We're back for another round, bookworms. And in this segment we're discussing branding with the brand masters themselves: the inimitable Al and Laura Ries.

Those of you new to our Book Club, welcome aboard (learn all here). And those returning for a second round, welcome back...

What will we be doing this segment? We'll be getting a little Darwinian, debunking some long-held branding "truths"—and, likely, spurring some debate. What's more? You get a (free) bonus just for reading this article.

Our feature is The Origin of Brands, a book that explains how changing conditions in the marketplace, much like in nature, create endless opportunities to build new brands and accumulate riches.

But here's where it gets interesting: These opportunities are not found where most people and companies look—that is, in the convergence of existing categories like television, the computer, cell phones, and the Internet. Instead, opportunity for new brands lies in the opposite direction. The truth is that we've been overlooking the strategy of "divergence," resulting in the miniscule survival rate of so many new brands.

By following Darwin's brilliant deduction that new species arise from divergence of existing species, Al and Laura outline an effective strategy for creating and taking an effective brand to market. So, while Darwin gave us "The Origin of Species," Al and Laura give us "The Origin of Brands." I read the book in late 2005 and see it as an important text for marketers, especially given the provocative subject matter—supported through case study upon case study—illuminating how divergence dramatically lowers risk and increases success rates.

Which begs the question: Why is divergence regarded like a dirty little secret? Al and Laura point to the convergence hype, a decades-long theme trumpeted by scores of media outlets.

Q&A With Al and Laura

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Christina "CK" Kerley is a strategist, speaker, and trainer on innovation through mobile and smart technologies ("The Internet of Things"). Access her e-books and videos.

Twitter: @CKsays