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Where’s the Sausage—Brandstory Review

This entry was originally posted on December 28, 2007 at the old Brandstory blog.
One of my favorite web logs is David Taylor’s BrandGymBlog. David’s no-nonsense approach to marketing is one that really appeals to me, so I’m a regular visitor to his site. A couple of months ago I got a copy of David’s latest book, Where’s the Sausage: Branding based on Substance not Spin. It’s a serious marketing book wrapped in a short parable.

Though I really like David’s thinking, I’m generally not a fan of business parables. Too often they use silly characters, absurd situations, and overly simple solutions that don’t always transfer well to real business situations–like this book. Books like this include a lot of “what”, but not a lot of “how”. And when I heard that WTS? was a parable, that’s what I expected to get. But then, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

To be sure, the story isn’t high literature. But this book contains a generous helping of useful marketing ideas, ways to get insights from your customers, and smart thinking (the how in addition to the what). And the characters ring true more often than not.

It’s the story of Bob Jones, salesman at Simpton’s Sausages who is asked to spend a year as a brand consultant before being promoted to Sales Director. He’s unenthusiastic about the opportunity and immediately sees through the typical marketing BS that comes from his boss and agency contacts. Rejecting their approach to branding (and rebranding), he finds his own way as he manages the neglected sausage brand. He records his feelings several times a month (in a blog or journal) and includes much of what he is learning from his experience. The story is okay, but the real power of the book is in the chapter summaries and ideas Bob uses to rethink his product—all of which (I assume) come from the BrandGym play book.

Among the observations Bob makes:

• A brand should drive the whole business, not just the image wrapper of communication
and brand identity.
• A new logo can’t cover up the shortcomings of a poor product.
• Many brand extensions are brand ego trips offering nothing new.
• True insight doesn’t come from focus groups, it comes from immersing yourself in your
consumer’s world.
• Having little or no funds for conventional marketing can be a great stimulus for creativity.
• Communication that has only emotional sizzle and not product sausage is ‘sponsored
entertainment’.

Add to that the simple exercises and processes that Bob takes his brand through (and that the reader can do with their own brand) and you have a decent little marketing book. Thanks David.

If you’re looking for a quick read peppered with smart thinking, you’ll like Where’s the Sausage.

More Where’s the Sausage? Links:
Other reviews of the book can be found here and here.
David’s description of the book is here.
Buy it at Amazon.
Read the BrandGym blog.
Video of Hugo Gaines (the book’s star marketing,um, expert).
Video of David talking about the book.

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