April 5, 2001
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Brand Warfare
DAlessandro is the CEO of John Hancock Financial Services and has a notable history as a brand-builder. In Brand Warefare, he shares his knowledge in this absorbing, yet concise, airplane-trip length book.
Beginning with the sumo wrestlers brands like the Big Three networks, AT&T, and Sears, DAlessandro illustrates for us the three factors that helped topple these giants. The first factor was a change in consumer attitude. Historically, consumers trusted big businesses, but then, events such as the Exxon Valdez and Three Mile Island destroyed that trust. The second factor considered was, because of technology and the many media outlets, the cost of getting a new business running and building a brand has greatly reduced. And third, again because of technology, the end users cost and time invested in the pursuit of making an intelligent buying decision has plummeted, which puts the consumer clearly in charge.
Each chapter of Brand Warfare is titled after DAlessandros Ten rules for building the brand. One startlingly sub-chapter title that emphasizes the need to be humbled to customer needs is: When the consumer rules, arrogance kills: Thus, good brands do three things for the frazzled consumer. One: they save time; two: they project the right message; three: they provide an identity. That sure makes sense. My favorite rule is from Chapter #4: If your want great advertising, be prepared to work for it. In this chapter, he tells story after story about some serious flops he has been involved in like the lite Jim Beam whisky. A bit surprisingly, he is adamant that management shouldnt be involved with anything to do with the creation of the advertising spots. Lawyers and upper management are out. Instead, leave the advertising to the professionals. He then details the John Hancock campaign called Real Life, Real Answers as an example of ad spots which focused on reaching out to the consumer and touching peoples hearts. This award-winning campaign was put together by a creative team at the advertising agency who was told to only do a spot that stemmed directly from their own lives because John Hancock wanted commercials that would capture reality and emotions
Ultimately, Brand Warfare is a success on every level, one of the treasures of this genre. It is a serious, yet enjoyable (would I promote anything but?) business book with so much applicable information about a part of our world, branding, that grows increasingly important as the economic times get more difficult.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.