Archive for the 'book review' Category

The Language of Colour

Jan 25 2017 Published by Neil Gains under book review

The Language of Colour is a short, readable and enjoyable introduction to visual communication and the semiotics of colour. Packed full of examples and exercises, Theo van Leeuwen moves from discussions of the meanings of individual colours and colour naming to a theory of how colours combine. The author argues that colour schemes and combinations are more important than the individual colours that comprise any combination.

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On Thinking and Not Thinking

Sep 30 2016 Published by Neil Gains under book review

Proclaimed as “The All New” Don’t Think of an Elephant, George Lakoff’s classic book has been substantially rewritten and updated to reflect contemporary issues in political debate and recent electoral history. The original book was a must read for anyone interested in behavioural science, communication (or politics) and the important lessons from the first book remain, updated and expanded in this even better and more valuable book. Read more »

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Building Meaning into Brands

Apr 16 2016 Published by Neil Gains under book review

I’ve just read the second edition of Brand Meaning by Mark Batey and although there is some additional material and up-to-date examples the core argument of the book is the same (you can read a review of the first edition here). Successful brands are ones that create and nurture strong meanings to consumers, and the more symbolic and value-driven that meaning is, the more powerful it becomes. Read more »

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Why Copying is Good for Creativity and Innovation

Jan 27 2016 Published by Neil Gains under book review

In Copy, Copy, Copy, Mark Earls argue that creativity in marketing (or anywhere else) is essentially about following the success of the theory of evolution outlined by Charles Darwin. Although the title of the book focuses on the copying part, the truth is that his central argument is that the essence of progress is “loose” copying, following the are of an idea but introducing variations into it. As Darwin demonstrates, if you do this enough times then eventually what emerges is superior to what came before.

The beauty of the book, which I highly recommend, is that in arguing the case for copying as a creative strategy, Mark Earls also manages to integrate a lot of behavioural thinking into the strategies and approaches he outlines and gets away from the arguments about which marketing strategies work best. He argues that the first question to ask is “What kind of thing is this?” and from that then find an appropriate strategy to address the specific challenge. Read more »

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The Importance of Curiosity

Oct 14 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

“Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.” Vladimir Nabokov

I seem to have been reading a lot of books recently on the topic of questions (perhaps inspired by a good friend), and so I was curious to read Curious by Ian Leslie, all about the importance of curiosity in human life and its place in learning, business and innovation.  Coming off the back of reading A More Beautiful Question (read more here), Ian Leslie arguably suffers from a lack of more practical argument and application to the reality of business, but still offers up some nuggets of insight into the importance of curiosity in the success of humans. After all, curiosity is linked to the most fundamental animal behaviour (called ‘seeking by Jaak Panksepp) and the need to explore the world.

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Review of Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind

Sep 29 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

Of all the books I have read on the sense of touch, the best short introduction is Touch: The science of hand, heart and mind by David Linden. Only published earlier this year, a paperback version will be available at the beginning of 2016. This is clear and comprehensive overview of the role of touch in human lives, it’s relationship to emotion and social relationships and its interaction with the other senses. Read more »

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On Becoming More Risk Savvy

Sep 05 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

“Knowledge is the antidote to fear” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Risk Savyy is recommended for everyone. Over the course of the book, Gerd Gigerenzer highlights the ways in which all of us, including the very best professionals, often misunderstand and misuse statistics and probabilities and end up making the wrong decision. He shows that risk and uncertainty are not the same thing, and how the way in which information is presented changes the decisions that we make. While covering some of the same ground as Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow,this book contains simple rules and tools that will help you to avoid the same mistakes. Read more »

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Contradict, Connect and Create: A better way to insights?

Jul 17 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

What is remarkable about insights?

In the first chapter of Seeing What Others Don’t, Gary Klein references a slide that he had often used to argue for the importance of insights and their relative neglect in business. The slide showed visually that Performance improvements = reducing errors + increasing insights. As he points out, businesses too often focus on the first at the expense of the second. They spend a lot of energy trying to eliminate errors rather than opening themselves up to potential (and often more impactful) insights that can create value.

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Using Price to Your Advantage

Jul 14 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

I’ve written a few pieces on the psychology of pricing recently, so now it’s time to turn to the business of pricing. The Price Advantage is definitely one of the best books on using pricing to create commercial advantage, and avoiding common mistakes that businesses make. While it doesn’t touch much on the psychology of individual customers it does provide a great overview and frameworks for thinking about pricing strategy and maximising profitability through price.

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Finding the Perfect Meal

Nov 30 2014 Published by Neil Gains under book review

“Eating is a multisensory experience”  - Hestor Blumenthal

In The Perfect Meal, Charles Spence and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman explore the multi-sensory of eating. This is a great read for anyone interested in eating and drinking or sensory science, and the book is packed full of interesting anecdote, food history and guidelines for good (and healthy) eating, as well as being a comprehensive review of the literature of sensory science and especially that relating to how the senses interact.

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