. (p.176)

Certain agencies have been masters of storytelling—as execution. What is new is storytelling as strategy. (p.181)

Advertising creates mythical characters, or mythologizes the lives of real ones. (p.185)

Brand mystique is a product of brand myth—of half-glimpsed truths and plausible fiction. (p.186)

Brand management, more than ever, will be about the management of meaning. (p.194)

“Mark Batey offers an incredibly comprehensive and perceptive examination of the critical subject of brand meaning that illuminates, inspires and amply rewards the reader for every minute spent.”

Kevin Lane Keller, E.B. Osborn Professor of Marketing, Tuck School of Business

"Today, gone are the oversimplifying concepts of brand positioning or brand as a sum of attributes. Rather, brands are to be managed as a kernel of meanings. This is the essential contribution of this excellent book"

Jean-Noël Kapferer, internationally renowned expert on branding and professor at HEC Paris

“This second edition of Batey’s original book offers a perfect blend of the theory and practice of brand meaning. It includes a wealth of insightful examples. Highly recommended.”

Bernd Schmitt, Professor, Columbia Business School

“A valuable resource for all who study or manage brands.”

John Quelch, Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

"From metrics to myth, I don't know of a better book on this subject."

Michael Burke, Chairman and CEO, Louis Vuitton

“This book offers timely insights as people demand meaningful brands that can become a part of their lives by delivering real personal, social and environmental benefit - helping them to stand up for what they believe in and defend what’s important to them.”

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

“Batey’s new book provides brand meaning theory and best practice, but above all it influences its readers with inspiration; inspiration about best brands, their story and perception. An absolute must read for professional and personal enrichment.”

Gonzalo Brujó, CEO, EMEA & LatAm, Interbrand

Mark Batey, a language graduate of Oxford University, has spent his career working with leading advertising agencies, and as an independent brand consultant. He speaks at international brand conferences. He is also a visiting professor at various business schools and universities. He was recently visiting professor at ESCP business school in Paris, whose Master in Management was then ranked No.1 worldwide by the Financial Times. He has lived and worked in the United Kingdom, Central Europe, Latin America and the United States. Among the companies he has advised are Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestlé, Kraft Foods, Mondeléz International, SABMiller, and Brazil’s O Boticário. He has a particular interest in cultural studies, psychology, linguistics, and semiotics.

Mark Batey's Website

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Brand Meaning, 2nd Edition

  • Brand Meaning

    Meaning, Myth and Mystique in Today’s Brands, 2nd Edition

    By Mark Batey

    This second edition of Brand Meaning lays out new territory for the understanding of how brands both acquire and provide meaning. The author draws on his experience with leading international companies to propose a compelling framework for the conscious and unconscious ways in which people connect…

    Paperback – 2015-12-21

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