Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review - The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand
by Al Ries and Laura Ries

I recently stumbled upon this book written almost ten years ago and after finishing it, I was amazed at how well these "22 laws" still hold true for modern day business. The common sense approach that this book takes to branding speaks more to the overall strategy and mission of a company as to the just the marketing side of things. Where as many people might identify branding as just some element of business that marketing controls, no bigger per say than manufacturing is to operations, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding shows us that the strength of your brand will ultimately be the single most important element in the success of your business. Whether you are starting a new business or looking to improve upon an existing one, these 22 laws are a guide and resource to successfully (or unsuccessfully) building a company.

The 22 laws are as follows (this list would make for a great print out and should be hanging on your wall):
1. The Law of Expansion - The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope.
2. The Law of Contraction - A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus.
3. The Law of Publicity - The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising.
4. The Law of Advertising - Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy.
5. The Law of the Word - A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the customer.
6. The Law of Credentials - The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity.
7. The Law of Quality - Quality is important, but brands are not built by quality alone.
8. The Law of the Category - A leading brand should promote the category, not the brand.
9. The Law of the Name - In the long run a brand is nothing more than a name.
10. The Law of Extensions - The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything.
11. The Law of Fellowship - In order to build the category, a brand should welcome other brands.
12. The Law of the Generic - One of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name.
13. The Law of the Company - Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference.
14. The Law of Subbrands - What branding builds, subbranding can destroy.
15. The Law of Siblings - There is a time and a place to launch a second brand.
16. The Law of Shape - A brand's logotype should be designed to fit the eyes.  Both eyes.
17. The Law of Color - A brand should use a color that is the opposite of its major competitor's.
18. The Law of Borders - There are no barriers to global branding. A brand should know no borders.
19. The Law of Consistency - A brand is not built overnight. Success is measured in decades, no years.
20. The Law of Change - Brands can be changed, but only infrequently and only very carefully.
21. The Law of Mortality - No brand will live forever. Euthanasia is often the best solutions.
22. The Law of Singularity - The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness.

These 22 laws are the stuff that great companies are made of. Want to know how strong your own company's brand is? Get this book and go through each chapter one by one and point out how well your brand follows each law. It might even open your eyes to strategy faults in your own organization but it will also give you a clear understanding of the bigger picture of public perception.

A brand is everything. It is who you are. And knowing who you are, what you stand for and how you can make that extremely clear and known to the rest of the world is critical to building a powerful brand.