Book – The Brand Gap

book“A brand.. is a concept shared by society to identify a specific class of things.

“To compare a brand with its competitors, we only need to know what makes it different. Brand management is the management of differences, not as they exist on data sheets, but as they exist in the minds of people.

“Strategy and creativity, in most companies, are separated by a mile-wide chasm.  On one side are the strategists and marketing people who favor left-brain thinking – analytical, logical, linear, concrete, numerical, berbal.  On the other side are the designers and creative people who favor right-brain thinking – intuitive, emotional, spacial, visual, physical.

“Unfortunately, the left brain doesn’t always know what the right brain is doing. Whenever ther’s a rift between strategy and creativity – between logic and magic – there is a brand gap.

Each brand needs to answer three questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Why does it matter?

The third question is the most difficult.


“Instead of building a brand on USP (the Unique Selling Proposition of a product), we should pay more attention to “UBS” (the Unique Buying State of the customers).

“Brand requires focus.  It is better to be number one in a small category than to be number three in a large one.  At number three your strategy may have to include a low price, whereas at number one you can charge a premium. …and risk of commodization is almost nonexistent.

“…The most important shift in business today is from “ownership” to “partnership,” and from “individual tasks” to “collaboration.”  The successful company is not one with the most brains, but the most brains acting in concert.

There are three basic models to manage brand collaboration:




The third version is the preference among advanced branders.  The company has to lean how to recruit best-of-breed creative firms from around the world and get them to play together on an all-start team.

“According to a recent McKinsey report, the next economy will see a significant rise in network organizations – groups of “unbounded” companies cooperating across the value chain to deliver products and services to customers.  By owning fewer assets and leveraging the resources of partner companies, these network orchestrators require less capital, return higher revenues per employee, and spread the risks of a volatile market across the network.

MAYA – the Most Advanced Yet Acceptable solution.

“When you think about it, branding is simply a convenient package for a business idea.

“Guy Kawasaki advises his clients: “Don’t worry, be crappy.” Let the brand live, breathe, make mistakes, be human. Brands can afford to be inconsistent – as long as they don’t abandon their defining attributes.

“Every person in the company should be issued a personal shockproof brandometer – a durable set of ideas about what the brand is and what makes it tick.  Because no decision, bug or small, should be made without asking the million-dollar question: “Will it help or hurt the brand?”

Book – The Human Brand

book-the-human-brandVery insightful book with case studies that I have not encountered in other publications.

The main premise is the definition of the brand as a person – an instantaneous evaluation in a two-dimentional scale of competence and warmth.

The evaluation can be applicable to people and also to brands.  Loyalty test, where brands and well-known individuals evaluated on the scale of competence and warmth give an interesting result, though, not an unexpected one 😉



As many modern publications, the book suggests that public short-term oriented corporations will find it more difficult to be perceived as warm and authentic.  This environment will give an opportunity to smaller organizations to generate loyalty and passion from consumers.

Authenticity and particularly admission of the obvious mistakes is very beneficial in increasing likability – for people (based on the well-known spilled coffee test) and a very interesting advertisement of Domino Pizza, where the company admitted that the pizza was not very good.  Domino’s commercial was rated high, and the company had the best quarter after the campaign, while spending less money on advertising.  An excellent alternative to “new and improved…”

Other interesting notes:

  • CEO ads are more effective than other types of ads, but not all CEO ads.  The CEO needs to be sincere and authentic.
  • Celebrity ads are outperformed by any other type of ads…  why are they used?  🙂
  • Groopon as a method of bringing of the new customers may not be very effective – it brings people who are interested in bargains in general and may not become the future customers of the establishment.  Success of the Groupon promotions is evaluated how employees are satisfied with the promotion.
  • Brands that are routinely highly valued by the consumers put customers, employees, environment and local communities ahead of short-term interested of the markets
  • luluLululemon – cult brand that does not own a CRM and technically does not have marketing…  the highest ranking marketer is the community manager – the brand does try to cultivate the community around its establishment…  Free yoga classes in the store before the store opens… partnership with local yoga teachers who’s classes are promoted on the site in exchange for promotion of the stores…  high quality of clothing that withstand wash.  Unfortunately, recent issues with quality and reaction to the issues from the company happened after the company became a public corporation.


MN AMA – How The Right Strategy Can Beat The Un-Economy

pic-1Another fascinating presentation by Bruce Tait from Tait Sabler.  In the difficult economic times, is it all about the price? No! 

Short-term decisions can destroy value.  “Emotional” benefits is not that important… “Utility” is important… but – what if you have value, but it is not perceived as value?

Decisions are made emotionally and then justified rationally. Value is often perceived as: value = functional benefit / price. But is it all? Leadership brands pay attention to value part of the equation.


It is important to “find an enemy of your brand” (not a competitor – an issue (not enough time, etc.)

Wal-Mart “out positioned” Target:
Wal-Mart: pay less > live better (more time/money for what you love)
Target: pay less > expect more (inexpensive upscale products)

People pay more for high-status item when they feel powerless…


Badge Model starts with functional benefits (what the product does), moves up to the external badge (how to appear to others), move up to the internal badge (reinforce positive self-image), and culminates with the transformational benefit (what the consumer hopes to become through the badge).


The most important – relevance and differentiation. Comparing on price leads to commodity. #1 reason why brands fail is lack of differentiation. This is the area where creativity is important.

HYUNDAI – now has 18% of the market. It was the first company that was able to connect its strategy with the most obvious fear of the times: if you loose your job, you can return the new car you purchased.

Why Obama won the competition with Hillary?  Branding!
Hillary – functional. Obama – movement.

Human brain does not change during “un economy.”