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Creative B2B Branding (No Really): Building a Creative Brand in a Business World Hardcover – 29 Mar 2010
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I've never laughed out loud at a B2B book before - but this is genius!
--twitter.com May 2010
From the Author
A confession. Try as I might, I've never been able to read a business book of any description from cover to cover. I've dipped into some. I've returned to a few. I've even quoted lines from a couple. But I've never been able to read the whole thing. I've reflected on that and have decided that, either I'm stupid, or the books are boring.
For me to read a book (any book) from cover to cover, it has to tell a good story. I like stories. When I build a brand, I'm telling a story. When I have conversations, I'm telling and listening to stories. The narrative is the interesting part.
This is undoubtedly a business book - you will learn about building business brands. You will also read some stories that, in my mind, are the interesting parts - because, as in life, the stories inform our learning.
Some of you will dip into this. Some will return to it periodically. Who knows, some may even quote lines from it. But I'd like you to read it from cover to cover. Whilst I've never been able to read a business book like that, I hope I've been able to write one.
Finally, this is a social project. I'm interested in your views, your brands and your stories - please share them with me. You'll find me on the web, on Linkedin and on Twitter. Google me, I'm there... but I'm not the weird, pervy Scot McKee on the third page of the search results. He's strange. I'm not. (No, really.)See all Product description
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With that said, I was looking forward to this book, especially as my employer had paid the best part of thirty quid for it and it had such stellar reviews. To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I'm not questioning the experience of the author, who (certainly on paper) has abundance of it in the field of B2B branding. But the alarm bells started ringing after reading the 'About the author', 'Introduction' and 'Foreward'. It become very evident over the course of these initial few pages that this was going to be a long-winded book with the author (and/or his publisher) adopting a 'chummy' and 'chat in the pub' style. This works well in small doses, but over the course of 220+ pages, it's tedious and numbing. From the outset, his friend and book endorser says the author has a certain way with words and people - he can wind people and be very direct. And that personality came through in the book.
You can get away with it to an extent if the content of the book keeps readers hooked, but for me this book lacked not only structure (it wildly swings from logos, employee buy in, taglines to social media and brand execution), but any coherent takeaways. In a way, it's targeted more at people who are starting a B2B brand from scratch - for experienced professionals who work in established B2B organisations, I don't believe this book offers anything you won't already know. Adding a tagline or changing a logo is very easy to say in a book, but the reality is much much harder, if not impossible. The inertia of some (many?) brands, regardless of whether they are B2B or B2C, knows no bounds. But the book doesn't cover this.
The overall issue I had with the book was it tries to cover too much without going into any details on creating and sustaining a B2B brand. It's mostly a lot of filler with a lot of "I did this" and "I did that" from the author. If you're looking to create or develop your brand, then I'd recommend the excellent Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team.
At +20 quid, Creative B2B Branding is an expensive and laborious read.
The journey that the book takes you through conveys the continuous need for improvement of B2B branding efforts. A brand is a confusing thing, it's not merely the badge or logo but a brand is all about perceptions in the minds of an audience. What we as marketers must manage are those perceptions in order to build a reputation that sets our company apart from the competition. Preferably we manage this in a creative way. The central message of this book therefore is: `B2B marketer, dare to be different!". In these often homogeneous markets we operate in, having a brand and reputation may well be the most important thing that makes buyers choose us. Not anything to think lightly of, and McKee doesn't. He pleas to B2B marketers to work on storytelling the benefits instead of merely stating the functional features of products or services. He uses a lot of real-life examples from his own experience to support this. The examples range from rebranding Eskimo's, using corporate brand tattoos, through to the use of dodgy stock photography and rocket science.
What's good about the book is that McKee uses his own voice to tell his story and while it makes you laugh frequently it helps you understand what he's on about. McKee is passionate about creative B2B branding - "Love is the magic ingredient" - and he manages to convey his enthusiasm effectively throughout this book. While McKee himself claims that he's never been able to read a whole business book I was happy to read his book, although I would have liked it even better if the form it was written in would have been more creative - it's a lot to take in and although the content is good, a more creative form could help to digest this even better. All in all a great expose on the way forward for B2B branding, with a lot of true to life observations, interesting statements and swipey, clicky things that you want to hug and kiss (really!).
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