Brand Simple: How the Best Brands Keep it Simple and Succeed

I’ve only read a handful of books (five?) specifically dedicated to marketing.  By and large most of them have been pretty vapid and a few have ended up as candidates for my recycle bin (we discussed this in my review of The Boys in the Boat).

I never really put much thought into that.  I mean, it makes sense after all: I’ve worked for a number of companies throughout my career – from start-ups to Fortune 50.  I have to say, the marketing group in all of them often left me scratching my head.  What was really sad about that was there were, in every case, a few very passionate and dedicated people in the trenches that “got it” and they were often being overridden by someone who thought he still did (“get it” that is).

This particular book, I found on a table next to a sign that said “free” at my current company.  Like so many of the books I found this way, it was obviously unread.  If I hazarded a guess, I’d say I was the first person to look under it’s cover; which explains so very much.

BrandSimple, by FAR, has been the best book on marketing I’ve read!  The author, Allen Adamson, is obviously qualified to write a book on this topic, given his pedigree.  At the time of the writing he was a Managing Director for Landor Associates (whose clients include P&G, FedEX,  Kraft, BP and John Deere); before that he worked for Ogilvy & Mather (where he worked on Maxwell House, Country Time, and Good Seasons Salad dressing).  What sets this book apart is Mr. Adamson delivers on his pedigree!

After reading this book and seeing what “good” finally looks like, it’s apparent that like so many other things Marketing follows the Pareto Principle – BrandSimple falls in the 20% that do 80% of the work.  I now understand why most of the marketing I see doesn’t make sense to me.  It’s because it doesn’t actually make sense.

At the end of the book the author provides a quick “Top 10” of sorts (See! This guy is thinking of you the whole time!):

  1. Learn the difference between concepts of a Brand and Branding.
  2. Before you build your brand, identify a differentiating meaning your customers 1) care about and 2) find relevant
  3. Know exactly who your customer is
  4. Look for the obvious to find something different and relevant (If it was a snake, it’d have bitten you by now).
  5. Align your brand concept with your business strategy (It’s going to suck if you successfully market the thing that will drive you right out of business.)
  6. Capture the essence of your brand in a simple statement that represents you.
  7. Map your customer’s journey along with your brand.  (Think touch points).
  8. You can’t win’em all… unless you pick the battle field.
  9. “Only the paranoid survive.”  Again, Success is rented.  Never rest on the laurels of past success.
  10. Building a brand is a marathon; not a sprint.

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