Marty Neumeier, acclaimed author of The Brand Gap and other books on business creativity, has compressed decades of practical experience into The 46 Rules of Genius—46 glittering gems that will light students path to creative brilliance. This is an essential handbook for students in graphic design, branding, marketing, business, Journalism and writing courses, and more.
The rules in this book are timeless. None of them are new, yet they can help students create something new. Michelangelo didn’t invent the hammer and chisel, but by using these tools he sculpted the Pietá. And just as you can’t shape a block of marble with your bare hands, you can’t shape ideas with your bare mind. You need rules. Rules are the tools of genius. Use them when they help, put them aside when they don’t.
Most creative people are focused on their projects, and reading a long book is a luxury they can ill afford. So here’s a slim volume with bite-size advice. Students can reach into it randomly, underline its salient points, and return to its rules as needed. Neumeier starts with advice on strategy—or how to get the right idea. He continues with practical tips on execution—how to get the idea right. From there, he moves on to building creative skills over time, and finally to putting your brilliance to work in the larger world.
What is a genius?
Part 1: How can I innovate?
Rule #1: Break the rules.
Rule #2: Wish for what you want.
Rule #3: Feel before you think.
Rule #4: See what’s not there.
Rule #5: Ask a bigger question.
Rule #6: Frame problems tightly.
Rule #7: Think whole thoughts.
Rule #8: Stay in the dragon pit.
Rule #9: Approach answers obliquely.
Rule #10: Wait for the jolt.
Rule #11: Use beauty as a yardstick.
Part 2: How should I work?
Rule #12: Design quickly, decide slowly.
Rule #13: Use a linear process for static elements.
Rule #14: Use a dynamic process for interactive elements.
Rule #15: Work to an appropriate structure.
Rule #16: Express related elements in a similar manner.
Rule #17: Match form to function, function to form.
Rule #18: Don’t be boring.
Rule #19: Put the surprise where you want the attention.
Rule #20: Apply aesthetics deliberately.
Rule #21: Visualize with sketches, models, or prototypes.
Rule #22: Tolerate messiness.
Rule #23: Test your ideas in realistic situations.
Rule #24: Simplify.
Part 3: How should I learn?
Rule #25: Learn how to learn.
Rule #26: Start from wonder, not belief.
Rule #27: Do your own projects.
Rule #28: Keep a hero file.
Rule #29: Invest in your originality.
Rule #30: Learn strategically.
Rule #31: Neutralize your weaknesses.
Rule #32: Spend long hours in the joy zone.
Rule #33: Make educational mistakes.
Rule #34: Seek instructive criticism.
Rule #35: Feed your passion.
Rule #36: Develop an authentic style.
Rule #37: Practice.
Part 4: How can I contribute?
Rule #38: Overcommit to a mission.
Rule #39: Stay focused.
Rule #40: Follow through.
Rule #41: Practice good design.
Rule #42: Build support methodically.
Rule #43: Don’t blame others.
Rule #44: Join a network.
Rule #45: Become who you are.
Rule #46: Make new rules.
Marty Neumeier is an author, designer, and business adviser whose mission is to bring the principles and processes of creativity to industry. His series of “whiteboard” books includes The Brand Gap, widely considered the foundation of modern brand-building; Zag, named one of the “top hundred business books of all time” for its insights into brand strategy; and The Designful Company, a guide to building a culture of nonstop innovation. His latest book, The 46 Rules of Genius, lays out a universal map to innovation mastery.
In 1996, Neumeier founded Critique magazine, the first journal about design thinking. He has worked closely with innovative companies such as Apple, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, HP, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft to help advance their brands and cultures.
Today he serves as Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency in Silicon Valley, and travels extensively as a workshop leader and speaker on the topics of innovation, brand, and design. Between trips, he and his wife divide their time between California and southwest France.
“Innovators know that unfavorable odds call for unreasonable optimism. Now we also have a toolbox of rules—to play with, refer to...and break.”
—JOHN MAEDA, DESIGN PARTNER AT KLEINER PERKINS CAUFIELD & BYERS, AUTHOR OF THE LAWS OF SIMPLICITY
“Here are 46 tips that have helped shape our greatest practitioners from every discipline and generation. Best of all, Neumeier takes his own advice from rule 18: Don't be boring!”
—PAULA SCHER, PARTNER AT PENTAGRAM, WINNER OF THE CHRYSLER AWARD FOR INNOVATION AND DESIGN
“You’re already a genius, of course. All Marty wants to do is give you a platform so you can unlock that genius and share it with the rest of us.”
—SETH GODIN, AUTHOR OF THE ICARUS DECEPTION
“Creativity can be hard work, but it just got easier with Neumeier’s clear-thinking guidelines. Use them to build your own unique creative confidence.”
—TOM KELLEY, PARTNER AT IDEO, CO-AUTHOR OF CREATIVE CONFIDENCE
“Status quo disrupted! It’s bound to happen if you apply these simple yet profound rules to your ideas, your business, or your brand.”
—ANAEZI MODU, CEO OF REBRAND, FOUNDER OF REBRAND 100 GLOBAL AWARDS