Baked in: Creating Products and Businesses That Market Themselves

    By Alex Bogusky, John Winsor

"A provocative and compelling message, and a vision for the future."

Matt Jacobson, Head of Market Development, Facebook

Brands must build a new relationship with their customers and the culture they participate in. The old rule was: Create safe, ordinary products and combine them with mass marketing. The new rule is: Create truly innovative products and build the marketing right into them. Today, the product is at the center of the conversation. It's within the product itself that a brand has the most leverage with consumers.

So where should companies start? They must take their brands back to their foundations, and realize that the message is not the product, but that the product is the message. Baked In gives companies a step-by-step guide on how to adapt and succeed in this brave new world. Authors Alex Bogusky and John Winsor, of famed ad firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky, have worked with some of the most important brands in today's marketplace, including American Express, Best Buy, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Google, Nike, Microsoft, Patagonia, and Toyota, utilizing the tools they discuss in this book.

Too many companies have overlooked the fact that their products are often the most powerful brand-building tools at their disposal. Advertising agencies and branding experts have seduced them into thinking that marketing was their only real means to connect with consumers. At the same time, many companies have underestimated consumers' ability to recognize innovation. Today, the ability to innovate is not only companies' best marketing tool, but also their best way to grow revenues and profits. Why? Because innovative product design has the ability to create whole new markets. But innovating means taking risks.

Most products are still marketed to reach an old market. Companies that are built using mass-marketing develop their products according to the same principles. They round the edges, smooth out the differentiating features, and try to make products that work for the masses. They use focus groups to make sure products are "acceptable" but acceptable is always the most risky strategy, because "acceptable" products almost always fail in today's marketing environment. At the same time, many of the marketing tools that companies have traditionally relied on, like traditional advertising, are losing their power.

The reason? Customers have changed: They want products that are perfectly tailored to satisfy their needs, and they want to have a say in their creation. Whether companies like it or not, with technology platforms like YouTube, customers will communicate precisely how they love or hate your product, your brand, and your company. If you don't have what they want, they'll either obtain it from a competitor somewhere else in the world or build it themselves.

This means that your customers demand to be involved with your brand. They want to participate in the building of a brand they will be loyal to, in generating a conversation around brands, and in manufacturing products that will speak to their needs. They hack and appropriate brands they love. They research a company's products, brands, and corporate culture; share their buying experiences, rate them, and create positive or negative haloes around brands; and they manipulate broader public perceptions of brands. More than ever, the customer is in control.

For many companies, it's high time to realize that collaboration is at the heart of this new paradigm. While collaboration with customers is key, the ability to collaborate internally is even more important. This collaboration is crucial to establishing brands through creating great, innovative products.

Let's look back. Many of the important brands in American history Gillette and Disney, to name two examples became successful not because of clever marketing, but because they offered something you couldn't get anywhere else. This remains true today: Apple owes much of its brand power to the constant upgrade of such iconic products as the Macintosh and the iPod.

Sometimes great brands emerge without much marketing or advertising support at all. Starbucks is a great example. For a long time its coffee and shops were their sole marketing tools. Other examples include Patagonia, Jones Soda, and Pangea Organics. Similarly, the global clothing retailer Zara has never run an advertising campaign but it does launch 10,000 new designs each year in its more than 1,000 shops worldwide. The company innovated by dramatically reducing the time from inspiration to in-store product, allowing it to stay months ahead of its competitors.

Look at Google: Is Google a media company based on advertising, or a search tool for its users? Google makes 99 percent of its revenue from advertising, without spending anything on billboards, Super Bowl commercials, or TV commercials. The company's tremendous organic growth was due entirely to the fame of its remarkable products spreading across the nation by word of mouth.

Craigslist follows the same credo. In the words of its founder and CEO Jim Buckmaster, "We pay zero attention to brand. We never use the word internally. We do zero advertising. We don't have a logo. We've never done a focus group. We don't care about any of that. And now we're told we have the strongest brand ever for a company our size. That's pretty ironic."

Baked In shows how marketing can and must re-invent itself in the 21st century, using the tools at hand both from digital technology and networked media and from the fast-evolving activist marketplace. As such, it's an essential guide for all businesses looking to succeed."

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Publish Date 10/09/2009
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