John Murphy (branding consultant)

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This article is about the founder of Interbrand. For other people called John Murphy, see John Murphy.

John Matthew Murphy, born 1946 in Essex, pioneered the art of brand valuation, that is, measuring the accounting value of a company's brands as assets, and in so doing, he stimulated the development of branding as an aspect of business. Murphy founded Interbrand, one of the first (and still one of the leading) branding consultancies, and named many familiar brands. Brunel University admitted him to the honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences in 2001.[1]

Product names[edit]

In London in 1974, Murphy launched Novamark, a small company specialising in product naming and in trade mark registrations. Brand names born of his efforts include:[2][1][3]

Interbrand and brand valuation[edit]

In the 1970s, the scope of Novamark's consulting work expanded to encompass, for example, brand design and brand strategy in what we now know as "branding" – a concept that was new at the time. So when Murphy opened his first overseas office, in New York City (1979), he adopted a new name for the company: Interbrand. Among the innovative services that Interbrand developed in the 1980s was brand valuation.[4] As Murphy later explained, there was "a huge buying and selling of branded-goods businesses where what was essentially being bought and sold was brands. But nobody knew how to value brands." In 1987, Interbrand announced that it had developed a proprietary methodology for brand evaluation[2] and in 1989 Murphy edited a seminal work on the subject: Brand Valuation – Establishing a true and fair view.[5] In 1993, Murphy decided to sell Interbrand, which by then had a headcount of 600 and a burgeoning international practice, to Omnicom. He stayed on at Omnicom as Interbrand's chairperson till 1996 to help with the transition.[2]

Suffolk beer and Plymouth gin[edit]

As he relinquished hands-on management of Interbrand, Murphy turned his hand to building brands himself. Pondering why it was so difficult to buy English beers and ales abroad, he realised it was because many brewers' primary marketing thrust was through the pubs they controlled in their local territories, rather than through their brands. People in England tend to drink the local ales and beers served in their local pub. In 1996, Murphy established St. Peter's, a small artisan brewery in Bungay, Suffolk, from scratch, with an international brand to suit – and without a substantial chain of controlled pub outlets.[4]

Murphy also led the acquisition from Allied Domecq of the Plymouth Gin distillery and brand in 1996 by a small group of investors.[6] He identified Plymouth Gin as an underperforming product with a famous history: the basis of the pink gin in Britain and popular in the United States even through the prohibition era.[7] At the time of acquisition, the distillery was producing some 3,000 cases of gin a year, but had capacity to make 200,000.[8] After Murphy's repackaging and PR campaign, sales had soared to 150,000 cases by 2003.[9][8]

"Cello scrotum"[edit]

Murphy was the signatory of a spoof letter (written by his wife at the time, Dr Elaine Murphy) about a "Cello scrotum" condition that the British Medical Journal (now the BMJ) published in 1974.[10]