Punching In has a great opening that describes through example what a brand really is. In my mind, it’s the sum of all of the interactions that take place within and with a company/product/etc. It’s so good that I’m assigning the intro to my class as reading on brands. The dive into the first meaty chapter on UPS was also fantastic; Alex Frankel’s experience as a temporary package deliverman drew me in.
But the book kind of petered out. Frankel’s immersive experiences at UPS and Enterprise were very interesting and certainly instructive. But I wanted more of them, and less of the ‘trying to get a job with one of these companies analysis‘. And definitely less reflection on the experience outside of the direct narrative. I definitely prefer to draw the (very obvious) conclusions on my own, and not listen to Frankel restate them.
The Gap, Starbucks, and Apple segments didn’t have the fascination factor for me that UPS and Enterprise did. I think I knew more about those brands and companies going in (thanks to books like this), so there weren’t as many revelations about them. Other readers see some of these experiences as a means to compare companies.Though presumably not the intention of the book, I now have a much greater respect for UPS and their drivers. Despite their spotty service at my house, and the awkward experience of being asked out in the middle of a crowded office hallway by the UPS guy who delivers to my office, I now really appreciate the company and didn’t before (for those reasons). And I realized just this week that the UPS guy at work knows my name, despite having only delivered to me a handful of times over the past 2 years (and having his heart broken by me over a year ago).
Interestingly, I just had a job candidate come through who had spent a year in Enterprise’s management training program. He talked about washing cars in his suit and dealing with a number of customer horror stories. (He decided this was not what he wanted to do, thus the interview.) It seems like Frankel’s experience was pretty spot on, but it didn’t help the candidate get my job.
On a final note, this was the second complete ‘for fun’ book I read on my Kindle, and I loved it. I got through the whole book without needing to charge the battery once. And I think I’ve worked out the right text size and page change rhythm that lets me read at a more normal speed (which I recognize is probably really fast to most people).
Parts of this review are also on my Goodreads.