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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Brands and Branding Books


Brand Manifesto, John Grant 2006 John Wiley
Reviewed on the in their own words page
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Branded, Alissa Quart 2003 Arrow
Review on Recent Reads page
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Brand Failures, Matt Haig 2003 Kogan Page
I took this on holiday with me as a bit of a breather - this is a very entertaining book with a serious message. Sometimes you can learn more from how brands cockup than from those dodgy postrationalised casestudies showing how brilliant the marketer/agency was. Its an easy read. The chapters are divided in broad themes: idea failures, extension failures, people failures and so on. The puffery on the cover calls them the 100 biggest branding mistakes of all time. They're not. With a lot of help from the Ries and Trout and Trout - (they of the immutable laws of marketing branding and whatnot) he picks on a lot of the high profile brand failures and a lot of quite minor ones. Frankly at certain points it turns into a bit of a pot boiler - the international brand failures turns into a series of gags about marketers who didn't check with a translator before launching. Coors in Spain merits a whole 22 words. What irritated me was that Haig is an IT writer and is inclined to attach the word brand to any business related cockup. His editor should have been more severe with him. The Pentium chip disaster was a PR nightmare but didn't ultimately affect subsequent chips Intel produced or the fact that these were called Pentiums. It can't therefore be called a brand failure. Nor is WAP. WAP is a technology standard which hasn't delivered so people having tried it, didn't use it. It didn't overpromise - it just didn't work. GSM isn't a brand just because we all have GSM digital mobile phones. But there is a lot of good stuff here - the book is designed to be read at a gallop - so it is ideal train and beach fodder. I also appreciated that it is bang up to date - Hearsay, ON digital Consignia all get a mention. My favourite bit was covering Kodak and Polaroid making heavy weather of the transition to digital photography. Polaroid haven't made it - the jury is still out on Kodak. A timely reminder that there's more to marketing than brand building. If your category shifts underneath you - you're probably dead. Worth a look.
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Brand Gym, David Taylor October 2002 Wiley
This is a good book. Really. Do we need another book on branding? Well yes because this one is designed for practitioners. And its designed to clear a path through all the rubbish. The best thing about it is that David Taylor has introduced a new phrase - an essential for anyone working in the branding industry: polishing the brand pyramid. Which made me laugh like a drain. How many meetings have we been in when brand values have been analysed down to the last jot and tittle without a cat's hope in hell of implementation when all we needed to do was to murmur " You dont' think perhaps that we're polishing the brand pyramid here a little?" Brilliant. In my time I've done a little brand pyramid polishing of my own truth be told. The book is divided into a series of workouts right from generating your first insight through to getting the staff onside. Very straightforward. I'm referring to it still. Buy it - and throw half a dozen of the others out.
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Brand Child, Martin Lindstrom and Patricia Seybold February 2003 Kogan Page
Well having read the whole book now I've calmed down a little, but in the words of the immortal Ian Drury "What a waste!" Imagine if you will that you had the resources to conduct a multicountry survey of 8s to 13s otherwise known as tweens - there are so many things you could do - draw comparisons between confucian, meritocratic and egalitarian cultures , or aggregate selection of perhaps the richest prepubescents in human history. What you probably wouldn't do is to attempt to pass this off as a survey of tweens across the planet. Yes that's around 800 milllion human beings including most child labourers, street children and child prostitutes. Only in the survey global tweens know Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, wouldn't be seen dead with a Playstation and want their own website. If a planner working for me served up this pap I'd shred them. Slowly. Whatever was the bright green tracking machine from Leamington Spa thinking of turning out this kind of rubbish? For the last time Millward Brown when will you learn that just because something can be measured that it's worth measuring? There's no clear definition of the target group, and contradictory figures about the number of countries involved: 7, 11 and 15. Let alone why these brats represent their entire agegroup planetwide. That aside, the rest of the book actually has some quite interesting patches. The branding guru author has got a lot of experience working with kids so there are interesting bits on multisensory branding, the role of interactivity in brand building as well as some good stuff on integration. But with this dreadful survey in the background I have to say I treat all figures quoted with a huge dose of suspicion - some interesting case studies and a qualitative grasp of the youngsters but the book could have been so much more rigorous. There's a website as well with more content on it - use the unique pin on the back of each book sold. If you work on kids brands then it has some glimmers of insight. But please don't allow your clients to think its a great piece of work. It stinks.
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brand new brand thinking, edited by merry baskin and mark earls November 2002 APG
Review to be found on separate page brandnewbrandthinking
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Business Superbrands, Marcel Knobil March 2002 Superbrands
Oh dear. This is a glossy book which purports to tell you what makes for a strong B2B brand and dismally fails to do so. Seems a blatant opportunity for the distinguished panel of judges to nominate each other. Full of trivia and cliche. I think B2B is such an important area than I was irritated to find it being treated so superficially.
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The Mental World of Brands, Giep Franzen Margot Bouwen 2001 NTC Publications
This is probably the most important book for middleweight planners upwards to be reading. I've justed started to read it. A good solid read. It's all about neuroscience and the hardwiring of the brain and how to use it to build brands. Written by a couple of Dutch planners. Read it and be hip. But prepared for a 6 week wait from Amazon when you order.
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What is Brand Equity anyway?, Paul Feldwick May 2002 Harper Collins
Review to follow.
After Image, John Grant 2002 Harper Collins
Review can be found on a separate After Image page in the bookshop on this site. Also on Amazon by the book listing.
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Brand Storm, Will Murray 2000 FT Prentice Hall
A glossy interactive read about how brands need to engage with super consumers in a new age. I am still getting used to books which you're not supposed to read in a linear fashion and this book has a website attached for even more interaction.Fine fine fine. And it's not written by Will Murray it is written by a whole team of people (called Team Murray) who I'm sure deserve the credit. There's a group of dancers who get much photographed. And it's kind of workshoppy and glossy. Look it probably did take a lot of work to put together but it still has the whiff of smoke and mirrors about it. Check out the website for yourself:

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The Future of Brands, Ed. Rita Clifton Esther Maughan 2000 Macmillan Business
Interbrand extravaganza. Includes their list of most powerful brands in the world then continues with a load of interviews about brands with opinion formers, professional marketers and entrepreneurs. Not bad and quite quotable. Some of the best quotes are from people who are quite clearly uncomfortable with the idea of branding despite being brands in their own right!
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Understanding brands, Ed. Don Cowley 1996 Kogan Page
Came back to this last year because I had to talk to some design students and read again Mary Lewis's excellent chapter on Brand Packaging. When I originally read it some 5 years ago a lot of the book's material felt a bit orthodox but the design chapter really sparkled.
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No Logo, Naomi Klein 2000 Flamingo
The most challenging book I've read in ages. Naomi Klein tracks global brands and they way they are challenging our public spaces, the choices we make and the working conditions of those who make the stuff the brand slap their logos on. At first I thought that she could be written off as a trendy lefty. But she's a working journalist so advertising pays for her salary so she's not naive. This is a look under the bed to expose some of the less glamorous side of building global brands. And if you work in the branding/communications business and have any integrity, you ought to be thinking about these things.
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Corporate Religion, Jesper Kunde, B.J. Cunningham 2000 FT Prentice Hall
Mm interesting one this. Basically says if you want to get a brand rolling then sort out your internal culture and become a bit of a cult. Lots of interesting diagrams to borrow for presentations. Not good for ad budgets!
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Eating the Big Fish, Adam Morgan 1999 Orion Publishing
Read this at the same time as New Marketing Manifesto so it suffers a little by comparison. Which is a shame because it is packed with good stuff about how to set about creating challenger brands that carve up the established ones. Lots of juicy case studies too with instructions for a 3 day breakthrough course. Very good.
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Brand New, Ed.Jane Pavitt 2000 V&A
For those didn't visited the exibition in the V&A in the last quarter of 2000 this is the book of the film. Lavishly illustrated and priced. And yes I bought it but no I haven't read it.
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The Experience Economy, Joseph Pine James Gilmore 1999 HBS Press
This book started with an article in Harvard Business Review in 1997. Basically brands add value by creating experiences. So marketers should think like a theatre producer and stop trying to sucker people into buying widgets. You'll sell a lot more widgets that way. Work is theatre. The book is worth the asking price just for the evolution of the birthday cake and the movement from branding commodities McVities Flour to goods (Betty Crocker instant birthday cake) to services (Birthdaycakes'RUs) to Experience (Birthday Party Organisers - the cake comes free!). I love the analytical stuff on the dimensions of experience: immersion versus absorbtion/active versus passive, and the section on strategy = drama, process =script, offering = performance. There is a very a dodgy chapter which shows the weakness of the metaphor. If performance is about projecting different personas to achieve a result then there's a big integrity issue -and without integrity you haven't got a brand. But all in all a mandatory read. Arguably the best way to add value to communications is to create experiences which add to and in many ways supplement the client's product. Safest way I know to protect my margins and my livelihood!
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Brand Spirit How Cause related marketing builds brands, Hamish Pringle Marjorie Thompson 1999 Wiley
This is a book which I found really interesting. In summary brands having exhausted rational and emotion benefits are now moving into belief systems. Loads of case studies - always useful when a client wants to link up with a charidy
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The Entertainment Economy, Michael Wolf 1999 Penguin
A bit of a patchy one this. It is a fascinating account of the growth of entertainment conglomerates and how strategically they hit you with the film, the vid, the soundtrack, the merchandise and the theme park plus the cable TV network. But I was waiting for it to expand on how it is more profitable for a brand to entertain a few people in depth than superficially amuse and divert millions. And why every single brand must start to entertain. Which it started to do but never really followed through.
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