Nearly every marketing book I review for AdPulp contains a handful of case studies or brand examples. But they have nothing on the sheer quantity of case studies and “learnings” to be found in Brandjack: How Your Reputation Is At Risk From Brand Pirates and What To Do About it by Quentin Langley.
“Dell Hell” and “United Breaks Guitars” are two well-known cases, but Langley goes on to chronologically track 140 cases from the past 10 years. Each example does a simple and effective job of summarizing the incident, what the players in the incident did right (or wrong), and learnings to be gained from each incident.
As its provocative title suggests, Langley demonstrates little empathy for any person or entity that would seemingly be on the other side of the brand (i.e., Dave Carroll, the man who wrote the “United Breaks Guitars” song.) There’s also a fair amount of media bashing sprinkled throughout because so many of these incidents become big flashpoints (and good linkbait) so fast.
Brandjack is clearly aimed for a C-suite and crisis management PR audience interested in damage control at all costs. Langley only offers suggestions that could alter the course of events after a “brandjack” occurs, not how more companies could, say, improve service or enact clearer policies to prevent such incidents. I suppose that’s OK because there are so many other books that fill that gap.
But overall, Brandjack serves as a master encyclopedia of some of the most provocative and controversial brand incidents we’ve seen. Anyone in social media, PR, or brand management could especially take the book’s learnings to heart.
Special thanks to Palgrave Macmillan for providing me with a review copy.