I was prepared not to like this book by Bill Schley , Jr. and Carl Nichols. I went into it with a cynical attitude thinking that it couldn’t possibly offer me anything new that I hadn’t already read somewhere else.
But I was wrong.
This is a good read. Is there some content that has been dragged over the coals in other branding books? Of course. But the author packaged his thesis in an entertaining and pragmatic way, and he presents the concept of the Dominant Selling Idea (or DSI) that—while similar to a Unique Selling Proposition—works well in explaining key branding concepts.
Here is the book description
Winner of the Best Marketing Books Award from Strategy + Business Magazine.
“There’s a Big Idea waiting inside your brand that can make you #1. Find it and shape it yourself—or competitors and customers will do it for you. And we promise, you won’t like the tagline.”
A few years back, a best seller called Why Johnny Can’t Read shocked the education establishment and revived the lost art of phonics. Now, Why Johnny Can’t Brand blows the lid off the marketing establishment by reviving the lost art of the Big Idea.
According to Bill Schley and Carl Nichols, Jr., modern branding is a daily choice between real, muscle-building ideas and an immense smorgasbord of empty-caloried junk. The stakes are huge, especially in a world with 155 kinds of shampoo. So why do so many good companies choose wrong? In fact, why do most fail to differentiate at all—handing what some call an “unfair” advantage to the few who do? The surprising answers, and the exclusive, eight-week prescription to fix it, are here in Why Johnny Can’t Brand.
The secret is uncovering your Dominant Selling Idea (DSI)—the one unifying idea at the center of every brand—before you charge ahead with advertising or anything else. The DSI is “the thing you do that’s superlative, important, believable, memorable and tangible—the difference that makes people want to buy you.” It puts you in a category of one.
In the often funny, page-turning style of two award-winning,
former Madison Avenue communicators, Schley and Nichols explain:
1.Why real branding is the opposite of what you think
2. How positioning turns your brand asset from fool’s gold to real gold
3. Why Harvard and Stanford MBAs are the last to get it (but they can learn this too)
4. How to find your Big Idea in about eight weeks—then keep it...
and so much more.
In a world with 300 million messages whizzing by every second, it gives us the ultimate advantage—an inspiring, power-packed return to the secret of the idea centered brand.
Since I have this book on my Kindle, I was able to export the portions that I highlighted. So here are a few of them to give you an idea of the richness of this volume.
A few of my highlights
The positioning paradox is that the power of your message is directly proportional to how simple you can make it and how few words and images you can use to say it.
…a Dominant Selling Idea that can set you apart instantly from every other product in the industry—yet is so simple that every manager can repeat it, every salesperson can repeat it, every secretary, every analyst, every trade reporter, and every champion in the customer's organization can repeat it to peers?
You need an exclusive name that's attached to an exclusive idea of value—the more believable and emotional, the better.
Branding is about finding a specific IDEA that you stand for, finding a way to own that idea in a credible way and ultimately building total trust that you will always deliver.
…your specialty—the ability, action, or attribute you offer that others don't. It's what people seek to buy from you because it's your focus and they think you do it best.
...when you're not #1 in your specialty create another specialty to be #1 in.
The very best names are easy to pronounce, appealing to the ear, sticky to the memory and whenever possible, link us directly to the Dominant Selling Idea so that the name literally launches your DSI every time, no further explanation needed. That means every utterance of such a name is a complete, mini–selling-unit…
In every aspect of branding, you say the most by saying the least. The simplest message wins.
Extend your line with utmost care and only to specialties that relate plausibly to your own. And choose a separate brand with a new name, new specialty and new DSI when you wish to go beyond it.
For Every DSI, a Reason Why The Brand Titans understood early on that people decide to buy for emotional reasons—then require an intellectual “reason why” to act on it. The reason why in effect gives the prospect “permission to believe”—a crucial part of the selling process. You could even call it “plausible buyability.”
This is why your message must be simple to understand, obvious in utility, risk-free, and appealing to a definite personal need. You must make your product look and be painless to buy.
People like what they understand, and they like the person who makes them understand it! Make it simple to understand.
Every brand component, message, and touch point must be consistent with your Dominant Selling Idea to achieve ownership, awareness, impact, and dominance itself. We call it TCA (Total Consistent Alignment). Like every successful process, practice makes perfect. Maintaining consistency—poking in the same spot—is a daily requirement in the life of every #1 brand.
In the end, it all gets back to the simplest, most profound notion in all of marketing, if not capitalism: “the difference that makes me want to buy from you.”