Renowned business gurus Al and Laura Ries give a blow-by-blow account of the battle between management and marketing—and argue that the solution lies not in what we think but in how we think.
There's a reason why the marketing programs of the auto industry, the airline industry, and many other industries are not only ineffective, but bogged down by chaos and confusion.
Management minds are not on the same wavelength as marketing minds.
What makes a good chief executive? A person who is highly verbal, logical, and analytical. Typical characteristics of a left brainer.
What makes a good marketing executive? A person who is highly visual, intuitive, and holistic. Typical characteristics of a right brainer.
These different mind-sets often result in conflicting approaches to branding, and the Ries' thought-provoking observations—culled from years on the front lines—support this conclusion, including:
Using some of the world's most famous brands and products to illustrate their argument, the authors convincingly show why some brands succeed (Nokia, Nintendo, and Red Bull) while others decline (Saturn, Sony, and Motorola). In doing so, they sound a clarion call: to survive in today's media-saturated society, managers must understand how to think like marketers—and vice versa. Featuring the engaging, no-holds-barred writing that readers have come to expect from Al and Laura Ries, War in the Boardroom offers a fresh look at a perennial problem and provides a game plan for companies that want to break through the deadlock and start reaping the rewards.
The Rieses are persuasive in their argument.... Entertaining and enlightening, this book has much for executives and managers at all levels to ponder. --Publishers Weekly
"[M]arketing folks should learn to speak in left-brain terminology. The book is a good place to start lessons. Examples are well-explained and down-to-earth. As for managers, even the most logical and analytical types should be able to see the reasoning behind 'marketing sense.'" (USA Today )
"The Rieses are persuasive in their argument.... Entertaining and enlightening, this book has much for executives and managers at all levels to ponder." (Publishers Weekly )
"[The Rieses'] engaging arguments are presented in a simple-to-read format, and the examples are persuasive." (Harvard Business Review )
My Notes from War in the Boardroom
One definition of a brand is a product or service that consumer will pay more for than an equivalent
commodity. If consumer won’t pay more for your brand that they would for a commodity, then you really don’t have a brand. All you have is a commodity with your name on it.
You can’t build a brand if you don’t stand for something in the consumer’s mind. Often the best way to stand for something is to isolate a single service you can dominate or an attribute you can own.
Perception vs. Reality
Always ask: “How do we improve sales by taking advantage of the perception of the brand?”
You don’t build a better brand by being better than the competition. You build a better brand by being different than the competition.
You don’t make money by building better products; you make money building better brands.
The name is the foundation of a marketing program. You can’t build a brand with a weak name. It’s like building a house on sand.
A tangible difference in product quality is rarely a factor in the continuing success of a leading brand. Over time, most brands in the category tend to be quite similar. The differences noticed by the consumer are created by the brands themselves.
Brand vs. Category
Consumers think categories, but they frequently express their category choices in terms of brand. It might seem like the brand is the dominant decision when it’s not.
Better products vs. Different products
Creating a new category and then branding that category in such a way that your brand is perceived as the innovator and category leader [is the best approach].
To create a new category, however, you have to think “different,” not “better.”
Full line vs. Narrow line
When you sell everything under one brand name, it can be difficult for that one brand name to stand for anything.
The number one marketing objective is to dominate a category. When you do that, you are almost invulnerable to competitive threats.
Expand the brand vs. Contact the brand
How do you grow? Logic suggests a company needs to expand.
In order to grow in profits, if not in sales, companies need to contract the brand, rather than expand it. That may not be logical, but it works.
First mover vs. First minder
A first mover should always ask itself, “Does my name have a chance to become the generic name for the new category?”
Center of the market vs. One of the ends
Appealing to everybody is the ultimate in mushiness.
Warning: The best of both worlds usually winds up in the mushy middle.
Own everything vs. Own a word
1. Focus the product line2. Focus the company name3. Focus on an attribute of the brand
Any combination of words that appeals to everybody will never work in marketing.
Single brand vs. Multiple brands
When to launch a new brandWhenever a fashion or technological change occurs, an existing brand, no matter how dominant, faces a choice.
Should the existing brand be “stretched” to encompass the new fashion or technology? Or should the company lunch a new brand?
If the change is significant enough, the better answer is almost always “launch a new brand.”
A marketer intuitively knows that a second category needs a second brand.
With narrow distribution, you can often arrange special displays and promotions, which increase your brand’s chance for long-term success.
Cleverness vs. Credentials
What every brand needs• First in a new category• First with a new technology• First in a segment of the day• First in a segment of a category• First to claim a new attribute• First to be endorsed with an influential third party• First to be imported from a country identified with the category
Kill new categories vs. Build new categories
What creates a new category anyway? Forget reality. It’s perceptions in the minds of consumers.If consumers believe it’s a new category, it’s a new category.
It’s much better to start narrow and then broaden the line only after it has won its category-builder battle.
Again, once consumers are convinced a new category exists, the first brand into the mind always wins.
Communicate vs. Position
Too many management types think that a better product automatically creates a better perception. It doesn’t usually happen.
Copy the competition vs. Be the opposite
Who could argue with the logic of appealing to everyone instead of just appealing to the younger generation?
A product that appeals to everyone has no unique identity. It doesn’t stand for anything different. It’s just another cola, only better.
A slogan has no emotional power until it is endlessly repeated by consumers. “Just do it” had no emotional power until Nike launched a marketing program to exploit the idea.
It’s difficult to recognize a good verbal idea.
Hates name change vs. Welcomes a name change
The single most important marketing decision you can make is what to name the product.
Constant innovation vs. Happy with just one
Brands need to figure out what they stand for (or what they could stand for) and then how to use marketing tactics to “own” that concept in consumer’s minds.
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