Book Review – “Brand Against the Machine” by John Morgan


Go read this book! "Brand Against the Machine" by John Morgan

Go read this book!
“Brand Against the Machine” by John Morgan

Occasionally, I fall into a book and feel strongly enough that it is worth putting together a few additional words on it so that readers know that I feel it would be worth their time and investment.  That time has come as we have found another fine example with John Morgan’s “Brand Against the Machine”.

Brief Summary:

The traditional paths of marketing and advertising are broken.  In today’s world, how can you improve your branding efforts to maximize your profits and improve your positioning with your desired audience?  John Morgan takes you through the essentials – know your market, develop a strong positioning, and how to sell yourself to said market.

There are three key takeaways within the first 50 pages of the book that you need to keep in mind every step of the way and make sure you abide by these thoughts each and every day:

  1. “The future of branding is marketing with people and not at them.”
  2. “Branding isn’t about market share, it’s about mindshare.”
  3. (And potentially most importantly…) “Another thing to remember is that marketing tactics come and go.  Branding lasts forever.”

John reminds us that this isn’t going to be easy and that you/we are going to have to work hard to achieve your/our goals.  Keeping those three items in mind, “Brand Against the Machine” takes you through various channels in how to improve your branding efforts.

Why I enjoyed the book:

Before getting into specifics, there are two general reasons that I enjoyed “Brand Against the Machine”.  First, John’s writing style is thought provoking, but not at a “speaking down to my audience” level.  I found myself thinking of how I could apply his thoughts to my efforts throughout the book.  Second, there is a good amount of humor and self-deprecation throughout the read and that is right up my alley.  You don’t have to take yourself too seriously all the time, no matter how much success you may have already realized with your brand/business.

In Chapter 60, John lays out “20 Rules” … excuse me, “20 decrees” for a business.  Number 6 caught my attention right away.  This decree says, “Customers have to “get” an idea right away”.  No matter how great you think your idea is and how well you think you are implementing a strategy around it, if your audience doesn’t “get it”, you are in trouble.

After reading through the prior 59 chapters and having thoughts in my head on how to improve this blog, I found myself immediately going back to the drawing board on that simple rule/decree.  Look for small changes to hit over the coming weeks and months and if you find them, know that it likely stemmed from a thought that crossed my mind while reading John’s book.

One additional thought came to mind while reading the book.  John’s words provoked a thought and that was to send him an email to see if he would be willing to answer a few follow-up questions.  Well, he was and here is the small Q&A that we went back and forth on over email.

Q1. Given the constant state of change we see in branding, particularly thanks to digital and mobile, since publishing the book in 2011, is there anything in the book that you read now and say, “I would tweak this a bit … and here’s how”?  If so, what is it?

I think I’d push the reader more. Building and maintaining a successful brand isn’t easy but it’s worth it. Too many people back away when things get hard. The strategies in the book work as well today as ever. But they have to be implemented and that’s where most people stop. 

Q2. Obviously the book has been a success.  Is it fair to ask the next question … will there be a follow-up?

Yes! Although my next book isn’t a branding or marketing book. It’s about the core principles people must follow to achieve their goals.

Q3. What else is on your (virtual) book shelf that you consider to be a must-read for branding enthusiasts?

It’s not a branding book, but The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino should be required reading for any entrepreneur or marketer. I’d also recommend CTR ALT DELETE by Mitch Joel.

Q4. Quick, one example of exceptional branding that comes to mind in recent weeks or months and why?

The first that comes to mind is Carmax. They brand themselves on being easy to buy from and don’t include the typical hassles of car negotiating. I recently purchased a vehicle from them and right from the start they were great. No pressure, no hassle, and everyone who works there seems to be genuinely happy to be there.

Have you read “Brand Against the Machine”?  What do you think of John’s additional thoughts in the Q&A above?  Let me know in the comments section below.  In case you aren’t already, you can follow John on Twitter or visit his web site and be on the lookout for his next book release!

If you want to read our other book reviews, click here.  If you haven’t read John’s book yet, go ahead and order that now.