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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what the title says; no massive insights but still fun
From Google to ebay, Sony to Coca Cola, all these massive global brands started humbly - obvious enough, everything starts somewhere! But, this book looks at the "inventor" behind each brand, how he/she got started and how they built their empire, and where the company sits today.

Potentially this is a very dry subject, but I think it`s pretty well presented...
Published on 3 Aug 2009 by Little Cat Voom

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but weak
How They Started: Global Brands is disappointing.

The writing style and research level are on a par with a set of weak formulaic pre-university essays. The proofreaders failed to perform basic checks of grammar.

As per a standard essay there are a small number of quotes from people involved with the companies. These quotes are referenced and appear...
Published on 6 Aug 2009 by D. Clarke


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4.0 out of 5 stars A few revelations and a lot of interesting background., 9 Aug 2009
By 
AlanMusicMan (North Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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We live with global brands all the time. They are all over our TVs, all over our shops, high streets, magazines, newspapers, outdoor advertising, all over everything. But how does a global brand come into being, and how does it stay successful? Well, as this book shows, there are as many answers to those questions as there are global brands.

The introduction to this book portentously claims that by reading it you will understand how a global brand can be constructed and how you too might start a company that could one day be right up there with Coca-Cola, DK, Nintendo and the rest. But as you read each story, you realise that it's really not that simple, there is no common thread that lead the founders of these great empires to success. Even fewer of the stories chart an uninterrupted rise and rise; many of these brands - or rather the companies that stand behind them - have faltered, changed hands and then revived themselves. To that extent, many global brands are not the linear entities they may appear to be.

So, to begin, let's leave aside any notion of the stories in this book being an Entrepreneur's recipe for success, discard the notion that there is a single identifiable ethic or dynamic at work here that leads to success. The only common threads are the obvious ones, a good basic product, determination, flair and luck - and you wouldn't have to read this book to realise that. So, why should you read the book (and yes, you should in case you were in any doubt!).

This book contains a lot of fascinating background and corrects misimpressions and urban myths that surround some of the global brands. Coca-Cola was not created by black plantation workers who included a tiny amount of cocaine to ease the pain in their aching joints. It was created by an Atlanta pharmacist called John Pemberton, working in his back yard one afternoon in 1888. You'll find quite a few corrections to such myths or misconceptions in the book.

Adidas (named after its German founder Adolf "Adi" Dassler) was at one time run by two brothers. They moved their hitherto local business venture onto a new plane by giving away their superior running shoes to competitors at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin attended by Hitler and most of the Nazi party, the word spread and sales rocketed. Some luck and some acumen. When the brothers had a fateful quarrel in the 1940s they parted company, and the departing brother started Puma - Adidas' competitor of many years. We learn that the brothers never spoke to each other again.

Sony was started in 1945 by two inventors fresh out of the Japanese military, appropriating a bombed out department store in Tokyo, making and selling little radios. In the 1970s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started making computers for themselves and their friends and ended up with Apple Computers, successful due to teaming up their youthful geekish know-how with an established businessman who was looking for something new into which to put his money and expertise. Pierre Omidyar started Ebay when he realised that selling low-priced junk to a nationwide audience might not be viable in the pre-internet world, but was a really good way to use the nascent Internet....

and so it goes on. Lots of great stories in the book: all worth reading. But ignore most of the stuff in the introduction. You may be inspired by the individual stories to go out and start your own business, but you won't find a single recipe here that tells you how to make it big.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, insightful business book, 20 Sep 2009
By 
josie82 (Fife, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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This is a book about 21 companies, how they got started, grew and how they became what they are now - great global businesses.

There are seven different company areas covered in the book with examples from Clothing and Consumer Brands, Food and Drink, Manufacturing, Media, Services and Retail, Technology and Websites. There are about 2 or 3 companies in each section except from Food and Drink and Technology which both have 5 companies. The companies chosen are all well known and there was only one I hadn't heard of. Some of the brands include Coca Cola, Apple, Ebay, Dyson, Adidas, Volvo and many more.

Each chapter is about 10-12 pages long and so is easy to read while still giving interesting insights. The way in which the book is laid out makes it a great book to dip in and out of and you don't need to read the chapters/brands in order if you don't want to. With pictures and highlighted text, this is much more user friendly than your usual business textbook.

I would think this book is aimed at those people who are interested in business and brands. It's too basic to be of much practical use to those looking to start up their own company and it doesn't really tell you how the companies got their big breaks. It's not a recipe for business success however it is a very inspirational read, gives fascinating insight and a book that I would definitely recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wasted Opportunity, 9 Aug 2009
By 
Dr. Michael Heron (Robert Gordon University) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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Really, you'd do better just getting the list of companies covered in this book and reading the wikipedia page on each. To be fair, it does exactly what it says on the tin - it tells you how each of the companies started. I would have liked to have seen though something in the way of a synthesis of the key features that led to the success - why did they succeed when others failed, what gaps in the market did they exploit, etc, etc. There is a little of that, but it's all very surface level.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, easy read, 6 Aug 2009
By 
Tim (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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This book gives a brief but fascinating overview of several well-known brands, concentrating on the early years of each business.

It is well-written and easy to read, and assumes no prior knowledge of business terminology and concepts.

The coverage of each business is necessarily fairly brief, with each only getting a few pages. But for someone like me, who knew nothing about the history of these companies beforehand, it makes for a very good read and brings together a lot of interesting facts in one convenient book; it will probably not suit someone who is already quite well-informed about such matters, or who is prepared to scour other sources (such as company websites) to find the information.

The book is quite inspirational in an incidental way, but does not provide much by way of concrete advice for budding entrepreneurs.

There are a couple of minor irks: a few numbers are clearly very wrong (by orders of magnitude); and every page has an irritating "key sentence" extracted from the main text are reproduced in large font (rather a waste of space if one is intending to read the whole chapter anyway!).

One minor bonus is that the cover includes edge flaps which can be used as convenient bookmarks.

Overall it is entertaining and convenient, but not revolutionary.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A 'Toilet book' but moderately interesting in a very superficial way, 4 Aug 2009
By 
Dr. D. E. Goldwater "dodiceleedoo" (Bushey, Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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I was really quite excited to order this book as the idea really appealed to me. How did brand names like Sony, Pizza Hut, Ebay and Coca Cola get to be the global players they are today?

The format of this book splits the different companies into individual sections. A summary page at the front of each brand states the name, age and time that the idea was born with some other stats eg. how much money was put up front etc. A more detailed history follows for each brand with black and white pictures of some of the personalities involved.

This all sounds great but the trouble is, I really don't think you could read more than one brand at a time.

This really is a toilet book or a coffee table book to dip in or flick through. To do more than that proved quite boring and I found it quite a job to stay attentive for more than a few minutes at a time and certainly no more than a maximum of one brand in one sitting.

The detail is not sufficient to give any real insight into the personalities involved or the struggle that some of these companies must have faced.

In summary, this would be a book to put on the toilet shelf next to the Schott's miscellany and the SAS survival handbook. I would not dream of spending the £12.99 on the cover.

A middling 3 out of 5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coffee Table reading..., 28 Aug 2009
By 
Ed Meister "Web Product Guru" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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The list of companies is good but the editorial is very basic and in nearly all cases lifted straight from the Autobiographies etc of the companies or their founders.

A lot of duplication in copy in some places and very much a collection of snippets - but intriguing enough for a quick glance and read but if interested in the brands most of the information could be read online.

A nice read, if a bit shallow, but only worthy of an average review I'm afraid.
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4.0 out of 5 stars How did these businesses start?, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Ross Boardman "Ross B" (Staffordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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I was skeptical when the book arrived in the post, but it covered a few businesses I had bought from and was indeed curious about how they really worked and where they came from. The theme that runs throught the book is about the pioneering spirit of the individuals who founded these great names. This is not a tome about how a venture capital fund created a faceless empire but of the people behind the brands and their individual stories. With only half a dozen pages for each business, it's not easy to generate a full story, but certainly enough to produce a case study with some personality and meaning. My one criticism was a mention about the lack of female entrepreneurs that could have been used for the book, sorry Anita Roddick and Body Shop would have cleared that one up.
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2.0 out of 5 stars And your point is?, 18 Sep 2009
By 
P. A. Smith (Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
Although on the face of it this book looks quite interesting it did leave me a little bit perplexed as to what it was trying to achieve.
Yes it is well written and well laid out and I am sure that if you have a particular interest in the history of any of the 21 companies included then it may represent an interesting lesson for you. However, other than the facts about how the companies were first developed and the people and processes involved in that, it doesn't give you much of an insight as to what exactly it was that made them successful compared to any other companies in their similar field. And that is a far more interesting subject. So this book, although readable and fairly interesting, was a disappointment for me personally.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and a little inspirational, 10 Jan 2010
By 
Sam Moore (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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This book can be thought of in two ways.

For the general reader it's a fun look at how some of the major brands started. Not too much depth but short chapters about each company will entertain any interested in that sort of thing.

For anyone starting or running their own business, this book might make a nice addition to their bookshelf. It's not a how-to but it might provide a little inspiration along the way. If nothing else it will show that even the big brands don't get it right every time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, 29 Aug 2009
By 
Johannsen "Krister" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How They Started: Global Brands: How 21 good ideas became great global businesses (Paperback)
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A great book to have around when you have some spare time, and need to feed your curiousity. Some very interesting and inspiring stories covering many product areas. Ikea's founder selling matches at age 5 - real enterprise. Nokia beginning from a wood pulp mill, slight deviation in products there.
Overall - A great little reference book.
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