Cover image for The origin of brands : discover the natural laws of product innovation and business survival
The origin of brands : discover the natural laws of product innovation and business survival
Ries, Al.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 308 pages ; 22 cm
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HD69.B7 R538 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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What Charles Darwin did for biology, Al and Laura Ries do for branding.

In their exciting new book, The Origin of Brands, the Rieses take Darwin's revolutionary idea of evolution and apply it to the branding process. What results is a new and strikingly effective strategy for creating innovative products, building a successful brand, and, in turn, achieving business success.Here, the Rieses explain how changing conditions in the marketplace create endless opportunities to build new brands and accumulate riches. But these opportunities cannot be found where most people and most companies look. That is, in the convergence of existing categories like television and the computer, the cellphone and the Internet.

Instead, opportunity lies in the opposite direction--in divergence. By following Darwin's brilliant deduction that new species arise from divergence of an existing species, the Rieses outline an effective strategy for creating and taking to market an effective brand. In The Origin of Brands, you will learn how to:

Divide and conquer Exploit divergence Use the theories of survival of the firstest and survival of the secondest Harness the power of pruning

Using insightful studies of failed convergence products and engaging success stories of products that have achieved worldwide success through divergence, the Rieses have written the definitive book on branding. The Origin of Brands will show you in depth how to build a great brand and will lead you to success in the high-stakes world of branding.

Author Notes

Al Ries and his daughter and partner, Laura Ries, are marketing consultants. Their Atlanta firm is Ries & Ries

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This father-daughter marketing team, authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, believes that evolution is a useful analogy for marketers. Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to think of Darwin's tree of life. For example, the television tree used to consist solely of the three networks, but now comprises an array of cable and satellite offerings. The "phone" tree includes cellular, picture, computer, digital and other varieties. Using many examples, the authors explore this notion: "Competition between individuals (brands) improves the species. Competition between species (categories) drives the categories further and further apart." To survive in today's competitive market where technology makes innovations much faster than in the past, companies must continue to introduce new computers, cars, phones, food, etc. However, the drawbacks of expansion and innovation mean that some products and some corporations won't be profitable. Burger King keeps trying to launch new menus, essentially to compete with McDonald's. While McDonald's has had its own fiscal troubles, it continues to dominate the fast food market because it was first and has so many outlets. Along with their entertaining perspective on advertising and marketing, the authors offer specific advice including devising a new category rather than a brand. Innovative marketers will have a triumphant product if they create a category and launch with a clever name as well, such as Starbucks did for the high-end coffee-shop category. While the book is primarily directed at readers working in marketing, advertising and related fields, managers and executives at both large and small businesses will benefit from it as well. Agent, Black Inc. (May) Forecast: A 25-city national radio campaign, author tour, and lectures along with the paperback release of the authors' bestselling The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR should quickly launch this one onto business lists. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Unquestionably, this is the definitive book on branding. The authors have long and successful careers as marketing consultants and authors (e.g., The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, CH, Apr'03, and The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, 1998). In a distinctly original approach to the subject--comparing branding with Darwin's theory and the principle of divergence--the authors present an analogy that clearly and simply explains the branding process. The interplay of evolution and divergence provides a model for understanding both the universe and the universe of brands. Written with clarity and insightful analysis, each of the 17 chapters examines specific examples of failed convergence products and those successful through divergence. The book is thoughtful, challenging, provocative, and instructive in helping readers discover the application of natural laws to product innovation business survival. A major contribution to the marketing literature, this book is must reading for marketing and management professionals and academics and their students. It will be enormously useful to anyone interested in the opportunity to launch a new product and maintain its dominance. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduate through professional collections. R. R. Attinson emeritus, CUNY College of Staten Island



The Origin of Brands Discover the Natural Laws of Product Innovation and Business Survival Chapter One The Great Tree of Life The "Great Tree of Life" is how Charles Darwin described his metaphor for the origin of species. "The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree ... The green and budding twigs may represent existing species; and those produced during each former year may represent the long succession of extinct species. At each period of growth all the growing twigs have tried to branch out on all sides, and to overtop and kill the surrounding twigs and branches, in the same manner as species and groups of species have tried to overmaster ot her species in t he great battle for life." How do new branches arise? By divergence of existing branches. How do new species arise? By divergence of existing species. When he was just twenty-eight years old, Charles Darwin jotted down his view of nature in his notebook: "If we choose to let conjecture run wild, then animals, our fellow brethren in pain, disease, suffering and famine--our slaves in the most laborious works, our companions in our amusements--they may partake of our origin in one common ancestor--we may be all melted together." Melted together, looking backward but spread apart and diverging, looking forward. The Great Tree of Products and Services In the "great tree of products and services," how do new categories arise? By divergence of existing categories. First there was a branch called computer. Today that computer branch has diverged and now we have mainframe computers, midrange computers, network computers, personal computers, laptop computers, and handheld computers. The computer didn't converge with another technology. It diverged. First there was a branch called television. Today that television branch has diverged and now we have analog and digital television. Regular and high-definition television. Standard (4/3) and wide-screen (16/9) formats. Television didn't converge with another medium. It diverged. First there was a branch called radio. Today that radio branch has diverged and now we have portable radios, car radios, wearable radios, and clock radios. Radio didn't converge with another medium. It diverged. First there was a branch called telephone. Today that telephone branch has diverged and now we have regular telephones, cordless telephones, headset phones, cellphones, and satellite phones. The telephone didn't converge with another technology. It diverged. Did you ever see a tree in which two branches converged to form a single branch? Perhaps, but this is highly unlikely in nature. It's also highly unlikely in products and services. Some Categories Live. Some Categories Die. Darwin explains: "Of the many twigs which flourished when the tree was a mere bush, only two or three, now grown into great branches, yet survive and bear all the other branches; so with the species which lived during long-past geological periods, very few now have living and modified descendants. From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these lost branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only from having been found in a fossil state." A branch called typewriter, for example, diverged and formed multiple branches called manual typewriter, portable typewriter, and electric typewriter. Today the typewriter branch has decayed and is about to drop off, overshadowed by a nearby branch called personal computer. The typewriter is a dinosaur. Today you find most typewriters, slide rules, and adding machines only in a fossil state. That is, in somebody's basement or attic and possibly listed on eBay. (Ebay recently had 1,314 typewriters for sale.) The sailing ship, the steam engine, and the horse and buggy have all followed similar paths. The Great Tree of Brands If you want to build a successful brand, you have to understand divergence. You have to look for opportunities to create new categories by divergence of existing categories. And then you have to become the first brand in this emerging new category. In the "great tree of brands," a successful brand is one that dominates an emerging branch and then becomes increasingly successful as the branch itself expands to block the sunlight from nearby branches. Traditional marketing is not focused on creating new categories. Traditional marketing is focused on creating new customers. Traditional marketing involves finding out what consumers want and then giving them what they want, better and cheaper than the competition. The high priest of a traditional-marketing company is the director of marketing research. To find out what consumers want, companies spend lavishly on research. In a recent year, American companies spent $6.2 billion on marketing research. (If you've read some of our previous books, you know that we are big believers in public relations, yet PR is only a $4.2-billion business, a third less than marketing research.) Are We Opposed to Marketing Research? Yes and no. We're opposed to market research when it attempts to predict the future. This happens when you ask consumers what they will do rather than what they have done. We're not opposed to market research that explores the past. Why consumers chose the brands they did, for example. Consumers don't know what they will do until they are actually given the opportunity to make a decision. Another way of looking at the situation is that categories don't diverge until there is an available brand for consumers to purchase. Today, four out of the five best-selling beer brands are light beers. Before the 1975 national launch of Lite beer, what good would it have done Miller Brewing to ask consumers if they would buy a watered-down beer? As a matter of fact, the 1967 launch of Gablinger's should have answered that question with a resounding no. The Origin of Brands Discover the Natural Laws of Product Innovation and Business Survival . Copyright © by Al Ries. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Origin of Brands: Discover the Natural Laws of Product Innovation and Business Survival by Al Ries, Laura Ries All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Chapter 1 The Great Tree of Lifep. 1
Chapter 2 Predicting the Futurep. 9
Chapter 3 Divide and Conquerp. 17
Chapter 4 Gradual Change vs. Divergencep. 27
Chapter 5 The Curse of the Clock Radiop. 39
Chapter 6 Swiss Army Knife Thinkingp. 53
Chapter 7 Bad Ideas Never Diep. 77
Chapter 8 The Great Tree of High-Tech Brandsp. 89
Chapter 9 The Great Tree of Low-Tech Brandsp. 117
Chapter 10 The Mystery of the Missing Linksp. 151
Chapter 11 Survival of the Firstestp. 161
Chapter 12 Survival of the Secondestp. 185
Chapter 13 The Power of Pruningp. 205
Chapter 14 Creating a Categoryp. 227
Chapter 15 Establishing an Enemyp. 257
Chapter 16 Launching the Brandp. 267
Chapter 17 Wrapping Things Upp. 285
Indexp. 297