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The Brand Innovation Manifesto - How to Build Brands, Redefine Markets and Defy Conventions Hardcover – 5 May 2006
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"...a great addition to brand consumer communication methodology..." (Brand Strategy, June 2006)
"...read it..." (Admap, July 2006)
"...revolutionary..." (The Marketer, October 2006)
The days of the image brands are over, and 'new marketing' has gone mainstream. The world's biggest companies are pursuing a post-advertising strategy, moving away from advertising and investing in leading edge alternatives. In the vanguard of the revolution has been John Grant, co-founder of the legendary agency St. Luke's and author of "The New Marketing Manifesto", whose radical thinking has informed a generation. Now Grant is set to stun the industry again.In "The Brand Innovation Manifesto", he redefines the nature of brands, showing why old models and scales no longer work and revealing that the key to success today is impacting people's lifestyles (think Starbucks, iPod and eBay). At the heart of the book is the concept of the 'brand molecule' to which new cultural ideas can be constantly added to keep pace with change. Cataloguing 32 classes of idea, Grant presents a practical approach to mixing and matching them within your own market to develop new brand ideas - and new ideas for existing brands.See all Product description
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1. "A brand is nothing abstract, like some mysterious essence - it is simply the sum of ideas associated with it."
2. "Over time, the brand becomes like a molecule. Built up of successive and connected ideas."
3. "The way to manage brands is coherence, not consistency."
4. "Brands, like stories, are supposed to have a point."
Throughout his narrative, Grant examines each of these ideas with exceptional rigor and eloquence. In Section I, he shares his theory of brand innovation and suggests how to develop a "tight" strategy that will make a brand coherent. In Section II, he shifts his attention to 32 main types of cultural ideas (e.g. communities, habits, crazes) that brands can add to their "molecule." Finally, in Section III, Grant explains how to organize projects and develop new brand ideas as well as new ideas for existing brands.
Here is a representative selection of brief quotations from Grant's book that offer, I hope, some indication of the thrust and flavor of his thinking:
(1) "I have a different definition of a brand to offer:
A BRAND IS A (CLUSTER OF) STRATEGIC) CULTURAL IDEAS
I will explore the two (bracketed) other parts of this definition in the following sections. In this section I just want to explore the basis of this definition that:
A BRAND (has something to do with) CULTURAL IDEAS." (Page 27)
(2) "When the brand experience is richly cultural - as with Apple, BBC, Starbucks, Amazon, easyJet - and the means of amplifying that idea and attracting people to it are also cultural, then it is more apparent that brand creation and brand building become very similar, and should be continuous." (Page 53)
(3) "When people have studied viral marketing they have often focused on how an idea crosses over from niche to mainstream. One problem I have with the theory of viral marketing is that it relies too heavily on the classical marketing notion of messaging. My own take on `craze brands' is that, while word of mouth can play a role, two other factors offer a more complete description of the cultural process: imitation [and] reflexivity: the self-fulfilling prophecy effect of reporting by the media." (Page 177)
(4) "Consumerism at its most basic is the idea that ordinary people can live like kings...One catch is that once a generation has had a luxury for any time, it becomes normal. Yesterday's luxuries were car ownership, jet travel, eating in restaurants (these three being the mainstay of James Bond stories, a postwar austerity escapist daydream). Today's luxuries include gourmet food, high fashion, having servants. And there is a constant scramble by affordable `luxury brands' to stay special. Brands like Burberry have shown how fast you can go from `toff' to `chav' (i.e. from upper class to lower class) if you are not careful (and mostly it is out of your hands anyway)." (Page 203)
I specially appreciate Grant's pragmatism. After selecting a given "what," he devotes the bulk of his attention to explaining "how." For example, the suggestions for using the material in his book that are provided on Pages 272-287. First, set a strategic framework. Then analyze your own brand molecule and those of your competitors, "reframe" by trying out cultural ideas used in other markets, and then develop the ideas into detailed options that could deliver the strategy selected. If brands are as Grant asserts "clusters of strategic cultural ideas," and I agree, marketers especially should view themselves a cultural anthropologists whose primary responsibility is to formulate and then implement a brand strategy that is fluid, creative, and entrepreneurial. Extending the molecule metaphor, they must constantly add new ideas to keep the brand current, fresh, and fascinating. "The other vital component is a sense of focus and direction. Brand building is supposed to have a point, and your molecule should be more than just a ragbag of ideas; they should all be in the service of an overriding (and commercial) logic." Quite true.
That said, I presume to include in this review what I have suggested in countless others previously: Those who seek to create or increase demand for what they offer must be prepared to answer three simple questions, with the third being (by far) the most difficult to answer:
Who are you?
What do you do?
Why should I care?
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Theodore Levitt's The Marketing Imagination, Marty Neumeier The Brand Gap: Expanded Edition and Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands, Seth Godin's Small Is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas as well as The Marketing Gurus: Lessons from the Best Marketing Books of All Time edited by Chris Murray.
If you are a student or are just starting out then by reading and understanding the arguments raised here you will find that things start to make sense to you that others don't seem to grasp. There's a bus load of marketing books out there but if you only read three it should be the three written by this author!!
This book is very aware that theory and practice can often remain very separate. Though it does talk about some quite high minded stuff it also does everything it can to actually help you learn which ideas are the right ideas and then help you come up with them for yourself. Enjoy.
Insights on what is needed to come up with brand ideas that can become remarkable. We can all see the merit in looking beyond the normal way of doing things for a given brand in a given category but this book highlights specific areas to focus our thinking on. Once you know where to look it's easier to find something!
Definitely worth buying. Hope you find it as stimulating as I do.