The Brand Innovation Manifesto

A new John Grant book. Ahead of its time? John's latest book is useless. Useless if you work in a big ad agency the size of the Titanic, turn corners as fast as a tortoise and still think your job is to take briefs from clients. This book is ahead of most people in the ad industry. The implications of the forward thinking in the first half of the book on shifts in the way we should think about brands and culture is not for every body. If anything the book leaves you thinking how backward ad land is. But then again this is John Grant who co-founded an innovative and ahead-of-its-time agency - St. Lukes - at the age of 28. While needless to say brands need to innovate everything about them from their product to their vision, to the process and management there are big barriers. Sadly, as John says in the final paragraph: 'The very notion of a "creative department" suggests that the other 95% of people working in marketing are not supposed to be creative!'. This book is compelling reading and should inspire you to get over real life constraints. The biggest challenge is as it has always been that you are not making ads your are evolving and developing ideas. John has an interesting thought about this. 'Brands as clusters of strategic cultural ideas' is the central thought of the book. John having the brain that he does (about the size of Jupiter) takes on the concept of brand communication as a structured approach (onions, pyramids ads and matching luggage below the line executions) and turns that into an 'Anti-Structure' - he proposes the brand molecule as such a structure. It is a fundamental shift almost backwards into how innovative ideas are really developed through being opportunistic and entrepreneurial in your approach and not confined to rigid structures for thinking and planning. He then extends the chemical analogy into a periodic table detailing typologies of pretty much all the brand ideas from different categories around. This is one of the great things about this book, I've already used it in a brainstorm to stimulate a client out of the conventions of his category by trying ideas from other categories. And it works. The best thing about John's book is that it takes you out of the 'we have a brief for a 30 second ad now what's the idea?' mode and forces you to think on a much bigger picture how your brand influences culture through its ideas and innovation not through trite communications. You can apply the thinking not just read it which makes this not a book but a valuable tool for stimulation.

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