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The Brand Gap // Marty Neumeier

Firstly, what is the Brand gap?

Well according to Marty Neumeier and his book,

“The Brand Gap”…

“Strategy and creativity, in most companies, are separated by a mile-wide chasm. On one side are the strategists and marketing people who favor left-brain thinking – analytical, logical, linear, concrete, numerical, verbal.
On the other side are the designers and creative people who favor right-brain thinking – intuitive, emotional, spatial, visual, physical. Unfortunately, the left brain doesn’t always know what the rights brain is doing.
Whenever there’s a rift between strategy and creativity – between logic and magic – there’s a brand gap.”

I was drawn to this book because I am most definitely a right brained thinker and I am constantly drawn to right-brained thinkers. In business and in life. I felt more deeply to understand why and how do I bridge my own personal brand gap…

“By asking left-brainers and right-brainers to work as a team, you bridge the gap between logic and magic. With collaboration, one plus one equals eleven.”

I have always believed in the success of this principle and this is what I strive to do within my design work.

So in the light of sharing the love…

Here is the quick summary of the ideas covered in the book,

THE BRAND GAP, by Marty Neumeier

On Branding

  • A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.

  • Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creativity. It’s not the process of connecting good strategy with poor creativity, or poor strategy with poor creativity.

  • The foundation of brand is trust. Customers trust your brand when their experiences consistently meet or beat their expectations.

  • Modern society is information-rich and time-poor. The value of your brand grows in direct proportion to how quickly and easily customers can say yes to your offering.

  • People base their buying decisions more on symbolic cues than features, benefits, and price. Make sure your symbols are compelling.

  • Only one competitor can be the cheapest – the others have to use branding. The stronger the brand, the greater the profit margin.

  • A charismatic brand is any product, service, or company for which people believe there’s no substitute. Any brand can be charismatic, even yours.


  • To begin building your brand, ask yourself three questions: 1. Who are you? 2. What do you do? 3. Why does it matter

  • Our brains filter out irrelevant information, letting in only what’s different and useful. Tell me again, why does your product matter?

  • Differentiation has evolved from a focus on “what it is”. “what it does” to “how you’ll feel,” to “who you are.” While features, benefits, and price are still important to people, experiences and personal identity are even more important.

  • As globalism removes barriers, people erect new ones. They create tribes – intimate worlds they can understand and participate in. Brand names are tribal gods, each ruling a different space within a tribe.

  • Become the number one or number two in your space. Can’t be number one or number two? Redefine your space or move to a different tribe.


  • Over time, specialists beat generalists. The winner is the brand that best fits a given space. The law of the jungle? Survival of the fittingest.

  • How a brand should fit its space is determined by the brand community. It takes a village to build a brand.

  • By asking left-brainers and right-brainers to work as a team, you bridge the gap between logic and magic. With collaboration, one plus one equals eleven.

  • For successful precedents to creative collaboration, look to Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and the cathedral builders of the Renaissance.

  • As creative firms become more collaborative, they’re also becoming more specialized. The next economy will see a rise in branding networks – groups of “unbundled” companies cooperating across the value chain.

  • Three basic models have emerged for managing brand collaboration: 1. The one-stop shop, 2. The brand agency 3. The integrated marketing team. Choose any one or create a combination.

  • Speak in prototypes. Prototypes cut through marketing red tape and let gut feelings talk to gut feelings.


  • It’s design, not strategy, that ignites passion in people. And the magic behind better design and better business is innovation.

  • Radical innovation has the power to render competition obsolete. The innovator’s mantra: When everyone zigs, zag.

  • How do you know when an idea is innovative? When it scares the hell out of you.

  • Expect innovation from people outside the company, or from people inside the company who think outside.

  • Make sure the name of your brand is distinctive, brief, appropriate, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, likeable, extendable, and protectable.

  • Logos’s are dead. Long live icons and avatars.

  • Packaging is the last and best chance to influence a prospect this side of the checkout counter. Arrange all your packaging messages in a ‘natural reading sequence’.

  • Avoid the three most common barriers to web innovation: technophobia, turfismo, and featuritis.

  • Bottom line: If it’s not innovative, it’s not magic.


  • The standard communication model is an antique. Transform your brand communication from a monologue to a dialogue by getting feedback.

  • Feedback, ie. Audience research, can inspire and validate innovation.

  • Research has gotten an unfair rap from the creative community. Though bad research can be like looking at the road in a review mirror, good research can get brands out of reverse and onto the Autobahn.

  • Use focus groups to focus the research, not be the research. Focus groups are particularly susceptible to the Hawthorne effect, which happens when people know they’re being tested.

  • Quantitative research is antithetical to inspiration. For epiphanies that lead to breakthroughs, use qualitative research.

  • Measure your company’s brand expressions for distinctiveness, relevance, memorability, extendibility, and depth.


  • Your business is not an entity but a living organism. Ditto your brand. Alignment, not consistency, is the basis of a living brand.

  • A living brand is a never-ending play, and every person in the company is an actor. People see the play whenever they experience the brand, and they tell others.

  • Every brand contributor should develop a personal shockproof brandometer. No decision should be made without asking, “Will it help or hurt the brand?”

  • The growing importance of the brand has a flip side: its growing vulnerability. A failed launch, a drop in quality, or a whiff of scandal can damage credibility.

  • The more collaborative a brand becomes, the more centralised its management needs to be. The future of branding will require strong CBOs – chief brand officers who can steward the brand from inside the company.

  • Branding is a process that can be studies, analysed, learned, taught, replicated, and managed. It’s CBO’s job to document and disseminate brand knowledge, and to transfer it whole to each new manager and collaborator.

  • Each lap around the branding circle, from differentiation to cultivation, takes the brand further from commoditization and closer to a sustainable competitive advantage.

This is definitely a book for the bookshelf, one you can scribble in, take notes and keep referring back to.

Happy reading,

Kristen x

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