Why Hire A Guru When You Can Do It Yourself?
Lynn Altman doesn't like gurus. In fact, she skates right up to the edge of calling some of her colleagues in the branding field snake oil salesmen.
As the co-founder of Viverito & Altman, Inc., a brand-consulting firm, and the co-creator (with partner Joe Viverito) of the "Brandmaker Express" process, Altman is quick to acknowledge that one might wonder what sets her apart from other so-called branding experts, especially during a time when branding has become so hot. According to Altman, the key difference is that her "goal is to empower others to recognize and recharge their own creative resources and not to blow their marketing budget on snake oil solutions."
In her book, Brand It Yourself: The Fast, Focused Way to Marketplace Magic, Altman accomplishes this goal. She details techniques and strategies from her branding process that readers can implement on their own. She offers a less-stressful, yet highly energizing approach to branding that is both easy to follow and has the potential to aid readers in developing more effective branding ideas.
The Brandmaker Express approach to branding advocates keeping any branding approach as simple as possible. This includes everything from concept, message and design, right down to the amount of time spent on the actual process.
To keep things simple, Altman offers three basic branding principles to follow:
- Limit the amount of time on the process; Altman's own consulting firm spends only 10 days on each branding project.
- Break each project into manageable parts in order to give you the opportunity to examine separate and distinct branding possibilities for your product.
- Keep the ultimate result - the concept statement and the message that will eventually go to the consumer - as simple as possible. For example, Altman's firm focuses on creating a final print ad for each branding possibility because print advertisements demand the simplest, most straightforward form of communication.
Altman details how to implement these principles, which she refers to as her firm's "Not-So-Secret Recipe for Branding Success." And because she realizes that any recipe is only as good as the results it produces, she takes her readers through a step-by-step explanation of how her particular business model works.
Blizzards, 'Brite' Smiles and Adventures in Urban Judaism
After detailing the steps involved in her approach to branding, Altman illustrates her process by drawing on her own experiences with creating dynamic branding possibilities for a diverse range of companies. Among others, she includes examples of her work with Dairy Queen to create a more adult, upscale version of the restaurant's popular Blizzard ice cream treat, and with BriteSmile to determine the best way to position a one-hour, professional teeth-whitening service in a market that was already glutted with at-home, fast-acting whitening products.
One of the most interesting examples Altman offers involves pro-bono work she undertook for the nonprofit Jewish organization, Aish NY. In this case, Altman had to figure out how to truly do everything herself, since she didn't have the budget to pay honoraria for help at the workshops she typically uses to generate ideas.
Altman peppers her book with hypothetical projects that help her readers experience how her approach works. For example, when discussing specific steps in the branding process, Altman asks readers to imagine how they would implement a specific workshop or branding exercise to come up with ideas for a new stapler. She then offers her own take on how she would approach the hypothetical project.
Finally, Altman doesn't ignore the pitfalls, including an entire chapter on common mistakes and branding "quagmires" to avoid, admitting that even she had her fair share of bad ideas. Altman also reminds her readers that "making fewer mistakes comes only with practice."
Why We Like This Book
Altman demystifies the branding process, and advocates approaching it as fun and dynamic, rather than either a complicated chore or an overly complex, inaccessible task that you need an expert to do for you. In Brand It Yourself, Altman outlines clear, easy-to-use techniques and illustrates them with vivid, entertaining examples from her own work as a brand consultant. Interestingly, by outlining her approach to branding in this book, Altman doesn't make herself or her company obsolete; rather, she clearly shows the need for engaging talented people who can cut through the complexity and mystery that shrouds the process.