Book review: “Brand Simple”

[Originally published on November 5, 2008]
Summary:  To build a great brand, pick something different and important about your product, create a simple branding message around it that generates an emotional response, and then stick to it!
Recommended? Eh, not really…you’ll get the gist in this blog post (you’re welcome).

Key takeaways:
What is a brand?
  • “A brand is what your product or service stands for in people’s minds; it might be an image or, perhaps, a feeling. Branding is the process of executing and managing the things that make people feel the way they do about your brand.”
  • A brand is a “promise that links a product or service to a consumer.”
  • “A brand simplifies choice. ‘Let’s go to Subway’”
What makes a strong brand?
  • “It has been proven time after time that the strongest brands are built on simple, compelling ideas that grab people by signaling that something is different from what they’ve heard and seen before and is relevant to their needs.”
  • “’Brevity is the soul of brand.’”
  • “The best brands connect on an emotional level, not a rational level.” Why? “Emotion almost always wins over function, even in the most commonly used or ubiquitous products.”
  • “For a brand to be successful it must stand for something different, and this difference must be relevant to its users.”
  • Brands transcend the category.  Think Kleenex for tissues, Virgin for airlines, etc.
How do you figure out your brand?
  •  “If you want to win you must know what you’re selling, find a way to prove that what you’re selling is different, and distill this difference into a focused idea that can drive and unite everything associated with your brand.”
  • Understand the market, the consumer, and the competition, and figure out what factors can enhance the product’s point of differentiation.
  • Speaking of competition, figure out what they say they do better then you, then make sure you communicate to the customer that you do these things at least as well as they do to get to parity.  Then tell them what you do better or different.
  • Make a list of desired – and undesired – associations (and their relative importance), to help you figure out your “brand driver.” What’s a “brand driver”? It’s what your brand stands for.  Find something different to say about your brand, make it simple and focused, and align it with your business strategy.  When finding something different, try to look for “an obvious and universal truth that no one else has seen.”
  • The author talks about something called a “BrandAssetValuator,” which is a fancy tool based on the interrelationships of four brand dimensions:
1.    “Differentiation – what makes your brand unique
2.    Relevance – how appropriate this difference is to the audience you want to reach
3.    Esteem – how well regarded your brand is in the marketplace
4.    Knowledge – how well consumers know and understand your brand”
Branding starts with the team
  •  “Everyone on the…team understands the simple idea on which the brand is based and knows how to bring it to life.”
  • Map the customer journey so employees know where and how customers interact with your brand.  If you have partners, resellers, etc., make sure they know how to communicate your brand as well.
  • You need a “brand driver” for external and internal use; the short phrase that captures the essence of your idea.  For example, take GE: “imagination at work.” This is important so employees know how to make decisions that align with the brand. FedEx is great example…what’s their promise to customers and to them selves? On-time delivery by 10:30am.  If you ever watched Castaway, remember the way that brand promise unified everything for everyone in the early scenes? And that last scene where he delivered the package: that’s delivering on the brand promise.
Alright, those are my notes from the book.  At then end he’s got a summary, which I..umm…summarize here:
1. “Understand that brand and branding are different concepts.”
2. “Establish a differentiated meaning for your brand that the consumers you want to reach care about—find relevant—before you try to begin branding.”
3. “Know exactly who you want to talk to—that is, know your audience.”
4. “To find a different and relevant brand idea, look for the obvious.”
5. “Make sure your brand idea aligns with your business strategy.”
6. “Capture the essence of your brand idea in a brand driver—a simple statement of what your brand stands for.”
7. “Draw a map of the customer’s journey with your brand.”
8. “Remember that brand building is a marathon event.”
Check out more on this book on goodreads!
[One comment from Otis: "Where’s the link to the review on Goodreads? Are you rolling in dough from all the Amazon affiliate links on these posts? Lol…"
[One comment from August: "Hey, entrepreneurs are not supposed to have time to read books! Get back to work and stop procrastinating :)"]


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