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Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out Hardcover – October 1, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451685300
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451685305
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author Note from Marc Ecko

I am a brand, but I am not a label. My brand is Marc Eckō. You too are a brand. Whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not. A brand is not skin-deep. Labels are skin-deep, but a brand—a true, authentic brand—is made of blood and bones, muscle and organs. A brand has a heartbeat.

Unlabel explores the anatomy of a brand. And it uses the Authenticity Formula (1) to explain the cross sections of that anatomy. My brand started in my parents’ garage in Lakewood, New Jersey, where I spray-painted T shirts and sold them for $10 a pop. By understanding how to harness my fear (2) and separating perception from reality (3), I grew that brand to the tune of a billion-dollar retail business. I’ve built skate brands, hip-hop brands, magazine and video game brands. I’ve built brands that people literally tattoo on their bodies, which is “branding” in the truest sense. But the most important brand that I built was me, the personal brand that’s from my guts to the skin (4).

My philosophy is simple: unlabel.

Not “un” as in the nihilist or negative sense of the prefix, but in the “refuse” sense of the meaning. Refuse to be labeled.

Fight their labels.

Ignore their labels.

Peel off their labels.

Unlabel—and create your brand.

This takes work. In the same way that you do push-ups to exercise your body, you need to challenge yourself to shake free of the herd, find your own unique voice, and create your personal authentic brand.

Find your swoosh, your Apple, your Rhino.

Unlabel 1 L


"Marc is living proof that you can be a marketing and business whiz and still be a true artist." (CNBC)

Grand harmonic pop-culture convergence. Ecko is at a crossroads … the man is trying to step out from behind his rhino." (Rob Walker, The New York Times)

“No one has made STAR WARS cooler than ECKO. Marc's unique vision became a global force. This is the text book I wish I could have bought in college.” (George Lucas)

"[This] media mogul made millions by leveraging his ability to find the next big thing." (Business Insider)

"Ecko brings a sense of edgy wonder to his work." (Entrepreneur Magazine)

"The merging of different worlds is a recurring theme in Marc Ecko's life and in his work." (ABC Nightline)

"Marc Ecko imposes no limits on himself, or his sources of inspiration." (AskMen.com)

“Very, very creative. More edge than most." (Russell Simmons)

“In his role as entrepreneurial guru, Ecko is a sort of anti-Trump, using human frailty instead of unattainable omnificence to educate the next generation of dreamers….A compelling how-to guide…” (Kirkus Reviews)

"It is very rare to read an entire business book from cover to cover like you would a novel, and find within it a story that is so interesting and captivating that it immediately puts perspective on how you channel your own creativity and tell your own story. Unlabel is that book. At a time when every business person and company is forced to hustle and fight to be heard in a competitive world, Unlabel is the story of a man who clawed his way out of a garage and created a multi-million dollar company in the process. It is a success story, to be sure, but it’s one that shares the bruises, scars, and painful mistakes that every entrepreneur and business owner will experience (or some variation of) on the way to becoming his or her own authentic ‘brand.’" (800-CEO-READ)

More About the Author

Once a graffiti artist with no connections or fashion pedigree, Marc Eckō left the safety net of pharmacy school to start his own company. Armed only with hustle, sweat equity and creativity, he flipped a $5,000 bag of cash into a global corporation now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Eckō is an American fashion designer, entrepreneur, investor and artist. He is the founder of Marc Eckō Enterprises, a global fashion and lifestyle company. He is also the founder and chairman of Complex Media, the world's leading provider of fashion, entertainment, lifestyle, and product trends to young male tastemakers. Complex Media Network includes 110+ websites that generate more than 700 million page views and 70 million unique visitors per month. Eckō serves as an emeritus board member to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Big Picture Learning and Tikva Children's Home. Marc lives in NJ with his wife and three kids.

"Marc Eckō designed his future while putting his own spin on history. He's fearless and he built his brand out of his love of art and pop culture, without being seduced by nostalgia. Marc may have been inspired by Star Wars, but he made it his own--and no one has made Star Wars cooler than Eckō. His unique vision became a global force in fashion. For art and execution, this is the text book I wish I could have bought in college." -- George Lucas, Creator of Star Wars

"Marc has built one of the most significant brands that captured the essence of a generation. Marc is truly a pioneer and this book is a must for everyone that wants to understand how to be successful in today's cultural landscape." --Steve Stoute

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book to anyone building a brand.
Kenneth Baker
We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our success, so thank you Marc for sharing so much of your failure.
Marc has written this book very well, it's easy to read, very engaging and hard to put down.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tonya A. Ratliff-garrison on November 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book couldn't have come at a better time in my life.

On October 3, 2013, I was laid off from my dream job. I had created a magazine like no other in my chosen industry and it was beginning to show the signs of being successful. But a dysfunctional office culture created a situation where an insecure boss stole my brainchild as his own.

I felt exploited, as if I was used only for my innovative and creative brain. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. At 50 years old, I felt my career was over, and there was no way for me to achieve my life-long dreams. But Marc's book has helped me realize that is not the case, and that there is more to ME and my life than just one creation.

I'm still a "creator" and by using Marc's Authenticity Formula, I've shed the labels that were weighing me down and have discovered my brand, my authentic self.

Thanks, Marc! I just wish this book had been around when I was 20. I've already bought a copy for a friend in her own startup and I'm buying the book for each of my four 20-something children as their holiday gifts this year.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Scott Thrift on October 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Half way through the Kindle edition and I am already deeply grateful for the insights I've gleaned so far from Mr. Ecko's Unlabel.

What I've been able to see through Marc's eyes is invaluable. There is a real sense of history at play here that fortifies the designers focus on authenticity.

From drawing up 'Vote for Me' flyers to become the student body president in high school to the advanced maneuvers of 'velvet roping' an empty trade show booth with his brand placed elegantly atop a pedestal; there is a constant affirmation in nearly every page of the sheer value of doubling down on originality.

More than a rags to riches story, Ecko's tale is loaded with self effacing admissions of the dangerous side effects of success and lessons on how to counteract them with actual stress tested wisdom.

I've been aware of Ecko only intermittently through the mind stamping Rhino brand and I seem to recall when Getting Up, his foray into video game design came out but I'm someone who has always been suspicious of Graffiti as an art form.

Miraculously early on in the book I was educated by Marc, that what one mostly sees on the street in the form of 'graffiti' are called 'toys' - a moniker for nascent writers whose pens are cans. This seemingly minor insight clarified a confusion I have held for quite some time, namely, 'why does 98% of graffiti just look like practice?' now I know it's just a bunch of 'toys' and that graffiti, like any art, blossoms only after hours, days and potentially years of perfecting a style before you should manage Getting Up your first time. Wasn't it Voltaire who said 'one must write volumes before signing ones own name'? That idea wasn't lost on the ethos of Ecko.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Derek Halpern on October 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I had the opportunity to read through Marc Ecko's book - and the short of it is this: It was GREAT!

I run a website called Social Triggers, and I was sent an advanced copy of the book because I interviewed Marc Ecko on my podcast Social Triggers Insider.

Just wanted to be up front and disclose. That said, here's why I thought this book was one of the better business books I read this year:

1. This book was a GREAT mix between Marc sharing personal anecdotes from within his life, and action tips that other small business owners and entrepreneurs can use to further their business. In my experience, books either go too far to the left or right in this regard whereas I believe Marc stayed right in the middle.

2. Unlike most other business books written by business experts about themselves, Marc is super honest about his shortcomings and failures. There's a section he calls "Marc in Ecko Land." I believe his mistakes is something many newly successful entrepreneurs and business owners can fall prey to. While reading it, I couldn't help but think "I better not..."

3. The book is beautifully designed. It's got great information, action tips, but what makes this a pleasure is the GREAT pictures throughout the book to illustrate his points and his past.

That all said, this book has a little something for everyone:

1. If you're looking to get attention of influencers, the strategies he shares behind what he calls "The Swag Bomb" is a great way to do it.

2. If you're looking to get into self-development, the document he referred to as "Marc Ecko in 2010" is a great strategy. Just don't take it too far else you risk going to Ecko land ;-)

3. We live in a world where tech companies are all the rage.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Chris Curtis on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
'Unlabel' is a more authentic business book than you will find from other successful businessmen. Marc does a great job explaining his story, how he has been successful and helps you cut through BS. His writing style is really relatable and this is a book you can read in 2 days. You can almost hear him talking to you as you read the book. It is filled with endless creativity. I really like how he has used a number of 'equations' to bring some of the concepts to life.

If you don't know who Marc is, he is a very successful individual with a wide range of interests. He has his own fashion line and started Complex media. He is also the guy who faked out the country by 'tagging' Air Force One. One of my favorite PR stories of all time. He also bought Mark McGwire's record breaking baseball and sent it to outer space. Pretty cool guy.

So who should buy this book? Marketers. Artists. Entrepreneurs. Creators. Inventors. Writers. In a nutshell, "doers".

I believe you will find this book inspirational and really enjoyable to read. I've bought a few copies for friends in the advertising and marketing industry. Looking forward to hearing their thoughts.
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