The Insider Book Club
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
by Al Ries & Laura Ries
If you are an entrepreneur or you are involved in any kind of marketing then this book is essential reading. The book goes over an assortment of very simple but very profound rules (laws) which can either help a business to thrive or - if ignored – can be the downfall of a business.
The first time I was exposed to this book was back in 2004. At the time I was doing some web development work for a car manufacturer. At the time, I remember checking out a spreadsheet which compared BMW car sales with Mercedes-Benz car sales. What I seen, at the time, was astounding. Throughout the years, BMW and Mercedes-Benz had been bitter rivals. Both of their products and their sales had been neck and neck for many decades. On some years Mercedes-Benz sold more than BMW and picked up more awards. On other years it was the other way around. However, there was never much in it.
Yet, on 2004 BMW sold twice as many cars as Mercedes-Benz (at least, in the UK). Nobody knew why. This was obviously great news for BMW but a disaster story for Mercedes-Benz. After reading this book, the reasons for BMW's success and the the Mercedes-Benz disaster story became crystal clear. What had happened is that BMW had obeyed one of the laws of branding and Mercedes-Benz (either knowingly or unknowingly) had violated one of the laws of branding. Which law? Who? What? Huh?
Stay cool and I'll explain.
You see, there's a law in the book which is called, 'The Law of Contraction'. The law states that when you narrow the focus, you strengthen the brand. From the mid 90s to 2004, BMW had been focusing on building cars which drove incredibly well. Drivers cars. In doing so, they made their cars lighter, more economical and faster. Building cars that drove really well was the main goal of BMW.
Mercedes-Benz on the other hand, went the other way. They broadened their focus. So, instead of focusing on building large, luxurious cars (which they were very good at!), Mercedes-Benz introduced the A-Class which was a small, economical, bubble-shaped car. This decision did enormous damage to the Mercedes-Benz brand and cost the company fortunes.
So, why am I telling you this?
Well, there's two reasons. First of all, I want to give you a flavour of the kind of material that you can expect from this book. However, I also want to get you thinking about how you could use the laws of branding. For example, do you think that knowing about the law of contraction could help you, if you were – for example – an internet marketing consultant? Of course it could!
I have personally used the laws from this book to build an entire career as a marketing consultant! Knowing about the laws of branding will help you to make good decisions which go well beyond the scope of just 'building the brand'. If you ever do any kind of marketing consultation work and you know about the laws of branding then your clients will think that you're a rock star. Let me give you a concrete example. Around 2006 a car leasing company asked me to help them with their site. Knowing about the Law of Contraction, I recommended that they should build two entirely separate websites – one for cars and another for vans. Simple advice, right? Well, it may have been simple but the results were fantastic. Both sites did really well but the van site in particular became a market leader in the UK.
I have just explored one law in this little mini review/recommendation. I could talk at length about this and all of the other laws in the book but it's probably best if you just read the book for yourself. Try this experiment. Pick up any book on the subject of marketing that has been written in the last ten years. If you check out the references section then there's a good chance that the Laws of Branding will get a mention. All of the other marketing experts are using information from this book! That's why I think you should check it out. It's a marketing masterpiece.