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Why Johnny Can't Brand: Rediscovering the lost art of the Big Idea [Kindle Edition]

Bill Schley , Carl Nichols Jr.
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“There’s a Big Idea waiting inside your brand that can make you #1. Find it and shape it yourself—or competitors and customers will do it for you. And we promise, you won’t like the tagline.”

A few years back, a shocking best seller called Why Johnny Can’t Read woke up the education establishment and revived the lost art of phonics. Now, Why Johnny Can’t Brand blows the lid off the marketing establishment by reviving the lost art of the Big Idea.

According to Bill Schley and Carl Nichols, Jr., modern branding is a daily choice between real, muscle-building ideas and an immense smorgasbord of empty-caloried junk. The stakes are huge, especially in a world with 155 kinds of shampoo. So why do so many good companies choose wrong? In fact, why do most fail to differentiate at all—handing what some call an “unfair” advantage to the few who do? The surprising answers, and the exclusive, eight-week prescription to fix it, are here in Why Johnny Can’t Brand.

Schley and Nichols—who have more than twenty-five years of experience working with global giants as well as small, spunky, start-ups—present an in-your-face, no-nonsense guide to what real branding and communicating is all about.

The secret is uncovering and focusing on the Dominant Selling Idea—the one unifying idea at the center of every brand—before you charge ahead with advertising or anything else. The Dominant Selling Idea (DSI) is “the thing you do that’s superlative, important and believable, made memorable and tangible—the difference that makes people want to buy you.” It automatically puts you in a category of one.

In the often funny, page-turning style of two award-winning, former Madison Avenue communicators, Schley and Nichols explain:
1.Why real branding is the opposite of what you think
2. How positioning turns your brand asset from fool’s gold to real gold
3. Why Harvard and Stanford MBAs are the last to get it (but fear not—they can learn this too)
4. How to find your Big Idea in about eight weeks—then keep it...
and so much more.

Why Johnny Can’t Brand clears away the morass we thought was branding, just when we need it most. In a world with 300 million messages whizzing by every second, it gives us the ultimate ad- vantage—an inspiring, power-packed return to the secret of the idea centered brand.

—From the cover of the first edition

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

High-concept Super Bowl commercials, baffling corporate names, "formless positioning and flabby claims that lack any differentiating punch"—all come in for abuse in this sprightly old-school marketing primer. Harking back to the "Unique Selling Propositions" of the "Brand Titans" that bestrode advertising's golden age in the early television era, brand consultants Schley and Nichols exhort companies to redefine their products in terms of a single, mesmerizing "Dominant Selling Idea." They provide reasonably specific guidelines for arriving at a DSI, covering topics like market research, brand naming, visual imagery and—the heart of their method—concocting and laying exclusive claim to some special attribute through such techniques as combining two unrelated special attributes (Certs is a candy mint and a breath mint) or declaring a magic ingredient. They steer readers away from bland brand taglines and toward specific, wallet-grabbing, must-buy propositions like Black Flag's immortal "Roaches Check In, but They Don't Check Out." Writing in an engaging, straightforward style with a dash of wit and vinegar, the authors provide much useful, hands-on advice for perplexed marketing executives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Remember the sock-puppet ad during Super Bowl XXXIV that epitomized the absurdity of the dot-com bubble? Cowboys herding cats, singing chimps, and the AFLAC duck may be great entertainment, but they don't convey a thing about the companies they represent. They are not effectivebranding. Somewhere along the line, "Johnny" forgot the basics about revealing the Big Idea in an easy, everyday way that cements your brand as top dog in the hearts and minds of consumers without resorting to puffery and shallow glitz. It turns out it's the steak, not the sizzle, after all. The authors create a workable strategy for placing your brand in the number-one position in the minds of your targets in eight weeks by using a motivating difference called the Dominant Selling Idea--the one thing that distinguishes your brand at the point of purchase, whether you're Ford Motors or Tom's Lawn and Garden. Schley and Nichols are partners at david, inc., a branding consulting firm in Connecticut; they've worked with major global companies such as Coca-Cola and IBM. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1591841127
  • Publisher: N.W. Widener, Inc. New York; 2nd edition (June 7, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,403 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent "Back to Basics" of Marketing December 13, 2005
With so many branding "experts" around, its easy to lose sight of the fundamentals - here they are. A clear review of the basic principles of creating enduring, differentiated brands. Advocates a re-focus on the dominant selling idea as the primary driver of branding. Use this guide to break out of the "sameness" of brands and to focus on what your brand uniquely offers to customers. First half is branding theory and the second half is a "how to" map for implementation. It is a quick and entertaining read that is now on my desk for reference. I ordered copies for my team and have given copies to senior managers in my organization.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The #1 Branding Book for Anyone November 7, 2006
I'm only halfway through this magnficent book and have already recommended it to half a dozen people. I am fortunate to have stumbled across this book as I prepare to makeover my business (freelance writer) and web site. This book has me thinking in new ways and different directions than I would have without it, and I'm spending time identifying what my DSI truly is. Although this book is probably written more for companies, I think it should be a mandatory read for every independant contractor out there. Entertaining, common sense, and plenty of examples. Two thumbs up.
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Like many other things in life, books like why Johnny can't Brand get better and more appreciated with time. Here we are almost 5 years after its release, and the book's message of going back to the basics of what can make a company or idea the best is just as timely as when it was first released. It's not rocket science. In order to be successful, there is hard work involved to show why your brand is just as good---or better---for someone than another.

The principles outlined work if applied, and no matter how long you have been in business, there is still time to turn things around and make yourself relevant.

This is must read for anyone trying to make their mark. You won't be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! Bought used but came almost brand new. February 20, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is so fascinating and informing. The way it is structured and the content it provides is such an intuitive way to design and structure a book. Anyone could pick this up and enhance their brand or completely renovate it, or even start a new one! It touches on all aspects of what makes a great brand.

It was required for a design class I'm taking, and from a perspective of a graphic design student, every graphic design student MUST read this book, it will really set you apart from others in the competitive field.

Highly recommend this book and its seller.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book! June 9, 2008
This book is a real eye opener. I gained so much clarity where I was previously confused. I fell in love with it and am so thankful that the writers were willing to tell me all these amazing secrets and truths for just the price of the book!! I would recommend it to any business/product owner. However, I really don't want my competitors to get ahold of this book!
I am now excited about re branding my business! Totally motivated. It was also enjoyable and entertaining to read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear explanations, practical ideas August 3, 2007
Don't let the unfortunate choice of title turn you away from this book. It is full of clear explanations and practical advice, especially if you're trying to build a new brand. One drawback: It is too focused on consumer brands and doesn't really address the issues of branding for business-to-business sales.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book! March 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very clearly written and complete. It gives a step y step approach to branding and helps understand the complexity but in simple easy to read terms! Well done!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute essential December 2, 2008
I got lucky. I found this book at a local book fair and probably would not have found it otherwise. If you are serious about marketing and business branding then you must read this book.

Despite the unfortunate title, "Why Johnny Can't Brand" is probably one of the most practical, concise and informative books on branding that I've ever read.

Bill Schley and Carl Nichols update the old Unique Selling Proposition (USP) concept and transform it into a much more workable and achievable Dominant Selling Idea (DSI) that must be superlative, important, believable, memorable and tangible. The first half of the book is a veritable treasure trove of information that clearly comes from practical brand management career experience rather than ivory tower thinking. The "Granite Pages" contain a list of 17 rules that all powerful brands must follow in order to resonate with the right audience. Not since Ries & Trout in "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" has there been such a clear definition of what marketing must do in order to create products and services that fully resonate with customers.

The second half of the book contains an 8 week plan to define or redefine your own brand so it will be #1 in its category. Yes, it is really achievable.

A wonderful book that is a must read for the marketing professional. I'm glad the book found its way to me.
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