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Monday, June 23, 2008

"ZAG" by Marty Neumeier

Just finished "ZAG: #1 strategy of high-performance brands" by Marty Neumeier and I have to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit. A relatively quick read thanks to a non-traditional format (lots of helpful graphics and larger text) ZAG addresses an issue that many marketers often discuss.... the need to zag when everybody else zigs.

Neumeier outlines a 17 step process by which a successful brand should be conceived or repositioned and while I'm not going to recount the entire process, I marked several quotes that really struck me. Most are pretty common sense, but I feel like sometimes we get caught up in the glamor and glitz of the biz and forget about the simple stuff.

"You can't be a leader by following the leader."
-- This struck me because a lot of times advertising turns into a reactive business. One brand does X and pretty soon everybody is chasing after X trying to catch up instead of trying to figure out how they can leap right over X to Z.

"True vision leads to commitment rather than compliance, confidence rather than caution."
-- Loved this because it has been involved in so many discussions I've had lately. At Likemind last Friday, FanChatter and I were talking about where does the agency influence stop? At communications? Or at biz recommendations? Do we have the authority to say "you need an internal overhaul?" Say that we design an award winning campaign that drives people to be interested in your brand. All of a sudden, the Google phenomenon hits. They google brand X and see that it has the worst rankings of all the brands! In this day, this should be expected. Commitment means not just yelling at people but backing it up. As ZJ says, "actions speak louder than words."

"...zaggning requires that a company define itself by what make it UNIQUE, not what makes it admirable," and on top of that, "Forget about best practices. Best practices are usually common practice. And common practices will never add up to a zag, no matter how many of them you apply.
-- It seems like "admirable" is the enemy of brave and courageous ideas. Admirable leads to the "best practices" which ultimately leads to a bland vision and loss of originality.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. If for nothing else, it's a quick and motivating read doable on a few bus rides to and from the office.

2 comments:

Cameron said...

The book is great, especially if you feel your head is cluttered from the 100+ blog posts you read off your Google Reader every day. It kind of clears away everything for a bit and remind you of some fundamental truths.

Marty also runs some workshops in SF on the subjects: http://www.neutronllc.com/workshops Great way to dive deeper with people who also care about things like brands, strategy and design. We have sent some students to them and they have really enjoyed the experience and been better thinkers for having gone.

ICE 9 said...

i always enjoy reading your posts from the far east.

i just wanted to say i really dig the second quote and your comments along with it, as it's often the case that compliance is excessively prevalent in brand colonies outside of the headquarter market. in this sense, it is a greater responsibility of planners to be brave and be true to the brand in its engagement to the consumers.