Bigger Than This - How to Turn Any Venture Into an Admired Brand by Fabian Geyrhalter

Bigger Than This: How to Turn Any Venture Into an Admired Brand by Fabian Geyrhalter

Back in February, we were thrilled to receive signed copies of both of Fabian’s books our copy of Bigger Than This: How to Turn Any Venture Into an Admired Brand by Fabian Geyrhalter is an advanced review copy so if you purchase your own copy you will find that the type has better kerning.

It’s a small book that has the right mix of big ideas and practical examples. It’s a quick read about the deceptively difficult tasks of turning your venture into an admired brand.

Fabian’s second book Bigger Than This, explains how a commodity brand can stand out in today’s heavily saturated market. Fabian Geyrhalter is a brand consultant and strategist explains in a compelling way how a new wave of commodity brands are winning hearts and teaching us how to turn any product into an admired brand.

The focus seems to be given to innovative and high-tech brands, but commodities are, in fact, more challenging products form a brand marketing perspective, he shows within the book.



Fabian identifies eight “brand traits” of successful commodity brands: Story, Belief, Cause, Heritage, Delight, Transparency, Solidarity, and Individuality. For each of these traits, the author offers a concise overview, a relevant case study, and “commandments” (tips on strategies and tactics for implementing the trait).


The eight traits identified within the book are themselves, valuable for guiding small and larger brands. They are indicative of a very contemporary approach to branding: the brand’s backstory, along with social responsibility and accountability, become just as important as product characteristics. The attention paid to such traits is a distinguishing strength of Bigger Than This.

Unlike with case studies typical to most brand books, the focus here is on smaller brands, many likely unknown to readers. These case studies are particularly fascinating; they are about true commodities, including shoes, socks, watches, and inexpensive office supplies. For example, the case study that supports the first brand trait, Story, concerns Fishpeople Seafood.

Fishpeople’s story is very authentic because of the company’s “trace your fish” feature. Consumers can use a code shown on every package to learn all about the fish they’re purchasing simply by going to the company’s website; they can find out “the exact place a fish was caught, by whom and on what boat.” The company’s website further involves the consumer by offering recipes, a blog, and merchandise. In the book’s appendix, Geyrhalter demonstrates how this brand puts all eight brand traits to good use.

The book goes through the 8 traits the second one is “Belief” Shared values will always have a bigger impact on your tribe than your product alone. A brand needs to deeply connect with its tribe through a shared belief and this is achieved by understanding its members. This takes a lot of monitoring, listening and most of all, conversing in an open and non-corporate manner such as on social media or in person at events rather than focus groups.

Passionate beliefs when voiced in an empathetic, honest and bold manner and become the driving force of your business. Shared values and the expression of passionate beliefs will also play a very significant part in sparking sales and increasing the value of shares as a benefit to your brand.

Aligning your commodity brand’s existence with a cause can give you a strong brand positioning if done truthfully and if your not in it for the good, then there is no reason to wake up every morning and go to work. You should not be going to work just for the money alone, it’s a necessity and should not be the only reason we are doing what we are doing!

What is your brand giving back? Can you identify a social cause that can be activated in an authentic way to manifest that the purpose of the product or service goes deeper than solely about generating sales?

The cause has to create value for the consumer, Brands that are driven enough to focus on true impact rather than just profit alone. The cause must be truthful and create an emotional connection with the target audience.

A brand must consider whether the cause directly touches their current or future staff hearts in order to foster a strong company culture based on purpose.

We all love connecting with places we have been to or call home or a place you dream of one day visiting. We sense an immediate feeling of connection and sometimes belonging. A brands association with a location can sometimes have a huge implication and marketing can take full advantage of the consumer’s cravings with brand association.

Formulating a brand story based on heritage can be an extremely rewarding proposition if you can connect your product with the desire of consumers to formulate a deeper connection with the place your brand will be known for and establishing it’s “brand aura”.

Just a metaphoric exit down the freeway from heritage lies a place called Nostalgia and in branding has always worked, even back in the day. That is why Coca-Cola shows us the old Santa Claus year after year. Brands know we have an affinity for the good old times, the days we verify were great. Life as we know it is about a collection of moments after all.

Spectacular ways to connect a brand to a very special moment and only the most amazing moments are worthy of that brand association. As a heritage-based commodity brand, you want consumers to be big fans of the company’s story and be happy to spend a premium to support and own a piece of their brands magic.

But there is a danger and downside to being a heritage brand as you don’t want your brand heritage bubble to burst on your consumers and this is a big danger to any fast-growing brand that relies on the heritage factor.

Attaching your brand to location can make for bad headlines. Knowing the risks is extremely important and making sure your prepared to partake in flipping it around as you know an unofficial spokesperson for that location. Expanding a heritage brand needs to be well planned to keep the brand aura authentic.

“Suprise and delight” has been a catchphrase for marketers over the years. Its rather vague and tough to implement without ample instructions, which often include drastic changes to existing processes and budgets.

As a startup brand, through consistently providing small but thoughtful delights can be the one thing to set your brand apart from your competitors, offering the same products or services as yourself. The delight must be fully embodied in your customer service and the overall friendliness and your brand’s tone of voice, inside and out.

Small unexpected gestures will lead to a consumer seeing you as a friend as they are not expecting to receive anything additional to the product or service they have purchased. And that’s the basis of any relationship. When you repeat this step and this way of thinking, you move from a friendship to creating a community.

Surprise and delight combined with authenticity and empathy is a winning brand strategy! Aim to create a brand vibe no other can steal. You want your consumers to be having fun so catch them when they least expect it, shake them through delightful surprise. These small gestures will go along way in your personal life as much as in a person shopping preferences. Create a delightful experience and leave a lasting impression.

By Leading your brand with transparency you will gain immediate trust with your consumers. Honesty is the best policy and by creating marketingcampaignss around transparency with nothing to hide gains trust.

It takes a commitment to honesty, not only towards your customer but also towards yourself as the business founder. Customers will instantaneously trust your brand if you are open and reveal it all so to speak is the only way to truly showcase your brand’s transparency.

Create a strategic plan for how far you will take transparency and where to draw the line. Measuring it against projected ROI, and promoting only the most important areas of transparency while the others on your green light list become brand surprises for continued stroytelling and tribe delight.

Solidarity is the idea of aligning a commodity brand empathetically with someone else’s dream. It takes a unique ability to show deep empathy for a very specific, often niche audience and align your offering, your story and beliefs and messaging around your followers, point of view. This is about them, not only for them. Your brand becomes the solution to make their goals possible!

Studying the potential target audience ahead of the brand launch, and find and subsequently support wholeheartedly a subgroup’s feelings and actions. This will restrict you but make you a niche leader in that field this is more lucrative and satisfying than it is restrictive.

You must exemplify the values of your tribe in everything you do and say and be willing to sacrifice profits initially. It is, after all, what startups do when they build up a massive tribe in lieu of money. Lead with solidarity, gain fans and financial return will follow; it’s almost guaranteed!

Consumers gravitate towards unique designs, especially the ones that make the brand experience personal for them. Today personalisation is easier than ever before and has a sea of sameness and catered very specifically to a hungry audience.

Limited, customised and/or personalised sells. When a product is scarce or unusual, buyers crave it in ways hard to inspire through traditional marketing campaigns. Upcycle and sell through a uniqueness factor that caters to individual tastes and creates pride of owning a one of a kind product.

A unique story and customised product will keep winning consumer attention through individuality brand factor. Creating personalised experiences surrounding your customer service or product interactions. Surprising your tribe by being personal and hence making your brand personable instantaneously.

Blending personalisation and customisation and celebrate the limited nature of your product by doing this it will create magic!

The book is beautifully designed. Important text is highlighted by both increasing type sizes and reversing the type to white on a black background, and each case study is graphically set apart from the rest of the chapter. Simple but effective line illustrations representing commodity products are used to identify and differentiate each of the brand traits; the “Story” chapter, for example, is preceded by a page filled with a school of fish.

Bigger Than This: How to Turn Any Venture Into an Admired Brand by Fabian Geyrhalter does a superb job of illuminating modern-day branding in a format that makes reading it a pleasure. If you would like to learn more about Fabian then be sure to check out Fabian Geyrhalter Designer Interview


Bigger Than This - How to Turn Any Venture Into an Admired Brand by Fabian Geyrhalter

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