Is your brand an accident waiting to happen?

Accidentalbrandingcover David Vinjamuri released a book this spring called Accidental Branding:  How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands and it’s built to inspire.

The book tells the story of seven average people who developed successful brands despite their lack of formal marketing training. 

Instead, they built their brand from their heart and their gut. 

As a comment from the book jacket (from Gareth Kay) points out, one of the things that makes this book so interesting is that the companies profiled are not the same Nike, Apple, Virgin and Whole Foods that we read about every day.

Vinjamuri spotlights:

  • The Storyteller: John Peterman (J. Peterman)
  • The Contrarian: Craig Newmark (craigslist)
  • The Tinkerer: Gary Erickson (Clif Bar)
  • The Visionary and the Strategist: Myriam Zaoui and Eric Malka (The Art of Shaving)
  • The Pugilist: Gert Boyle (Columbia Sportswear)
  • The Perfectionist: Julie Aigner-Clark (Baby Einstein)
  • The Anarchist: Roxanne Quimby (Burt’s Bees)

Each brand’s story is very different and gives readers a rock solid reminder that anyone and everyone has what it takes to build a killer brand.

I think the stories also serve as a reminder that you cannot fake branding long-term.  What made these businesses extraordinary is how authentic each business owner was in terms of defining and protecting their vision.

Bottom line — they believed in it.  And eventually, so did we.

Like any good professor, Vinjamuri sums up the lessons and packages them into six rules:

  1. Do sweat the small stuff
  2. Pick a fight
  3. Be your own customer
  4. Be unnaturally persistent
  5. Build a myth
  6. Be faithful

This is a fun read.  Vinjamuri is an excellent storyteller and each story has a lesson or three for each of us. 

12 comments on “Is your brand an accident waiting to happen?

  1. Drew, thanks so much for reviewing Accidental Branding. I really enjoyed telling the stories of interesting entrepreneurs and the best result is that I have met many more fascinating entrepreneurs.

  2. Great review. I heard of this book a while back and was considering picking up a copy. With some companies you just get that authenticity feeling – like the company is less important than the cause, or the campaign, of the owners.

  3. Looks like I’ve got another book to read. Thanks for the tip.

  4. John Gillett says:

    I’d like to add a corollary to the list: once you’ve found your brand’s niche, protect it.

  5. Christy Gooding says:

    Sounds like a book I will definitely add to my summer reading list … thanks for the review.

  6. Christy Gooding says:

    Sounds like a book I will definitely add to my summer reading list … thanks for the review.

  7. David,

    Like the companies you profiled — you’re an excellent storyteller. That’s what makes the book so enjoyable to read.


  8. Richard,

    I think you’ll enjoy the book very much. Be sure to check out David’s blog and website too.


  9. John,

    Protecting your brand is a vital element of brand management. Once you’ve created something of value — guard it at all costs.

    Much like a person’s reputation, a company’s brand is at the core, what it has to sell.


  10. Scott & Christy —

    It’s a good summer read. Lots of smart branding knowledge but wrapped up in some good storytelling!


  11. Meg Guiseppi says:


    Maybe the seven spotlighted people in the book built successful brands “because” they lacked formal marketing training, which might have gotten in the way of getting to the essence.

    Maybe they were better able to zero in on what was authentically “them” than those who go at it methodically and formally? Obviously, their approach worked for them.

    I really loved to see that Vinjamuri promotes being “your own customer” and being “unnaturally persistent”. Great advice for entrepreneurs and job seekers!

    I’ve been hearing buzz about this book since it came out. Now I know I need to read it. Thanks for reminding me.


  12. Meg,

    I think you will really enjoy the book. Many of them sought professional marketing help as well. But the point of the book is…they had a very clear vision of their brand and they didn’t allow anyone or anything take them off that vision.

    Let me know what you think of the book!


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