The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design : a Whiteboard Overview (Aiga Design Press) Paperback – 4 Aug 2005
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“The surprise book of the year!”
―JOHN MOORE, EDITOR AT FAST COMPANY
“The first book on brand that seems fresh and relevant.”
―RIC GREFE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF AIGA, THE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR DESIGN
“A pleasure to read. THE BRAND GAP consistently provides deep, practical advice in a light, visual way. Learn about the power of imagery and the role of research in building a heavy-duty brand―without the heavy-duty reading.”
―DAVID A. AAKER, AUTHOR OF BRAND PORTFOLIO STRATEGY AND BUILDING STRONG BRANDS
“Finally, a book that cuts to the heart of what brand is all about―connecting the rational and the emotional, the theoretical and the practical, the logical and the magical to create a sustainable competitive advantage.” ―SUSAN ROCKRISE, WORLDWIDE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, INTEL
“A well-managed brand is the lifeblood of any successful company. Read this book before your competitors do!” ―TOM KELLEY, GENERAL MANAGER, IDEO, AND CO-AUTHOR OFTHE ART OF INNOVATION
“In THE BRAND GAP, Neumeier reminds us that the ultimate moment of truth for all brands is the customer experience. Customer perceptions trump our own perceptions.”
―KURT KUEHN, SENIOR VP OF WORLDWIDE MARKETING AND SALES, UPS
“This is not just another book on brand. This is the ONLY book you’ll need to read in business, engineering, and design school.”
―CLEMENT MOK, design entrepreneur
“Must-reading for anyone who wants to understand how their business strategy will succeed or fail when put to the ultimate test: ‘Do customers perceive a difference that’s desirable?’”
―STEVE HARRINGTON, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS, HEWLETT-PACKARD
“The book slices like a hot knife through all the turgid, pseudo-academic nonsense that surrounds branding. It’s now on the course list for my graduate students, and new members of my team at Ogilvy get a copy with their training materials.”
―BRIAN COLLINS, EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, OGILVY
From the Back Cover
THE BRAND GAP is the first book to present a unified theory of brand-building. Whereas most books on branding are weighted toward either a strategic or creative approach, this book shows how both ways of thinking can unite to produce a “charismatic brand”―a brand that customers feel is essential to their lives. In an entertaining two-hour read you’ll learn:
• the new definition of brand
• the five essential disciplines of brand-building
• how branding is changing the dynamics of competition
• the three most powerful questions to ask about any brand
• why collaboration is the key to brand-building
• how design determines a customer’s experience
• how to test brand concepts quickly and cheaply
• the importance of managing brands from the inside
• 220-word brand glossary
From the back cover:
Not since McLuhan’s THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE has a book compressed so many ideas into so few pages. Using the visual language of the boardroom, Neumeier presents the first unified theory of branding―a set of five disciplines to help companies bridge the gap between brand strategy and customer experience. Those with a grasp of branding will be inspired by the new perspectives they find here, and those who would like to understand it better will suddenly “get it.” This deceptively simple book offers everyone in the company access to “the most powerful business tool since the spreadsheet.”
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Top customer reviews
I really couldn't recommend this book to anyone. If you know about branding, then there will be nothing for you here. If you don't know about branding, then you are liable to leave it confused, or at least, under-informed.
A much better choice would be The 22 Immutable Laws Of Branding or Wally Olins. On B®and, or, for a practical primer, Build a Brand in 30 Days: With Simon Middleton, the Brand Strategy Guru.
As others have already indicated, Neumeier provides a primer ("the least amount of information necessary") rather than a textbook. His coverage is not definitive, nor intended to be. He has a crisp writing style, complemented by "the shorthand of the conference room" (i.e. illustrations, diagrams, and summaries). Some describe his book an "easy read" but I do not. When reading short and snappy books such as this one, I have learned that certain insights resemble depth charges or time capsules: they have a delayed but eventually significant impact. For example, Neumeier explains why "Three Little Questions" can bring a high-level marketing meeting to a screeching halt:
1. Who are you?
2. What do you do?
3. Why does it matter?
I also want to express my admiration of the book's design features. They create an appropriate visual context within which Neumeier examines each of five "Disciplines": differentiation, collaboration, innovation, validation, and cultivation. Expect no head-snapping revelations. For many of those who read this book, its greatest value will will be derived from reiteration of certain core concepts which Neumeier reviews with uncommon clarity and concision. Check out the "Take-Home Lessons" (pages 149-157) which include
"A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It's not what you say it is. It's what THEY say it is."
"Differentiation has evolved from a focus on 'what it is,' to 'what it does,' to 'how you'll feel,' to 'who you are.' While features, benefits, and price are still important to people, experiences and personal identity are even more important."
"How do you know when an idea is innovative? When it scares the hell out of you."
Readers having relatively less experience with the branding process will especially appreciate the provision of an expanded (220-word) "Brand Glossary." Neumeier also includes a "Recommended Reading" section in which he briefly comments on each source. When reading business books, I much prefer annotated bibliographies such as Neumeier's to mere lists. For whatever reasons, many provide neither.
The basic premise is the brand gap, a schism between a strategy and innovation. Around that the author positions plenty of truisms and common sense advice on branding, together with the all too common simplification and reduction to the lowest common denominator. Like many writers on branding, Neumeier makes the standard mistake of 'when the hammer is the only tool you have, every problem has to be a nail'.
This is not to say that there is absolutely no value to the book - some of the advice is sound, the book is a quick read and the author definitely tries to practice what he preaches - to make himself a brand through the use of visuals and design (so there is some amusement value there, too). If all you have to devote to the subject of branding is an hour (aka the importance you assign to it is fairly low), you could do worse than this book. If, however, branding is an important part of your job, this book is sorely lacking as a guide.
The author does not help his cause by doing sloppy research and analysis and reporting many ill-informed preconceptions, common to someone who tends to skim the surface, rather than apply any rigour to one's task. This decreases the credibility of the advice somewhat, even if there is the odd piece in there, which is spot on (such as the advice on brand extensions, focus, etc.).
The branding above all else approach propagated in the book is more likely to lead to tears than to success but keeping that in mind, and being very generous in overlooking the author's many factual errors and lack of understanding of some of the industries described, there is just about enough in here for a third star (barely).
I get the feeling that every word in this book was carefully chosen and that was certainly true of the illustrations. There are plenty of those in the form of black&white photographs, diagrams & pictures that visually challenge you to think about the principles of branding set out in the book.
The book itself is beautifully produced on crisp white paper, which makes it a pleasure to read and a joy to own. I wish that more books were as well thought out, as concise as this one and produced to this quality.
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