How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know

How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp is like a pleasant conversation with a stranger. You don’t know how they got there, but you’re glad you spoke with them. 

Pleasantries aside, this book is a slap in the face of sorts to typical brand and marketing strategies. The first few pages start off with a fictional case study illustrating the need to retain loyalist customers and steal back the ones lost to a competitive brand. Sharp goes on to posit, for most of the book, why that thinking is wrong. 

He uses graphs to illustrate his points. Lots of graphs. Bar graphs, circle graphs, charts with legends, you name it. 

I can’t really blame the Kindle for not displaying them properly, but I don’t like graphs and charts. 

Perhaps I should have taken more time to examine them to extrapolate meaning, but I start daydreaming, and lose focus. Shame on me, I skipped them. 

All that aside, I should say, I almost put the book down, never to read it again, but persisted because I thought someone I respected recommended it. It turns out they didn’t, and I still don’t know how I came to download the book…

  1. For the industries Sharp has researched, he suggests that most sales come from non-loyal customers… 
  2. and as a marketer, you’re better off marketing to acquire new customers than to retain and grow sales from existing ones. 
  3. Retention doesn’t increase profit. 
  4. Differentiation is not an effective brand or marketing strategy. 
  5. Creative distinction is a vital strategy for brand growth. 
  6. Emotional buying is critical, and advertising taps into emotion best by using memories. 
  7. “Advertising works best when it tells us things we already believe.”
  8. The best advertising nudges buying perspectives, it doesn’t influence or persuade.
  9. “It’s strongest at refreshing existing memory structures, not building new, non-obvious ones.”