A marketing consultant shares brand differentiation strategies that resist imitation.
Miller (Stop Wasting Your Time at Trade Shows and Start Making Money, 2006, etc.), who boasts a Fortune 100 client list and more than 1,500 speaking engagements, delivers a coaching session in book form. Its rat-a-tat patois, the coined one-word title, and even the orange cover embody the author’s theories in practice. Don’t mistake the work’s brevity for a lack of substance. Miller oozes ideas but makes his points quickly, mostly through rapid-fire anecdotes. Short sentences—often questions—punctuate his discourse, engaging the reader as a stand-up comic might call out an audience member. He explains how competition focused on one-upping a rival’s product, price, or service breeds conformity rather than ingenuity. Miller’s prescription: “Look at what everybody else is doing, and don’t do it.” The goal: become “uncopyable” and create an “uncopyable attachment” among customers. His most vivid example is Harley-Davidson, whose devotees often tattoo its logo on their bodies. His trademarked advice is “Stealing Genius”—appropriating innovations from other industries. He recounts how Southwest Airlines copied NASCAR pit crews to service planes faster and how he helped construction trade show executives lift display ideas at an American Girl doll store. Miller asserts that businesses must forge anchors that plant their products in customers’ minds and triggers that activate brand choice when buying decisions arise. How? Creative words, phrases, color associations, and surprises that “shock and awe” customers. Miller bills himself as “Kelly’s Dad, Marketing Gunslinger”—uncopyable. His trigger color is orange; top clients get orange Mont Blanc pens. He advises establishing figurative or literal clubs, where sellers turn their best customers into “rock stars” and departure means sacrificing perks. The author elevates his clients (and himself) by pointedly dropping names throughout—Disney, Nordstrom, etc. His ideas aren’t all original, but his synthesis is, well, uncopyable. Miller has produced an easy and fun read with a wealth of actionable information that anyone responsible for building and marketing a brand should find useful. He acknowledges that nothing can remain uncopyable indefinitely, so he urges developing a mindset that’s continually on the lookout for inventive ideas. Copy that.
An enjoyable and helpful guide to developing and selling a brand.