WTF is Brand Against the Machine?


Me reading Brand Against the Machine on the beach.



What on this big blue sphere that we call “earth” is ‘Brand Against the Machine”?

If that is the question you had in your head when you turned on your computer today… then wow, you are in luck… for the other 100% of you, I am going to shed some light on my good friend John Morgan’s first book… entitled… “Brand Against the Machine”.

Now, I should prefix this post by saying two things:

1) Yes, John is a friend, so if I honestly thought the book sucked balls, I would never have written this in the first place.

2) I do NOT do reviews… to review something you need to devour it, study it, compare it to similar work, use critical analysis and indepth research etc… all of those things make me want to vomit… so what I offer here is my gut feeling, thoughts here and there, and initial insights.

So let’s start with the big question: WTF is Brand Against the Machine (BATM)?

Well, it is a book that claims that the world of branding is broken… that the machine.. or system, is no longer valid in today’s age.. and so John attempts to share insights, tips and thoughts on how to fix it.

If you have your own business, then knowing how to brand yourself and your business can be hugely important… so let’s look at some of the chapters of the book.

“Chapter 12 – The Creation Story”

“What’s your story?” asks John… and you know what… that is a bloody good question… you see, this chapter says that behind every company and personal brand is a creation story, and as business owners, we should identify and share that story with the world.

This was definitely one of the areas from the book where I added a to-do item for myself… you see, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there isn’t a single business owner that I admire that I DON’T know the creation story for…

Gary Vaynerchuk – selling baseball cards as a kid, worked in dad’s wine store, etc…
Tim Ferriss – had nervous breakdown and was forced to remove himself from his business.
James Schramko – General manager for Mercedes Benz who got the IM bug from an industry event and hasn’t looked back since.
Matt Wadsworth – World renown, blind, and broke musician, decides to supplement his income via the Internet… makes 7-figures.

Heck, I have read entire books on the creation stories of Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Steve Jobs etc…

QUICK TIP: Discover, polish, embrace and broadcast your creation story…

PS: I have three creation stories, depending on the audience… all true. I may do a blog post to share them in the near future.

“Chapter 53 – The 10:100 Method”

“Would you rather have a raving fan or a satisfied customer?”

In this section John talks about the importance of focusing initially on turning your existing fans and customers into raving fans… so even if you have just 10 people that like your stuff, focus your time on those people, as opposed to racing to a million and neglecting everyone along the way.

Examples cited include Gary Vaynerchuk, and the fact that although in his peak he was getting 90,000 viewers per DAY to his show… he started off with a handful of viewers, and made those people feel like kings.


BATM is an easy read… and I mean that in a good way. Each of the 61 sections are rarely more than a few pages long (great for my terrible attention span)… the writing style includes a healthy dose of self aware and sometimes self deprecating humour (clearly a certain Scott Stratten was an UNinfluence here)… and the book makes some valid, interesting and educational points.

Some of the advice may seem like common sense to some… but common sense is rarely common practice… I have personally taught branding around the world, heck, John and I were in business together… and there are numerous items from this book that have since donned my to-do list.

If you are already sold on the importance of branding and growing your brand, then this book is well worth a read.. heck, even if just a handful of the 61 tips strike a chord with you, it will be worth every cent.

You can go check out the book on Amazon here: NOT an affiliate link

I often find there are three types of business books:

1) The view-changer

Malcom Gladwell is a great example of this… the book presents a new way of looking at something, often story based.

BATM has a title that would work well in this category of book… but besides the intro, it doesn’t dive deep into this hook (and that is not a bad thing).

2) The how-to

As the name suggests, these types are action and results orientated… they can be a tough read at times, as they lack the stories and world changing views, but can be extremely useful. Writing a branding book that is firmly in the “how-to” would be a bad move in my opinion… firstly, it would likely make it a dry and tough read, and secondly, branding is not something that lends itself well to templates, blueprints and step by step…

An example of this would be the section where John talks about the importance of being super passionate about your brand and what you do… now, this is solid information… but it doesn’t really say HOW… it would be like going for driving lessons and the instructor advising you to “drive really well”.

There are some lists, and action items in the book, and I have to credit John for that… as most branding experts tend to have a phobia of the words “how-to”… but again, this isn’t what I would strictly call a how-to book.

3) The rocket up the ass

The main benefit for these books is motivation… they remind you of the importance of something… they show you how not to do something, and they inspire you to delve further.

I would put BATM more in the third category, with a splash of the second category thrown in for good measure… and I suspect that after reading this, you will be inspired to take action and make changes in your business… which is always a good thing.

A friend of mine once said: “Dean, a kick up the ass is a step in the right direction”… I still don’t fully understand what he meant, but hey, it sounded awesome at the time. ;-)

So go check it out, leave your comments below… and enjoy.


PS: Well done John.. you should be really proud of this, and I am sure it will open up a lot of doors for you.

  • John Morgan

    Thanks for the awesome review Dean! I’m glad you enjoyed the book and found things to add to your to-do list :)

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  • Dean Hunt

    John, haha… the pesky to-do list… it was a great read. Speak soon.

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