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The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding Hardcover – May 16, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

To most observers, the Internet is too new a medium to draw any firm conclusions about how to use it for business. But the Rieses have already come up with 11 "immutable" laws. Each is somewhat counterintuitive, and a couple are downright debatable. Start with No. 1: the Law of Either/Or. It states that a Web site can be a business or a medium for information, but not both. Therefore, companies have to choose which purpose they want to use the Internet for. Is it a medium, a way to get out the message about an existing "outernet" business? An example of this would be a magazine that puts up a Web site to allow readers to sample its content and then order a subscription. Or is it a business, trying to make money by selling a product or service? The Rieses argue that when a company decides to do business on the Web, it's better off starting a new brand rather than trying to extend its existing name. Another debate might erupt over No. 10: the Law of Divergence. Rather than the Internet becoming a medium that combines radio, TV, and telephone service, the Rieses say technology always goes in the opposite direction--it splinters. They use the analogy of the combination car and boat someone once invented: it drove like a boat and floated like a car. Thus, the Internet will separate into different types of services but will never converge with TV and radio.

Only history will tell us if these laws are truly immutable, but one thing is certain now: there's not a paragraph in this book that isn't provocative in some way. Businesspeople may not take all the counsel the Rieses offer, but they'd be nuts not to at least consider it. --Lou Schuler

From Booklist

Al Ries and partner Jack Trout made positioning a buzzword with their so-titled book on marketing in the 1980s. Later they laid down The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (1993). Now "branding" is marketing's catchphrase, and Ries has already teamed with daughter Laura to set out The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (1998). Arguing that the Internet will change our lives more than either TV or the computer, the Rieses here offer 11 invariable rules for building brands on "the Net." They liken the current state of the Internet to that of the unruly, uncontrollable Wild West. Perhaps that is why this time around they can come up with only 11 laws. Regardless, the pair employs its own unique brand of common sense to look at what has been successful on the Internet and what has not. From their many examples, they extrapolate a straightforward canon that can be applied by companies big and small and by those doing business on the Internet and those that, with the Rieses' urging, inevitably will. David Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060196211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060196219
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding is a valuable guide for those who operate, work for, or invest in e-businesses. If this book had come out 3 years ago, billions would have been better invested. Perhaps the valuations of e-businesses would still be higher as well.
Al and Laura Ries point out that companies seeking to do business on the Internet almost always get it wrong. And those errors begin with their choice of a brand name to use, the services they offer, the form those services take, and the technologies they plan to use. Basically, the authors make the now familiar argument (if you have read their earlier work) that there can only be one winning name in a category, that this name will be a proper noun or two rather than a common noun or two. The lousy examples they give of poorly selected brand names would be fairly humorous if it weren't for all of the money and lives being wasted in an obviously losing effort. One of the most persuasive arguments they make is that most categories will be dominated by one brand, and that brand will be the one with the best brand name (assuming some level of decent service), not necessarily the first entrant. Thus, is praised for having a good name while is hissed for a generic one. Yet everyone believes that being first on the Internet is the only issue for dominating a category. Wrong!
Since their earlier work called for 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, I was pleased to see that the Internet is less complicated to brand correctly than a typical new product. The main reason for this is that the seller is dealing directly with the buyer, rather than through an intermediary like a bricks and mortar retailer.
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51 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book won't grant you an MBA in Web Marketing. It won't replace sound business practices. It won't be 100% right in its predictions. It won't make you rich. It won't tell you how to make a better widget for your web site.
"Ries & Daughter" provide Eleven (11) Laws by which you can judge any Internet business. These are helpful to investors, business owners, venture capitalists, designers, and stock option holders. Or if you just are interested in "the way things work" this book will be of interest.
But why should you consider this book when there are so many other Internet business books?
First, brand names are important. Look in your kitchen cabinets, the name of your car, etc. Look at the names of the web sites you frequently visit. A good brand name is an often overlooked part of building a business. This book's focus is Internet branding, something that is vitally important to every Internet web site and business.
Second, Ries is a good brand. Ries is co-author of Positioning, the most important business book I've ever read. His two other Immutable Law books are also considered by many as classics. In other words, Ries as been talking about branding for sometime and that knowledge is an important component of this book.
Third, 11 Immutable Laws is a good start. Another reviewer called it an "easy read." That is a high compliment since complex ideas get explained concisely without a lot of fluff. The book is full of examples and predictions. Names are named. I think the other books can wait until you read this.
Fourth, it will give you an understanding about why you like some sites and not others. After you read one law, you might say, "That was obvious.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Cory on March 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Positioning but Ries should have followed his owned advice on this one regarding brand extension and left these immutable laws to people who know what they are talking about.

This book is about nine years old and any "old" book about the Internet is going to be dated.

It seems he rushed this book based on cursory scanning of the Internet.

Here's a quick take on the "immutable" laws as seen by Ries:

1. Either/Or. Don't agree with this one. Brick and Mortar establishes credibility which is still lacking on the Internet. He cites Amazon and eBay as examples but they are the exceptions.

2. Interactivity. In 2000 (when written), interactivity was a buzzword. Today it's just a given. It's comparable to basing an immutable law around having a mouse and a screen.

3. Common Names. I agree with this to a point but it deserves more study.

4. Proper Names. Good advice.

5. Singularity. Completely off. Time will show that different sites and retailers appeal to different demographics, just like in the real world. The pie is big enough for robust competition (and will get bigger). The Internet is still a new market and has dominant brands. That is changing and will continue to change. Also, if singularity were true, there would be no need for the Washington Post, NYT, WSJ, etc. We would all read USA Today. Localization is still a big factor -- even on the net.

6. Advertising bigger off of the net than on. Ugh, he was so wrong on this one because he made premature assumptions. This was before the keyword boom and, to this day, e-mail marketing is still in its infancy. Advertising on the net has such a massive advantage because you can control and track EVERYTHING.
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