How Cool Brands stay hot

How Cool Brands Stay HotEarlier March  I read about the announcement  launch of the revised and completely updated How Cool Brands Stay Hot. The authors were eager to give away free copies of their new book to thank their  loyal blog readers for support and interest and – of course –  to generate some publicitiy. Which I agreed upon by posting a review on Amazon,  Goodreads, LinkedIn, my own blog,  andother media platforms.

The core

Since the release of the first edition of the book, the authors Joeri van den Berhg and Mattias Behrer  have been positively surprised by the amount of appreciation and interest they experienced from journalists (also bloggers), conference organizers and marketing and advertising practitioners from all around the world.

It seems that the timing of publishing a book on the subject of branding and marketing to the new generation of consumers was plain right. Their book is a valuable tool to help any one understand the attitude and habits of Generation Y.  The book is about understanding the spirit of that generation. And how these aspects translate in their relation to brands. It provides practical insights for building brands that aim to remain relevant for the forth coming years.

Looking back, the first edition of the book was published in 2011. Many marketing, design or communication professionals had to admit that they were not ready to create business with a new generation. As stated in the foreword: “Old structures are crumbling, but newer-structures are not clearly visible yet”.

Some of the insights of the book:


  • GEN Yers are children of the cyber revolution. And people resemble their times more than they resemble their parents.
  • DIY is on its way back to the mainstream.
  • Design be better part of your DNA.
  • Other ways of collaboration and association.
  • It is not about technology, stupid.
  • It is aboyt collective peer wisdom and social connections.
  • Successful youth brands CRUSH.
    • Coolness
    • Realness
    • Uniqueness
    • Self-identification
    • Happiness
  • And most important, this generation will – on a global level – make or break your market success.

My score

What a lot of data and brilliant insights the authors share. One might discuss whether all is that relevant in 2013 but overall it delivers the insights of experts.

For design, marketing and communication professionals Generation Y will be much more difficult to reach than the more tradional Babyboomers or Generation X. In my point of view the arrival of Generation Y has disruptive effects on business, economics and society.

In an earlier post, written in Dutch  I wrote about some new words i learned from the Generation C. And again a new word will be part of my business vocabulary: commitment fobia

Assuming that the majority of the Generation Y will grow up (in their way) in the next decade, their impact on education, business and the workplace will be gigantic. This generation is not just educated in the complex skills of mass consumption, but also in collaborative consumption, co-creation and peer to peer networking.

As stated in the book: you ain’t seen nothing yet.

4 on a scale of  0-5.

Title: How cool brands stay hot

Branding to Generation Y
Authors: Joeri Van den Bergh, Mattias Behrer
Number of pages: 268
Language:  English
1st edition 2011, 2nd edition 2013
Publisher:  Kogan Page
ISBN: 978-0-7494-6804-0
Price: € 29,95

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A new dimension for customers: Bill Self Customer 3D

About the author

With more than 25 years of customer research and business leadership experience, Bill Self has devoted his career to studying how topperforming companies separate themselves from their competition by being exceptionally customer-centered.

Today, he concentrates on helping companies learn how break (by JuuMG)to transform their organizations into market leaders by focusing on the success of their customers.

For the sake of full disclosure: I got a review copy from the author.

As a gesture of appreciation I promised to share my thoughts with a wider audience.

The core

What is customer 3D about?

First consider it to be a strategy that leaders are following to outperform traditional business models.

It is also a system (a systematic approach) to transform product-centric organizations into customer-centric organizations. Product-centric also includes service organizations. Customer centric implies that customers are at the center of every activitiy, working from a customer-directed set of goals and a fully understood customer strategy. Customer centric implies that an organization puts the customers’ best interest first.

An organization that is 3D-customer centric communicates with customers pro-actively not reactively.

The essence of an organization that is customer-centered is its willingness to thing like its customers. When companies focus on customer solutions, their range of vision opens up and they begin looking for opportunities that were all along, but were unnoticed.

The Customer 3D system links all of the component parts of an organization around a primary purpose: customer success.

It is also a movement that will strengthen the way companies connect with their customers. It is often stated that there will be more changes in the forthcoming decade than there have been in the previous decades. As leaders need to gather and apply information that will help their organizations to adapt and thrive. No one can assume that the success of the past will continue in the near future. Fostering an environment in which customers and organizations can co-evolve and truly co-exist can boost the performance. That’s why communities (and being part of them) and leadership in industry associations is that important. To operate effectively, one must operate outside the four walls of your business.

My appreciation 4,0 on a scale from 0-5.

Customer 3D: A New Dimension for CustomersIt is my true belief that the best professionals have that magical gift for finding creative solutions to problems one did not realize they existed. In a professional and personal way Bill taught me how to catch these insights and turn in into a true solution-creating process.

And the results?

A better future for your customers, your organization and yourself.

The author refers to Harvard professor Ted Levitt. He defined the process for developing new products and servcies more that 40 years ago. He made a distinction in four categories – generic -, – expected -, -augmented – and – potential -.

The insights in this book impacts your potential, reflecting on what is possible and what remains to be done

In the book there is a also reference to Edward de Bono‘s Six Thinking hats.  This book is a magic hat for professionals, managers and entrepreneurs. After reading you will find inspiration for adapting your organization and functions.

To be honest, the book described tools that are already used by successful practicing professions. But the focus on the customer and adding elements like Levitt, de Bono, design thinking creates a fine example of a practical service design thinking approach.

The book is a personally crafted fusion of a inspired point of view and a framework – based on experience an current insights – for understanding how one can more effectively step to Customer 3D.    

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McKinsey Quarterly’s Top Ten Articles for Q2 2012

Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Linguine (via fakeginger)

Always worth reading! Even in this quarter of an European financial (or is it leadership) crisis!

Found at Top Ten Articles for Q2 2012.

In case you missed them, see which articles have been most popular with our readers in the second quarter of this year. Read them today and join the conversation.
Demystifying social media 1. MARKETING & SALES
Demystifying social media
As the marketing power of social media grows, it no longer makes sense to treat it as an experiment. Here’s how senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision making in predictable ways.
The social side of strategy 2. ORGANIZATION
The social side of strategy
Crowdsourcing your strategy may sound crazy. But a few pioneering companies are starting to do just that, boosting organizational alignment in the process. Should you join them?Read all at
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Slides from Chris Anderson on his talk about crowd accelerated innovation, involving crowdsourcing and social media.

Slides from Chris Anderson on his talk about crowd accelerated innovation, involving crowdsourcing and social media.

See on

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Book review: David A Aaker’s Brand relevance

(by valentina effe)

How to create a blue ocean strategy is one of this year’s themes on this blog.

A little bit late – the book was published early 2011 – I decided to read Brand Relevance.

Voorkant  David A Aaker’s publisher claims that ”  Branding guru Aaker shows how to eliminate the competition and become the lead brand in your market.   This  ground-breaking book defines the concept of brand relevance using dozens of case studies-Prius, Whole Foods, Westin, iPad and more-and explains how brand relevance drives market dynamics, which generates opportunities for your brand and threats for the competition. Aaker reveals how these companies have made other brands in their categories irrelevant.

Key points:

When managing a new category of product, treat it as if it were a brand;

By failing to produce what customers want or losing momentum and visibility, your brand becomes irrelevant;

and create barriers to competitors by supporting innovation at every level of the organization.

Using dozens of case studies, shows how to create or dominate new categories or subcategories, making competitors irrelevant.  Shows how to manage the new category or subcategory as if it were a brand and how to create barriers to competitors.

Describes the threat of becoming irrelevant by failing to make what customer are buying or losing energy.

David Aaker, the author of four brand books, has been called the father of branding. This book offers insight for creating and/or owning a new business arena. Instead of being the best, the goal is to be the only brand around-making competitors irrelevant.”

The core

Quoted from the inside flip of the book:

“The book clearly defines the concept of brand relevance and shows what it takes to channel innovation and manage the competitive area so that competition is reduced or eliminated.

Throughout the book, branding guru Aaker explains how brand relevance drives market dynamics using dozens of illustrative case studies involving brands such as Zappos and Zipcar.  The book reveals how brand teams have turned away from destructive  brand preference  competition by making other brands irrelevant.

Adapting the brand relevance model – in which innovative offerings form categories and subcategories – provides dramatic opportunities for brand teams with insights and the ability to lead the market. As Aaker explains, succesful brand relevance competition involves four vital tasks:

  1. concept generation;
  2. concept evaluation;
  3. creating barriers to the competition;
  4. actively defining and managing the new category or subcategory.

It also involves being on top of the market, the competition and the technology so that they get the timing right. a crucial element of a successful brand relevance strategy.

Brand reference is a threat as well as an opportunity to firms facing dynamic markets. Aaker shows how to avoid having a brand go into decline because people no longer consider it relevant.

Brands that can create and manage new categories or subcategories making competitors irrelevant will prospect while others will me mired in debilitating marketplace battles or will be losing relevance and market position.”

My rating

4,0 stars on a scale 0-5.

  • The author has written the book as a textbook. Very well structured with lots of examples.
  • These examples cover amongst others:
  • For those who are looking for mainly service examples. Not too many. But branding and positioning for services is – in my opinion – always a tough challenge.
  •  There are – according to Aaker – many authors that advocate transformational innovation or other strategic avenues to growth. E.g
  • As the author claims the difference is that his brand relevance book emphasizes the importance of defining and managing new categories and subcategories. For me it seems to be an extension of the concept of product differentation.  Taking it to a next step and crossing a product (indeed mainly products) categories.
  • Reflecting on the concept I have to admit that brand relevance has the potential to both drive and explain market dynamics, the emergence and fading of brands, categories and subcategories. The examples did convince me that brands that can create and manage new categories or subcategories make competitors irrelevant.
  • This book is recommended reading for anyone who is interested in brand management.  A minimum read is the first two chapters and the last one.
  • Not interested in brand management? But investing in your professional or personal life. Being or becoming relevant is a professional and professional challenge. The author’s approach might help you too.
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Book review: Econovation

The Little Deer: THE NEW YEAR

Having noticed my passionate blogging about innovation, Stever Faktor offered me to ship Econovation: The Red, White, and Blue Pill for Arousing Innovation. And yes, I promised him to write my thoughts and impressions.

The core

From the book promotion
Over the last 20 years, China fed our zombie-like appetite for iPhones, Prada and Snuggies. At the same time, its biggest customer, Econovation: The Red, White, and Blue Pill for Arousing Innovationthe US, found itself in debt, under-educated, and covered with recreational tattoos.
So now what?
Will America wallow in mediocrity like Greece or some C-list celebrity? Or, will our legendary ingenuity save us from Tweeting…and eating our way to irrelevance?
Econovation is a bold, witty response to those questions that doesn’t rely on miracles or government for answers. It challenges business leaders to think differently about the next decade of the US economy and respond with big, sustainable innovations.
Written by Steve Faktor, former Vice President of Growth & Innovation and head of the Chairman‘s Innovation Fund at American Express, Econovation is a trends book on steroids. It’s bursting with practical, thought-provoking ideas no executive, entrepreneur or Fed Chairman can afford to miss.

Most importantly, Econovation envisions a very different future.

It’s one ruled by “producerism”, not consumerism. It’s a future in which real innovators must do more than slide a greasy finger over the screen of an iPadEconovation uncovers opportunities in unexpected places.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Capitalize on a market that will go from making nothing to making everything…for China.
  • Use psychological pricing and some crafty tricks from Google to reduce reliance on tapped-out consumers
  • Sell to consumers whose new identities will be based on what they create, not what they buy, click or super-size
  • Seduce a desperate government to finance your business, then feed you pancakes in the morning
  • Motivate tomorrow’s employee with social currency instead of the green, depreciating kind
  • Upgrade your business and your kids with a little help from Mormons and kindergartners with hacksaws

Econovation is a fresh perspective on a future we’ve taken for granted. It empowers readers to think big, dream big, and conquer economic conditions that will paralyze others. With a hefty dose of data, humor, and actionable ideas, Econovation offers insight and amusement in one, convenient place – a rare treat for a business book.

About the author
Steve Faktor (New York NY) is the former Vice President of Growth and Innovation and Head of the Chairman’s Innovation Fund at American Express. There, he developed and incubated numerous growth ventures including Zync, Loyalty Edge, and Private Sales, a joint venture with Vente Privée. Steve is the founder of Blue Beacon Partners, LLC, which helps start-ups and corporations innovate new products and services, think big, and build a sustainable growth pipeline. In his career, Steve has created several $100-million-plus businesses, generated billions in sales volume, and deployed three enterprise-level innovation programs. Previously, Steve was a senior innovation and strategy executive at Citi and MasterCard. As a management consultant at Arthur Andersen, Steve led strategy, marketing, and technology projects for clients like WPP (Ogilvy), Samsung, JVC, Bombardier, Boise Cascade, Omnicom Group, and PSEG. As a futurist, innovator, and digital payments expert, Steve is a popular global keynote speaker on future growth opportunities. Steve also leads innovation workshops, ideation, and training sessions based on his proprietary 4C’s of InnovationTM methodology. An author with a satirical touch, his latest musings on trends in business can be read at

From my perspective

In the 9 chapters  that make this book special, the author explores the many ways that the business community, professionals, 500px / Photo “…” by popaj *entrepreneurs and persons have to  respond to changes in our global economy and the according changes in associated environments.

He looks at economic trends and industry trends, and analyze how entrepreneurs as well as established firms are able to gain benefits of the global transformation. The author outlines his favored approach, titled the 4Cs of Innovation. His 4C’s are:

  • Context
    • All the forces affecting your business-economic, social, technological and industry trends, competition and so on
  • Creativity
    • Insight-driven ideas and opportunities that fuel innovation and a systematic way to create, develop and evaluatie those ides
  • Culture
    • Adapting, communicating and embedding innovation in ways consistent with a company’s character
  • Capabilities
    • The technologies, skills, processes and discipline needed to make innovation happen

The focus on the first three chapters in Econovation is on the macroeconomic part of Context. The rest of Econovation explores the second C, Creativity and the specific opportunities that will thrive in light of economic conditions.

500px / Photo “The Snow Jump ” by Olivia BellThe content is structured in these chapters:

Its chapter titles are:

  • What is econovation
  • Indulgence in an age of constraint
  • Tawdry tales of a service economy
  • The next decade
  • Self actualization
  • Build a capital magnet
  • Make makers
  • Liberate Micropreneurs
  • Built an “Incentive Nation”
  • Unfinished business

My rating

4,0 stars on a scale 0-5.

This is again a decade of change, disruption and uncertainty. Our challenge is to create a challenging business and professional environment impacted by global structural changes, economic uncertainty and digital innovations. It is my firm belief that for those who place the right assessments and embrace change, this will be an exciting era.

We perform in a world according to Joseph Schumpeter. Remember that he highlighted the cycles of creative destruction animating capitalist economy. The Austrian economist notably pointed to two renewal factors: technological innovation and the role of entrepreneurs.  Product creation, new production processes, new organizations of production, new markets or new source of raw material or energy are often fine examples of such technological innovation. And the entrepreneur is keen on innovation, striving to meet the challenge with his vision, passion aiming for professional and personal benefits.

This book is an  highly accessible description of the US- economic problems and opportunities. It offers a concise overview of causes and underlying trends. It identifies opportunitiesm, on the input and output side. In this way it offers highly instructive recommendations and lessons for every (not limited to the US) business leader, entrepreneur  and professional. Lots of  data presented with insight and humor.

Interested in spotted opportunitiess?

lifeofliterature:The Hobbit (by Capt. Mouffette)

Sell to BRIC’s
  • Shared Infrastructure
  • Barter
  • Remote health care
  • Kill cash
  • New pricing and incentive modekls
Some of you may be acquainted with the subtitle of this blog: Context, construct, connect, compact, changes.  To be really successful, it is imperative to take a more holistic view.
E.g. at the societal level, one has to invest in social innovation.Romain Beaume, professor at the Ecole Polytechnique (Chair of Innovation Management), recently mentioned that for over 100 years, technological innovation has been the center of attention. In contrast, social innovation is an emerging practice, which possible benefits has been identified in recent years.
At the industry level, Steve’s plea for more manufacturing in the US does make sense to a certain extent.  However, the service industry (broad definition) will remain dominant with the consequences as outlined in chapter 2: Tawdry tales of a service economy.
At the enterprise and institutional level, the incentive model needs aggressive tweaking. Consider the insights as outlined in Daniel Pink’s Drive, Barry Schartz’s Practical Wisdo, Umair Haque’s  New Capitalist Manifesto and Roger Martin’s Fixing the Game.

This book (some will claim it to be a true manifesto) is a must read for anyone who is interested in connecting to the changing context in our business world. It is then up to you how that knowledge and information will be applied by you  to achieve your business, professional and personal goals in the next decade.

500px / Photo “…” by popaj *


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