Hundreds of people keep asking me which of my competitors I could recommend to them. And these same hundreds, and possibly other hundreds too, keep asking me what to read in order to better develop their own brands. I can’t help those first hundreds; I help brands in my own special way so I can’t really recommend any competitors, with all due respect. Fortunately, it’s much easier with those books.
I have only a few tips for you, not hundreds. It’s not because there aren’t enough books on the market; it’s because only a few of them drew my attention. And I have to choose only very carefully in order to recommend something with love. That’s why I’m even more excited to receive new tips recommended for my micro-collection to complement my existing group of favorites. Let me address them one at a time, though. Oh, before I forget – like I said before, I never classify books as good ones and bad ones, but as those useful to me and those useless to me. And your level of satisfaction depends on your expectations.
What is it you expect from books when you start reading?
David Ogilvy: Ogilvy on Advertising I consider David (may he rest in peace) the father of branding. He keeps convincing me that the term branding is just a post-modern effort to put a new name on an old thing, similarly to terms like networking, which refers to meeting people, and sharing, which refers to boasting. Advertising, marketing or branding? It doesn’t matter, but it’s been the same old routine for decades now – the more you are aware of what you want, the better the choices you are able to make on what you want to do. And what not to do. This David’s bible is more than 30 years old (actually, when he published it I was an obedient first-grader in a Communist country where brand marketing was on the same shelf as science fiction), and yet I like to use it for my work more than almost any other modern book. His thoughts on good texts, good advertising or efficient slogans will be an eye-opener for you even after those 30 years. You won’t regret it. And you’ll also understand a lot of connections from the marketing past that still influence the whole world of brands. Well then, have a nice trip to the past!
Marty Neumeier: The Brand Gap What is a brand? A logo? Marty’s The Brand Gap is just excellent, mainly for all those lost on the threshold of their own brandbuilding. Is your brand just butterflies in the stomach of your consumers too? Yes, this is one of the ways how Marty helps you understand brands – their connections, roles, and consequences. In a lot of ways, brands are like people; I’ve been saying this for some time despite other people disagreeing with me. And Marty only confirms this. The discrepancy between what we think about our brands and what the others think about them is the foundation stone of my work. And Marty’s Gap, too. Get absorbed in this fantastically written and generally awesome book and discover your brand Gap. And don’t stop there; start to work on reducing this gap, and Marty will be an excellent companion for you on that journey. You’ll learn a lot of practical tips and new perspectives to dust off your old paradigms. It may even make your head spin. And that’s what it’s about, right?
Margaret Mark + Carol S. Pearson: The Hero and the Outlaw Quite likely my most practical tip for today – a guide to the world of brand archetypes, which seem to have become so popular. When Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) first described archetypes, he could have hardly known how many marketing people he’d inspire a century later. His thoughts on unconscious structures in society and on shared stories in the unconscious were the basics of 12 key archetypes by ladies Mark and Pearson. This book is a well-prepared brand cookbook in which you can find clearly arranged insight into a marvelous archetypal world of brands and also a number of practical tips to use when working with your own brand, as well as on how to see your competitors or prepare your marketing activities. Beware, though! In addition to being the most practical tip, it’s also the most dangerous. It’s just like with everything in life. Here, you’re being given a sharpened chisel so you‘d better already be a skillful carver! In other words, the more conscious you are about your brand, the better The Hero and the Outlaw will serve you. Good luck!
Austin Kleon: Show your work Well, this is my new man, and also my new favorite! At first sight, Austin is far from brandbuilding, and big corporations could use this argument and just move on, but for a number of smaller and mainly personal brands, I consider Austin a real blessing. His book Steal like an Artist wasn’t the right thing for me, or it just couldn’t help me, as it covers exactly what I do and didn’t manage to push me any further. Show your work, though, is a totally different story. Oops, a totally different book, of course. I’ve lost count of how many people have contacted me with good ideas, asking how to begin. They have one thing in common –poorly structure effort when it comes to kicking their ideas into the world. That’s why they address consultants to get some advice. And what do I tell them? Come back in a year if your brand survives; you have to start yourselves! And Austin brings an excellent structure, practical procedures, and amazing tips. I read it in Toronto during my last stop on my mindless tour. I was sitting on the banks of the Ontario, the weather was nice, and I was excited to finally find an excellent assistant in my struggle to encourage excellent ideas and excellent people. I think I‘d get along well with Austin. And who knows – I may even have a chance to find out one day ;-)
Finished? Did you enjoy it? Then I’m sure your brands are going to enjoy it too. FEED THEM!