This book frustrated me, Middleton has a wealth of knowledge, but tries to cover too much. Branding in 3 days rather than 30 would have been way better.
Some of the lessons I took from the book are below.
Brand is an output, its how customers see your service. Branding is everything you do to nurture a brand.
Even if you have no time for marketing you should do PR. PR means 'public relations', but at it's core there is 'media relations', relationships with journalists editors, blogs, producers, programmers etc.
The great thing about media relation is there is no direct capital outlay, as you don't need to pay. It's also more trusted by customers/the market as it comes from an independent third party.
Simon goes into a lot of detail about how to write a press release, which I found very useful. I've updated by old 'How to write a press release' blog post with his tips.
Some of the bad parts, Middleton has a slightly verbose writing style, 1/3 of which is the author flattering himself, another 1/3 is the author flattering and recommending clients and friends, while the last third has some interesting content which the reader has to fight to access.
I read this book with the mindset of a start up company. Thus a huge amount of the content wasn't relevant. Middleton goes into detail discussing 'brand essence' and recommends using expensive professionals to do graphic design and branding concepts. I think this advice is terrible. Most start-ups end up pivoting many times as they find product market fit. Thus their 'brand essence' takes months, sometimes years to be defined.
Spending a lot of time and money on branding in the early stages of a start up seems like a big waste of time and money to me. I do think investing in brand is valuable. However only when a start up can conclude that they have reached product market fit.