ShoreBranding.com 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 ShoreBranding.com 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.

ShoreBranding.com Book Review – “Brandscaping” by Andrew Davis

 

Andrew Davis' "Brandscaping" (Photo credit: Amazon.com)

Andrew Davis’ “Brandscaping”
(Photo credit: Amazon.com)

Two of the first few blog entries we put together on here on Shore Branding were book reviews for my favorite six books revolving around branding and digital marketing over time.  While two others have been read this past year, neither were as enjoyable as Andrew Davis’ “Brandscaping”, so I thought it was appropriate to put together a review of the book.

For convenience, here are the write-ups from my top six books – Part 1 and Part 2.  I have to say that I would put “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Brand Partnerships” in the top three.  (Apologies to Mitch Joel…)

Brief Summary: [Read more...]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 8-18-13

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Here are this week’s Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding, the top stories in branding and digital marketing that caught our eye this past week.

#1 – Timeless Branding Lessons From A Young Steve Jobs – via FastCompany.com 

Premise: This write-up takes us back to the late 90’s and when Steve Jobs started to change the image of his Apple brand.  Using Nike as a prolific example of how to get branding “right”, Jobs obviously turned the company upside down and led it to become a global phenomenon.

Thoughts: With the release of “Jobs” the movie this weekend, there is no time like the present to cover off on one of the greatest innovators of his time.  Take a look at the ad from 1997 at the end of the link above; that was a phenomenal 60 second spot. [Read more...]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 4-21-13

Sunday Musings 2

Branding and Digital Marketing

We’re back after a week’s hiatus with our ‘Sunday Musings’ – the top five stories in branding and digital marketing from the past week.  As always, you can find the archives of this weekly write-up under the Blog-Sunday Musings tab at the top of the page.

#1 – 9 Ways to Become a Better Facebook Community Manager – SocialMediaExaminer.com

Premise: If you are looking to open a Facebook Community page or want to strengthen an existing one, SME provides nine easy to employ steps towards optimization.  Your community is a deep extension of your brand, so you’ll want to ensure you follow these steps to engage with your audience.

Thoughts: There are several items in here that may seem like commonsense to some but continue to trip up many.  Particularly of interest and importance was #4 – Know the industry; if you are running someone else’s Facebook Community, you must be engaged in said business or industry.

I am also a firm believer in each of the following; #2 – Have access to visuals, #6 – Answer questions quickly, and #8 – Respond calmly to negative posts.  While not always easy to do, particularly #6 and #8, you must take a step back and remember that your community is an extension of your brand and any trip-ups can have a large, negative influence on you or your brand.

#2 – “Google is testing One Today, an Android app for giving $1 micro-donations to good causes” – TheNextWeb.com  

Premise: Google has launched a new app, One Today, on its Android platform that allows users donate as little as $1 to charities and organizations of their own choice or preference as they are made available on the app.  The app is an extension of Google for Nonprofits.  While access is currently by invitation only, you can download the app in Google Play now and await the email invitation.

Thoughts: I love efforts like this from Google (and others).  As TNW states, while $1 may not seem like much, the ability to share your donation with others helps build word-of-mouth for each respective cause.  While I await the official invitation to join, in looking at screenshots, it seems as if you can donate more than $1 to any particular cause that may be of interest to you. 

#3 – “5 Reasons Why Building Your Online Brand is Vital” – 36Creative.com

Premise: In today’s world, building your brand online isn’t a choice or option, it is a necessity.  This article provides five solid reasons as to why you must build and leverage an online presence.

Thoughts: This felt like a nice summation of why you need to be online in order to build your brand in the 21st century.  It is a concise story that should help convince you and/or others to leverage the internet for your brand/business.  The fifth reason in the article – ‘Learn more about your customers’ – is an item that isn’t taken advantage of enough.  If you aren’t using analytics to better understand your audience, you are setting yourself up for failure.

#4 – “5 Easy Steps To Becoming A Google+ Wizard” – RivalIQ.com  

Premise: While people and brands continue to ignore Google+, the author creates a compelling case as to why this is a mistake.  There are clear benefits to being on Google+ right now – an engaged audience and advantages in SEO.  After this, there are five steps provided on setting up your G+ profile correctly and how to leverage the site appropriately.

Thoughts: When starting Shore Branding a few months ago, it was clear that beyond the web site itself, I was going to set up a Twitter page and a Google+ page; Facebook and Pinterest were added later on after thinking more about each.  Google+ is a tremendous tool to take advantage of for your business.  I completely agree with the two core benefits laid out in this article on why you should leverage G+.  As I have mentioned before, the Communities feature on G+ (the #3 step in this article) is a huge advantage for the platform that should be taken more advantage of by brands/companies.  Overall, this was a strong, in-depth summary of why you need to consider Google+.

#5 – “How Brands Shouldn’t Handle a Tragedy on Social Media” – Frank Eliason on LinkedIn.com

Premise: As you are likely all well aware, this past week presented more tragedy in the world, specifically in Boston and Texas.  While brands will always focus on their business, there always seems to be an outlier that takes things too far on social media.  Where is the line drawn?  This write-up provides a few thoughts, as well as secondary links, to help us remember what the appropriate balance is or should be.

Thoughts: The example provided at the top of this write-up from Epicurious and their tweets from the Boston Marathon makes my blood boil.  Brands and businesses need to draw the line and society really needs to get a grip of themselves sometimes.  Watching this week unfold, particularly on Friday through the news stations on TV and on Twitter, it was amazing to get a glimpse as to how things have changed so dramatically in just the past few years.

Twitter, and links from others on Twitter, provided “better” news than watching MSNBC, CNN, and/or Fox.  (Avoiding all political backlash by checking all three stations Friday; they were equally bad.)  Those stations were literally reading online comments, Twitter feeds, etc.  When they weren’t, they were making a mockery of news reporting.  The means of getting our news has certainly changed with the likes of Twitter and other online sources.  How far will this go and drastic will these changes get remains to be seen.

What caught your eye this week in branding and digital marketing?

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this week’s events.

Most Influential Reading – Book Review Part 2

Photo credit: ScriptsandScribes.com

Photo credit: ScriptsandScribes.com

Building off of last week’s article on some of my favorite books that cover branding and digital marketing-related topics/issues, here are my top three all-time favorites to conclude the book review.

Similar to the earlier reviews, below I have included a link to the online reviews on Amazon within the title of the book itself.  I’ve also provided a link to a respective page for each author (Twitter feed, own home page) for those that may be interested.

#3 – “Six Pixels of Separation” – by Mitch Joel

Brief Summary: [Read more...]

Most Influential Reading – Book Review Part 1

What's on your bookshelf?

What’s on your bookshelf?

Since the early 2000’s I have really enjoyed reading business-related books and novels on brand building, digital marketing, and the occasional book that gets your mind thinking in many different directions (e.g. Freaknomics and most of Malcolm Gladwell’s work).  With a focus on the former two subjects, here are my current favorites in rank-order.  I had a hard time narrowing this down to a smaller number, so we’re going to break this up into two entries.  The first will focus on numbers 4-6.  Next Wednesday, I’ll finish the book review with the top three.

Below I have included a link to the online reviews on Amazon within the title of the book itself.  I’ve also provided a link to a respective page for each author (Twitter feed, own home page) for those that may be interested.

#6 – “Engage!” – by Brian Solis

Brief Summary: [Read more...]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 2/17/13

Sunday Musings 3

Here are the links and stories that caught my attention in digital marketing and branding this week.  As mentioned in the first Sunday Musings entry last week, we’ll be updating this section each week with stories that caught my attention and found to be of particular interest.

#1 – The Brilliant “Most Viewed” Award from LinkedIn… – MarketingCommunicationsInk.com 

Premise: LinkedIn went over the 200 million user mark recently and they sent out notifications to the top 1%, 5%, and 10% most viewed profiles in 2012.  Their strategy of sharing this news across the web and with others seems to have been a success, as this was one of many articles written up about the initiative.

Thoughts: The writer of this particular link/article went through a similar set of emotions and thoughts that I had earlier this week when I received the email from LinkedIn saying that I was in the top 10% as well.  Was it spam, how many people does this actually consist of, and then admiration that LinkedIn was creating a good amount of buzz for their site.  I would assume this will now be an annual tradition for the site moving forward.  Here is the infographic that LinkedIn provided with the email that illustrates some of the more basic stats for their site.

#2 – “Here’s How People Look at Your Facebook Profile” – Mashable.com

Premise: Mashable provides some interesting perspective on how and where viewers tend to look on a number of social media / digital web sites through eye tracking.

Thoughts: I almost didn’t click on this due to the title and thinking it was only about Facebook.  However, I’m fascinated by eye tracking testing and where people are going/looking when they get to a web site.  Open up the gallery towards the bottom of the article to see the eye tracking results across a number of popular SM sites, including; Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Klout, etc.

#3 – “64 Google+ Content Strategies” – copyblogger.com

Premise: Copyblogger puts together a number of recommendations and thoughts on how to use Google+, along with the overall recommendation that you should use G+.  The article includes an in depth infographic at the end for your consideration.

Thoughts: Interesting thoughts and ideas here from the copyblogger.com team.  I tend to agree with a lot of their thoughts, including how to share, leverage G+’s Circles, linking your blog, etc.  While I have not used G+ too much as a personal web site in the mold of Facebook, I find the content in the Communities and the ability to speak to specific people through Circles to be tremendous assets for the site.  The Hangouts feature is still just at the cusp of what it can be and what it can become in the business world.

#4 – “Poland Spring blows Rubio #watergate moment, fails Twitter 101” – CNET.com

Premise: Earlier this week President Obama gave his State of the Union speech.  The Republican response to the speech was given by Florida Senator, Marco Rubio.  During the latter’s speech, there was a Twitter storm due to Rubio’s need to reach for a drink of (Poland Spring) water several times.  This could have been an excellent time for someone on the Poland Spring team to log into their Twitter account and jump in on the fun to promote their brand, but they failed miserably.

Thoughts: This is one of my biggest pleas with companies, if you aren’t going to use a site consistently to get your message out there, why bother signing up or post anything at all?  I could understand wanting to grab the page/name itself, but to post for some time and then just give up is another thing.  At the time of this writing, Poland Spring hasn’t tweeted since 7/26/10.  This was a tremendous opportunity for Poland Spring to get out in front of the action as it was happening and capitalize on it.

After Rubio’s speech, his team must have seen the news that this was creating and tweeted the following – a second, golden opportunity for Poland Spring to capitalize on!

#5 – “American Express Syncs with Twitter to Unlock the Purchasing Power of the #Hashtag” – AmericanExpress.com Press Release

Premise: Amex continues to strengthen its digital presence with the announcement that consumers can now tweet specific hashtags and buy products on Twitter.  The early partnerships with Amex include Amazon, Sony, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Bracelet, and Xbox.  All you have to do is sync your Amex card to your Twitter account and you are all set to start purchasing through the site.

Thoughts: Continuing to invent new means through the purchase channel on digital channels has been a real strength for Amex relative to their direct competitors.  This is another great idea for trial.  My one concern is the ease of how people can likely tweet the key words and then claim they didn’t mean to or want to do so or that they were just ‘fooling around’.  This really just comes down to user self-discipline.  Overall, I think this is a great idea and has the potential to grow with more partners.

What do you think?  Did any of these particular stories grab your attention as well?  If so, why?  Let me know if the comment section below.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 2/10/13

Sunday Musings 2

Here is the first ‘Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding’ entry. Here at Shore Branding we’ll be updating this section of the blog with up to a handful of articles that caught our attention over the course of the week, along with our own thoughts and perspective on any particulars from those links/stories. So go ahead and bookmark this page if you are interested in or engaged by digital marketing and branding efforts made by companies around the globe.

#1 – “What a $4 Mil. Super Bowl Ad Could Buy in Digital” – Digiday.com

Premise: With the going rate for a Super Bowl 30 second spot hovering around $4 million this year, the Digiday.com team takes a look just how far that $4 million could go if allocated towards digital marketing.

Thoughts: There were a few eye-openers in here. The two that caught my attention the most were:

  • 100+ million video impressions on Hulu – if you have a specific target audience and you know what show(s) are in that wheelhouse and available on Hulu, that is a heck of a strong investment.
  • Twitter’s promoted trending topic for a month – look, I love Twitter. I think it is a phenomenal medium to get your message out there. Stick with it, they will come.

#2 – “Get to Know Vine: Tips for Your Next Campaign” – Medium.com

Premise: Speaking of Twitter, you have likely seen the buzz on their new six second video sharing app, Vine. Brian Adams provides a few preliminary tips and early thoughts on the app.

Thoughts: I hate that Twitter only launched this in Apple’s App Store, as I am fully committed to Android in this household. While I wait for the app itself, there has been an app created to view other Vine videos. While still trying to think about appropriate/meaningful ways for businesses to leverage the medium, I think it can and will be fantastic for bloggers that cover sports, travel, food, etc.

#3 – “How to Maximize the Shareability of Your Blog Posts With Multiple Entry Points” – Dashburst.com

Premise: I think the title takes care of the premise, no? There are eight steps in the article to use / consider on how to better promote your blog, which can be synonymous with business here. There are a few technical items here to help strengthen your digital strategy and a few recommendations that can be easily applied, or at the very least considered, by small business owners.

Thoughts: Found this personally interesting as I am still debating on how to optimize the sharing tools for this blog myself. I have absolutely no interest in signing up for every SM site and trying to carry each article over to every single one of them. However, finding a scalable means to get content out there is critical and I’m still tinkering with that strategy as you read this.

#4 – “Forget about Social Media for a moment. What’s your mobile strategy?” – BrianSolis.com

Premise: Mobile is rapidly growing and that curve isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Is your brand or business focusing on its mobile strategy at all or are you solely focusing on “social media”. With the continued evolution of online behaviors, your business must be thinking about mobile.

Thoughts: Over the past few weeks, Facebook, Zynga, and others have released their Q4’12 earnings and one of the most talked about current and next steps for these companies is building and improving their presence in mobile. This is particularly true for these social media / digital companies, but it holds to form for any and all businesses as well. You do not want (potential) consumers going to your web site on their mobile devices and finding it difficult to use, read, search, etc. If you aren’t, please start thinking about your mobile strategy.

#5 – “Mobile Web Mastery: 25 Tips on Designing for Mobile Devices” – WeGraphics.net

Premise: Sticking with the mobile theme, I found this article in a Branding Community on Google+. The article provides more tips and thought starters when thinking about your mobile strategy.

Thoughts: The only recommendation in this article that I disagree with the notion of is choosing a separate URL for your mobile site. I just do not see the point in doing this in today’s environment. Most sites are building mobile friendly capabilities right from the start. On top of this, I hate the idea of having/sending mixed messages to your consumers when they visit your site from different access points. Keep it simple …

These are the stories that I found of particular interest over the past week or so. Barring unforeseen events, this will be a weekly write-up that I’ll be posting each Sunday with new stories and thoughts from the world of branding and digital marketing. I hope you stick around!