Book Review: “Difference" By Bernadette Jiwa

A designer friend of mine knew that I love to read about all things branding. He recommended that I check out Bernadette Jiwa’s blog, The Story of Telling. I did and I subscribe.  So liking what I read, I wanted more. I’m kind of a book whore and I love something tangible in my hands, so I buy a lot of books. (Be prepared for more book reviews in our cowlick blog.  So I purchased her book: Difference. As a believer in the power of sharing great stories to reinforce a company’s mission, I loved the fact that her book was ALL about the importance of feeling connected to your customers with EMOTION and HONESTY.

The days of Mad Men telling us consumers what we should think about products is long gone. With so many products being launched,  the good ones that stick out get their message to their customers with simple and honest facts. They show real life features that can actually help people in their day to day lives. That's the very essence of a good product: to create something that can help you live a better, easier life.

Tech based products are being launched like hot cakes. There are so many great new ideas out there from apps that connect to other apps like: Zapier to devices like August, that make your home smarter by connecting your locking system to your smart phone. And, of course, the new launch of choice is by video. And it makes sense; a video is a quick way to visually and concisely tell your story. Let’s take a company that has figured out a pretty good way to introduce a product into the market: Sandwich Video. What I love about this team of creatives is they have discovered a model that works and they keep with it. The owner of the company is the main character and simply USES the product as a typical consumer would and BAM- you get it - it's all relatable and with a bit of cheeky humor thrown in.  After every video I watch, I say, “Wow, I need that”.

"My definition of 'innovative' is providing value to the customer.”- Mary Barra

This brings me back to the book “Difference" by Jiwa.  She explains the importance of making products FOR your customers, not finding customers for your “amazing idea”.  That is why she created the “Difference Map”. Her list of questions can help you focus on creating value and recognize opportunities before you go down the road dumping a bunch of time and money into an idea that simply does not matter to your customers. You can download Jiwa's difference map here.

As you can see by the images, Bernadette Jiwa's book, Difference, is very small. It has only 95 pages. But small things can have BIG impact. I literally marked up almost every page highlighting her words of wisdom.

Here are some of my margin notes - ideas sparked from her words:

My Top 3 Takeaways directly from her book:

I hope I didn’t give too much away because I recommend you buy this book and keep it with you at all times, especially if you are building a product. The Difference Map will keep you on track.

Parting note: to show more “behind the scenes”.  I wrote this post on my couch at 6:30 am. Joining me, my cat, Beatrix, apparently had a long night...

Virginia Upshaw
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