How did you get started writing books?
In 2001, I had been writing AEC-industry magazine articles for about 10 years when the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) decided to go into the book publishing business. They asked if I’d like to write a book, and I found this a natural fit. I’d read how Candice Bushnell re-packaged her newspaper columns and turned them into a book that became a bestseller and a little TV and film series called “Sex and the City.” From all my previously published articles, I’d already written around 100,000 words, which was well beyond what I actually needed, so I had plenty to draw from before I even started! My first book was published in 2002, though I’m still waiting to sell the movie rights.

How did you choose the topic for your second book, The Architecture of Image?
The first book, The Architecture of Value, was about establishing and growing a professional practice. I was a principal in a consulting firm in San Francisco and much of my writing focused on issues I was facing in our practice. The new book is about branding the practice. I found very little written about the brand of the professional service, but lots about branding B2C products and retail, like Coke, Ford, or IBM, but little in the B2B space. So I saw a vacuum. The first two books are part of a series on issues facing any professional service firm. Although they’re still a few years out, my next two will be The Architecture of Vision (about developing leaders in the practice) and The Architecture of Connection—about integrating technology into the practice.

What did you discover about brands while writing the book?
I read a lot of books about branding while doing my research and I also interviewed leaders of nine successful AEC firms and consultants from several well-known advertising and communication firms on their thoughts about brand. I wanted to know how these companies measured brand value in their marketing programs. I ultimately concluded that brand has three components — Identity, Image and Equity — that reflect a firm’s culture, approach to collaboration, and ability to communicate value. Brand is all about how we tell our story to the world. The culture defines the identity. How we work with clients and peers defines our image. And brand equity grows through effective communication of value.

What would you like for your readers to take away from your book?
Any company can build a strong brand by taking some simple steps: 1) An internal reflection survey, 2) An external perception survey, 3) An alignment analysis — are your identity and image aligned? 4) If they are not, what steps can you take to create better alignment? If they are, what can you do to build a stronger brand?

In general, we all look the same to our clients. A technology consultant is a technology consultant. An architect is an architect. So the question is how do we begin to differentiate ourselves? At The Sextant Group, we put a lot of emphasis on differentiating through our unique thought leadership on the evolution of pedagogy and learning environments, and of course the quality of our deliverables. How we continue to evolve our brand into different marketplaces is our current challenge.

Any last insights you can give us about the book?
I got interested in how we brand in 1998, after reading a Tom Peter’s article, “The Brand YOU” in Fast Company magazine. However, the title for the book on branding actually came to me in 1994 — almost 20 years before I wrote it. I was invited to speak at the International Academy of Image Arts & Sciences in Italy, on the subject of “the architecture of image” related to the integration of visual media in building design. It occurred to me then that the same title could be applied to marketing the brand. Not only did this meeting provide the seed for the book, but my subsequent visit to speak in the Institute’s home city, L’Aquila (Italian for ‘the eagle’), gave birth to the name for my publishing company, Aquilan Press.

I’ve been very pleased with the reviews of the book from marketing leaders in firms across the AEC spectrum. I particularly liked Scott Butcher’s review in the August 2014 issue of the Professional Services Management Journal, where he said: “The great accomplishment of this book is that Craig Park is providing new, relevant content to an increasingly cluttered field of advice for professional services marketing.” That’s exactly what I was aiming for. I had the chance to present the book’s concepts at the 2013 AIA Nebraska Fall Conference to about 50 architects and got a great response and agreement that today a strong brand is more important than ever.

Where can we buy a copy of the book?
The Architecture of Image can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the SMPS Bookstore.