I've just read David J. Taylor's "Where’s the Sausage?" and I heartily recommend that you consider doing so, too.
David has written a branding book in the form of a comedic novel. His lead character, Bob Jones, is a sales department lifer sent on an exchange program to the strange, exotic world of branding. The story follows (via first-person blog posts) Bob's year-long adventure as marketing manager for Simpton's Sausages.
It doesn't start out auspiciously for him: he can't wade through more than a few pages of the incomprehensible branding book his wife buys him for Christmas, and can't define what "brand" means as he sits at his new desk waiting for his black-clad, spiky-haired, frappuccino-swilling (and obviously just terribly busy) marketing department associates to arrive at work.
Turns out that they don't know what it means, either.
So the story follows Bob as he stumbles through the branding ecosystem in search of a purpose to his job. Seemingly endless rounds of meetings, off-sites, brainstorms, presentations, and then more presentations make a visit to Dante's Inferno seem downright reasonable: at least there, people suffer damnation due to their actions while alive. In "Where's the Sausage?" the brand gurus are accountable only for glossy slides on their computers.
Granted, they've replaced rivers of flaming ooze with meals and drinks at posh restaurants and clubs...yet their discussions of the brand's pure essence or psychocosmic valuation (or whatever) still come across as hellish. That's because our Bob is the perfect every-man foil. He's a sales guy, so he knows that people need to buy things in order to fund all of the afore-mentioned branding brilliance. And he can't seem to forget that Simpton's is in the business of selling sausages.
His fellow brand gurus think otherwise, wasting lots of time and money inventing new ways to apply, extend, or redefine the company's brand. Bob tags along, providing us with numerous examples of what makes the branding ecosystem so self-referential, self-congratulating and, ultimately, self-defeating.
"Where's the Sausage" is funny, and it's an entertaining way to explore branding, especially for readers who don't already consider themselves experts. Bob doesn't just encounter all that's wrong with it -- which, in the book, is pretty much all of it -- but also presents what does work. Ultimately, the book provides lots of positive ideas about branding that could be applied to your business starting tomorrow.
Bob's real-world, common-sense approach is David's also: what your business does is far more important to what it says. Branding isn't a logo or an ad, but rather how the entire business behaves, and then interacts with its customers.
David has been delivering this thinking to top-tier, global brand name clients for years now, and has written serious business books about it, too. I happen to agree with him just about 100% of the time, so he's a kindred soul, and an honorary Dim Bulber. You can check out his blog here, and his company here.
"Where's the Sausage?" is a fun and fast read. David's idea to help people explore a serious business issue through a fictional story is absolutely brilliant, and it works. I would have enjoyed more sex, violence, and intrigue, but hey, that's me, and I can always wait for it in the movie version.
So never mind the sizzle. Buy the book.