My Branding Guru Totem Pole

My totem pole of branding iconsThere are some people who I believe have the right ideas about branding and the innate ability to communicate them. Now I don’t put them on a pedestal because they agree with me. They’re there because they’ve taught me something, or put into words some basic truths in a compelling way.

My list, from top to bottom, is fairly small because you can’t build a totem pole higher than a lodge pole pine.

At the base: Tom Peters, author, lecturer and stimulating thinker. In his case, much of how he addresses branding in Re-imagine does reflect how I think companies should, but most often don’t, view and implement branding.

Next, David Aaker. This man was (is) a pioneer in branding strategy, brand management and brand equity from the academic angle. His books have become the guideposts for many an MBA launched into the fields of marketing and branding.

There’s a guy who’s written two short, easy-read books that are the very-best books for execs to read to begin to understand the need and importance of branding. His name is Marty Neumeier and his books are The Brand Gap and Zap. Highly recommended.

Next up: Al Ries. Though his major work, Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind, was a co-op with Jack Trout, I’m picking Al because of the way he and his daughter, Laura, have kept pace with the world of branding. They co-wrote The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and The Origin of Brands, both of which I would also recommend to an exec with little time for a 350-page read.

And finally: Seth Godin. Like Tom Peters, Seth speaks of much more than branding. He does write passionately about the elements of brand. He speaks of differentiation and uniqueness, of passion and candidness, of value and vision. He is, in short, inspirational.

So that’s my five-person totem.

I’d have to acknowledge another five people I’d add if the trees grew higher: Harry Beckwith, Doug Hall, Jay Levinson, Guy Kawasaki and Robert Middleton.

Let me know who you’d want in your totem pole, or who of my choices you’d want to deface. Comments are open.

Martin Jelsema

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