Monday, 24 July 2017

Brandfather John Murphy the man who invented branding

"Brandfather John Murphy the man who invented branding" is an very readable book that tells the story of how Interbrand, the company that he, John Murphy, founded, was at the forefront of the branding revolution.

It reveals how many businesses suddenly appeared to realise at roughly the same time, three decades ago, the importance of their brands.

In fact, a new business discipline was coming into existence, Branding.

Some business seemed happy to bumble and bimble along pretty much as they had always done, but this was at their peril and at great risk to the viability and the future existence of their businesses.

John Murphy founded Interbrand in 1974 and he and Interbrand were recognised as being the main force behind this business revolution.

The origin of Interbrand was that of a name creation business. They would create a name, develop a name, test them and take care of any resultant legal clearances.

The business quickly earned an international reputation and was responsible for the creation of some early successful band names: Hob-Nob biscuits, Viagra, Punto, Mondeo and Homebase.

Four years later John Murphy opened an office in New York City, in 1982 he launched offices in both Frankfurt and Paris and a year later, Tokyo.

During this time he began to realise that there was much more to branding than merely coming up with a name for a business or a product, he realised that there were, actually, the creators of 'brands' which was an unknown concept at that time.

Interbrand decided to redefine themselves (rebrand themselves, even?) and also came up with the term branding.

In 1988 Interbrand went one step further and came up with and developed the concept of "brand valuation" which caused a sensation in the branding sector, propelling Interbrand into the world leader.

This is the no holds barred account of what happened by John Murphy. It tells the story of the company and also of the sector, of the successes and also of the disasters and the lessons that he was able to learn from them. Including a disastrous merger between two massive concerns that ultimately lead him to hit upon the idea of striking out on his own and so Interbrand came into being.

The book is an interesting insight into the highs and lows of Interbrand and how a chance meeting with a rival caused him to realise that bad figures in 1990 were not just a blip but a major recession and caused him to take harsh but necessary business decisions that not only saved the company at a time when some others went to the wall, but enabled it to have record successive years.

This book is required reading for businessmen and businesswomen, for brand experts, marketing gurus and those in the advertising industry.

It is published by The Book Guild at £11.99 and can be bought here

Joseph, 1917

Joseph, 1917 tells the story of an ordinary man of his time. He did not want to go to war, but he went to war, all the same.

Joseph's fate ended, sadly, as did many others of his generation, in the confusion, noise and horror of the Western Front during what was then called The Great War.

His story, attests author David Hewitt, is "very much a 'secret history' the history of many ordinary men who fought and died during that terrible conflict.

Not the story of conscientious objectors, or of those garlanded with battle honours, or executed at dawn as deserters, but of the countless other men who fought and often tragically died.

It is revealed that the fate of Joseph was decided by a special tribunal, which resulted in him being sent off to fight and to die.

It touches upon why he, like so many others, signed up for military service and why he then subsequently attempted to put off the day when he would actually be sent off to fight in the Great War.

It tells of his appearances at a local tribunal and a more distant tribunal, of the clashes between the tribunals,  and of his ultimate fate.

The author draws on tribunal records and colourful contemporary newspaper reports to create a compelling and, at time, difficult story.

Anyone who wants to learn about the real history of the Great War should buy this book, which is published by Matador at £8.99. You can purchase it here

Fearless Leadership

How can a manager really manage? How can he or she be a real leader?

If they take the time to purchase and read Fearless Leadership by leadership and business expert Richard M. Varey, they will be able to find out.

In his new book Richard (his company, Fearless Leadership delivers training and leadership consultancy services) shows managers and leaders how they can improve their leadership skills and their effectiveness in no matter what workplace they operate.

He can draw on over a decade of research and practical work and he has nurtured and cultivated "The Fearless Approach" model.

He argues that leaders should create a fear-free workplace culture as this will allow individuals within the company and the organisation to flourish. 

Gone are the old models of "leadership" which were often bullying dressed up in psychobabble.

Because as Richard points out: "Throughout my early years of leadership I found that 'being nice worked'; that a positive approach raised the capacity of others to do better."

His experiences provided the basis for his book.

He also draws upon his long experiences as working as a teacher, sometimes finding himself facing volatile situations within the changing field of education and of working in underperforming schools and turning them around.

The books draws upon a number of different sources, such as neuro-psychology, evolutionary biology and actual practical examples from cases studies of successful businesses and successful leaders, plus anecdotal evidence from a variety of sources such as the armed forces and the world of sports.

Although the book is very carefully researched and cites sources where appropriate, it is not a dry as dust boring academic work. It is written by a real person for real people. It's a book for us ordinary folk who want to do better at work and who want to ensure our businesses not only survive but that they thrive.

The book contains many salutary lessons that we readers should be eager to read and learn. My favourite example is how an underwear manufacturer was destroyed within four months. And apparently the seed of the destruction was rooted in an ambiguous instruction, miscommunication between staff and an eager young woman armed with just a typewriter. 

One point that Richard does make is that fear should have no part in a workplace. That a fearful team will freeze, fight or flee. That you must make sure there is no place for fear, that your staff should be fearless and bold.

The book costs £9.99 and is a must have item for the desk (not the bookcase!) of every employee, business owner and manager. And it makes an ideal gift.

It is published by Matador and can be purchased here

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Zed and Dez 005 Secret Service Agents

Zed and Dez 005 Secret Service Agents is a book that is firmly aimed at all children from ages seven to nine years of age and it is written by author S G Barfield, a former IT guru and teacher.

World wide, there are children who work for the super secret 005 Secret Services Agency. And Zed is one of these secret agents!

Every week he receives top secret instructions (through a secret vending machine carefully hidden at the rear of his bedroom wardrobe, that dispenses secret mission instructions, rather than snacks and drinks) of his latest daring secret operations.

He is aided and abetted by Lorenzo. Lorenzo may by only nine years of age, but Lorenzo is one of the world's top designers and makers of super secret special gadgets that are used by secret agents like Zed in their missions.

But Zed needs some special help to make certain his missions are all undertaken successfully. And his assistant is his best friend Dez, who is also nine years old!

Together they strive to thwart baddies and save a talent show, stop a kidnap plot, save someone from drowning, make sure Mr Ladd is kept safe and construct a youth centre, amongst other tasks!

And will Lorenzo's weird inventions actually help them?

The story is a good, fun read which is illustrated with some well-executed cartoons.

If you are looking for early Christmas presents, this book is a must buy at £7.99. It is published by Matador and is available at

Living to See You

Living to See You is a romantic novel with a very strong foundation of truth.

For in it, author Bee Johnstone tells the story of her own parents and how they met during the dangerous years of World War Two.

Her father was a bomber pilot, became ill with an infection, fell in love with a nurse who was still within her probationary period and survived the depredations and horrors of the Desert War.

This amazing true love wartime story was the basis for Living To See You, Bee Johnstone' debut novel.

The novel relates the long distance courtship between a pilot of Wellington Bombers flying dangerous missions over the skies of Egypt and an equally young probationary nurse who was tending the patients at a fever hospital, in the last days before antibiotics began to help in the fight against infectious diseases.

The story is told through the medium of the love letters that passed between them as each one battles against the problems that they face, enemy action in his case and seriously ill patients in her case.

It is many things, a romantic novel and also a captivating story about the Second World War, detailing the bravery of the Allied pilots who participated in Operation Jostle in 1941, flying in what were described as: "Winston's Wellingtons" a subject which has not been given as much attention as perhaps it deserves.

This is Bee Johnstone's debut novel, let's hope it is the first of many novels from this author.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought at

Thirty Fifteen

Thirty Fifteen is the last novel in Phil Tomlinson's "Soul Snatcher" trilogy, bringing it to an electric conclusion.

Zoe Marshall is in a jam. She finds herself still on the planet Earth, but it is 1,000 years into the future and it all, from Zoe's perspective, seems to have gone very, very wrong indeed.

People live as tribes in primitive settlements and wild animals roam at will.

The Earth is encircled by artificial planets and these constantly send down armed patrols which attack the settlements and capture their inhabitants.

Zoe wishes to return to her own time. Unfortunately the one person who would almost certainly be able to help her return to her home time is the alien called Kazzaar. But Kazzaar is missing.

Zoe must continue alone in her quest to return home, facing the physical dangers of a very different Earth, but she is also plagued by the horrors of her nightly dreams.

Can Zoe work out a way to return to the safety of her family and friends, back in her own time? Or will she be trapped in the hostile, brutal and dangerous future world forever?

But how can she trust Kazzaar, after all he had done before?

This is an exciting example of juvenile Science Fiction, but it will hold the attention of adult readers too.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available from

Paradise Girl

What if the song: "If you were the only girl in the world..." wasn't just a romantic song from a long-distant era?

What if it were your reality? It is the reality for Kerryl Shaw. Aged just seventeen, she lives with her family on an idyllic and remote farm in the heart of the Pennine Mountains.

But then comes the devastating plague. But wouldn't the Shaw family be safe in their farm? Sadly, even they family succumb to the plague, one-by-one until only Kerry is left.

She knows that it is only a matter of time until she, too, falls victim to the mystery plague that has destroyed humanity.

So she decides to write a diary to a notional person she has dubbed Adam.

As all services start to breakdown the loneliness of her dreadful situation begins to weigh very heavily on her and her mind begins to crack.

She hears her name being called in the darkness of the night, animals attack her, she visits town and is assaulted, strangers outside the farm suddenly vanish and things appear and disappear. And to her, Adam becomes a real, rather than an imaginary person.

She finds text messages on her phone. But how can this be, when there is, apparently, nobody left to text her?

The she gets an invitation to meet a mystery person. Should she? What would happen if she did? But then again, what would happen if she didn't?

Paradise Girl is written by Phil Featherstone and it is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought at