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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 September 2005
This is an expanded edition of a book first published in 2003. In it, Neumeier develops in greater depth several basic ideas about how to bridge a gap between business strategy and design. My own experience suggests that on occasion, there may be a conflict or misalignment rather than a "gap" Or the business strategy is inappropriate. Or the design concepts are wrong-headed. Or the execution fails. Whatever, Neumeier correctly notes that "A lot of people talk about it. Yet very few people understand it. Even fewer know how to manage it. Still, everyone wants it. What is it? Branding. of course -- arguably the most powerful business tool since the spreadsheet." What Neumeier offers is a "30,000-foot view of brand: what it is (and isn't), why it works (and doesn't), and most importantly, how to bridge the gap between logic and magic to build a sustainable competitive advantage." Of course, that assumes that both logic and magic are present and combined...or at least within close proximity of each other.
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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 June 2010
Neumeier's book is a typical product of the guru type advertorial publications. Fittingly, it deals with the subject of branding.

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).
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on 29 August 2003
Marty writes in the introduction, "Your time is valuable, so my first goal is to give you a book you can finish in a short plane ride." I appreciate that. This is a small book (178 pages) that gets straight to the point. It gives you an overview of Branding. If you want to know more, then there's a recommended reading list at the end of the book.
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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on 30 November 2012
I haven't read the book. The title and subline was attractive but there it ends. When I received the book it demonstrated how god/bad design and typography can make or break the readability of a book. The cover is great and the production values are good but the size of type (too big for the page) and the layout (weirdly crammed up to the top left corner of each page) plus over use of block capitals and too many gimmicks make this book hard to read so in the end, I haven't bothered. Maybe a lesson to learn Newriders? I expect the content is good, but who knows? Sorry.
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on 11 November 2011
There are good points in this book, but many of the examples used suffer from being outdated. There's a section on web design which includes the statement "The concept of a natural reading sequence has yet to reach the bastion of bad taste we fondly call the web." Uh-huh. Also, Amazon is singled out for losing 31% of its brand value after "trying to extend its online book niche into an online bookmusiccameracomputerappliancebabyfurnituretoy niche--with predictable non-success." Because that whole Amazon thing didn't pan out at all did it? Oh yes, and Google is referred to as a "smaller brand".

I'm not saying this is a bad book, I'm just not convinced of its relevance. Having recently read Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek I would recommend that instead. Whilst not exactly a book on branding it provokes thought in a way that will be beneficial to anyone involved in this area.
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on 5 July 2004
This is a terrific book on a subject that has written about extensively but not clearly---until now. Most of the examples come from American companies, but the book isn't so much a collection of case studies as a system of principles, and the principles would apply equally to businesses in any country. The big idea of this book is that business strategy and customer delight rarely overlap. When they do, you can be the lucky owner of a "charismatic brand", reaping huge benefits in higher profit margins and a sustainable stream of customers. Buy this book as an antidote to all those cement-block textbooks on marketing you were forced to buy at university. This one is a total delight!
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on 28 December 2003
Stumbled across this on amazon by accident and gald I did. Moves along quickly in a Ken Blanchard / Spencer Johnson type way with no nonsense! Highlights the gap between strategy and creativity. If you are in any role within Marketing comms or branding, this is a nice reminder that real marketing is based in common sense!
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This is one of the least useful books on branding I've come across. It's artily designed with big fonts and in-your-face illustrations, with whole pages given over to statements of the brandingly obvious in big letters, reversed out, with nothing else on the page. In terms of content, this is essentially a long magazine article written in a chatty style with no footnotes or explanation.

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.
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on 20 May 2015
This is a must read for anyone in Design, Marketing and Branding. It sums up very well what is required to create and maintain a successful living brand. The future of branding is now - read this and a lot becomes clearer. I think it's clearly written and structured, so it lends itself well as a reference guide.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 June 2010
Neumeier's book is a typical product of the guru type advertorial publications. Fittingly, it deals with the subject of branding.

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).
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