Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book review – Defending Your Brand by Tim Calkins

These days defence is becoming part of every brand’s strategy.  Each year it seems more and more people are coming out of MBA schools drilled (brainwashed?) into a mantra of looking for industries ‘ripe for disruption’ and trying to shake things up.  Established brands are also looking more closely at what their competitors are doing, and whether they can move into that too. 

In this context Tim Calkins’ new book Defending Your Brand, How Smart Companies use Defensive Strategy to Deal with Competitive Attacks, is very useful.  Set out over 15 chapters it provides a comprehensive guide to how to defend brand, from recognising a threat and compiling competitive intelligence to the legal aspects.  Calkins is very well placed to write about this as a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; he clearly knows the subject inside out.

Given the title of this blog, I really enjoyed the number of real world examples that featured.  In the chapter on Blocking Distribution we’re told that Coca Cola and other big manufacturers are able to stop other entrants very effectively because they control something like 80% of the bottling capacity. 

In the chapter on Preventing The Launch, we get the example of Nike defending against Under Armour by launching their own Nike Pro Baselayer, damaging their competitor’s chances of launching in Europe; in the chapter on Limiting Awareness we get the story of Russian retailer Eldorado limiting a competitor’s launch by buying up all the outdoor space near to the new stores.

I really enjoyed this book, and while it isn’t a day-to-day concern for me it taught me a lot.  It’s a must for every serious business & marketing library.  My only complaint would be the lack of an index, but since I had an uncorrected proof this may now have been rectified.

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