Over the holidays I read a great book, Brand Harmony by Steve Yastrow.
The core principle of "brand harmony" can be summed up as your brand is not what you say you are, but what your customer thinks you are.
Yastrow advocates the jettison of classical concepts and methods like brute force marketing for an undoubtedly more effective (though difficult to achieve) customer-centered "desired brand perception". Critical to achieving this is the knowledge of dealing with the harsh reality that a personal experience with a product will outweigh anything a company explicitly tells a consumer about the product.
We experience these disparities on a daily basis. Recently, I found myself looking out the window of a Continental aircraft before takeoff at a branded slogan for the airline that read "Continental Airlines - Safe and On-time". The plane had been delayed on the runway for an hour.
It's experiences such as these that Yastrow explores, and how as an organization, to avoid them. Everything is marketing, Yastrow argues, and seeing things from the perspective of the customer is key.
At about 150 pages, the book is short and sweet. It's full of great stories and engaging examples from Yastrow's personal and professional experience. If you liked Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, I'd highly recommend reading Brand Harmony as well.
Finally, thanks to my father for recommending this one to me! It's definitely a keeper.