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Book Review: Creating Brands People Love – Discover the Secrets of Creating and Growing World-Class Brands by Brian D. Till and Donna Heckler

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The authors cleverly — brilliantly — communicate their message of “clarity, simplicity and focus” from the very beginning with their choice of cover and formatting.

The most important question, though, is whether they communicate the expectations of the title and tag, Creating Brands People Love: Discover the Secrets of Creating and Growing World-Class Brands.

Yes, they do – with 51 concise, value-packed chapters offering tips and ideas the authors believe work in today’s business environment. Not only do Brian D. Till and Donna Heckler explain how to “create brands people love,” but also, how to keep them.

The idea that stands out for me is the definition of a brand compared to a product or service.  The authors explain that a brand is a complex set of imagery, and it's the imagery that creates the emotional connection to the consumer. Once the emotional connection is made, the value of the brand begins to emerge in the consumer's mind.

Till and Heckler go on to discuss the way to create a "cohesive, consistent and clear" brand image: They suggest harmonizing the brand’s marketing mix of advertisements, public relation efforts, website, and product brochures.

From a personal perspective, I’ve had the privilege of working in the Home Furnishings Industry for over 10 years. I’ve experienced the shift of consumer behavior and how it has taken its toll on this proud industry. Ten years ago most of my customers were enthusiastic, trusting and dependent on the information I provided. Today the same customers are cautious and self-reliant, preferring to investigate their purchases thoroughly, and on their own. I find many of them making price-driven decisions rather than brand-driven ones. 

Of course, we can point to the Internet as part of the reason for the change of consumer behavior, but in relation to the branding strategies provided in Creating Brands People Love, I believe consumers are unable to differentiate distinct differences between the multitude of furniture stores and manufacturers they encounter, and it makes no difference whether these are nationally or locally owned companies.  

Because so many furniture manufacturers build furniture with similar "physical attributes" and attempt to provide similar "service attributes," there is only one differentiator left. According to the authors, creating "symbolic attributes" for a product or service is the third strategy needed to build a memorable brand.

I believe this strategy is exactly what is needed in the home furnishings industry today. Industry moguls should adopt this very soon if they wish to reclaim their place in the hearts and minds of today's consumers, and effectively communicate the value of their brand to them.  I suggest they read Creating Brands People Love, and perhaps in the future, they'll be inspired to earmark their branding dollars toward building "symbolic differentiation" in their products and services.

About Alie James