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Business legends

A book has just been published on how certain brands have become so inimitable and unique

 Companies that become legends. Or rather, brands that become legends. Objects and images that, on the basis of a particular process of alchemy are transformed from being simply good products into something unique and iconic, inimitable and yet often imitated. True legends. Understanding when, how and where such processes take place is important. These are the legendary brands that can teach us a wealth of things, by revealing to us a culture of production that is able to convey something different to other companies. Legendary Brands. Elogio all’irripetibilità, alla scalabilità e al fascino (“Legendary brands. In praise of inimitability, scalability and appeal”) by Emanuele Sacerdote is a good read if you want a deeper understanding of the alchemy referred to above.

The book seeks to understand the nature of legendary brands, and the process through which they are created. It is important to state from the outset that this is not a business management manual, but rather an account of a journey that touches upon a number of different, unusual and unique business stories.

Sacerdote begins with the observation that masterpieces (in this case businesses) – if they really are masterpieces – can generate a positive alchemic blend of inimitability, scalability and appeal. The author’s argument thus starts with his thoughts regarding the existence of economic (material) and emotional dividends and the often overlooked importance of the last of these. Sacerdote then takes a closer look at the nature of being legendary, attempting to identify some characteristic traits of the characters, events and circumstances that have become legendary over time. As such, using eight examples (Channel, IKEA, Vespa, Ferrari, Armani, Apple, Google and Tesla), Sacerdote identifies 10 exclusive principles: commercial creativity and identity, fame, establishment and stratification, founder, forces, typologies, treasure, empire, regeneration and a better world. These are the pillars that underpin the creation of a “code”, the application of which elevates the brand in question to a higher position than others around it. It is a journey with a number of crucial milestones: innovative discontinuity, public establishment, inter-generational sedimentation and cognitive regeneration.

Emanuele Sacerdote tells the stories of businesses that have given rise to legends, where technology and humanity come together as one. And he recounts all this using a very diverse range of sources of analysis. The result represents a useful lesson for us all: discontinuity and the ability to break the mould are fundamental elements in any brilliant business.

The quote from T.S. Ashton (one of the great analysts of the Industrial Revolution) that Sacerdote includes in his book is wonderful, and still applies today: “Inventions arise more easily in a community that takes intellectual values into account, rather than one in which only material ends are pursued.”

Legendary Brands. Elogio all’irripetibilità, alla scalabilità e al fascino

Emanuele Sacerdote

Editoriale Scientifica, 2020