Back in the olden days of 2002, before Facebook and Twitter and mere minutes before LinkedIn and MySpace, I was a marketing and branding virgin.
I’d been working at Vegas.com for a few years, which at that point was a newpaper/content start-up sort of a thing. Right around this time we got a real marketing leader on board in the form of Howard Leftkowitz and we began transforming Vegas.com into an actual brand with a solid business plan. In all honestly none of us knew what the hell we were doing, but luckily we were being trained and guided by someone who did, which was an exceptional gift.
I didn’t really understand anything about Branding with a capital B or what it meant to build a brand. In college, I’d bypassed the entire School of Business in favor of the School of Fine Arts. I’d never taken a marketing class but had an innate, broad understanding of marketing by virtue of being an American citizen with a television and several magazine subscriptions. I’d gained a bit more from the few Graphic Design classes I’d managed to squeeze in between pottery and painting classes.
The first Marketing/branding book I ever read was called New Brand World: Eight Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century by Scott Bedbury. I’d seen a review in Southwest Magazine’s inflight magazine (I remember this because later I tacked that review to the wall at work). This book was a revelation. The author worked with several major brands, Nike, Starbucks, etc, and spun a very compelling yarn about his journey with these companies on their way to developing a brand identity. It was extremely compelling stuff! Critical thinking, creative problem solving, tearing down assumptions, building something entirely new, I have to say I was in love.
I’ve since read a vast number of marketing books, some great, some awful. I respond to writers like Malcolm Gladwell, someone who can spin a compelling, human interest tale and then bring in the data when you’re fully invested in the story. Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands by David Vinjamuri is another great example of compelling storytelling.
Have you read any marketing/branding books that have been game changers for you personally? I’d love to hear about them, I’m always looking for a good read.