A Online Degree Navigator Book Review
Moon, Youngme. 2010. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd. New York, New York: Crown Publishing.
There have been so many people asking about this book. There has been a stir of excitement naturally because as far as most advertising goes, it’s all about keeping up with the Jones’- which makes every brand, pretty much the same as all the others. Ms. Moon teaches at Harvard University and starts us out by telling us just that, that when you go to purchase something, everything is pretty much the same. She said it’s because businesses keep impressive score cards on every business that does exactly what they do, and if some other brand has a feature that they don’t, they set about a course to get that feature committing man power and a lot of money. As a result, brand after brand looks and feels exactly the same and no company stands out.
However, every once in awhile, there will be a brand that rejects the competitive treadmill and forges a new path, a trajectory that takes a completely different approach. For example, in 2002 the MINI Cooper was introduced to the automobile market. This car was introduced into a culture where the SUV was reigning and supreme king. What was fascinating about their campaign was they didn’t try and convince you why you should buy this tiny vehicle, but rather flaunted exactly how small this car is. One MINI billboard advertisements simply said: XXL, XL, L, M, S, MINI. Basically, the marketing told you that the car was even smaller than you thought. This campaign was completely rebellious, yet a perfect example of what advertisers calls a, “hostile brand”. Hostile brands are surprisingly blunt and challenge us with the directness of their message, Ms. Moon declares that hostile brands don’t sweep their uniqueness under the rug; they highlight it, and highlight it big. What happens with these brands is that people start coming out of the woodwork in order to define themselves by the brand. For example, you are a person that drives either a SUV or a MINI. This sort of identification is perfectly illustrated in today’s social networks. I’ll go out on a limb here and say, it’s really pretty disturbing that we are that consumption conscience. It doesn’t even bother me that some of us are clothes horses, or technology freaks, or own tons of books, what freaks me out goes something like this. This is Facebook excerpt Ms. Moon includes in her book:
Interests: I love tattoos, Range Rovers, the Red Sox, iPhone, UGGs, working out, drinkin’ girly drinks, Papyrus cards, JUICY COUTURE, Sephora, being tan, Hudson jeans and Britney Spears.
Youngme calls this an, “inversion” of the old advertising formula-brands used to describe actors instead of the other way around.
This new identification plays right into another example of a successful hostile brand. A company called, “Hollister” which is a sister brand to Abercrombie & Finch. They advertise using exclusion. They target young, attractive, cool and, “skinny” girls. Specifically, they only carry sizes from 0-9. For all of their efforts including discrimination lawsuits, in 2009 they have more than 500 stores and 1.5 billion in annual sales.
This book isn’t a “step-by-step how to” book, not at all, it’s just a book that lays out the current methods of advertising including those brands take a different approach like IKEA, Apple, Jet Blue and few others. She clearly illustrates a lot of the psychology behind the methods and gives interesting historical examples. Different is a well written, interesting read that will undoubtedly leave you with a lot of useful, applicable information.
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