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BrandSimple: How the Best Brands Keep it Simple and Succeed Paperback – August 7, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

True to such observations as "Simple trumps everything," Adamson boils down his 25-plus years of experience in brand development to provide six clear steps to understanding what makes a good brand. Along the way, the current managing director for Landor Associates (a firm within Young & Rubicam) discusses how to sync branding signals with the "brand idea" to serve a company's business strategy. Using examples such as Apple and FedEx, he explains how the brand idea can be turned into an internal rallying cry so that the message is reinforced in the packaging and employees pass it along to current and potential customers. Throughout, he provides a dynamic first-person commentary on the thought process and activities that went into creating and repositioning iconic brands like American Express, HBO and eBay, though it can be odd in cases where he wasn't personally involved. Unlike other branding gurus, Adamson doesn't celebrate the industry's mystique and keeps his discussion jargon-free. The charts and graphs are immediately understandable and the exercises doable. The result is an unusually readable how-to book that will help anyone involved with branding understand what works and why. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


In a world of information overload and lack of trust in major institutions, the power of a simple idea conveyed through branding is more important than ever. (Richard Edelman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Edelman Worldwide)

An unusually readable how-to book that will help anyone involved in branding understand what works and why. (Publishers Weekly)

Allen Adamson reminds us that a product is out there but a brand is in our mind. A great brand is based on a simple idea that is unique and relevant. He supplies guidelines and dozens of examples that will inspire the reader who is hoping to develop a breakthrough brand idea. (Philip Kotler, S. C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management)

BrandSimple is a must-read for building and maintaining a powerful brand. Adamson cuts to the chase on what's important for brand success. (Eric Kessler, President, Sales and Marketing, HBO)

In this wonderfully engaging book, Allen Adamson explains why the best, most successful brands are based on ideas that are simple to understand. In a world inundated with brands, Allen makes it clear how and why the most powerful brands know the secret is simple. (Beth Comstock, President, Digital Media, NBC Universal)

It takes a long time to build a brand and a long time to kill one, so it pays to know what you're doing. If someone asked me for one book to read on brands--what they are and how to build them, I'd direct him or her to BrandSimple. Allen Adamson has captured basic and enduring brand concepts, explained them lucidly, and demonstrated their validity with lots of relevant case histories. The book lives up to its title. (Kenneth Roman, Former Chairman/CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide)

In this highly informative and entertaining book, Adamson cuts to the chase about what does and doesn't matter with branding. From his unique vantage point as a leader of the world's premier brand consultancy, he offers a wealth of examples to cogently argue that less can be more. Any marketer will enjoy and learn from this engaging book. (Kevin Keller, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth)

This book will help you see that the greatest brand opportunity might be right in front of your nose, but maybe too close to see. It illustrates how the simplest of notions will translate to a complex set of expectations that a true brand must live up to. And it is written in a way that is elegantly simple--a book that both veterans and novices will delight in. (Ed Faruolo, VP, Brand Strategy & Integration, CIGNA Corporation)

In the new economic world order dominated by excess supply and a powerful drive toward commoditization, the future product and service winners will be the stronger brands. Allen Adamson's BrandSimple paves the way to the building of enduring, powerful brands. A must-read from one of the leaders of the world's greatest brand consultancy. (Peter Georgescu, former Chairman/CEO of Young & Rubicam and author of The Source of Success: Five Enduring Principles at the Heart of Real Leadership)

In a world of communication bombardment, excessive choice, and increasingly rapid change, there is a large premium in effectively managing the signals that define a brand. The author draws from his rich experience and from examples in multiple industries to distill the simple principles that can make manageable the most complex marketing issues. (Toni Belloni, COO, LVMH Group)

Difficult is easy. Simple is tough. With BrandSimple, Adamson delivers the goods simply and directly--a tough and daring thing to do. (Joel Saltzman, author of Shake That Brain!: How to Create Winning Solutions and Have Fun While You're at It.)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403984905
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403984906
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Allen Adamson is author of The Edge: 50 Tips from Brands that Lead Including Apple, Zappos, GE, P&G, and even Justin Bieber; BrandSimple: How the Best Brands Keep it Simple and Succeed; and BrandDigital: Simple Ways Top Brands Succeed in the Digital World. Allen is also managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, a global strategic branding and design firm.

A noted expert in the areas of branding and advertising, Allen is a sought-after industry commentator and writes a bimonthly column for Forbes.com. He is frequently quoted in publications such as Advertising Age, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CNBC's Squawk Box and Closing Bell, and on the Fox Business Network. He is also a regular lecturer at national universities and business schools.

At Landor, Allen is responsible for all management and operations of the New York office, and overseeing branding efforts for a broad spectrum of corporate and consumer brands in industries ranging from technology to health care to fashion. Under Allen's leadership, the office partners with a wide array of clients, including Citi, Dell, Diageo, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, New York Life, Pfizer, and Verizon. Additionally, he provides brand guidance for non-profit organizations including the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Children's Oncology Group, Council on Foreign Relations, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Allen received a BS from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Tony Gomes on November 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Being the founder of a creative consultancy, I face the difficult challenge of differentiating my client's products and services everyday. Most of the books I've read on this topic are rather theoretical and, therefore, not very useful. Allen Adamson's "BrandSimple" is quite the opposite. It is chock full of stuff I can use to make me better at my job. It illustrates how a simple brand idea can cut through the clutter like a hot knife through butter. It also provides valuable techniques to help you get there. Real life case studies from clients such as GE, FedEx and Baby Einstein beautifully illustrate the points made in the book. I would recommend it to both marketing professionals and students alike. In fact, I have put "BrandSimple" on the required reading list for the graduate course I teach at Columbia University.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By NightMayer on November 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Books about brands and branding come across my desk all the time. All are well-intentioned, most have some wisdom to impart, many are simplistic, and few have the focus or wide enough range of experience to warrant serious attention.

Allen Adamson's "BrandSimple" warrants serious attention.

Adamson is Managing Director of Landor Associates, one of the pioneers in brand development that is part of the Young & Rubicam family. With brand (Lever) and ad agency (Ogilvy & Mather, Ammirati & Puris, DMB&B) experience, and client involvement at Landor alone with Citigroup, Diageo, IBM, P&G and Pfizer, among others, Adamson is in a position to provide an insider's perspective. And he delivers one.

"BrandSimple" combines theory and case study to amply illustrate the book's subtitle: "How the best brands keep it simple and succeed." The anecdotes are fascinating and instructive, and the descriptions of some of the tools available to brand marketers open new ways of evaluating brand performance.

(OK, it's a little self-promoting --others have similar tools to Y&R's BrandAsset Valuator and Landor's Brand Journey mapping. But Adamson gives clear explanations of these and other processes. Understanding them will help any reader approach a brand, or the process of branding, better.)

The highlights are in the details. The almost off-hand observation that, "When a brand has a higher degree of relevance than differentiation, the brand has become a commodity." Common sense to a brand professional? Of course. But how often do we overlook common sense when caught up in the day-to-day crunch?
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Lulu Raghavan on October 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
One of the most challenging (and sometimes quite frustrating) aspects of branding is coming up with the big idea on which everything is based. This big idea needs to meet a long list of criteria including being differentiated, relevant, applicable to internal and external audiences, emotionally engaging and, most importantly, simple so that everyone will "get it". Getting to simple is anything but simple.

But Allen Adamson's book BrandSimple does show how to simplify the process of getting to a big idea. It inspires you to pull out a pad and pencil and get to work on cracking that brand problem you've been struggling with for weeks. Allen cites lots of examples of the brand ideas of well established brands like GE and FedEx as well as fast-growing one like LeapFrog, Baby Einstein and BlackBerry. I found the stories behind the creation of the brand idea for many of these brands very interesting. The different brand ideas themselves led to new ideas for the problem I was working on.

My biggest learning from the book is to completely stop the use of marketing jargon (which as a consultant I tend to use a lot) and always strive for the simplest and most elegant solution - visual or verbal. Allen makes a very persuasive argument for why anything that is not simple is doomed to fail. And with the resounding success of brands rooted in simplicity like Google and Apple, I couldn't agree more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen G. Agnic on July 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
The book sounded good from all of these reviews, and it isn't a terrible book, don't get me wrong, however it dragged on forever about the same "keep it simple" ideas. It got old after the first 3 chapters.

You'll be bombarded with case study after case study, and you'll forget exactly what the author is trying to tell you. Its just overly stuffed with examples -- the book would have been just fine with half of the fluffy content it provided. While the examples were good, it came down to being too much. By chapter 8 I was passing up whole pages about companies and whatever their simple idea was that worked for them.

As other reviews have mentioned, I think the most useful chapter of the book was #9, where the author summed everything up into 10 ideas without any case studies involved.

If you need this book as a reference for simple brand ideas, there are plenty of examples in this to fulfill your needs. But if you're looking for a process or for answers to your marketing needs, this will not be it. It is purely example based.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Glatzer on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Simple ideas sell best, whether you're managing brands or people. So

critical to success today, yet too often ignored. In BrandSimple you'll

learn how and why simple ideas break through the clutter and make for

powerful and profitable brands. It's a wonderfully interesting book, full of

relevant examples and very practical advice.
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