This year has been different for all of us around the world and our ability to adapt was challenged. Brands also entered this challenge and the recently published book by AJ Fernández, The Rise of Hedgefox Brands addresses hot topics for the period ahead of us. The book is innovatively built around a metaphor that is anticipated from the title. The author proposes that brands can be summarized into two distinct groups, hedgehogs and foxes. Based on an ancient Greek poem that denotes the fox as an animal that knows many things and the hedgehog as an animal that knows only one important thing (filtering the world through one big, specific idea or lens). The author challenges us to understand whether we should be specialists (hedgehogs) or generalists (foxes) to be successful. To survive and thrive, a brand might add some fox-like beliefs to its hedgehog ones to become a
The Rise of Hedgefox Brands comprises three parts and the notes the author gives after each chapter offer rich information that I enjoyed exploring. The author analyzes how neuroscience and consumer behavior are applied in order to understand how consumers perceive brands and make decisions.
The book starts with a proposed brand definition that develops from the differentiation between mind and brain. The author states that a powerful brand should be: "a trust, attribute-driven brain bias connected to a symbol by repetition or impact to make efficient choices connected to survival and gene proliferation". The next chapters focus on topics such as our need to rely on brands, on how a brand can move from the defensive hedgehog strategy to the more innovative hedgefox approach, or how we can compare our own brand’s attributes to today's successful hedgefox brands, offering a roadmap for this.
This is a very well-documented book that includes a wide variety of research results that are a treasure trove for brand strategists, for specialists interested in extension to other products, services or markets and also for anyone looking for a better chance of surviving a major crisis. It is an interesting, accessible read that addresses current topics (including the challenges this pandemic brought) and by the way it is written, you can feel the authors’ passion for these topics.
AJ Fernández offers a piece of advice at the end that deserves our attention: "Don't let hedgehog beliefs dominate your thinking. Allow the fox to walk around your brain. There is always a chance for a resilient hedgehog to adopt a few tricks from a clever fox." I will add another advice for INsights magazine readers: choose The Rise of Hedgefox Brands as the next item on your reading list and you will be empowered with knowledge.
AJ Fernández successfully manages to offer us new and profound ways to understand brands and how brand strategists can dominate or defend their current category through strong strategic execution, just like a hedgehog, or how they can use fox-like innovation and knowledge extracted from neuroscience, technology, genetics, evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, art, business, biology, behavioral economics and anthropology to create a hedgefox brand.