Book Review: 'Unlabel' by Marc Ecko

Before reading this book, I’d never really heard of Marc Ecko – I’d seen the Rhino symbol around but not being in the ‘street’ scene, I’d never known what it symbolised nor who the person was behind the tusk.

While reading the book though, I began to see Marc’s influence everywhere – not just in the Rhino emblazoned tee shirts but in music, fashion, art, popular culture – all these things I’d seen and heard but never knew they came from one person.

In this book, Marc tells his tale very bluntly and honestly, not glossing over his set-backs or pretending he was always at the helm of a successful business. He tells us honestly about his issues with trademarks after a similarly named brand filed a lawsuit, he tells us about every single roadblock and success he encountered, financial wins and dramatic losses, his story is the epitome of authenticity, which is exactly what this book is about.

From airbrushing t-shirts in his parent’s garage as a kid to his rampant successes with Ecko Unltd and Complex Media, Marc empowers the reader to defy convention and create an authentic brand. It’s an easy read, written more as a memoir than a traditional business book with visual blueprints depicting his teachings in infographic form to keep you focused and engaged.

He teaches the importance of delivering what you say you will, how to understand your product or service’s effect on people and why failure is actually a great thing.

Marc says it best in the blurb of the book:

“Unlabel explores the anatomy of a brand. And it uses the Authenticity Formula to explain the cross sections of that anatomy.

My brand started in my parents’ garage in Lakewood, New Jersey, where I spray-painted T shirts and sold them for $10 a pop. By understanding how to harness my fear and separating perception from reality, I grew that brand to the tune of a billion-dollar retail business.

I’ve built skate brands, hip-hop brands, magazine and video game brands. I’ve built brands that people literally tattoo on their bodies, which is “branding” in the truest sense. But the most important brand that I built was me, the personal brand that’s from my guts to the skin.

My philosophy is simple: unlabel. Not “un” as in the nihilist or negative sense of the prefix, but in the “refuse” sense of the meaning.

Refuse to be labeled. Fight their labels. Ignore their labels. Peel off their labels. Unlabel—and create your brand.”

It’s a very easy read, written for the average Joe start-up with big ideas but it’s also written for business owners who are looking to refine their brand, to expand and empower their business, authentically.

Marc’s words and enthusiasm are palpable and really grab and hold your attention from start to finish. The book itself is beautifully presented in hardcover form with its thick pages, vibrant content and illustrations and quality business branding acumen on each page. We definitely recommend it, whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur looking to expand or rebrand or a new start-up looking to build an authentic brand right from the start. We'd also recommend it to people wanting to build a personal brand ie personalities, bloggers and speakers.