Made to Stick ~ Brand Mix

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Made to Stick

This was the second book discussed at our newly-formed book club Digest (the first was Freakanomics). The idea of Digest is provide a forum and incentive to read and discuss books that may help us do our jobs better in one way or another.

Communicating ideas is a critical part of our job so Made to Stick was a great choice for us to read. I found it as inspiring and influential as On Writing Well by William Zinsser which I had read years ago before starting my earlier career in journalism. As I read through the book, I had my highlighter out and, ever since, I've been trying to apply some of its principles to proposals and presentations, especially incorporating stories and analogies to help make ideas more concrete.

Our Digest discussion covered a wide range of topics focusing in particular on two of the book's concepts: "Commander's Intent" and "The Curse of Knowledge".

Commander's Intent refers to the way that the army sets objectives at a high enough level to account for the fact that battles rarely go according to plan. We talked about how we might apply this principle to things like Brand Guidelines make sure that people in organizations can understand core messages.

Curse of Knowledge refers to the tendency for experts to abstract and develop a language that, in the worst case, only they can understand. It's a trap we can fall into two ways: by using our brand and marketing lingo that means nothing to our clients or by adopting the language of our clients in the course of the project and then applying this to an external audience.

For reviews of Made to Stick (or to buy it), here's a link to the page.

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