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The Origin of Brands Paperback – May 11, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBus; 1 edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060570148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060570149
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,020,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This father-daughter marketing team, authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, believes that evolution is a useful analogy for marketers. Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to think of Darwin's tree of life. For example, the television tree used to consist solely of the three networks, but now comprises an array of cable and satellite offerings. The "phone" tree includes cellular, picture, computer, digital and other varieties. Using many examples, the authors explore this notion: "Competition between individuals (brands) improves the species. Competition between species (categories) drives the categories further and further apart." To survive in today's competitive market where technology makes innovations much faster than in the past, companies must continue to introduce new computers, cars, phones, food, etc. However, the drawbacks of expansion and innovation mean that some products and some corporations won't be profitable. Burger King keeps trying to launch new menus, essentially to compete with McDonald's. While McDonald's has had its own fiscal troubles, it continues to dominate the fast food market because it was first and has so many outlets. Along with their entertaining perspective on advertising and marketing, the authors offer specific advice including devising a new category rather than a brand. Innovative marketers will have a triumphant product if they create a category and launch with a clever name as well, such as Starbucks did for the high-end coffee-shop category. While the book is primarily directed at readers working in marketing, advertising and related fields, managers and executives at both large and small businesses will benefit from it as well.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Illuminating examples and wry humor combine for a delightful read.” (Harvard Business Review)

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Customer Reviews

This is a decent but biased book.
Mingster
Unlike many other business books, this one supports itself with hundreds of real-world examples of successful and unsuccessful products.
Winston Kotzan
One of those books that completly changes the way you look at the world.
Adam G. Gerle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John C. Dunbar on May 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
This latest book by Al Ries and his daughter Laura extends their previous work on positioning, brands, categories, being first in a category, and why publicity is more important now than advertising.
The authors draw an extended analogy to Charles Darwin's Origin of Species that runs through out the book.
In the business world Categories like computers evolve slowly through competition but also diverge rapidly through specialization. Over time those species that have won look quite different (lion vs. a tiger, for example). The same diverging is true with categories like computers where we now have desktops, laptops, palmtops.
The authors draw the parallel that this concept of divergence of the species also applies to categories in business. Understanding this similarity, they say, is your key to success in business. You just have to create new categories, and then dominate that category. But this book develops this positioning logic in ways that seemed much clearer to me than their previous works.
To succeed, you (the business owner/manager) must CREATE NEW CATEGORIES (palmtops), and doing this is MORE IMPORTANT than your creation of new brands (Sharp Zaurus). Creating a brand is more important because you must end up being 1st or 2nd in that category to be successful. (Sounds like Jack Welch's thinking of 'We're going to be 1, 2 or 3 in an industry, or else we sell that subsidiary.')
Through a slow elaboration of proof after proof, chapter after chapter, the Ries authors convince you to see the logic of what they have been advocating for the last 20 or so years on positioning, categories, brands and publicity.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Adam G. Gerle on May 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is my first time writing a review because its not everyday I get so excited by a book. But this is Amazing! One of those books that completly changes the way you look at the world. So many lights came on. After years of struggling to come up with viable product/service ideas and after countless hours reading business books on how to run and market a business after you actually get one going, I finally know where to begin in coming up with business ideas.It fills in so many of the gaps left out of most other business books.
Put all your other books away start your business reading here! This is not some cute, ivory tower theory. The book is brimming with real world examples, much like Positioning. And it draws heavily from Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution and most importantly DIVERGENCE. Survival of a species and survival of a product are very similar.
I had no idea what Divergence meant 24 hours ago. Now I can think of nothing else. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. I even paid full hardcover price at the bookstore because I couldnt wait for the info.
If you want an edge, get this book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Emanuel Carpenter... Author/Reviewer on September 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
What do WebTV, The Swiss Army Knife, and Miller Lite all have in common? If you said bad ideas, you're only half right. According to the new book "The Origin of Brands" from marketing experts Al & Laura Ries (The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR), they are also examples of convergence, which should be avoided whenever possible.

Convergence occurs when products produced separately are merged into one. The authors of this book offer an alternative, divergence or new products or services that stand alone. Relying heavily on examples from Darwin's "Origin of Species" the authors explain why creating separate categories are more beneficial to consumers, businesses, and the marketplace. The authors state "Did you ever see a tree in which two branches converged to form a single branch? Perhaps, but this is highly unlikely in nature. It's also highly unlikely in products and services." Instead, according to this book, divergence is the answer.

In the chapter titled "Survival of The Firstest," the authors give the best advice. They insist on the importance of launching a brand into a naught market, relying on the importance of being first. And if you can't be first in the market, the chapter "Survival of the Secondest," explains how to survive being second and how to overcome the competition. The authors explain how emulation is to be avoided and being the direct opposite of competitor's works best. They use The University of Phoenix, G.I. Joe, and Bud Light as successful examples.

Though this book tends to overlook some of the successes in convergence, like the car stereo and the caller ID/phone, "The Origin of Brands" is still an excellent book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Winston Kotzan on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before reading, I expected this book to list historical examples of successful brand names and how they developed - Coca-Cola, Kleenex, GAP, etc. But after reading, I was delighted to find that this book had much more. "The Origin of Brands" is one of the most practical business strategy books I have ever read.
The book finds a niche by paralleling Darwin's book "The Origin of Species." The authors give a refresher in high school biology by showing the development of a product is analogous to evolution. Just as how the canine species evolved into many different breeds of dogs - Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Terriers; a product like the television can diverge into new categories - plasma, projection, LCD, DLP, etc. It is through this divergence in innovation that new products can be created and new brand names can come into existence.
Contrary to the belief that entrepreneurs must find unfulfilled markets and seize a business opportunity, Al & Laura Ries say that success can be found through creating new markets. Before the introduction of light beer, there was neither a market nor a demand for light beer. But a new market was created with Bud Lite as the dominating brand. The recently popular Red Bull drink found its success by creating a new market known as "energy drinks."
The book also gives good advice on battling with your brand. If you are competing with the #1 brand in a market, the book suggests you do the opposite of the leader. Target provides fierce competition with Wal-Mart by providing the opposite - clean, neat-looking displays and wide isles. Home Depot and Lowe's have a similar relationship. It is through uniqueness that business must compete - not by following a trend.
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