Making Meaning

This book was a little more focused on large corporations than I was expecting (eg: they discuss hiring ethnographers to roll out new services to foreign markets), but it had some ideas that really resonated with me. This passage describes my philosophy about brand development nicely:

Experience branding is a company’s effort to be consistent in its value proposition and its expression in every connection to the consumer.

I also marked the comprehensive – but not exhaustive – list of universally valued experiences. Of the 15 presented, I really think wonder, accomplishment, and community have the best potential for my future work.

Buy this book.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk

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While it’s not a long read, this book really does offer up the laws of marketing. This read dovetails nicely with just about any book on branding, I wish more designers and creatives read it. The ideas in the book aren’t especially novel, but they do provide a certain foundation of understanding for this kind of work. The laws in the book just make sense. A few favourites:

2. The Law of the Category
If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.

5. The Law of Focus
The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.

13. The Law of Sacrifice
You have to give up something in order to get something.

18. The Law of Success
Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.

Buy this book.

Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk about

The real payoff in this book is the explanation of the ten “engines” of remarkable products. This is light-years beyond the fumbling attempts to explain why certain companies are the favourites that some “branding experts” roll out. Going beyond shallow statements about branding, this book gets into the mechanics of the experiences that people talk about.

Buy this book.

The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People around the World Buy and Live as They Do

bibliography - 17If you haven’t seen Rapaille’s appearance on Frontline, it’s well worth a look. He has some fascinating and insightful conclusions about the way people think and feel about some everyday topics, but it’s his view about focus groups that really stands out in my mind: No one is giving you honest answers, they’re too busy showing you how smart they are.

Buy this book.

The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance between Business Strategy and Design

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Possibly the best overview of practical corporate branding I’ve ever seen, this book takes your typical “a brand is a promise” lines and gives them real meaning. The exercises in this book are a great starting place for any company wanting to examine its brand. Marty Neumeier has also published Zag, a similarly brilliant look at differentiation, which should also be compulsory reading for anyone thinking about brands.

Buy this book.