on April 20, 2004
I do a little consulting in marketing & branding. I've got five other books on branding sitting on the shelf, & I've plowed through four.
I wouldn't say those other books were a waste of time, but I'm confident that this one has more immediately useful information than all of them taken together. And I'm stunned that it as easy read, not only informative but *fun*.
This edition is the one you want, as it combines the 22 laws with the other 11 that pertain very specifically to the Internet. By the time you get through the first few, you will find yourself looking at every brand -- on television, in the stores, on your own shelves -- in a whole new light. One of the prime models, coincidentally enough, is Amazon.com itself. The authors' comments on this very site will probably open your eyes to how remarkable the Bezos legacy has been.
I've barely finished, yet this book has already helped steer me better as to some website questions I had been studying. It's already paid for itself ten times over, & I am certain that the benefits have only begun. The simple, clear differentiation between a company name & a brand name has, by itself, been a unique lesson, & I've taken to heart the stern warnings (& wonderfully absurd object lessons) against line extensions & brand dilution.
Don't let the somewhat bizarre cover put you off (as it did me). This is one of the few books that I intend to re-read on a regular basis, & I will read more Reis titles in the near future.
on October 5, 2003
This book was recommended to me by my business coach and I have not regretted the purchase ever. At first, I was a little concerned with the strange looking cover with the difficult to read font and the bright colors. My concern was that if they know so much about branding, why this kind of a cover.
But my concerns end with the cover as everything in between was very well laid out, backed by common sense and facts based on real companies. There are several examples used on every page to explain the total of 33 immutable laws (22 regular and 11 internet). We all intuitively understand branding because we are consumers and hence experience on a daily basis our purchasing being swayed by branding. So it was very nice to be able to read this perfect book on branding and understand so much in such a short time. It won't take more than a few hours to read this book cover to cover.
Let me share an example law without spoiling the book for you - #4 Internet Law: The Law of the Proper Name explains how proper names are better than common names for Internet branding. The clear proof of this is in the common names that never took off - drugs.com, university.com, wine.com, telephone.com, etc. and the proper names that did take off - priceline.com, amazon.com, etc. And I really like the explanation for why this law works.
So if you are a small business owner who can influence the branding of your business, products and services - go ahead and buy a copy of this book as you won't regret it. Of course, the content of this book is not restricted to small businesses. I am sure almost anyone involved in the branding efforts of the companies they work for will find it useful.
on June 5, 2003
The authors seem to think a company's success rises and falls on branding alone - no other factors (pricing, promotion, distribution, product quality, etc) are relevant. I suppose if you make your living taking consulting dollars from companies you need to build a mythology that branding is a mystic and powerful art that only highly paid professionals can master. They probably think the Titantic wouldn't have sunk if it had been branded better.
Many of their examples are poorly defended. As one reviewer put it they allow the reader to think of plenty of counterexamples.
The book would be much better with more analysis of success creation instead of repetitive bad-mouthing of 'bad moves'. For instance, they mention how Black & Decker successfully created the DeWalt brand, but the authors didn't discuss the appropriate scope for it. Should it apply only to drills? Cordless tools? High-priced tools? What would be the consequenses of defining the brand along these lines? Such a case study would have been more helpful in illustrating their points.
The arrogance of the author's make the read annoying, along with their neglect of the importance of marketing to the distributors as well as end users. For example, Coke needs to be in thousands of resturants, stadiums, and vending machines before it gets to consumers. This has ramifications on the breadth and scope of product line, not to mention distribution. Any marketing department has to consider factors like this, but the book oversimplifies all matters to branding decisions.
There are a few good points, however, about line extensions and cannibalization. Take the rest with a grain of salt.
on November 30, 2002
Marketing guru Al Reis has again teamed with his daughter, Laura, president of their consulting firm, to bring us another book on marketing. This one focuses on branding, an area that has been misunderstood and misused for years-by some impressive companies. It's quite an educational experience to see how marketing giants stubbed their toes by violating one or more of Reis' Laws.
Why focus on branding? According to the authors, "Marketing is brand building. The two concepts are so inextricably linked that it's impossible to separate them. Furthermore, since everything a company does can contribute to the brand-building process, marketing is not a function that can be considered in isolation." The branding concept should be of interest, therefore, to every executive and manager.
The book itself is unique. It's a slightly different size than the typical 6 X 9 business book. It's a paperback and very lightweight. HarperBusiness has produced a book that's so light, you can tuck it in your briefcase to carry a book with you without it being a burden. And the cover is orange. When's the last time you saw an orange business book? You might expect this book to be a bit contrarian, in your face, and maybe even a little disrespectful of all those marketing giants. You won't be disappointed. It's plainly written, not complicated, and may even appear simplistic at times.
The first part of this book presents chapter after chapter, explaining each of the 22 laws and giving examples of how companies have complied with or violated the laws in creating their brands. The authors pull no punches, providing evidence about how brands have won or lost, how they have built or destroyed companies, based on their understanding and application of Ries' Laws. The experiences shared can serve as valuable lessons to any company of any size.
The book as it is titled is finished at page 110. At that point, the authors take us on a journey through The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding. This is a bonus you wouldn't expect, since it's not referenced in the title. There is a small-print reference on the cover, but these hints don't do justice the 125 pages of internet-focused content. With more space devoted to the emerging issues of internet branding, you can imagine the depth and challenging commentary you'll find in this half of the book. A comprehensive index completes the book.
This book will raise some eyebrows and perhaps embarrass a few anonymous marketing managers who made costly errors. More importantly, readers equipped with the knowledge and insight from this book will have a better chance of doing the right thing with their brand development in the future. Read this book before making any branding decisions and save yourself a lot of grief . . . and money.
on December 7, 2011
What is a brand? Is it a name? A logo? A funky design or attitude? A brand is a symbol for an idea. More specifically, a brandname is a word that can be uttered in any country, in any 'language' and mean the same thing. If a company is consistent and strong in repeating the same message over and over, in time, its brandname will become synonymous with an idea. If the company keeps changing its stripes, the name never catches on, and means nothing. McDonalds is about Family Food. Subway is about Fresh. Pepsi is about Fun
If you get really good at this, as a Brand Manager, and you create a brand new product and its name can describe an entire category. A few examples of unbeatable brandnames often mistaken for actual words:Xerox.Band-Aid.RollerBlade. Even the iPod for a time was the 'placeholder' word that meant 'Digital Music Player'.
Moreover, brands are not only synonymous with ideas, they're synonymous with colors. Again, this only works if, after decades of promotion, the company has been consistent:Coca Cola is Red. IBM is Blue. John Deere is Green
The list here is short, because frankly, many companies screw this up. They pick the wrong color. They don't pick a color. They pick two colors. Pepsi, though a very successful company, foolishly picked Red and Blue as their colors when going up against the Red of Coca Cola (the leader in the market). Obviously, they should have just gone with deep Blue. They figured it out eventually, but they're still stuck with a blue and red logo. Oops.
Not only are companies brands, but people are brands too:
How can a man or woman have a strong brand? Stephen King has a brand (though recently he's moved away from horror). Stanley Kubrick had one. So did Steve Jobs. Kobe Bryant and Lebron James have brands too (you have to actually have a brand before you can get paid to put it on a shoe or T-shirt, by the way). Anna Kournikova used to have a brand, but she doesn't play tennis anymore.
These are names. And these are people who at some point in their lives were the first at doing something. They found their niche and they excelled. They achieved tremendous success often at a young age.
And yes, People can have colors. In the latter half of his career, Steve Jobs was almost never seen (even by his family) without his signature black mock turtleneck. Remember Eminem's white T-shirt and dyed hair? Same thing. When Eminem went away from that, he largely went away from the spotlight. He's basically a producer now.
How do you build your corporate and personal brand? Surprisingly, it's not done with ads. In a bit of brilliant irony, most people watching TV (eg. Superbowl ads) assume that advertisements are trying to push a companies products and brands to growth. After all, don't we hear about a company for the first time, when their new product comes out?
No. Wrong. That might be what some short-lived companies are trying to do, but that's not possible. The only way to grow is through publicity. And how do you get publicity? How do you get in the New York Times and Financial Post? You get there by being the first and the best. Only when you've achieved something of this stature do you start advertising'not to grow marketshare, but to maintain marketshare you already have. Maybe that's why Amazon.com doesn't need to advertise. And up until recently, Microsoft Windows didn't need advertising either. How could these two companies advertise when they seemed to have no competitors?
So look at your own career right now: are you the best in the city at anything? Best in the Country? Best in the world? How can you be number 1 at something? Shrink your focus until you are number one.
So, how do you grow? By always being #1, not by growing so much beyond your niche that you're no longer number one. Read that last line again. Look at Amazon: they used to be the worlds biggest bookstore. Now they're calling themselves 'Earth's Biggest Selection'. Kinda vague and'is it even true? Probably. But it also means now they're competing against' Wal-Mart. Was that the original Amazon brand? Buying clothes and electronics? No way. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is very smart, so he can probably pull it off, but it also leaves room for other companies to swoop in and focus on books. That's probably what the guys at Barnes and Noble are telling themselves.
Hopefully, you don't have to worry about competitors like Amazon. Hopefully you don't have to worry about what color their logo is, and what their market share is, because hopefully your company, your product (and your ideas and your personality) are so good that you don't have to own a current market, because you created a new one and own that.
More reviews like this on 21tiger
on October 22, 2002
I don't know. To me it just seems much too easy to wait for a company to fail and then analyze and formulate certainties about why it failed. Conversely it's much to easy to do the same for a company that succeeds. I have yet to see anybody make projections about companies that are executing certain branding tactics RIGHT NOW!!! If these laws are immutable then we should clearly be able to find more than a handful of companies that have mutated these laws and say "Yes they will fail."
My feeling is that these laws and bits of certainties apply only to the past. And since the past can't be modified neither can the laws that are applied to them. But what about laws for the future? And can branding and marketing laws for the future even exist? Probably not. Because, and I'm sure most marketing guru's will agree, the tastes and preferences of consumers are anything but immutable. They change all the time. Even our ability to recieve and process information quite frankly depends on our mood - and I make that statement as a consumer and not as a Advertising specialist.
I would not classify these ideas of this book as laws, but more as considerations. They are things to consider when making choices about a Brand Strategy. We can analyze to high heaven about why a Brand will pass or fail, but in the end it will depend on the fickle desires of the consumer. We do our best to forecast, but even the weatherman has screwed up a "Bright and Sunny" forecast on what resulted in a Rainy and Miserable day.
Consumers are no different. And it is improbable if not impossible that we will ever lock down End-All-Be-All laws that will encapsulate the "Whatever" attitude of the public.
on August 22, 2002
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding was primarily written by Laura Ries - Al Ries was a co-author on the book - in case anyone didn't know. Such information is available at their website. I rank this book a solid 5 star book because the insights / examples provided far outweigh any concerns / problems I found with the book. This book caused me to look at advertising / marketing from a different perspective in my daily life which is what I use to evaluate if something is a 5 star book
I loved The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding for the following reasons:
1. It flat out states the importance of marketing & branding, which is important to separate in the readers' mind before beginning. As they state "Marketing is building a brand in the mind of the prospect. If you can build a powerful brand you will have a powerful marketing program. If you can't, then all the advertising, fancy packaging, sales promotion and public relations in the world won't help you achieve your objective."
2. The Ries' call it like they see it. Excellent examples of marketing / advertising stupidity / effectiveness are provided.
3. They talk about the plethora of products that are produced each year.
4. They discuss how businesses must get inside a consumer's mind (AKA positioning) to win the war. Volvo = safety, BMW = Ultimate Driving Machine, Mercedes = prestige, Toyota = Reliability, Ford = ?, Chevy = ?. The Ries' clearly spell out an excellent reason as to why the U.S. automanufacturers are getting killed.
5. The book illustrates, as did the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, how companies dilute their brands through line extensions (I personally believe this due to my personal experience / buying patterns and observations of others.)
6. They point out the increasing importance of PR (public relations) compared to advertising. This is the subject of a new book by the father / daughter. Basically PR launches a product and advertising gives it life support is their main assertion.
I disliked The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding for the following reasons:
1. Overlap from prior books is definitely occurring. I have noticed this with Jack Trout's recent books too. I would estimate that 15% - 20%, at a minimum, of Trout's recent books and this book have been stated in one form or another in their prior works.
2. Some of the examples provide clearly refute other examples provided. On page 100 they state "the Mustang and former CEO of Chrysler Corporation (two powerful brand names.) In prior examples the authors clearly state that the brand is the maker of the company. Volvo = safety, BMW = driving machine, etc (you will find such features in all their vehicles -maybe not in Volvos convertible.) What does Chrysler stand for again? Minivans? I haven't exactly noticed it in their advertising......for a long time...
Conclusion: Buy the book. It is well worth the time and money. Most of my reviews are in business / economics and I encourage people to read them, whether here on Amazon or at my personal website. If you are interested in another good marketing book I highly recommend Differentiate or Die by Jack Trout or Seth Godin's book on permission marketing / launching an ideavirus. If you are interested in other subjects I would encourage you to read The Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner if you are interested in economic history - the book is international in scope and deals with the lives and times of the most famous economists in history. If you are interested in economic development / evolution of U.S. property history I would encourage you to read Hernando DeSoto's Mystery of Capital but note his lack of focus on corruption in certain countries. A great general business book is by the management guru Peter Drucker entitled "The Essential Drucker."
on March 11, 2002
I have read a few books written by Ries and there are two ideas that are emphasized again and again, that is, to focus and to place a word in the prospect mind. This book is no exception. The laws of branding built in this book are based on these two concepts.
"Marketing is building a brand in the mind of the prospect". I totally agree. People are exposed to an over-communicated environment, to place a word in the prospect mind can surely lead your company to success. In fact, in customers' mind, there is no difference between your products and your competitors'. Only by building a brand can you differentiate your company from its competitors.
I also agree that brand building is not just for marketing department but for the entire company, as a brand is not only composed of its name but also of its product, service, environment, communication and behavior of the company. Everything a company does is related to brand building. Therefore, apart from the name that includes the logotypes and the color, this book also provides us with a lot of ways to do with the brand. For examples, to focus in its scope, to achieve it with publicity and maintain it with advertising, to promote the category rather than the brand, to distinguish it from the company, to avoid using subbranding etc.
This book is clear in the format and the content, illustrated by plenty of examples of what not to do and lessons on how to brand in the customer's mind! I can get a lot of insights from it.
This book is worth reading! I highly recommend you to read it!
on November 27, 2000
After reading this book I truely get the feeling these two looked around their home, rounded up all the brands they ran across and decided to make a book out of it. Needed a few more bucks, I'm not sure?
I have never seen a more blatant use of glittering generalities in my life. All the examples they had were poorly supported, if at all. The law of contraction is just one example in which an analogy between the desire to become rich and acting like rich people, is flawed. The authors illustrate that if you were to start buying "expensive houses and eat in expensive restaurants" you wouldn't be rich, you'd just be poor. Well duh. They go on to say that you must do what rich people did before they were rich..."narrow their focus". While there is a modicum of truth in this it does not account for the continual refinement, and optimization that sucessfull brands adhere to on a daily basis, not just as a thought in the begining that you might want to consider. The argument basically states that you get rich, spend all your money, and once it's gone, that's it. Nevermind the work it takes to achieve and maintain your wealth.
There are morsels of information that get your mind thinking but if you can barrow the book from a friend I recommend that before I would purchase it.
on July 5, 2000
Focus. Don't do a line extension to save your life.
OK, this book is great and should be read by anyone involved in marketing (I mean come on, who doesn't have the 3 hours it takes to read this book). Unfortunately one serious drawback is that he uses plenty of examples to support his claims. Huh? Why is that a negative? Here's why: because it gets the reader to think of plenty of counter-examples that contradict his points. As another reviewer suggested the claim of "immutable" laws of marketing is a bit bold, but what the book does provide is food for thought in a highly readable context.
You gotta give the guy credit though. He takes a stand. And there's a lot to be said for taking a viewpoint and standing by it in today's middle of the road world.
If you don't feel up to reading "Focus," "Positioning," or some of the other texts by Al Ries, this one provides a lot of the insights in bite size pieces.
Despite the knocks against it listed above there are a few points worth acknowledging: 1. Al Ries is a legend in marketing. 2. It's a good, fun read with many useful examples worth keeping in mind when developing marketing strategies. 3. By reading it for yourself you can develop examples to refute a lot fo the laws and move along the path towards critically evaluating branding strategies.