Antony Brewerton: On branding the library

Found myself speaking at Re-imagining the Library the other day, sponsored by CILIP and Talis. The audience was a mix of public, corporate and academic librarians and the speakers were charged with sparking off some fresh thinking. None did this better than Antony Brewerton, head of academic support at the University of Warwick. Previously, he was at Oxford Brookes University and before that at the University of Reading.

Anyway, his presentation was excellent. The others I saw (I had to nip out, unexpectedly, for a couple of hours to take a briefing for some urgent writing work) were very good but if there was a prize for best presentation he’d have won it. He was intelligent, articulate and amusing on the tough subject, for librarians, of branding.

To give a flavour of the man, he decided to take the theme of ‘inspiration’. He looked at pennies dropping, Rodin’s Thinker, a light bulb (incandescent, naughty boy), but while good, he felt there was something better. Then he thought of Newton and the famous apple.

Well, and this shows the calibre of the man, Antony couldn’t have any old apple, it had to be special.

He spent hours in greengrocery shops studying the goods. Eventually, he found the perfect apple. Then he needed the right light for the photography. He found it outside on a bright day. But then the pesky apple, while it had all the right colours, didn’t reflect the light properly. So he took it indoors and gave it the Johnson’s Wax treatment. Back outside, he placed it on a large sheet of white card and finally got his shot.

Sadly, I can only find a monochrome picture but, as soon as I find a colour one, I’ll put it here.


You can already see what a fine apple it is and how magnificently it’s been polished.

And the caption was:


Brilliant. So simple. Addresses the undergraduates’ second most important issue (after beer). Or do I mean third?

He cited Theodore Levitt who said, "Purchasing agents don’t buy 1/4 inch drills; they buy 1/4 inch holes."

So true. And so easy to forget.

Thanks Antony.

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