Book review: Gamechangers helps brands focus on the 'why'

Gamechangers by Peter Fisk
Gamechangers by Peter Fisk

Ben Carter, marketing director of Notonthehighstreet.com, reviews Gamechangers by Peter Fisk.

Any book that leads with the question, "Are you ready to change the world?", and has the equally impressive title Gamechangers, is guaranteed to excite me. I therefore had rather grand expectations of it.

While these weren’t met entirely, it is a useful brand textbook, not least because of the diverse examples of ‘gamechanger’ brands from around the world that are peppered throughout each chapter, from Alibaba in Asia to Ashoka in Canada. Fisk uses these to bring marketing theory to life, and it works.

Marketing textbooks tend to come in two guises: either they are all theory (often academic and controversial) or are more narrative-focused. This book, however, bridges the gap by combining both, with the result that you end up feeling enlightened, rather than patronised.

Becoming a Gamechanger

At the heart of the book is the question, how do you become a gamechanger? Fisk takes the reader on a journey through marketing theory, real-life brand examples and practical exercises to help you get there. However, having reached the end of the book, while I feel that a lot of my approach and thinking as a marketing director has been endorsed, at the same time I don’t feel like much has changed, or, indeed, that I should change much.

That said, perhaps the biggest strength of the book is that the practical exercises are sector-neutral and simple. So, while they do stretch the mind of the always-busy marketer, they are also very doable when time and speed is of the essence.

One of my biggest issues with the book is that the theory and ‘journey’ aren’t exactly new. The emphasis is on the ‘why’, rather than just taking things as given. This may be a good mantra to adopt, but I would struggle to describe it as gamechanging.

While I feel that a lot of my thinking has been endorsed, I don’t feel that I should change much.

Good points

Nevertheless, Fisk provides a useful check-in point for any marketer. He explores and makes reference to global trends and the impact they are having on brands, and the book contains a useful glossary at the back. This includes invaluable templates such as a Brand and Innovation Canvas – tools to help you think like a gamechanger.

The book is a quick and easy read, and the examples of brands that have led the way in terms of disrupting the norm are helpful, especially as they go way beyond the usual characters.

If Gamechangers did leave me with anything (my lasting impression when I finished it was one of neutrality), it’s the acknowledgement that while the evolution of marketing continues apace, I’m managing –  just – to keep track of it all and, as a brand, we are doing a lot of the right things, with the potential to do even more.

CRIB SHEET

If you only have time for this… six key points from the book.

  1. Focus on the ‘why’, because gamechanging brands disrupt and innovate.
  2. Think global. Gamechanging brands don’t let any borders act as boundaries.
  3. Collaborative consumption is at the heart of the new economy. There are three main types: renting, sharing and reusing.
  4. Gamechanging brands don’t just ‘sell things’ – they create immersive experiences. This is what builds long-lasting engagement with your consumers.
  5. Brands are now about people, not products, and having a true brand purpose is vital to success.
  6. Think beyond the core market; gamechanging brands look beyond market boundaries.


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