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Beyond the Brand: Why Engaging the Right Customers is Essential to Winning in Business Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Most experts on branding emphasize how a brand owner spreads his or her message to consumers, but Winsor believes that genuine success can only come from reversing the line of communication as well. His "bottom-up" approach weds branding to customer research, but the resulting mixture is rather thin, continually circling around a handful of talking points concerning the need for a deeper relationship with customers. Companies are urged repeatedly to "find the key voices" in the market and re-center their brands on those customers in order to break through their "brand immune system," a disdain for being coerced attributed, with what feels like undue emphasis, to rising antiglobalization sentiment. Yet many of the case studies fail to provide real insight into the process, asserting that certain companies have such relationships without offering enough detail on how they established them. And though he touts the Internet as an effective tool for listening to consumers, Winsor offers examples that feel already dated. A closing chapter full of generalizations about "Millennial" youth reinforces the impression that the book reads like a client prospectus, and the "anthrojournalism" he touts as a key research methodology comes off as cool hunting under a new name, despite all protestations.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
John Winsor started Radar Communications in l998. His goal has been to help companies listen to and learn from the key voices in their communities by using organic, bottom-up anthro-journalistic tools to help them co-create new marketing and product development strategies. In l986, he founded Sports & Fitness Publishing, well known for being ahead of the trends, which he sold off in l998 to Condé Nast and Emap. Winsor holds an MBA from Denver University.
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Windsor details a research methodology, "anthro-journalism" designed to elicit stories from customers about where they find value in your products. Such research can be used to fuel innovation as well as sales. What is important here is to find common ground with your customers on their own turf. The value of this approach is that often, your customers are more savvy about your products than your marketing staff. Capturing that value from customers, however, is not as easy as sending out a survey.
Storytelling is a powerful and evocative tool for marketers. But like journalists, if marketers want to get the best stories, they'll need to go to the customer. Even a focus group is too artificial an environment and too removed from the lived reality in which your customers use your products. You need to know, not just how your customers behave, but to understand why they behave as they do. To this end, you'll need to get as close to the context in which they use your products as possible.
Beyond the Brand is a fascinating read, with an equally fascinating methodology.
Using anecdotes about some of the best consumer brands out there, like Nike, Oakley and Burton Snowboards, Winsor proclaims that the only way to stand out in today's marketplace is for a company to find inspiration and hone its intuition, by finding key voices and truly listening to those voices tell their stories. If I had to choose one book to help me connect with customers, this would be it. Beyond the Brand will become one of those rare, classic points of reference.