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Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  664 ratings  ·  46 reviews
We are now living in a world with over one hundred brands of bottled water. The United States alone is home to over 45,000 shopping malls. And there are more than 19 million customized beverage choices a barista can whip up at your local Starbucks. Whether it’s good or bad, the real question is why we behave this way in the first place. Why do we telegraph our affiliations ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 10th 2011 by Allworth (first published September 26th 2011)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Nov 19, 2018 added it
Wonderfully informative set of interviews about branding and design and the relationship consumers have to the products of their lives. Wanted more of the interviewer, who is brilliant.
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brand Thinking offers 22 short interviews with an astounding array of heavy hitters in branding, identity design, and related disciplines. It's a fascinating and invigorating read. Millman coaxes the likes of Tom Peters and Karim Rashid into moments of almost shocking candor; Dori Tunstall and Alex Bogusky unflinchingly address issues of social and environmental responsibility; Brian Collins' insights into Apple's brand left me literally open-mouthed. Millman's interviews are wide-ranging, but r ...more
Apr 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Great interviews...

If I'm writing a thesis.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the best books I've read about branding. Even though the context is slightly dated, the insights are spot-on. Possibly the most underlined and notated book I have in my campaign collection.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
Interesting anecdotes but not much more
Mindaugas Dudenas
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A brand is nothing, but an idea;

Brands exist in the minds of people who interact with them;

The word "brand" is derived from the Old Norse word brandr, which means "to burn by fire";

Branding demonstrates the sense of belonging;

Brands represent the visual manifestation of the capitalist system. They are symbols of entrepreneurship. When someone attacks a brand, they are attacking a symbol, whereas the reality of what they are attacking is the capitalist system;

Most branding consultants wrap themse
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: corona-szn-2020
A set of freeform interviews between an accomplished design enthusiast and various branding experts, design anthropologists, and cultural critics. All in all an interesting book with some fascinating nuggets of thought to be found in almost every interview. I like how everyone she interviewed seemed so passionate about what they do, which I admire and aspire for in life.

It is not limited to branding but discusses consumerism, capitalistic guilt of people who work in branding, design vs art, acce
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I first started this book I felt annoyed by the formatting style (kindle version) it took me some time to get used to reading it comfortably and being honest, the "interview" method of developing the book just didn't convince me. BUT once I got over those details I was able to uncover true gems of knowledge.

The interviews are clear and very direct, the author puts some humor seeds here and there, which are a pleasure to find, other than that, the questions are just so in point and very well
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on some of the reviews I’d read on Goodreads, and how well-known Debbie Millman is in the design industry, my expectations for this book were pretty high.

Millman is a good interviewer — her questions are thought-provoking and often lead her subjects to offer up nuggets of insight. Unfortunately, I felt many of the interviews were too similar to one another and too surface-level. The book is worth reading, but I can’t help but feel that it would have been far more interesting had it feature
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
A stack of hay, a few needles. Presented as a transcription of a bunch of interviews. The author/interviewer isn't skilled at drawing people out like Oprah or Terry Gross or Marc Maron ... so the vibe often feels stilted and interviewees are allowed to back out of tough questions. The end result is that this felt like a superficial podcast about branding rather than a more thoughtful treatment of the topic.
Zoran Zelenika
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I honestly enjoyed this book.
The interviews are varied, insightful and rich in experience and opinion.
Truly interesting to for a moment get into minds of people shaping the design world today.

Some genuine pearls of wisdom and a good amount of humour as well.

Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work, reviewed
Interesting set of stories, but nothing more than that.
Alex Garrett
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very entertaining and thought provoking. Shows even the experts differ on what good marketing looks like.
Anita Burns
Started off interesting but became dense, boring, and tedious. I didn't finish it.
Dave Irwin
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the best books I have read on branding and design I have read in the last few years. I loved this book and cannot recommend it enough.
Nikki Milton
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such great insights on branding, marketing and business from successful business owners. Took away so many good nuggets of wisdom. The interviews were insightful and well done.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What is Branding? Yet this book has opened tons of perspectives. Super interesting.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lots of food for thought with regards to brands and design. The author's choice of subjects was very interesting, as were the experiences of the interviewees. Not being very familiar with design, I felt this was a good introduction as it exposed me to many schools of thought.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Podcasts are sort of funny. The idea of the podcast interview is a sort of weird one, because the nature of the interview has changed. When you have frequently interacting parties maybe it can be interesting, but so much of the material in books like this is so contingent on the person being interviewed and the chemistry of the two people. Additionally, Debbie Millman seems like she's got her own brand and personality to push, and that focus feels like it cuts some of her interviewees short. Com ...more
Aug 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
We are now living in a world with over one hundred brands of bottled water. The United States alone is home to over 45,000 shopping malls. And there are more than 19 million customized beverage choices a barista can whip up at your local Starbucks. Whether it’s good or bad, the real question is why we behave this way in the first place. Why do we telegraph our affiliations or our beliefs with symbols, signs, and codes?

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits contains twenty interviews with the w
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a good read with some interesting ideas that inspire. I am not so sure about the interviews themselves though. Not sure if the author has tweaked the questions in the book, meaning that she didn't really ask the questions in the same way as they were presented in the book? Her questions, as presented in the book, tend to be leading and limiting the interviewees to a certain range of answers. As I am a researcher, this is quite irritating. Other than this, I enjoy reading the book. I need ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some of my favorite quotes:

Malcolm Gladwell

"So why do you think those personality tests are so popular? Why do you think they're given so much credence?

It gives people a superficially appealing "understanding" of each other. I think we should be fighting pigeonholing, not enabling it. "

Do you think you are a brand?

"No. I hope not. I am a person."

Margaret Youngblood

"Consumers want to know what the company's intent is. I think they want to know that now more than they ever have before."

Dori Tunst
Jul 14, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: lol-library
Millman is charismatic speaker who knows her stuff about branding. I saw her speak at the HOW Design Live conference in 0 and I learned a ton about the past, present and future of branding arts. Millman has a laundry list of credentials and qualifications that make her a branding expert, including acting as the President of the AIGA (largest professional association of design), the Chair of the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and she was the President of ...more
Emily Sokolow
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lots of thought-provoking concepts are discussed, analyzed and re-visited. Specifically the anthropological and psychological elemebts of branding. Virginia Postrel and Dori Tunstall were two of my favorite interviews for their cultural insights. The tribal quality of brands as a tool to symbolize belonging to a group...archtypal meanings behind some of the biggest brands (Apple and Nike)...very fascinating and relevant stuff. Some of the interviews were much more memorable than others, and ther ...more
Jason Halstead
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Some really great stories, perspectives, and pithy quotes as Debbie Millman interviews brand stars from across the business, psychology, ethnology, and creative fields. More of interest to others practicing branding (in one of its many forms) than for the average business owner trying to get a handle on branding. However, the diverse opinions and backgrounds do illustrate that the definition and "edges" of brand is all in the eye of the beholder; one of the reasons that clients these days have s ...more
Dave Emmett
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, design, branding
Great read on the role of branding, design, marketing, etc. in society. The book takes the form of interviews with a variety of influential people, and has a bit of a feel of being a podcast in book form (probably because I listen to so many interview-style podcasts). While I knew the stories of some of the interviewees, there were a lot who I had never heard of, which gave an interesting mix of familiar stories with others that were brand new. Definitely worth reading for anyone involved in des ...more
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is organized as a set of interviews with various designers, marketers, and cultural commentators. While the variety of perspectives and experiences lent a depth to the conversational arc, some of the interviews became a repetitive blur (there are only so many ways to uniquely define the purpose of brands). Still, the number of entertaining anecdotes and musings on successful brands make it a worthwhile read.
It's hard to judge this book, because these are just some selected interviews. Debbie's work providing insights from the field of business and branding can also be heard on her amazing podcast. I gave it 4 stars because it contains a lot of thoughts and it's a very slow-read. But it was nice to read one interview per coffee and the knowledge offered here is invaluable.
S Kudelka
I found many of the interviews very interesting though I thought the opening ones were a bit dry and hard to get through perhaps because I was not as familiar with the work and writings of those interviewed. It also would have been very helpful have graphics supporting many of the campaigns discussed.
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
good assortment of short interviews. great for an intro to branding, though some of the interviews overlap (naturally) on points made. still, the book features an incredible array of interviewers, and Debbie millman surely knows how to ask the right questions to milk the most out of her subjects.
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Debbie Millman is an American writer, educator, artist, and designer who is perhaps best known as the host of the Design Observer podcast 'Design Matters'. She is 'President of Design' at Sterling Brands, based in New York City, working with brands such as Pepsi, Gillette, Colgate, Kimberly-Clark, Nestlé, and Campbells. She chairs the 'Masters in Branding' program at the School of Visual Arts, is ...more

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