Brand esSense – two books in one from Neil Gains


Neil Gains has been kind enough to send me a copy of his new book, Brand esSense and I wanted to share my thoughts about this useful book.

In the title to my post I say it is two books in one. The first three-quarters of the book do a great job of taking the reader through a well annotated and easy to read overview of the role of senses in marketing and market research and the way these link to the way people make sense of the world around them. This sense making focuses especially on symbols, signs, storytelling, and archetypes.

Most market researchers and marketers have an incomplete understanding of the senses, somebody might be quite good on taste, but less familiar with the body of learning about touch, or familiar with symbols and semiotics, but less familiar with the use of brand archetypes. Neil’s book facilitates a levelling up of one’s learning, highlighting to the reader areas where their knowledge might be weaker, giving them an initial grounding and signposting options for further reading.

The final quarter of the book shows how Neil has developed methods of utilising the approaches described in the earlier part of the book – which he terms the esSense of the brand. Neil illustrates how to find the esSense of a brand and how to apply his esSense framework.

The book is an easy read for anybody broadly familiar with brands, the senses, and qualitative research. Even for people deeply steeped in the area, there are nuggets in there that they will find illuminating or useful. So, I would warmly recommend it.

As I flick back through my annotated copy (I have become an inveterate scribbler in text books – ones I own), I can see plenty of things I highlighted for review, and only one or two where I put an exclamation mark (my sign for disagreement). My only double-exclamation mark was the reference to Mehrabian and the extent to which language contributes to presentations – when you read the book see if you agree with my concern, and if you do you might enjoy this short presentation from Russ Wilson.

The book is published by Kogan Page and is available from all good online bookstores.