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How can a book which has almost no pictures be the ultimate introduction to branding?

I was highly sceptical, and only added it onto to my list of branding books to buy because it was cheap. How wrong I was.

In 172 readable, small-paperback pages, Al Ries and his daughter Laura unveil the fundamentals of branding, stripping away the most powerful myths and demonstrating with a mixture of brand successes, failures, falls and rises, that they know what they are talking about. What's more, what they say made sense of many things I have been dimly feeling towards in my 20 years as a communications professional.

I suspect that this book oversells itself slightly. The title made me suspicious, and the definitiveness of statements which go against what you find in other books makes you wonder, at points, if what it's saying is really this cut and dried. I probably would have disregarded this book if I'd read it ten years ago: but practical industry experience convinces me that what it is saying is right, and the other books, which focus on choosing your name and redesigning the logo, are the ones which only understand a part of the picture.

It took me about an hour and a half to read this book, and I will never see branding the same way again. That's good value for you. On the other hand, I probably won't be reading and re-reading it avidly. It makes its points, which can be quickly revised from the chapter headings. Now it's time to move on.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants (or needs) to learn about branding. I can't imagine a better introduction to the subject for someone who already has enough industry experience to recognise what it is talking about. I wouldn't recommend anyone to _only_ read this book: it is an extremely sound beginning, not an encyclopaedia.

In terms of what this book is trying to be, I don't think there could be any higher recommendation than that.

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on 17 February 1999
I can't believe some of these other reviews. Some guy gave it 5 stars and admitted that he hadn't read it yet! I assume that isn't a plant, because it's too stupid to be a plant.
The book is good, thought-provoking, and has some real insights. HOWEVER, it is a little simplistic, and it's written for the brand manager of Coke. For those of us without 80+ years of brand history behind us yet, some of his advice isn't relevant. Also, some of his conclusions are just too simplistic: "Symbols are overrated and don't matter much anyway" (paraphrasing). Come on. You can't tell me the swoosh isn't a powerful asset, and the authors admit it, but they poo-poo the entire concept.
Section on naming is very insightful. And the hard advice on expansion is right on! Overall, good, and worth buying for any marketing person. But, this is definitely NOT the bible. Come on, people!
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on 27 May 2010
When buying this book I was a little concerned about the relevance of a 2003 edition in an industry that has moved on considerably since that time. How wrong I was!
This book is insightful, absorbing and thought-provoking with a plethora of examples that make each law easier to understand. Yes, times have changed but these general principles can be still applied to and observed in brands today.

I would say that coming from a business consultancy background, the issue of brand building versus business building (a conflict identified throughout the book) could be better tackled but even without an explanation of how you can reconcile the two, this book is a must-have for any business person, not just marketers!
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on 9 November 2002
This is one of the simplest yet most important books I read on branding. Al and Laura Ries outline 22 short rules for success in branding - or failure, if you go against them.
Some of these rules are very obvious, such as The Law of Credentials and The Law of the Name. Others are not and will you will have to take the odd deep breath and ask yourself if that really was what the authors meant. Once you think it, though, it all makes perfect sense and you're already on the next chapter.
The authors didn't even have to drown the reader with useless, obscure case studies, when examples of brands everyone knows about are so plentiful. The language is simple and relaxed and so very effective.
So, if you're not hoping for a treaty on marketing this is the right book for you. It doesn't matter if you're a student, a seasoned marketer or a consumer who wants to know what some people are doing to consumers' minds: you will find this highly informative, blunt, enlightening and very fun to read.
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on 24 July 2015
I purchased this book in an attempt to educate myself in how to build my brand as a science fiction novelist. This book is clearly laid out and written in language that anyone can understand. The sections are short and the main points, easy to remember. I feel however, that this book is more suited to someone within a more traditional company with a 'thing' to market. As an author/novelist, all but one of the sections could not be made to apply to me or my brand (which is my novels.) I was a little bored by the constant 'look what this company did, look what that company did" that fills each and every paragraph and it seems to me that this book is more of a history of branding rather than a how to book. The one section that can be applied to my books and my brand was a very helpful point, so for that I'm grateful and it is for this one point that I feel I can only award two stars.
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Let's be honest; we can't escape brands! In this book, Al and Laura walk you through the 22 key issues that make a brand a great brand.

With real examples from Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Rolex, Federal Express, Xerox and The Body Shop (but to name a few), the power of brands and the way in which they are positioned in our world is brought to life.

This is not just a book for the marketing professional; this is a book for everyone who owns and works with brands, be that a major corporation or a corner shop.

An easy to read and very clearly articulated book, Al and Laura provide an insight into brands that will be of use to all entrepreneurs, corporate 'types', students and small business owners.
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on 13 May 2001
Of all the business books I have ever read (quite a few by now) this is probably the one I have recommended to the most people. Despite being a thin book and an easy read to boot, it offers some deceptively deep insight into what does or doesn't work in branding.
I would certainly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in business, whether or not they are directly involved in brand development. For those who are, reading this is an absolute must.
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on 16 December 2008
I bought this book quite a few years ago and lost my copy so bought it again a few weeks ago. It is a great book on the essentials of branding and the authors take a simple, yet really informative look at what makes up a brand in short chapters that you can read on their own. As a marketeer I recommend this book to my clients as you can learn a lot about branding in a very short space of time. It is suitable for everyone and even my husband who is an engineer and usually doesn't have time for marketing "fluff" as he calls it, said he found it quite engaging and now believes himself a branding expert:-)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 December 2015
This is a no nonsense guide explaining how to build a brand for your business which attracts customers and increases sales and profits.

There is a big business branding issue that small companies shouldn't copy. I hate much of the advertising done by big businesses and the way that encourage small businesses to waste their money doing stuff which doesn't have a chance of working. How often have you watched TV adverts and wondered what it was all about and then struggled to remember the name, let alone any reason to buy that product instead of a competitor's.

Brand based advertising is too expensive for the majority of small businesses. However branding is one way a business can differentiate itself from competitors so I can't ignore the concept all together.

There are two aspects of branding:
1 - Brand awareness - how many people know the name.
2 - What the brand stands for.

Look at Ford. You know the name but what does it stand for other than "motor cars"? What image (if any) pops into your head when you hear the name? Its brand is spread too widely.

This book is all about the second issue, what your brand stands for. Name recognition isn't enough, except in extreme picking situations where you buy because you can't see any difference in the products but at least you know one name. The real aim of branding is to create a strong emotional connection with the customers so your brand means something to them.

This book, long considered a marketing classic, sends out a very clear message and is written in a way that's easy to read and simple to understand.

It won't tell you in detail how to create your own strong brand. You need another book for that. It will make it very clear what you're trying to do and what you must not do if your are going to create a brand which differentiates your business in a crowded marketplace.
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on 8 February 2010
I think its good book for anyone who is planning to start a business and wants to know some basic concepts of branding. I found it quite interesting. I am sure anyone who is not Master in Business will love this book. Good thing is the way its organized. You can read any section randomly as each one is independent of others. I loved chapters about Law of Category, Law of Expansion and Law of Contraction.
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