Debbie Millman’s MPS Branding Students Write the ‘Brand Bible’

April 5, 2012

Rockport Publishers recently released the Brand Bible, a class project of the MPS Branding Department, which is chaired by Debbie Millman (who is also president of the design division at Sterling Brands and host of the popular podcast series Design Matters). Millman served as editor of the Brand Bible, compiling case studies, interviews, commentary, and brand profiles written by students in the 2011 MPS Branding graduating class. “Branding is storytelling elevated to narrative,” MFA Design Department Co-chair Steven Heller wrote in the book’s forward. “This book will help the reader understand what it takes to build, design, ‘activate,’ and sustain brands.”

The Brand Bible is arranged by theme: Building Brands, Sustaining Brands, and Designing Brands. Each section includes interviews, commentary, and advice from leading strategists and designers along with research by the students. The book takes a comprehensive view of branding, examining all aspects of the field by tracing its history from Elizabethan times through its contemporary evolution into iconic brands such as Martha Stewart and Coca Cola.

Chi Wai Lima, Jada Britto, and Mo Saad reflect on the moment when businesses realized that the potential to attract customers was not only in creating a product to fit the need, but also in creating the need. Their chapter “The Beginning of Manufacturer Brands” charts the rise of consumerism in the early twentieth century by examining how brands like Colgate, National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), and Johnson & Johnson created a link between the quality of the product and its packaging.

The re-invention of luxury brands like Chanel No. 5, Krueger Beer, and Lacoste is discussed by Rebecca Etter and Maxine Gurevich in their essay on brand differentiation. Of Chanel No. 5, they write, “Chanel No. 5’s understated bottle, with its clean lines and pared-down label, embodied the sentiment often attributed to Chanel; that ‘elegance is refusal.’”

Sascha Donn, Brian Gaffney, and Zachary Lynd recall “the Pepsi Challenge” and the development of coffee culture in “Thirst: The Evolution of Branding Beverages.” They also examine how wines communicate their taste on the label, and how bottled water became a multi-billion dollar industry.

Jeremy DiPaolo and Kathryn Sptizberg ask us to consider why Playboy, Oprah, and Disney are iconic brands despite their different approach to social and cultural value in “A Brand Called You: The Evolution of Multimedia Brands and Beyond.” In the essay, they explain, “The reliance on a core mythology is essential, whether for Disney, Playboy, Oprah, or any other multimedia brand. The magic, and power, of myth allows us to believe that our dreams can come true.”

Additional contributors from the MPS Branding Department: Richard Shear, Noah Armstrong, Lee Changzhi, Myles Gaythwaite, Margaux Genin, Timonthy Harms, Portia Hubert, Jessica McGuire, Daniel Lin, Abby McInerney, Manal Nassar, Natasha Saipradist, and Curtis Wingate.

For more information or to purchase the Brand Bible, visit Rockport Publishers.

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