Strategies geared to whip a company’s image into shape.
Before author Fitting’s agency accepts work with potential clients, she asks a vital question: “In a perfect world, who is your ideal customer and why should he buy?” The answer to this—and the clear understanding of the value of branding—differentiates a good client from a bad client. They also help distinguish what Fitting calls “Challenger Brands,” the innovative and fearless upstarts ready to take on the “Goliaths of the world.” Written in bite-sized essays that read like passages from a branding bible, Fitting and co-author Bittel provide 13 symptoms “That Say Your Brand Needs a Spanking,” seven traits of “Badass Brands,” five rules of Challengers and four ingredients to keep the “details” in perspective. Fitting, a student of anthropology, suggests using ethnographic methods to study customer behavior and needs but advises: “Treat customers like human beings.” Brief case studies, from Heinz ketchup to Clif Bars, help illustrate concepts such as innovation and vision. The successful branding of the Susan G. Komen Foundation is touched upon, with helpful words on the controversy that threatened their brand in 2012. “Be vigilant,” concludes Fitting. While the authors introduce “Brandee,” a leather-clad dominatrix who serves as the agency’s icon, and Fitting talks a tough game, the clever gimmick of being a slave to your brand—and to your mistress, the branding agency—are mostly forgotten. Brandee appears again nearly 100 pages later and not where one might expect. Surprisingly, she fails to appear in the section on “Discipline.” Although amusing and certainly bold, it’s never clear if unveiling such a racy icon ever works as a beneficial “trust mark” for Fitting’s agency. Aside from this memorably, if not measurably, successful mascot, the authors fail to include any specific branding case studies of their own. There’s mention of early agency failures and a rethinking of the “SOP” of “RFPs” as “BS,” which leads to the branded concept of the “Brand Spanking Workshop”—and to this book.
An unconventional and amusing primer on challenging your brand to be better.