Friday, September 9, 2011

Brand Prime Cuts. Best Brand Books

There are a lot of good branding books out there. And, there are some GREAT brand books out there. These are the Brand Prime Cuts: the books that give perspectives on brand building, brand loyalty, brand value, and brand importance.

BEST NEW BRAND BOOK: Brand Like a Rock Star

What do Bob Dylan and Whole Foods have in common? How come so many down-n-out artists were able to mount comebacks? Would KISS have sold as many albums had they kept their name Wicked Lester? Read on.

Hands down, this is the best fun-read brand book in a long while. Author Steve Jones loads up this 240 can't-put-it-down pocket book with examples on how some of the world's strongest "rock star" brands (e.g. AC/DC, Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, U2, the Beatles) built their brands. He relates their "lessons" to issues facing more traditional businesses. The book also deserves an award for "best book title."

BEST CLASSIC BOOK: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

A few years ago, one of my branding mentors, DemetriosVakratsas, lent me his copy of Ries and Trout's book: The Battle for Your Mind. It's a fantastic and insightful read. Although the original issue is approaching 25 years old, the book got a 20th anniversary update a few years ago. If you want an evening read that is a perfect blend of anecdotal stories and theory, this book is for you. It's the book that I recommend most (and have handed out most) for folks who need a really quick study on branding.

BEST TEXT BOOK: Strategic Brand Management

In my opinion, every brander ought to have a definitive "go-to" brand resource. There hasn't been a better one published than Kevin Lane Keller's Strategic Brand Management. Now in its 3rd edition (pictured left, 2008), this book is based on Keller's 1993 Journal of Marketing Article: Conceptualizing, Measuring and Managing Customer Based Brand Equity. The text (and research) focuses on the brand as an information node that exists in the consumer's mind. Therefore, to build a strong brand, that brand information node can be enhanced by improving awareness of the information node and associations linked to it. The text gives a pretty good summary of many of the ways to measure the brand (particularly in the consumer's mind) and an outstanding text book summary on approaches to build the brand. The author of the book, Kevin Keller, is also the defacto Godfather of modern branding. Brilliant works.

BEST 30,000 FOOT OVERVIEW: Brands and Branding

The Economist publishes a lot of good stuff and this book is no exception. Editor Rita Clifton grabs a subset of the "who's who" of brand experts and compiles her book with a lot of insights on brands at the 30,000 foot level. Chapter 1, written by Clifton herself, is maybe the best chapter that I have ever read on the importance and value of brands to businesses, non-profit organizations, and society. It builds a compelling case for why brands are a wonderful part of our society. The book also covers other less-written about topics like brand protection and ends with perspectives on the future of brands.


One consumer-insights manager from Loblaws who has a deep interest in how the mind works put me on to Buyology a few years ago. In this book, Martin Lindstrom shares his perspectives and research on the subconscious reasons people buy. Some of his methods and perspectives are controversial too. For example- according to his research, the hideous pictures on tobacco packages actually excite a lot of smokers- the exact opposite of the pictures' desired effects. Lindstrom has a new book out (Brandwash) and we'll see how he follows up on his Buyology bestseller.

Monday, September 5, 2011

L’Oreal Lights it Up

It's always fun to get my readers contributing to mackalskionmarketing. The write up below gives some insights by Bianca Labelle on cosmetics branding. Let's take a look.

I’m a big fan of cosmetics. When applied and worn properly, cosmetics can beautify and glamorize its wearer- and transform her looks and her attitude.

I am not alone of my interest in cosmetics. Cosmetics are loved from Japan to Argentina. One British study (Britain is not usually a country associated with heavy cosmetics usage) found out some interesting things about women and cosmetics:

  • The typical woman spends an average of $150,000 in her lifetime on cosmetics (source).
  • From the age of 16, a woman will shop for mascara, foundation and lipstick at least five times a year, spending at least $50 each time. (source)
  • The average woman spends nearly 20 minutes a day perfecting her look. That is almost a complete year of her life getting ready to look great!(source)
  • 70 per cent of women never leave the house without applying some form of cosmetics, and that a fifth of the nation's boyfriends have never seen their partners without make-up.(source)
  • Two thirds of women surveyed said they would rather buy make up than go on a dinner date. (source)

Such a large demand for cosmetics naturally attracts competition. Not surprisingly, the cosmetics industry has a lot of competitors. Walk down any cosmetics aisle in a drug store and you’ll see product after product and brand after brand selling beauty. lists over 300 different cosmetics brands- and that number explodes when you consider all of the sub brands. My point is this. If you manage a cosmetic brand, it is really tough to get attention in when there are so many competitors. That’s why L’Oreal impressed me a lot with something they have done.

I was checking out the new eye shadow and I noticed L’Oreal’s new in-store brand presentations. You can see a picture below.

I find this display to be very effective for many reasons.

  1. It is the brightest display in the store, helping to attract attention to the L’Oreal brand and its products.
  2. The orderly alignment of the hangers/shelves means that there are no obstructions to the L’Oreal brand and product presentation. The brand name and logo are easy to see because the design of the display forces the retailer to present the brand name/logo/packaging facing the consumer.
  3. The presentation aligns the brand to what the brand is about. L’Oreal is selling beauty and glitz. The vibrant lighting reflects off of L’Oreal products’ shiny packaging- giving a jewel-like sparkle to the packaging (and by transitivity, to the L’Oreal brand).
  4. The brighter light makes the “small print” of the packaging easier to read. This is a very important point. Watch women make cosmetic purchases. They spend a lot of time in the store examining brands and products. Why? Most women purchase cosmetics because they want to feel that they are looking great. Therefore, reading packaging for instructions, product benefits (e.g. transform your lashes from dull to full), and ingredient information is a pivotal part of the purchase process.
  5. Finally, by contrast, other brand displays look dark (almost unclean) compared to the bright, glamorous, perfectly presented L’Oreal. It is almost as if L’Oreal is saying, “if we can present our packaging this perfectly and cleanly, think of how good we can make you look!"