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Branding Only Works on Cattle: The New Way to Get Known (and drive your competitors crazy) Hardcover – September 22, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Branding expert Baskin plays the merry iconoclast in this witty guide that marshals the latest research and a good serving of common sense to debunk branding's many myths. The author's claim that branding is a waste of money is likely to be controversial, but his research is sound and persuasive: he covers the failure of the Gap's Red campaign, the useless Burger King mascot, why Starbucks' success has nothing to do with branding, and he revisits Coke and Pepsi's rivalry, which culminated in their multimillion-dollar dueling ads featuring Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera that had scant effect on sales. Baskin's understanding of consumer behavior is nuanced and sophisticated, as are his explanations for why branding myths have so perniciously persisted (he draws parallels between the longevity of outmoded marketing strategies and that of Ptolemy's geocentric concept of the universe). Baskin is impatient with the resources and energy poured into branding, and readers will be, too, when they realize how little it influences consumer choices—and his well-reasoned, well-written book will garner him a wide and appreciative audience. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Baskin is a branding guru, but he states flat out that branding doesn’t work any more. He doubts that the Burger King mascot with the plastic mask has effectively sold one hamburger, or that the Geico cavemen have gotten anyone to switch car-insurance companies. We are inundated with so many images on TV and on the Internet that their effectiveness is almost nonexistent. What does work, according to Baskin, is placing a product in a time and context that creates value or a fresh experience for the consumer. Starbucks did this by taking the mundane cup of coffee and elevating it to a totally new level of quality, place, and convenience. He says by breaking the old habits of branding with goofy images and cute taglines, and putting more energy into finding out what consumers actually do—how products and services can affect behavior—companies can become more effective in finding and keeping customers. Teaching by example, Baskin intends to shatter the myths surrounding old-guard marketing and help companies to thrive on this new branding paradigm. --David Siegfried

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (September 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446178012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446178013
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,029,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Rogers on September 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Let's face it, anyone planning on earning an income in the field of marketing today knows it's all about results. Fluffy, unquantifiable, "feel-good" messaging is dead, and Mr. Baskin clearly (and quite entertainingly) explains that branding is behavior. Without results, we're wasting time and money.

I'm a twenty-plus year marketing professional with Fortune 500 experience and stacks of advertising and marketing books on my shelves. Some books were never read beyond the first few chapters. Branding Only Works on Cattle is different. It's incredibly relevant to marketing plan development, and I highly recommend it for marketing and C-level executives.

Portions of the book made me wince at misguided efforts from years gone by, but illumination requires painful self-examination. This is how we learn. Baskin's "Chronology of Purchase Intent" describes consumers' movement from problem recognition to purchase. This continuum provides a perfect basis from which to create specific, measurable marketing activity. Examples and stories provide edification along the way.

If you're willing to accept reality, and formulate marketing that drives action, this book is for you. Or, keep stroking Fluffy. She'll come back around.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been following Jonathan Baskin's Advertising Age columns where he packs more insightful marketing information into a few paragraphs than you see elsewhere in a month. Baskin is always ahead of the curve, and he's way ahead in his fine new book "Branding Only Works On Cattle."
In the age of disintermediation, or eliminating the middleman, and going direct to digital customers, people have no time for vague promises and linty images. Or as Baskin writes, useful marketing is the play-by-play of changing customer behavior and most branding is the color commentary with the sound turned down. Your product or service, Baskin astutely observes, is not a cause for you to promote, it must have a purpose, and that purpose is to get customers to do something.
And branding should be results-oriented, absent guesswork and hope. When changes in customer behavior is the branding focus, action becomes a potent tool and has a whole lot better chance of landing a sale than some fuzzy concept ad. Most of all, Baskin argues, you must measure any marketing activity, including branding. Millions of dollars are wasted without statistical proof.
Baskin cites the impact of statistical quality control in manufacturing as taught by American quality legend W. Edwards Deming and how that management instrument can be used in marketing to measure results and evaluate ROI. As Hewlett-Packard Founder Bill Hewett once said, "You cannot manage what you cannot measure. What gets measured gets done." Branding Only Works on Cattle is loaded with useful gems that are fit for use. I'm buying copies for business friends and clients.

Richard J. Noyes, business consultant, formerly Associate Director of the MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did not read the original book by the author, "Branding Only Works on Cattle," but that's OK because the author reviews many of his statements and views from the earlier work and revisits them with some critical analysis after some time and reflection. He hits the nail on the head on many topics in this 82-page, quick read, and provides plenty of material for thought.

His very short chapter, "Plainspeak Manifesto" should be read by every communications professional because it demonstrates the frustration and cynicism created by complex phone trees and support mechanisms, mouseprint, and legalese.

The author gets a little ivory tower'ish at times, but this is quickly forgiven as he provides great insights into how brands should be built and managed while tackling myths surrounding social media as "the new everything."

More than anything else, I think this book underscores the fact that many business people fundamentally misunderstand what a brand is and how to build and measure one.

~~Review by the author of the e-book, "How to Build and Manage Your Brand (in sickness and in health)."
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. I'm not a marketing guy. I have been on the sales side for too many years to remember. I have been presented with countless marketing campaigns aimed at awareness and branding. It never made sense. No one focused on how we were going to sell our widgets. All that feel good stuff was nice and made for good banners around the office, but it never sold anything. We'd introduce hot products and the marketers would talk about the success of their brilliant branding effort. The next year when the products weren't so hot, the marketers would blame the sales team. Then came the web and all of the incredible opportunities to speak directly to customers, except we still talked at them with electronic versions of the tired old traditional campaigns. This book does a great job of describing what we need to do to sell stuff. Buy this book. Save some money while you increase your sales. What a concept.
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Format: Hardcover
Every so often an observer with a kind of second sight comes along to cut through the clutter and tell us where the problems lie and how to solve them. Since marketing is characterized by the rapidity of change, clear direction is especially urgent as the digital world revolutionizes customer connectivity and the potential for instant messaging to millions of consumers is at hand.
Branding Only Works on Cattle notes that most branding efforts are wasted because the emphasis is on changing customers thinking rather than their behavior. Author Jonathan Baskin mentions the ubiquitous TV ads that don't tell you the purpose of the product or show the company name until late in the commercial after you've already left for the refrigerator.
Baskin points out that branding is expensive and usually goes unmeasured and that every branding claim must be evaluated against the sales it will bring in. Or put another way, most branding is made up of nouns instead of action verbs that are directed at customers who aren't listening much anymore and are impatient with intangibles. Branding should promote action and earn loyalty and only does so for high-quality products and services.
Guerilla, or word-of-mouth marketing, only works when it delivers something customers will talk about. Poor quality of service like trying to find a live person to talk to destroys brand benefits. Baskin also writes that branding for image rather than actionable customer behavior (getting customers to do something) is the business equivalent of buying a lottery ticket.
Buy this useful book, study it, and evaluate all future branding against measurable return on investment.
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