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BRAND is a four letter word: Positioning and The Real Art of Marketing

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1599323275
ISBN-10: 1599323273
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The same people who think you can ‘brand’ something are the ones who ask us to produce ‘viral’ videos. What’s with these people hijacking adjectives and verbs for dubious marketing purposes? Just as viral videos are outcomes of smart, insightful thinking, so are brands. I just hope the marketing pundits don’t brand Austin McGhie a heretic for his spot-on ideas. Wait, did I say that?”

Tom Yorton, CEO, Second City Communications



“I’ll tell you what I like about Austin’s work, and why it’s worth reading. He’s written an angry book about what’s not happening in the marketing world. To me, it’s time to get angry and restate what many overlook or just don’t get about building a differentiated brand.”

Jack Trout, global marketing expert and author



Brand Is a Four Letter Word: Positioning and the Real Art of Marketing

If Sloan Wilson’s classic The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit personifies the top-down business culture of the 1950s, individuality rules today. And businesses must embrace this evolution, McGhie suggests in this perceptive exploration of evolving marketing doctrine. With the Internet impelling unprecedented cultural change, cookie-cutter conformity ensures mediocrity; the most differentiated, strongest products come from “oddball entrepreneurs.” Contrary to conventional thinking, McGhie argues that a brand is not imposed on the market but is awarded by the market; it is “a consequence, not an action.” This shift in perception manifests the need for a dialectic between producer and customer, with sincerity at the core. McGhie draws on his extensive marketing background to show how brands engage customers in company culture and persuade them to participate in the corporate “sense of mission.” Whether the reader accepts or condemns McGhie’s contention that the model of one-way persuasion is obsolete, the heightened significance of customer word-of-mouth reaction, or its electronic counterpart, seems unassailable. The customer, not the marketer, controls the brand in the brave new world of viral marketing. And McGhie’s argument that traditional marketing theories, though still adapting to new media, are not necessarily obsolete should intrigue both industry professionals and marketing neophytes.  - Publishers Weekly





“Creating a world-famous brand is easy. First, create a killer product. Next, read Brand is a Four Letter Word to get an idea of the kind of very hard (but very rewarding) work you’ll need to do to really make your mark on the marketplace. There may be no shortcuts on this journey, but this book is the road map.”

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

From the Back Cover

Creating a world-famous brand is easy: First, create a killer product. Next - read Brand is a Four-Letter Word to get an idea of the kind of very hard (but very rewarding) work you'll need to do to really make your mark on the marketplace. There may be no shortcuts on this journey, but this book is the road map.
-- Daniel H. Pink, author of DRIVE and A WHOLE NEW MIND

Austin McGhie deftly proves that, despite its ubiquitous presence in culture today, the word branding is the least understood word in the business of branding. From his 'Opening Rant' to the brilliant 'User's Guide to the User's Guide,' Brand Is A Four Letter Word is an immediate mustread for anyone interested in understanding the real business of positioning and business strategy.
--Debbie Millman, author of Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, President Emeritus of AIGA and Chair of SVA Masters in Branding

You might wonder why I would write a foreword to a book that often uses words and ideas that I've written many books about over the past thirty years. Words like “Positioning, “Differentiation or “Simplicity. In many ways it's déjà vu all over again. But I'll tell you what I like about Austin's work and why it's worth reading. He's written an angry book about what isn't happening in the marketing world. “Positioning and “branding are widely popular words that everyone tosses around but few really understand. If you doubt this, just look at the corporate wreckage in recent years. Just look at the silly advertising that often runs on television. Just look at Wall Street encouraging companies to do stupid things. Look at the short lived tenure of chief marketing ofcers. To me it's time to get angry and restate what many overlook or just don't get about building a differentiated brand. These are lessons that can't be repeated too often. So read on.
-Jack Trout, Global marketing expert and author

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Advantage Media Group (April 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599323273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599323275
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #777,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Brand strategy gets a bad rap. It's a discipline that's often maligned as ill-defined, airy-fairy, and impractical. Sadly enough, this reputation is often deserved because the so-called "experts" come across like failed self-help gurus.

So it's refreshing to find a voice who cuts through the crap and explains brand strategy in a clear and actionable way. From the "Opening Rant" to the end, the author Austin McGhie cogently makes his case that marketing is, in fact, the art of positioning. If you can position something to someone, then you will in time end up with a brand. But it's a myth that you can "brand" something.

Unlike many business publications, this book is an entertaining read. McGhie's writing voice is clear and compelling, with a real sense of passion. It's almost as if the author is in the room dispensing words of wisdom like "Marketing is judo, not karate". It's also great that there are many case studies and analogs that bring the lessons to life. As a professional marketer, I found myself thinking about how to apply the book's principles to challenges in my work.

Whether you work in marketing or you're just curious about why certain brands succeed, this book is a must-read.
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Format: Hardcover
Lord knows the world doesn't need another "branding" book, so I was delighted when the author opened with the statement: "Simply put, you can't brand something".

From that opening salvo, McGhie sets out to tear down everything the modern marketer thinks they know about branding, and rebuilds it from the standpoint of classical marketing approaches like creating a useful product, positioning it appropriately, defining your market and competition, and using the right amount of data and intuition to guide it to success. And along the way he provides a well-thought out series of examples of those who did these things well, those who didn't, and how to learn from each. The reward for doing those things well is a "brand" - nice concept!

The book is written in a light and breezy style, with just the right amount of insight , humor, self-deference and practical examples from his storied past to quickly make you realize this guy is worth listening to. The short, one-note chapters make reading a delight. And the book has something I don't see often enough - a simple chapter by chapter recap at the back so you can quickly find that one relevant portion you need to revisit right then and there.

All in all, a must-read for anyone who consider themselves a modern, savvy marketer.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read 3 other brand positioning books and this book for me is BY FAR the most insightful and actionable book I've read. Brand Against the Machine is a great book but left me feeling like it was written by a great practitioner that hasn't yet been able to generalise his marketing thoughts. The 22 Immutable Laws left me feeling like "Immutable" was a bit of a stretch and 22 was picked as a nice sounding round number. Brand is a four letter word provides a very clear and concise explanation of how to EARN your brand with your audience, and backs up the explanation with solid reason, experience and what feels like the author's complete honesty about the challenges you are likely to encounter when executing a great brand positioning strategy.

More specifically, this book generated for me the greatest amount of high quality action items on my to do list with a clear sense of not only how I was going to get them done but also WHY it is so important to nail them.

The only thing I was left wondering at the end of the book is whether I was the only one scratching my head as to how a Brand is a 4 letter word, not a 5 letter word!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book. A mix of often forgotten common sense and iconoclasm. Even some of us very experienced marketers get in a muddle about what is brand strategy, what is brand vision and what is positioning, but McGhie provides some plainspeak and irrefutable definitions and shows how they connect to each other. But what sets this book apart is the voice with which McGhie writes. He seems personally affronted by lazy marketers who espouse "branding" as a business strategy. He makes all of his points through examples -- he praises some brands but is critical of many as well. He's also refreshingly honest about the mistakes he has made. All in all, it is a provocative, useful, timely and honest book.
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Format: Hardcover
The last thing we need is yet another marketing book on branding. It's a topic that's been done to death. But wait - this book is actually fun to read, very accessible, and very engaging. The fact that the author writes from a position of strong, relevant experience helps a lot. So does his largely unfiltered attitude. Plus the book is loaded with anecdotes and stories all too familiar to all of us. Even if you are a veteran marketeer, you'll enjoy this. Good stuff and worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are no words to describe how superb this book is. I've read it three times and I still can't get enough of it. He writes like the thinks and I like it because I can relate. If you're having second thoughts about getting it, then put your mind to rest. This book will definitely motivate you to get your cogs working. It doesn't matter in what field you are, this book will get you inspired. Buy! Buy now!
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