Archive for the “branding and marketing” Category

I read an unusual book a few weeks ago. Unusual in that it does such an excellent job of mixing business and faith. Written by Guy Richards, Talkable, describes itself as a book about “building your brand from the inside out” – but it’s about so much more than that. Richards is not the least bit shy about including comments that point to a Savior in the mist of a discussion about successful branding and marketing. Finding spiritual potato chips (i.e., making people thirsty) in the middle of business discussions is far from the norm.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you that I received a free pre-release copy of Richard’s book on the promise that I would write a review of it on my blog. Beyond that, there were no stipulations or requirements placed on me to write a positive review. The book is being released in August.

I confess…I have an innate suspicion of marketing and branding. It comes from seeing inferior products win marketshare because of flashy marketing campaigns. And it comes from working with designers for whom how something looks is more important than how it functions. I am a hard-core “form follows function” advocate – figure out how to make something work efficiently, then make it look appealing.

The world according to Sandy: Pretty is good. Practical is better. Pretty and practical is the jackpot.

So I found Richard’s book incredibly refreshing. His entire premise is that uniqueness, quality, and integrity (as in deliver what you promise) is what makes a brand “talkable.” “Being positively Talkable means that your brand delivers such a uniquely great experience that the person on the receiving end can’t help but talk about it.” (back cover)

Richards delivers sixty short lessons in branding, leading with integrity and choosing God. In all honesty, I found his lessons in branding to be a bit weak at times, but I enjoyed the messages of faith and integrity so much, and the fact that they were combined with discussions about marketing, that overall I found the book to be encouraging, challenging and motivating. Richards, who owns a company named Abiah (which means God is our Father), is a man I’d like to get to know.

In a chapter called “The Art of Measurement” He talks about measuring ourselves against the “best of” whatever our category is. That’s how most people operate. But the “gifted visionary can paint the canvas of ‘GREAT’” that “pushes the bar of best-case scenario forever.” (p. 29) Then he follows with this paragraph:

No longer do the innovations of the competition cause the visionary business owner to fret. It’s because the measurement of this person is using is so far ahead of the standard that they are looking to God for what is possible. (p. 29)

Wow! I marketing book that inspires me! I want to be that visionary owner if for no other reason than I want to be the person who looks to God for what is possible instead of being satisfied with what is the best I can do or hope for.

Then he sucker punches the reader with the question “What is your life’s measurement standard?” (p. 29) I consider myself a person who pursues God daily (ok, almost every day) and who has a relatively high desire to apprehend all that He has for me – yet Richards’ question gave me pause. Do I set the bar in our business so high that I am looking to God to achieve our goals? Ummmm… (forgive me, Lord)

This is a marketing and branding book I can like!

He discusses decision-making in a chapter titled “The Fork in the Road.” This is one of his blatantly God-centered chapters. He has a three-step approach:

  1. Ask God for wisdom.
  2. Evaluate your motives.
  3. “Err on the side that will make God smile.” (p. 55)

I like that. Lord, I want to err on the side that makes You smile.

And in a chapter that ostensibly has nothing to do with faith, Richards ends with this sentence: “Weak conviction = weak culture.” He’s talking about the culture associated with brands. A group’s culture, he says, is set “by the depth of the leadership’s conviction of their values. Weak conviction = weak culture.” The Holy Spirit whispered into my ear “How strong is your (God) culture?”

Learn more about Guy Richards at

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