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Branding Only Works on Cattle: The New Way to Get Known (and drive your competitors crazy) [Hardcover]

Jonathan Salem Baskin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Jan 2009
Most people don’t know it yet, but branding is dead. Of course, we need to know about the things we want to buy, but the billions of pounds spent on logos, sponsorships, and jingles have little – if anything – to do with consumer behaviour. For example: –Dinosaur–headed execs in Microsoft ads didn′t help sell software. –Citibank′s artsy "live richly" billboards didn′t prompt a single new account. –United Airlines′ animated TV commercials didn′t fill more seats on airplanes. In Branding Only Works on Cattle , branding guru Jonathan Salem Baskin reveals that modern consumers are harder to find, more difficult to convince, and even harder to retain. They make decisions based on experience – so what matters isn’t how creative, cool, or memorable the advertising is, but how companies can affect consumer behaviour. Marketing communications, distribution strategies, and customer service are all contributing to the new branding. This book will be the essential guide to understanding and thriving on this new branding dynamic.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (16 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470742577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470742570
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,189,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I run Baskin Associates, Inc., which applies our proprietary Baskinbrand tools to improving communication about marketing and branding with the C-Suite, vetting strategy and tactical ideas on objective criteria for likelihood of success, and involving the entire enterprise in the development and delivery of great marketing and sustainable brands.

I write twice weekly about fantastic and foolish marketing on my award-winning BaskinBrand blog; a daily post about 2,000 years of social behavior do's and don'ts at Today in the Histories of Social Media; and I am a regular columnist on leadership in the CMO Strategy section of Advertising Age. I am a member of the advisory board of SocialMediaToday.com, and a Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

I have nearly 30 years of client and agency marketing communications experience.

I live in Chicago, Illinois

Product Description


"...provides an interesting read" (Brandchannel.com, February 16th 2009) "His observations generally are excellent, and his chapters on search, social media and the Internet in general are near brilliant." (BNET.com, March 24th 2009) "...a lively, chatty easy–to–read book...It′s well worth a look" (Research Magazine, April 2009) "Baskin′s book certainly has something valid to say...worth picking up...I would also recommend it for branding specialists" (TheBookBag.com, April 16th 2009) "Baskin′s thesis is compelling...worthy and brave...Baskin has at least started a debate." (Economist.com, August 7th 2009)

From the Inside Flap

Did you just flip the cover of this book to see the cow and grass the right way? If so, you’re already on your way to understanding a radical new idea: Behavior trumps branding. We can think about brands until, well, the cows come home, but unless your company and your consumers actually do things, branding is really a waste of time and money. You see, there’s an ugly secret the experts don’t want you to know: Consumers aren’t paying attention anymore, and they don’t believe or remember stuff anyway. So the traditional expectations of image and awareness are no longer valid. Since the digital world now connects people to one another – as well as to your company – your brochures, chat posts, or latest marketing tactics–du–jour better have real–time, 24/7 behaviors attached to them. You simply can’t expect to manipulate what people think when they – and perhaps your competitors – are already busy doing things. This is the first book that tells you why even the smartest, most memorable branding just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. In every chapter, Baskin reveals the dynamic, cutting–edge ways that brands are being reinvented around the world. Through detailed examples and checklists, he asks the tough questions that companies need to ask to get better answers...so you can start getting better results for your business. We all know that branding involves a lot more than just marketing. BRANDING ONLY WORKS ON CATTLE will be your essential guide to getting your customers and clients to jump into action. Want to start driving your competition nuts? Stop flipping this book and buy it.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Peculiar Animal 11 April 2009
This book on branding is a peculiar animal.

Argumentative, poorly organised and with a distracting number of typing errors, it makes for a difficult read. Which is a real pity because author Jonathan Salem Baskin has a number of very useful things to say about the world of branding. He's the annoying boy in class, the show-off who's so determined to make the rest of us sit up and listen that we're in danger in missing out on many of the sharper observations he has to offer.

Baskin begins by announcing a shift in the world of branding, a new heresy to the established orthodoxy, and declares himself its high priest. However, for much of the early part of the book, it seems that the orthodoxy he's challenging is `advertising-as-branding' as practised by large agencies, rather than branding itself, which can distract from the value of much of what he has to say.

But the real challenge is his assertion, repeated throughout, that his represents a brave new world of thinking. I'm not so certain that much of his thinking is new; it's just that those who ply their trade in the great shop-windows of the world largely ignore it. For many business-owners, much of what Baskin has to write will seem common sense.

After dismissing most of what passes for branding as useless (aha! he thought that might get your attention), Baskin proposes a new behaviour-based model instead. He argues that most branding activity is geared towards achieving results that have little to do with sales and suggests that, "corporations ask nothing of branding other than glorified name recognition".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Provokes you to re-think your branding 15 Oct 2009
Jonathan starts by denouncing much of what is put forward as branding to do nothing more than empty communication: what I call "image-wrapper branding". Its refreshing to see someone be like the boy in the Emperor's New Clothes, pointing his finger at much of the hoo-hah about new media as being nothing more than "sponsored entertainment": so what if 1,000,000 people watch them drink your cola and burp; does it sell any more cola?

The most interesting bit of the book is a topic I am really into: how to ensure branding is focused on changing behaviours, not just creating image. He suggests a new way of thinking about this as a "game", where you need to incentivice consumers to move along from awareness to interest to purchase.

It does take a bit of effort to get into, but its worth it if you stick with it as there are some genuinely new ideas in there. And not many books on branding can claim to do that.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Time We Put Fluffy to Sleep 18 Sep 2008
By S. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Let's face it, anyone planning on earning an income in the field of marketing today knows it's all about results. Fluffy, unquantifiable, "feel-good" messaging is dead, and Mr. Baskin clearly (and quite entertainingly) explains that branding is behavior. Without results, we're wasting time and money.

I'm a twenty-plus year marketing professional with Fortune 500 experience and stacks of advertising and marketing books on my shelves. Some books were never read beyond the first few chapters. Branding Only Works on Cattle is different. It's incredibly relevant to marketing plan development, and I highly recommend it for marketing and C-level executives.

Portions of the book made me wince at misguided efforts from years gone by, but illumination requires painful self-examination. This is how we learn. Baskin's "Chronology of Purchase Intent" describes consumers' movement from problem recognition to purchase. This continuum provides a perfect basis from which to create specific, measurable marketing activity. Examples and stories provide edification along the way.

If you're willing to accept reality, and formulate marketing that drives action, this book is for you. Or, keep stroking Fluffy. She'll come back around.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart Brand Thinking 13 Oct 2008
By P.R. - Published on Amazon.com
Every so often an observer with a kind of second sight comes along to cut through the clutter and tell us where the problems lie and how to solve them. Since marketing is characterized by the rapidity of change, clear direction is especially urgent as the digital world revolutionizes customer connectivity and the potential for instant messaging to millions of consumers is at hand.
Branding Only Works on Cattle notes that most branding efforts are wasted because the emphasis is on changing customers thinking rather than their behavior. Author Jonathan Baskin mentions the ubiquitous TV ads that don't tell you the purpose of the product or show the company name until late in the commercial after you've already left for the refrigerator.
Baskin points out that branding is expensive and usually goes unmeasured and that every branding claim must be evaluated against the sales it will bring in. Or put another way, most branding is made up of nouns instead of action verbs that are directed at customers who aren't listening much anymore and are impatient with intangibles. Branding should promote action and earn loyalty and only does so for high-quality products and services.
Guerilla, or word-of-mouth marketing, only works when it delivers something customers will talk about. Poor quality of service like trying to find a live person to talk to destroys brand benefits. Baskin also writes that branding for image rather than actionable customer behavior (getting customers to do something) is the business equivalent of buying a lottery ticket.
Buy this useful book, study it, and evaluate all future branding against measurable return on investment.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Measure branding--improve ROI 5 Oct 2008
By Richard Noyes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been following Jonathan Baskin's Advertising Age columns where he packs more insightful marketing information into a few paragraphs than you see elsewhere in a month. Baskin is always ahead of the curve, and he's way ahead in his fine new book "Branding Only Works On Cattle."
In the age of disintermediation, or eliminating the middleman, and going direct to digital customers, people have no time for vague promises and linty images. Or as Baskin writes, useful marketing is the play-by-play of changing customer behavior and most branding is the color commentary with the sound turned down. Your product or service, Baskin astutely observes, is not a cause for you to promote, it must have a purpose, and that purpose is to get customers to do something.
And branding should be results-oriented, absent guesswork and hope. When changes in customer behavior is the branding focus, action becomes a potent tool and has a whole lot better chance of landing a sale than some fuzzy concept ad. Most of all, Baskin argues, you must measure any marketing activity, including branding. Millions of dollars are wasted without statistical proof.
Baskin cites the impact of statistical quality control in manufacturing as taught by American quality legend W. Edwards Deming and how that management instrument can be used in marketing to measure results and evaluate ROI. As Hewlett-Packard Founder Bill Hewett once said, "You cannot manage what you cannot measure. What gets measured gets done." Branding Only Works on Cattle is loaded with useful gems that are fit for use. I'm buying copies for business friends and clients.

Richard J. Noyes, business consultant, formerly Associate Director of the MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Someone wants to sell something... 11 Dec 2008
By G. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
I loved this book. I'm not a marketing guy. I have been on the sales side for too many years to remember. I have been presented with countless marketing campaigns aimed at awareness and branding. It never made sense. No one focused on how we were going to sell our widgets. All that feel good stuff was nice and made for good banners around the office, but it never sold anything. We'd introduce hot products and the marketers would talk about the success of their brilliant branding effort. The next year when the products weren't so hot, the marketers would blame the sales team. Then came the web and all of the incredible opportunities to speak directly to customers, except we still talked at them with electronic versions of the tired old traditional campaigns. This book does a great job of describing what we need to do to sell stuff. Buy this book. Save some money while you increase your sales. What a concept.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good argument, but poor support 8 Dec 2009
By ARMAN KIRIM, PhD - Published on Amazon.com
I totally agree with the main argument of the author. His first chapters are strong. But then the book keeps getting weaker and weaker as he apparently finds it hard to find robust support to reinforce this nice argument. Instead he aggravates the strength of prose and turns his writing into an unnecessary complicated prose. If you have such a nice and strong argument, you should go for strong and simple evidence to support it. Otherwise patience runs until a certain point and one gives up reading the book which becomes repetitive and not so legible. That's what I did on page 178, i.e. stopped reading it. I think I canonly congratulate the author for putting such a brave and provocative title on the book cover but unfotunately can't further my praise to the rest of thebook.
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