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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
23
Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands
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on May 13, 2008
A This is a clearly written book about "accidental" entrepreneurs, who remained true to their brand promise. Vinjamuri has defined an accidental brand as one where:

1. An individual who is not trained in marketing must create the brand
2. The individual must experience the problem that the brand solves.
3. The individual must control the brand for at least three years.

So you will read about

* Craig Newmark of Craig's list,
* John Peterman of J.Peterman,
* Gary Erickson of Clif Bar,
* Gert Boyle of Columbia Sportswear,
* two founders of The Art of Shaving,
* Julie Aigner-Clark , Baby Einstein videos and
* Roxanne Quimby of Bert's Bees.

These are all unique individuals in different industries who remained

* really true to the customers "who bring ya to the dance",
* they also were fanatical about details and product execution,
* they may have had one really lucky break in their business, and
* they have been able to capitalize on their success to go onto other things.

Well written and clearly in tune with the subject ( I love it when marketing folks write a book). This is a useful book in that it reinforces that for todays market, the customer has to know they receive real value from authentic vendors. (Sounds like the Go-Giver). The depictions are very authentic and real.
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on June 23, 2008
In Accidental Branding, David profiles the leaders of several companies whose brands took off seemingly out of nowhere and succeeded in different, but amazing ways. The people he profiles include Gary Erickson of Clif Bar, Julie Clark of Baby Einstein, Roxanne Quimby of Burt's Bees, John Peterman who created the J. Peterman brand and Craig Newmark who founded Craigslist. David qualifies an Accidental Brand as one that passes three tests:

1. An individual who is not trained in marketing must create the brand.
2. This individual must experience the problem that the brand solves.
3. The individual must control the brand for at least 10 years.

The great news for all of us is we can create a great brand regardless of whether we came from a wealthy family or attended an Ivy League university. Some of the people profiled did not even go to college.

To take an idea and make something great requires determination and focused intention. The people profiled in Accidental Branding offer great examples of how anyone can, by following sound principles, create something great. I highly recommend you add Accidental Branding to your reading list.
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on May 23, 2008
I'm hesitant to call this book business journalism (though it is, and a first-rate example of the genre at that),for fear that this designation may turn off potential readers looking for analysis by a branding expert, or a how-to guide to building brands from the ground up.
Read the book, however, and you will find that it covers all three bases in brilliant style. Vinjamuri writes like a pro, and his individual chapters on start-from-scratch brand pioneers read like New Yorker profiles. At base, he's a storyteller, but in the tales he tells there are profound lessons about the importance of listening to customers, of getting the relationship right, and of creating resonant brands that thrive at the heart of committed and loyal communities.
Don't expect dry and reasoned dissections of the brands Vinjamuri covers. That's not what this book is about. But you will learn by example, because the not-so-ordinary people he profiles are true experts, and because they have learned by trial-and-error and come through as winners.
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on May 7, 2008
I was pleasantly surprised at just how much fun this book was to read. The stories of the entrepreneurs focus on the people themselves, how their personal lives created their business ideas, and the obstacles they had to overcome in order to build their brands. I really felt like I was traveling with each one on his or her personal journey and getting a close look at their inspirations and issues. It was exciting and troubling and moving hearing about the things they went through and why.

The book also clearly showed that you could apply the branding methods that worked for the labor-of-love businesses covered to other sorts of businesses, even ones where the founders are not as invested in the product. Nearly every day I now notice these tricks in use by large and exceptionally successful companies, and realize that I have been influenced by them! It has been a really eye opening experience, and has given me a new perspective on what works when giving your product or service a strong and desirable identity.
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on April 20, 2008
First of all, this is a very nice read... very easy and understandable from page one. Flows very easily, maybe because you get to connect with the stories of brands being built with no BS attached.

David does a great job showing that brands interact with people and not consumers, thus, those corporate formulas that I and so many people learn don't always apply.

The only real warning about this book is that you shouldn't buy it expecting a truly explanatory text. It focuses on the stories of the entrepreneurs and how they influenced the brands they launched, not trying to show in detail every challenge the company faced. The point is to show it is possible to build brands with a human feel; brands that have soul and actually solve real problems and tackle real issues (and that you're in trouble if you're not doing it with your brands).

He is successful doing that.
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on May 25, 2010
Ok, the good thing: the book is fast to read (I finished it in about three days), but, honestly I found it lacking in meat, lacking in what was in the owner minds, it drifted a lot and talked a lot about non important things.

So, I'll summarize for you the important things that I found in the book:

1.- Build a myth around it. Build a story, something that makes people sympathize with you. Something romantic, heroic, mysterious, etc., whatever suits you.
2.- Build a community around it. Invest in knowing and letting people know your product. Reach for people that rave about your product/service.
3.- Be there. Keep an eye on the business, know all the details, but don't micromanage.

Some chapters are interesting, specially the first ones, but the last three or four (of seven) seem very very rushed out, instead of telling more about the business it deviates and talks about what car the owner drives, or how high are his/her house ceiling is...

For a real Analysis of people that have stood out, I recommend Outliers, by M. Gladwell.
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on April 26, 2008
I'm a partner in a medium-sized business and have little marketing background. By reading this book, I hoped to better understand branding and also hoped to generate some practical ideas to help my company grow. Vinjamuri's book is a home run. In a clear, self-effacing style, he cuts through the marketing-speak and makes a strong case for the essential elements of successful branding. The book helped me to realize that a relatively small, ignored, part of my business has the makings of an "Accidental Brand". And even better, the book bolstered my confidence that I can make it grow significantly despite my lack of formal training.
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on April 20, 2008
This book is fun to read, regardless of whether one expects to start a company. David Vinjamuri takes the reader on a surprisingly intimate series of visits with the founders of companies that are known for their spunk and excellent bonds with their customers. The founders all seem like "real people", and we enjoy getting to know them. Beyond that, however, he identifies the qualities and decisions that caused these seemingly ordinary people to succeed, sometimes after more than one attempt and considerable struggle. Each one built something that solved a personal need into a product that was valued by many and, incidentally, made them very wealthy. This book feels like each of them tells us personally how it was done.

Highly recommended.
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on July 5, 2011
I liked the book a lot. I'm starting a business and I found the stories educational, inspiring, as well as entertaining. The author goes through a number of entrepreneurs and their experiences from the beginning. He talks about how the idea came about, the struggles, lucky breaks, etc. If you're starting a business, I would read this book.
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on September 29, 2010
This book is absolutely inspiring for anyone looking to launch a business, not for the money but because you recognize a need. Turns out, when you have passion behind it, you will probably make a lot of money anyway. This book is about entrepreneurs who stayed true to themselves and to the product they wanted to create. Its refreshing when everything else you come across makes it seem like you have to sell your soul to be successful in business. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a small business and big dreams.
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