Bookmarks Issue: 

The Marketing of Megachurch, College Inc., and Museum World

A-BrandedNationYou can sum up the central message in Twitchell’s book in a single sentence: brands rule, and not just for giant corporations. These days, churches, colleges, and museums are now brand-building as furiously as any maker of consumer goods. And like their corporate brethren, these non-profit organizations rely on the power of narrative—"the application of a story to a product or service"—to get their message out to the marketplace. Twitchell supports his point by examining the branding strategies of numerous institutions, including a fast-growing suburban Chicago Church, several well-known universities, and a famous New York City art museum.
Simon & Schuster. 327 pages. $26. ISBN: 0743243463

Christian Science Monitor 4 of 5 Stars
"Twitchell’s broader take on brands: They’ve burrowed deep into human identity to become motivators: ‘the basis not just of interactions but of interior actions.’ His book may be the definitive text on this evolution." Clayton Collins

St. Petersburg Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Twitchell has done his homework in a revealing book that is incisive, conversational and witty." Mark Albright

Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) 3 of 5 Stars
"Twitchell seemingly stays away from making judgments about the [branding] phenomenon and, instead, notes that changes in the institutions are more fair, democratic, honest, and liberating." David Quick

New York Times 3 of 5 Stars
"… a lively new book …" Karen W. Arenson

Los Angeles Times 2 of 5 Stars
"Branded Nation is an engaging account …. Still, by reducing everything to consumption and market share, he sells his incisive premise short." Adam Bresnick

Critical Summary

Twitchell’s basic premise—that organizations live and die based on brand recognition—isn’t new. In recent years, publishers have churned out dozens of marketing books trumpeting the importance of brand recognition. What sets Branded Nation apart is Twitchell’s richly detailed examination of how religious, educational, and cultural institutions are jumping on the branding bandwagon. Twitchell, a University of Florida professor and the author of previous books on advertising and culture, takes a couple of lumps from critics who found some parts of his newest work reductive or incomplete. But overall, Twitchell’s persuasive arguments and enviable story-telling ability make Branded Nation an enjoyable—and enlightening—read.

Supplemental Reading

Born to Buy The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture | Juliet B. Schor (2004): The author of The Overspent American and The Overworked American looks at corporate marketing’s influence on children.