Fascinate: A book review by Bob Morris

FascinateFascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist, Revised and Updated Edition
Sally Hogshead
HarperBusiness/An Imprint of HarperCollins (April 2016)

How creating a brand with one or more of seven advantages can help to create or increase and then sustain demand for it

Brands date back at least to the markets in ancient, Greece, and Rome. So, what is a brand? Heidi Cohen assembled 30 responses to that question from a variety of sources. Here are three:

o The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name.”

o Brand is a known identity of a company in terms of what products and services they offer but also the essence of what the company stands for in terms of service and other emotional, non tangible consumer concerns. To brand something is when a company or person makes descriptive and evocative communications, subtle and overt statements that describe what the company stands for. For example, is the brand the most economical, does it stands for superior service, is it an environmental responsible provider of x,y,z service or product. Each communication is deliberate in evoking emotion in the receiver to leave him/her with an essence of what the company or person stands for. Donna Antonucci

o Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa. Jay Baer. Author with Amber Naslund of The Now Revolution

All of this is true…but insufficient. Now let‘s focus on a revised and updated edition of Fascinate, a book first published years ago. Why a new edition? Sally Hogshead is convinced — and I agree — that most marketers need to revise and update their perspectives on brands and branding. With all due respect to signage such as swooshes and golden arches, brands must evoke expectations that are fulfilled, if not exceeded, by the customer experience.

Hogshead explains: “My first book Fascinate was published in 2010, and in that book I explored how our brains become captivated by certain people and ideas. I outlined the seven ways in which brands fascinate us. I gave the why but not the how. The truth is, I didn’t yet know all the steps…This is not a small revision; as my editors can attest, it’s a major overhaul. More major, in fact, than I think any of us realized. We ripped the entire book apart and rebuilt it to be a fascinatingly practical guide.” She added new stories and action steps, a “Brand Fascination Profile,” and “TurboBranding,” a step-by-step process in Parts III and IV, which gives you a blazingly fast way to create brand messages in about an hour.”

As I worked my way through her Introduction to the new edition, I was again reminded of a situation many years ago when a Princeton colleague of Albert Einstein gently chided him for asking the same questions every year on his final examination. “Quite true. Guilty as charged. Each year, the answers are different.”

I think that is also true of many of the questions that are asked about marketing, especially today in a global marketplace that is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember. Few (if any) of the correct answers in 2010 are probably true in 2016.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Hogshead’s coverage in Parts I and II:

o Kelton Study of fascination (Pages 6-7 and 273-281)
o The Seven Languages of Fascination (10)
o Marketing dimensions (15-17, 42-43, 45-46, and 62-63)
o Jägermeister (18-19 and 47-50)
o Differentiation (23-25, 47-50, and 61-64)
o The Modern Marketing Maze (39-40)
o Fascinate the Goldfish (40-42)
o The Three Deadly Threats to Communication (42-44
o Dinosaur food (71-72)
o Five Adjectives to Differentiate Your Innovation Brand (74)
o How Brands Use Innovation in Their Marketing (75-80)
o The Language of Creativity: Innovation at a Glance (81)
o Adjectives to Differentiate Your Passion Brand (86)
o Four marketing pillars of passion brands (87-93)
o Five Adjectives to Differentiate Your Power Brand (98)
o How Brands Use Power in Their Marketing (99-105)
o The Language of Confidence: Power at a Glance (107-120)
o Five Adjectives to Differentiate Your Prestige Brand (111)
o Trust as advantage (121-133, 219-220, and 284-285)
o Five Adjectives to Differentiate Your Trust Brand (124)
o How Brands Use Trust in Their Marketing (125-132)
o Predictability and trust (127-128, 129-130, and 131-132)
o Five Adjectives to Differentiate Your Mystique Brand (138)
o How Brands Use Mystique in Their Marketing (139-149)
o Five Adjectives to Differentiate Your Alert Brand (154)
o How Brands Use Alert in Their Marketing (156-163)
o Understanding the Seven Advantages (165)

Briefly, here is how Hogshead organizes her material:

Part I: How and why a brain becomes fascinated
Part II: How each of the seven Advantages can create a state of intense focus
Part III: How the aforementioned “practical system” can be modified to accommodate
almost any strategy and tactic(s) for almost any message
Part IV: How to get started with the five-step action plan

Sally Hogshead offers a methodology that is cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective, one that — if applied with rigor and passion as well as with patience and persistence — really can help to make almost any brand impossible to resist. The greater challenge, obviously, is to sustain that appeal. Perhaps she will address that challenge in her next book.

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