Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Accidental Branding

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Why do some few brands take off like a rocket while many (most we’ve never heard of) never leave the ground? A new book that expounds on this question will be released this week. The title is Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands by David Vinjamuri.

Accidental BrandingIn Accidental Branding, David profiles the leaders of several companies whose brands took off seemingly out of nowhere and succeeded in different, but amazing ways. The people he profiles include Gary Erickson of Clif Bar, Julie Clark of Baby Einstein, Roxanne Quimby of Burt’s Bees, John Peterman who created the J. Peterman brand and Craig Newmark who founded Craigslist. David qualifies an Accidental Brand as one that has three tests:

  1. An individual who is not trained in marketing must create the brand.
  2. This individual must experience the problem that the brand solves.
  3. The individual must control the brand for at least 10 years.

The great news for all of us is we can create a great brand regardless of whether we came from a wealthy family or attended an Ivy League university. Some of the people profiled did not even go to college. In his research, David discovered six rules that were keys to creating accidental brands:

  • Rule # 1 – Do Sweat The Small Stuff: Make sure you understand every way a consumer will interact with your brand, and choreograph all of those interactions.
  • Rule #2 – Pick a Fight: Accidental brands take real risk by going against the status quo; they reap rewards for doing so.
  • Rule #3 – Be Your Own Customer: Successful entrepreneurs are their own products’ consumers.
  • Rule #4 – Be Unnaturally Persistent: Most brands profiled took between 10 and 20 years to reach the $20 million mark.
  • Rule #5 – Build a Myth: The trick is selecting the facts that you want to tell people and deciding how best to share them.
  • Rule #6 – Be Faithful: Figure out who really supports you and keep listening to them. Don’t be distracted by all of the other people who end up coming along for the ride as you become more successful.

To take an idea and make something great requires determination and focused intention. The people profiled in Accidental Branding offer great examples of how anyone can, by following sound principles, create something great. I highly recommend you add Accidental Branding to your reading list.

Disclosure: Other than receiving an advanced copy of several pre-release chapters of Accidental Branding, I have no affiliation with the author or the book.

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