Prof. Dr. Alexander Deichsel taught sociology at the University of Hamburg from 1977 until his retirement in 2000, and at times, he was a visiting professor at the Collège de France in Paris and at the University of Zurich. Until 2019, Deichsel regularly lectured on the sociology of brands at the University of Hamburg and at St. Petersburg State University. Deichsel led the Ferdinand Tönnies Gesellschaft e.V. (Ferdinand Tönnies Society) as president from 2010-2020 and is the lead editor of the Complete Works of Ferdinand Tönnies. He is the founder of brand sociology as an independent scientific discipline.
The brand is recognized by him as a living entity – meaning in each case, it is an individual gestalt system that exists on the basis of social alliances, the principles and structures of which sociology can recognize, describe, and influence. The differentiation of two forms of alliance – as laid down by the founding father of German sociology, Ferdinand Tönnies, in his standard work Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Community and Society) – serves Deichsel as an authoritative basis for understanding the structure of the social assertiveness of brands. In 1984, as a visiting professor at the University of Zurich, he lectured for the first time on the subject of brands as an economic sociological conceptual issue. Also in 1984, the renowned advertising expert Dr. Klaus Brandmeyer became a lecturer at the Institute for Sociology in Hamburg. Brandmeyer’s brand knowledge is strongly influenced by the founder of brand techniques, Hans Domizlaff (1892-1971) and his major work, Die Gewinnung des öffentlichen Vertrauens. Ein Lehrbuch der Markentechnik (Winning the Public’s Trust. A Textbook of Brand Techniques). This guide to value-based brand management, which has become a classic, is now in its 7th edition.
The combination of this practice-oriented approach and Deichsel’s sociological theory enables a much more thorough view of the brand, because it is scientifically updated: an intensive collaboration has developed, resulting in numerous joint publications on the topic of the brand, including Die magische Gestalt (The Magic Gestalt) and Die Marke im Zeitalter der Massenware (The Brand in the Age of Mass Merchandise). At the Institute for Sociology in Hamburg, there is a lot of research activity – about a hundred analyses on the subject of brands and brand management have been written from the perspective of brand sociology. Even after his retirement in 2000, Deichsel continues to teach at the University of Hamburg and trains brand experts, who are designated as brand technicians with an additional degree.
In 1994, the Institut für Markentechnik was founded in Geneva with his participation. It is the first private consulting institute to deal with brand management on a scientific basis. Here, university findings are translated into day-to-day business practice and further developed. As a result of this research, starting in 1997, the “Genetic Code of the Brand®” has codified the claim of understanding the brand as an individual performance system that must be led to success according to its specific cause-and-effect contents.
From 1995 to 2012, the Jahrbuch Markentechnik (Yearbook of Brand Techniques) was published every two years, in which experts from practice and science explored the topic of brands as a long-term value creation system from various perspectives and presented the current state of brand research. Deichsel served as Senior Editor. In 2004, Deichsel published Markensoziologie (Brand Sociology), the book in which he first summarized his findings and the scientific foundation of the young discipline.
Since 2015, Deichsel has been a Scientific Associate of the Office of Büro für Markenentwicklung/Brand Development in Hamburg. In 2017, Oliver Errichiello and Arnd Zschiesche, together with Alexander Deichsel, completely revised his basic work – which had been sold out for years – into a 2nd edition that was published by SpringerGabler as Grundlagen der Markensoziologie. Die sozialen Prinzipien von Markenbildung und -führung in Theorie und Praxis (Fundamentals of Brand Sociology: The Social Principles of Branding and Brand Management in Theory and Practice).