The Brand That Cried Wolf

Brand That Cried WolfI’ve been spend a bit of time reading on the topic of branding. I just finished Scott Deming’s “The Brand That Cried Wolf”. Here are a few of the quotes and stories that I liked the most.

Advertising as Awareness (p. 8)

Marketing as a System of uniting Businesses and Customers (p. 9)

Branding is the Process of Creating Authentically Unique, Emotional Experiences That Yield Evangelists (p.10)

In truth, branding is the creation and support of a powerful perception image of someone or something based on a unique, emotional experiences – so powerful that the perception or image becomes a belief. Therefore, I argue that the formula for professional and personal success lies in our ability to create the most powerful, emotional, memorable brand based on these unique experiences. (p. 10)

Be careful what you promise. When you make a promise, you create expectations. When you exceed expectations, you create a brand. (p. 29)

When individuals and companies don’t deliver on their brand promise, they fail like the hare (Tortoise and the Hare) in the story you just read and the young shepherd  in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. I call these companies Wolf Brands, like the title story you read in the Introduction, because they make proclamations and promises that fall flat. In so doing, they fail to unite the two aspect of their brand just described. Not only do they not deliver on their brand promise, they fail to create or maintain uniqueness in their brand category. (p. 30)

Verizon Story (p. 67-69)

Ben & Jerry even wrote a book: Double Dip: Lead With Your Values And Make Money detailing, among other things, their belief that the finest business in the world will, in the future, be evaluated by their values, not their products or services. This make sense in a number of ways. For example, we know that products are getting better and better. By and large, everything from detergent to cell phones does it’s job. So what distinguishes one company from another? It’s not the product that becomes the differentiator, it’s the company, what it stands for, and how it treats is employees and citizens. In the case of Ben & Jerry’s these values largely define who they are. (p. 79)

Interestingly enough (according to the 2006 Retail Consumer Dissatisfaction Study, conducted by Verde Group and the Baker Retailing Initiative  at Worton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania), a sort of telephone game phenomenon occurs when people start talking about their negative experiences. As the stories spread, people who are not directly involved in the experience  hear embellished versions of the actual event. With anti-evangelism the ripples (as in a rock tossed into a pond, and the ripples that result) don’t get smaller as they move out away from the origin of the story; they get bigger! “Almost half of those surveyed, 48%, reported they have avoided a store in the past because of someone else’s experience.” Contrast that with the percentage of people who actually had the negative experience and reported they would not likely return to shop at the location again: 33 percent! These are numbers everyone should consider each and every time they have the opportunity to create a positively memorable experience. It’s especially important, given the fact that you typically  won’t have any idea that you’ve created an anit-evangelist. That’s because you count on your customers to report their negative experiences to you. And the fact is, they don’t. (p. 125-126)


The Method Method

41R7XrgaSpLThe Method Method: Seven Obsessions That Helped Our Scrappy Start-up Turn an Industry Upside Down

I recently finished this. Here are a few of the quotes I liked:


“In order for an innovation to be truly innovative, people have to use it. A lot of people. As (Green) innovators, nothing is more frustrating to us than hearing about an innovative new product only a few privileged people can get their hands on. That’s not innovation. That’s obscurity. Which is to say, technology and creativity aren’t the most important components of innovation – adoption is.” (p. 98)

Private Label: 

“Gone are the days when the private label was considered an inferior choice. The Great Recession has forced a shift in consumer thinking toward cheap chic – the idea that it’s hip to be frugal – which has shattered negative consumer stereotypes of private label goods. Today’s private label competes against national brands on both price and differentiation.” (p. 160)


“The desire to feel cool by buying a top-of-the-line convertible is not satisfied by just buying the car and parking it in the driveway. It’s fully realized when you actually go out and drive it with the top down! Bottom line: It’s not the product that fulfills the desire, it’s the experience of using it. Now in order to really get people to desire your product, you need to create a great experience. What’s a great experience? It’s one that’s memorable, remarkable, or unexpected in some way. It’s what keeps people coming back to you instead of your competitors.” (p. 184-185)

Customer Experience:

“If you look at which consumer product companies are really winning today, you’ll see they’re all great at product execution – Apple, Dyson, Nike, BMW, just to name a few. The world is shifting toward favoring organizations that are fluent at creating truly great products, particularly products that deliver consumer experiences as he meaningful differentiator…Everything starts with creating a killer product, after that everything flows naturally.

“I wish more money and time was spent on designing an exceptional product, and less on trying to psychologically manipulate perceptions through expensive advertising.” Phil Kotler, professor of marketing, Kellogg School of Management” (p. 188)


“Our belief was that if we created a product that exceeded expectations, people would talk about it and drive word-of-mouth. Because Method could never win the advertising battle by shouting louder, we needed the product to shout for us. Too many companies create products with the assumption that a healthy marketing budget will ensure success. But we believe you should go into a new product development process with the assumption there will be no marketing support and that the product needs to be special and differentiated enough to stand on its own. Marketing should be the rocket fuel to propel a great product, not the Hail Mary for a mediocre product.” (p. 190)

Product Experience:

“Think about it: design a better product and what do you have? One good product. Design a better experience, however, and you’ve got a platform for countless products. This is, in part, why Method has been able to grow so quickly, disrupting each new category with the same strategy. Product experience is about being refreshing to consumers. It’s about looking for areas where we can be distinct.” (p. 193)

The Method Method can be purchased at Amazon.

The Reason For God

The second title on my “books that I was able to finally finish during vacation” list was Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God. A tremendous read that I highly recommend for anyone who has real questions about God and the reality of Christ as Savior, especially when you look at the hurts, confusion and chaos that is the world we live in.

The first half of the book is dedicated to methodically and logically speaking to some of the most common areas of doubt:

  • There Can’t Be Just One True Religion
  • How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
  • Christianity Is a straightjacket
  • The Church Is Responsible for So Much Injustice
  • How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
  • Science Has Disproved Christianity
  • You Can’t Take the Bible Literally

All were well explained, however, I found it to be a bit “heady” (for a simple-minded guy like myself) and it required that I read it in small chunks. The second half of the book deals with the reasons for faith. This is the section of the book, as you can see by the number of quotes below, that really resonated with me.

  • The reality and weight of my sins.
  • How easily I fall into idolatry.
  • Having Jesus being the Lord of my life, not just the Savior of my soul.
  • Grace and being accepted, not because of anything I offer (which is nothing), but because of what He did (which was everything).
  • Confidence in the power of His forgiveness and that God is not mad at me, but rather radically, totally, infinitely happy with me because of what Jesus did on the Cross for me.

The Reasons For Faith

Sin is not simply doing bad things, it is putting good things in the place of God. So the only solutions is not simply to change our behavior, but to reorient and center the entire heart and life on God. (p. 178)

Everybody has to live for something. Whatever that something is becomes “Lord of your life,” whether you think o fit that way or not. Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally. (p. 179)

All other major faiths have founders who are teachers that show the way to salvation. Only Jesus claimed to actually be the way of salvation (p. 180)

If you are avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and save you, then ironically, you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model, and helper but avoiding him as savior. You are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God. You are trying to save yourself by following Jesus. (p. 183)

The devil, if anything, prefers Pharisees – men and women who try to save themselves. They are more unhappy than either mature Christians or irreligious people, and they do a lot more spiritual damage. (p. 184)

Religion operates on the principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God.” But the operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through what Christ has done – therefore I obey.” (p. 186)

When my own personal grasp of the gospel was very week, my self-view swung wildly between two poles. When I was performing up to my standards – in academic work, professional achievement, or relationships – I felt confident by not humble. I was likely to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. When I was not living up to standards, I felt humble but not confident, a failure. I discovered, however, that the gospel contained the resources to build a unique identity. In Christ I could know I was accepted by grace not only despite my flaws, buy because I was willing to admit them. The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued and that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less. I don’t need to notice myself – how I’m doing, how I’m being regarded – so often (p. 187)

The Christian’s identity is not based on the need to be perceived as a good person, buy on God’s valuing of you in Christ. (p. 188)

Some years ago I met a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer. She said that she had gone to church growing up and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked her why it was scary, and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with “rights” – I would have done my duty and mow I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace – there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.” (p. 189)

Forgiveness means absorbing the debt of the sin yourself. (p. 199)

It is crucial at this point to remember that the Christian faith has always understood that Jesus Christ is God. God did not, then, inflict pain on someone else, but rather on the Cross absorbed the pain, violence and evil of the world into himself. (p. 200)

The fact that Jesus had to die for me humbled me out of my pride. The fact that Jesus was glad to die for me assured me out of my fear. (p. 208)

Jonathan Edwards, in reflecting on the interior life of the triune God, concluded that God is infinitely happy. (p. 227)

Paul calls Jesus “the last Adam.” As the first Adam was tested in the Garden of Eden, the last Adam (Jesus) was tested in the Garden of Gethsemane. The first Adam knew that he would live if he obeyed God about the tree. But he didn’t. The last Adam was also tested by what Paul called a “tree,” the Cross. jesus knew that he would be crushed if obeyed his Father. And he still did. (p. 230)

In fact, as C.S. Leis put it, all the adventures we have ever had will end up being only “the cover and the title page.” Finally we will be begin “Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.” (p. 236)

Imagine you are on a high cliff and you lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you as you fall is a branch sticking out of the very edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and it is more than strong enough to support your weight. How can it save you? If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch can support you, but you don’t actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If your mind is instead filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch. (p. 244-245)

During a dart time in her life, a woman in my congregation complained that she had prayed over and over, “God, help me find you,” buy had gotten nowhere. A Christian friend suggested to her that she might change her prayer to, “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” She concluded when she was recounting this to me, “The only reason I can tell you this story is – he did.” (p. 251)

The Reason for God Timothy Keller. The Reason for God. Riverhead Books, published by the Penguin Group, New York City, New York. 2008.


One of the best things about a vacation is time to catch up or finish books that seem to sit on a table, desk or headboard, just waiting to be finished. Fortunately for me, I just got this opportunity. One of the unfinished books in my bag was “Indescribable” by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman.

While the entire book was filled with awe inspiring quotes, facts, scriptures and photos, it wasn’t until the last few pages that I got a small grasp of the bigness and greatness of God.

Two points related to the vastness of space – the first talking about our nearest star neighbor (not counting our sun), Proxima Centauri.

“…Let’s stick with Proxima Centauri for a moment and find a more pictorial explanation of exactly what we’re encountering here. Say we have a ballpoint pen, and for the purposes of this illustration we imagine the tiny tip of that pen to be Earth. We place this pen on the ground, and then about 15 feet away we place a ping-pong ball, which on this scale represents our Sun. Sticking to this scale, how far away to we suppose we need to place a second ping-pong ball to represent Proxima Centauri? The answer is quite overwhelming. You would need to travel approximately 1,430 miles away¹ to place the second ball. And, remember, except for the Sun, that’s our nearest star neighbor.” For additional perspective, that nearly the equivalent of measuring that pen from my hometown of Grants Pass, Oregon all the way out to Oklahoma City.

Again, describing the amount of space that is in space, Redman goes on to say,

“…As huge and impressive as stars are, they are a mere dot on the cosmic landscape. Scientist estimate the average distance between them to be around twenty trillion miles². As on astronomer describes it, ‘Place three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars.‘”³ For more perspective, according to Wikipedia, the largest cathedral in the world is St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, measuring 1,200,000 cubic meters. But hey, that’s the Vatican… we expect that to be big. Looking a little closer to home, the 4th largest Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City coming in at a “mere” 480,000 cubic meters. Imagine just three grains of sand in this massive structure and feeling “crowded”. Amazing.

  1. Illustration from Astrasurf-Magazine,
  2. T. Padmanabhan, “Ripples in the Early Universe,” Physics Education, January-March, 227.
  3. NASA, “Educational Brief: Exploring the Interstellar medium,”

Taken from Indescribable, Louie Giglio & Matt Redman. Indescribable, p. 166-167. Published by David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, CO. 2011.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Review)

Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay)

The visionary CEO of Zappos explains how an emphasis on corporate culture can lead to unprecedented success.

Pay new employees $2000 to quit. Make customer service the entire company, not just a department. Focus on company culture as the #1 priority. Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business. Help employees grow both personally and professionally. Seek to change the world. Oh, and make money too.

Sound crazy? It’s all standard operating procedure at, the online retailer that’s doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales every year.

In 1999, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos as an adviser and investor, and eventually became CEO.

In 2009, Zappos was listed as one of Fortune magazine’s top 25 companies to work for, and was acquired by Amazon later that year in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion on the day of closing.

In his first book, Tony shares the different business lessons he learned in life, from a lemonade stand and pizza business through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more. Ultimately, he shows how using happiness as a framework can produce profits, passion, and purpose both in business and in life. (edited by author). Provided by


The first third or half of the book was basically HOW Tony Hsieh got to Zappos. While certainly amusing at times, I got a little board. However, once he reached the point of explaining Zappos culture, how they reached decisions about culture, how they would implements those conclusions and hold fast to them, regardless of the circumstances – I found the book really interesting.

Hsieh, is obviously a super bright guy. You find that his passion is much more about the challenge before him (and the next one on the horizon) rather that “just” Zappos. Expect to see more books from Hsieh on a wide array of topics – each associated with the challenge he is tackling at that moment.

There is a ton of supporting documentation on the books content that he makes available to you that you can find at:

My rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Getting Naked (Review)

Getting NakedGetting Naked – Shedding the three fears that sabotage client loyalty

Getting Naked is much more of an autobiographical pieces compared to Lencioni’s other titles, in fact it’s written in the first person.

While Four Obsessions of the Extraordinary Executive is, in my opinion, the “rosette stone” of the Lencioni titles I’ve read (I still have one last one to read – Silos, Politics and Turf Wars), Getting Naked is the other bookend. While Executive is “bigger picture” on developing a health organization, Naked is the practical day-to-day tools use to serve your clients, regardless of your industry, business or position.

While the information is hugely practical, it is simultaneously challenging – a great combination.

If you had to read just one Lencioni book, I’d recommend Executive. If your list was for just two, add Getting Naked – a great “bookend” collection. If you wanted to read three – add Dysfunctions of a Team would be the next addition. After that add Meeting to death. To round out the “top five” I’d say either Temptations for senior/executive staff or Miserable Job for mid-level management or staff (more of a 5a or 5b selection).

 My Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Five Temptations of the CEO (Review)

Five Temptations of a CEOThe Five Temptations of the CEO

Two things I found interesting about this particular Lencioni book: 1.) The “style” of the fable was much different that any of his others – still really enjoyable, but very different. 2.) This one was more introspective and self-evaluating than any of the others – again, still really good, just noticeably different. All of his books have had a take-away for you individually, but also had greater implications for you as a group or team (…dysfunctions of a team…questions for a family…meetings, etc. Even the extraordinary executive was focused on building a healthy organization.) Regardless of your position in your organization, the principles are still valid.

Additionally, I couldn’t help but consider how so much of the text could also be applied to a marriage.

My rating: 3.75 out of 5