"It's not what we don't know that sabotages us in business. It's what we don't know that we don't know. Ignorance is NOT bliss!

"What you don't know about branding is hurting YOUR bottom line, right now.

"I don't care if you're a one person, home based business owner or the marketing director of a Fortune 500 company. Rob Frankel knows what YOU need to know about branding. You need to learn what this book has to teach, because it will make a MASSIVE difference to YOUR bottom line."

John Counsel

I was asked to review this book by someone from Rob Frankel's team. I don't know why. But I was more than happy to accept the invitation. I've admired Rob's approach to branding since we first ran into each other on-line in 1996 or 1997.

We both contribute regularly to the same on-line professional discussion lists, and we've had the occasional e-mail exchange that has confirmed the similarities in our approaches to branding.

For those readers not from Australia, I should explain something of my own credentials as a reviewer of Rob's book..

Over the past 30 years I've been involved in advertising, marketing and sales on the agency side, on the client side, and as a brand owner.

I've been involved in creating branding strategies for some of Australia's best known brands. We've even had some of the brands we created become virtually generic names for all products in those categories which becomes a real risk if you can't maintain a clear distinction in the consumer's mind. (Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as being too successful.)

So I have pretty strong ideas on branding, and branding strategy, based on some very substantial successes over the years.

Now all this could raise doubts in your mind about my objectivity, I know. But those who know me will tell you that I don't invest much emotion in these issues. I'm a hired gun. And I've learned, over the years, about what works and what doesn't.

So I'm here to tell you that Rob Frankel is so right, it's scary.

Not that Rob himself is scary ­ he's not . What's scary is that so few people understand branding who OUGHT to know. Or, even scarier, who CLAIM to know and genuinely believe they do!

I don't care if you're a one-person, home-based business owner or the marketing director of a Fortune 500 company. You need to learn what this book has to teach, because it can make a MASSIVE difference to your bottom line.

It can make the difference between failure and survival. Between survival and success. It's that good, and it's that do-able.

I like the way Rob gets right back to basics from the beginning. He looks at the roots of branding, of media influence, of social change and its impact on consumer perceptions and attitudes. And he pinpoints the REAL differences that the Internet brings to the party, and how this has changed everything - even traditional mass media. Everything is now moving in the direction set by the Net. And that's no longer mass media, but media for the masses. It's about CHOICE. It's about the consumer now being in control - setting both the direction and pace of change at the click of a "delete," "unsubscribe," "remove" or "go somewhere else now" button.

In other words, he gets down to cause and effect. WHY things happen (or not) and HOW to make them happen (or not). This is valuable, useful stuff ­ and Rob Frankel is putting it out there where it's so sorely needed, with skill and style and genuine authority, based on the kind of insight that comes only to those with the experience, the knowledge, the skills and the talent needed to recognise it.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that his advertising background gives him the ability to communicate in a direct, uncluttered, non-nonsense, highly readable way. Reading this book is no chore. It's ideosyncratic and provocative (in the best possible ways) and it's funny. But the substance is there. This is not another of those fashionable business books full of buzzwords and psychobabble. You get all meat, with only enough feathers to attract the eye without spoiling the enjoyment.

One of the things that I really like about this book is that it's living, breathing proof of what it teaches. It brands Rob Frankel as the best branding authority in the world. And if you think he's not, how come the person who's supposed to be better than Rob isn't springing to my top-of-mind right now?

One of the most crucial issues, for me, is Rob's position that branding is all about leadership. Not talking about market leadership here, either ­ that's effect. No, we're talking about leadership being the driving force behind successful branding. It's all about vision. It's cause, not effect. (At the Profit Clinic, we've been teaching this very point, loud and clear, for nearly 15 years. We also take the position that selling is all about leadership as well. But, as Rob so accurately points out, selling is a whole other story. Case in point: how do you know for sure that a company hasn't a clue? When they have a Manager of Sales and Marketing. No such animal. Rob explains why with irrefutable authority and humour.)

Another really valuable and useful (they're not the same, either) aspect of the book is Frankel's Laws, Prime Directive and assorted corollaries. When you can distill your observations and experience down to this kind of succinct power pill, it shows that you've reached a point of critical mass in your own cutting edge learning that others haven't. And your grasp is so consumate that you can recognise that fact and articulate it so incisively. It's the hallmark of a true pioneer and a master of the game. True to form, Rob spells out this awareness in Frankel's Fifth Law of Big Time Branding: "If you can't articulate it, neither can anyone else."

Unfortunately, this can also mean that the articulator is full of self-importance, hyperbolae, introspection or testosterone (S.H.I.T. for short). Their egocentric posturing, pontificating and precociousness can become irritating and, ultimately, self-defeating.

But Rob Frankel not only avoids this trap, he pre-empts it. Time after time, just when you may be starting to wonder whether the book is headed in that direction, Rob steps in with a shot of disarming self-satire to prick his own balloon and reclaim his hold on your attention - and your admiring (and continuing) indulgence. When you're as forthright and forceful in your arguments as Rob Frankel, you need that kind of indulgence on the part of your readers. He knows it, and he gets it, despite ruffling plenty of feathers amongst those with dubious positions to protect.

The astute reader of this review will have realised by now that I haven't said much at all about what the book actually says. That's quite deliberate. I'm selling you on why you should buy it and devour it. I'm trying to convey the enticing aromas and sounds of a gourmet meal being prepared by a master chef. To get the real gratification and fulfilment being offered, you need to eat it.

This book is so tightly-packed with high-value insights, ideas and intelligence that no review of the content itself could hope to do it justice. I won't even try. If you're in the business of marketing a business - any business - you need to hear what Rob Frankel has to say. Even if you disagree with him, it will take you places you haven't yet been, and open your eyes to possibilities you've never dreamed.

If you buy it for no other reason, buy it for its lucid grasp of how to create branded communities on-line. This topic alone is a tour de force you can't afford to miss.

About the book

272 pages comprising nineteen chapters, four appendices and two other addenda - all of which are worth the time and effort read. You'll learn something of value from each of them.

The Table of Contents is comprehensive and provides a thorough overview of the book. The index is thin, but workable. If the book itself has a flaw, it would have to be the proof reading, both for literals and aesthetics. But don't worry about it. It's not intrusive enough to spoil the experience or devalue the content. I'm conscious of it because I get the same criticism from my own editors.

The true strength of this book lies in its eye-opening, accurate perspectives on branding - including why it's not the same thing as marketing, sales, advertising or PR - as well as solid information, ideas and tools for implementing what it teaches, with a host of practical examples and implementation strategies, including some of the best stuff about Internet branding you'll ever see.

It's the whole shooting match. It's a genuine, one-of-a-kind resource that belongs right there on your desktop, NOT in your bookshelf.


Excerpt from The Revenge of Brand X, ©2000, Rob Frankel, All Rights Reserved, http://www.robfrankel.com