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The Origin of Brands: How Product Evolution Creates Endless Possibilities for New Brands Paperback – September 27, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
This father-daughter marketing team, authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, believes that evolution is a useful analogy for marketers. Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to think of Darwin's tree of life. For example, the television tree used to consist solely of the three networks, but now comprises an array of cable and satellite offerings. The "phone" tree includes cellular, picture, computer, digital and other varieties. Using many examples, the authors explore this notion: "Competition between individuals (brands) improves the species. Competition between species (categories) drives the categories further and further apart." To survive in today's competitive market where technology makes innovations much faster than in the past, companies must continue to introduce new computers, cars, phones, food, etc. However, the drawbacks of expansion and innovation mean that some products and some corporations won't be profitable. Burger King keeps trying to launch new menus, essentially to compete with McDonald's. While McDonald's has had its own fiscal troubles, it continues to dominate the fast food market because it was first and has so many outlets. Along with their entertaining perspective on advertising and marketing, the authors offer specific advice including devising a new category rather than a brand. Innovative marketers will have a triumphant product if they create a category and launch with a clever name as well, such as Starbucks did for the high-end coffee-shop category. While the book is primarily directed at readers working in marketing, advertising and related fields, managers and executives at both large and small businesses will benefit from it as well.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Illuminating examples and wry humor combine for a delightful read.” (Harvard Business Review)
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Top Customer Reviews
The authors draw an extended analogy to Charles Darwin's Origin of Species that runs through out the book.
In the business world Categories like computers evolve slowly through competition but also diverge rapidly through specialization. Over time those species that have won look quite different (lion vs. a tiger, for example). The same diverging is true with categories like computers where we now have desktops, laptops, palmtops.
The authors draw the parallel that this concept of divergence of the species also applies to categories in business. Understanding this similarity, they say, is your key to success in business. You just have to create new categories, and then dominate that category. But this book develops this positioning logic in ways that seemed much clearer to me than their previous works.
To succeed, you (the business owner/manager) must CREATE NEW CATEGORIES (palmtops), and doing this is MORE IMPORTANT than your creation of new brands (Sharp Zaurus). Creating a brand is more important because you must end up being 1st or 2nd in that category to be successful. (Sounds like Jack Welch's thinking of 'We're going to be 1, 2 or 3 in an industry, or else we sell that subsidiary.')
Through a slow elaboration of proof after proof, chapter after chapter, the Ries authors convince you to see the logic of what they have been advocating for the last 20 or so years on positioning, categories, brands and publicity. As a reader I found this slow elaboration of proofs to be slow reading, however, I'm sure it's required for the skeptics (advertising account reps, I'm sure).
In regards to publicity, they recommend a way to create a new category. This methodology requires the use of slow build up publicity rather than fast splurge advertising.
If you accept their thinking on categories and brands, and I do, then you will be against mergers that take companies into unrelated fields, and you will be against line extensions that weaken your brand. The chapter on "Pruning" was especially enlightening in this regard. Toyota's development of Lexus was a great example of how to create a new category. The company can sell off Lexus and not hurt the Toyota brand. The authors have other examples of good creation of categories. But their examples of poorly thought out brands was quite extensive, and sometimes overwhelming.
There are three big rewards from reading this book. First, you will get a deep grounding in why you must create Categories first, then create the first brand in that category. Second, in reading all the elaboration you will develop a working knowledge of seeing brands and categories, and where companies fit in that category.
In this manner when you see that McDonalds is adding DVD rentals (yesterday's WSJ) you will know that this is CONVERGENCE and it is bad. They should be DIVERGING instead. Such convergence will dilute their brand of hamburgers, fries, and shakes. Should we now call them "Blockaburger?"
In fact, I found it interesting that the authors described how In And Out hamburgers in California now has higher per store sales than McDonalds and that McDonalds per store sales are static, and perhaps dropping if their figures weren't deflated for inflation. Again, there's lots of examples and details.
And the third reward from reading this book is that the last three chapters of the book provide a methodology (albeit somewhat abstract) for you to follow. You will learn to DIVERGE NOT CONVERGE, create the Category first, then create a brand to be first in that category. You will learn that its OK to be second in an industry, if you only... well, you'll have to read the book to get all the other details.
This book is highly recommended.
Sugar Land, TX
Put all your other books away start your business reading here! This is not some cute, ivory tower theory. The book is brimming with real world examples, much like Positioning. And it draws heavily from Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution and most importantly DIVERGENCE. Survival of a species and survival of a product are very similar.
I had no idea what Divergence meant 24 hours ago. Now I can think of nothing else. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. I even paid full hardcover price at the bookstore because I couldnt wait for the info.
If you want an edge, get this book!
Convergence occurs when products produced separately are merged into one. The authors of this book offer an alternative, divergence or new products or services that stand alone. Relying heavily on examples from Darwin's "Origin of Species" the authors explain why creating separate categories are more beneficial to consumers, businesses, and the marketplace. The authors state "Did you ever see a tree in which two branches converged to form a single branch? Perhaps, but this is highly unlikely in nature. It's also highly unlikely in products and services." Instead, according to this book, divergence is the answer.
In the chapter titled "Survival of The Firstest," the authors give the best advice. They insist on the importance of launching a brand into a naught market, relying on the importance of being first. And if you can't be first in the market, the chapter "Survival of the Secondest," explains how to survive being second and how to overcome the competition. The authors explain how emulation is to be avoided and being the direct opposite of competitor's works best. They use The University of Phoenix, G.I. Joe, and Bud Light as successful examples.
Though this book tends to overlook some of the successes in convergence, like the car stereo and the caller ID/phone, "The Origin of Brands" is still an excellent book. It's packed with intelligent marketing and public relations advice that could be applied to practically every product, business, or service. Anyone in business will love this book and will not be able to put it down until the very last page. "The Origin of Brands" will make a wonderful desk reference for anyone who wants to practice sound marketing techniques. Buy it. Study it. And put in into action.