Brand Book Bites from Power Branding

the book:  Power Branding:  Leveraging the Success of the World’s Best Brands30_130_188_power_branding_book

– the brain:  Steve McKee, president of integrated marketing firm McKee Wallwork & Company and a popular marketing columnist for Businessweek.com.  Steve’s first book When Growth Stalls, was a terrific manual on how businesses get stuck and how they can get unstuck. Now he’s written a new book on my favorite topic!

– the best bits:  Power Branding is comprised of 75 insights about brands, branding, and brand-building.  Among my favorites are:

  •  #18:  Ideas Are It.  Steve explains how compelling ideas are “the linchpin to effective branding.”  This might not be a new thought but he further explains that the most powerful ideas aren’t branding ideas.  Rather, what’s needed are “business ideas that have branding implications.  If you want your branding to be more effective, ensure that it’s rooted in the idea that animates your company.” This ties into the brand-as-business management approach that I recommend. In my mind, your brand is your business, and your business is your brand.
  • #45:  Discounting Is Dangerous.  Steve’s POV on discounting is pretty clear:  “I hate it.  It’s distracting.  It’s demeaning.  It’s destructive and depressing.” An over-reliance on discounting “destroys brand equity, hamstrings investment in innovation, and zaps profitability.” Nuff said.
  • #57:  Accretion Is Amazing.  I have to admit I had to look up the word “accretion” to be sure I knew what Steve was referring to — but once I did and understood that he’s talking about a gradual build-up over time, “accretion” made perfect sense relative to brand-building.  He writes, “Accretion means that none of your efforts exists in a vacuum…Think of branding as a process, not a static point in time; if your message is steady and consistent, you can build significant brand equity.”  That’s why one of the principles great brands follow is to “commit, and stay committed.”

– the brand story:  One of the brands Steve includes in Power Branding is Zappos.  In the section of his book about Who (your audience), he explains that Zappos has identified “Happy Hunters” as its target audience.  Happy Hunters share some demographic and behavioral characteristics, but they are defined by their attitudes including that time is more valuable than money, shopping online makes them feel more productive, and they place a premium on customer service. By zeroing in on this target, Zappos was able to develop a campaign that grew its based of loyal customers.  This story resonated with me, not only because of its emphasis on targeting a specific audience, but also because Zappos’s target segment is inherently tied to its brand platform of “delivering happiness.”  That integration of brand identity and target customer is a distinguishing mark of great brands.

– the bottom line:  Steve’s book is a fast, easy read that contains great takeaways about branding and marketing!  Those of you who know me know I’m not a fan of the term “branding” but Steve does it justice.

Be sure to take a listen to my conversation with Steve — we talk about:

  • six questions that should be asked and answered in order to develop an effective branding program.
  • the problem with “marketing to the mirror”
  • price as an indicator of value

other brand book bites:


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