Peter Arnell has an enviable reputation in advertising and branding, and his documentary about Valentino was enlightening and nominated for an Academy Award. Even the pre-release reviews come with heavyweight names attached: Frank Gehry, Donna Karan and - well - Mark Wahlberg. So I'm really disappointed to say that this book offers little insight into his creative process or approach, and acts a self-promotional treatise mixed with anecdotes. And while the stories are for the most part entertaining, they don't really provide much in the delivery of the subtitle of the book: "How to reinvent your business, your career, and your personal brand".
Unfortunately, I've read too many similar books like this recently to find it inspiring. Recounting stories of how you 'fixed' Donna Karan's brand image might be good for a seminar, but the lack of executable ideas for the reader really starts to grate after a while. And some of the advice would barely make the cut for a Marketing 101 book - reinventing Samsung by showing a guy with a six-pack holding a microwave under one arm would hardly count as an innovative marketing idea (sex does indeed sell).
By the time we reach some principles of branding, they're really nothing new - here are the bullet points from page 126:
Generate news and newness.
Retain current audiences while expanding appeal.
Translate the program on a global basis.
Demonstrate superior differentiation.
Rivitalize brand image.
Tap into pop culture for relevance.
Live up to the brand promise
While each bullet point could potentially be a chapter in itself, the reader is left the same question over and over - "how?"
I congratulate the author on his impressive weight loss, but the story gets beaten to death, and I've heard enough about eating 50 oranges to day to put me off fruit for a month. Towards the end, it falls into noble platitudes about "be a tiger", "go helium" and "embrace mistakes", none of which gives you much to work with if you were hoping to better understand successful brand development.
The problem with the book isn't that it's unreadable - Peter Arnell is clearly a very charismatic and interesting guy. The difficulty is that it's like having a French teacher who tells you stories about living in France but nothing about speaking French, and ultimately I walked away from the book thinking we'd had a good chat but I didn't glean very much.
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