Reader’s Corner: How Brands Become Icons


Douglas B. Holt shows how iconic brands create “identity myths” that, through powerful symbolism, soothe collective anxieties resulting from acute social change. Holt warns that icons can’t be built through conventional branding strategies, which focus on benefits, brand personalities, and emotional relationships. Instead, he calls for a deeper cultural perspective on traditional marketing themes like targeting, positioning, brand equity, and brand loyalty–and outlines a distinctive set of “cultural branding” principles that will radically alter how companies approach everything from marketing strategy to market research to hiring and training managers. Douglas B. Holt is associate professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School.

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