Module Note | November 2005 (Revised February 2006)

Rethinking Branding

by Youngme E. Moon


The classical branding paradigm assumes that brands should be built to last and that the role of the brand manager is to protect the long-term sustainability of the brand. Outlines the structure and content of an eight-session module that offers a more expansive perspective on branding. Contrasts two paradigms of brand management that have historically corresponded to two different worlds of consumer marketing: the classical brand management paradigm, which has traditionally been associated with the world of consumer goods; and the "hit marketing paradigm," which has traditionally been associated with the world of mass creative industries such as fashion and entertainment. If the underlying assumption in the former is that brands should be built to last, the underlying assumption in the latter is that a brand's popularity will be short-lived. Using a series of case studies, this module contends that the paradigmatic separation between the two worlds has attenuated over time. Suggests a formal synthesis of the two paradigms. Central to this synthesis is the idea that, regardless of the type of industry in which a firm competes, there are circumstances under which a firm is better off operating under an assumption of the sustainability of demand, whereas there are other circumstances under which it is better off assuming that demand for its brand is bound to be perishable.

Keywords: Brands and Branding;


Moon, Youngme E. "Rethinking Branding." Harvard Business School Module Note 506-039, November 2005. (Revised February 2006.)