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Category Archives: Branding



People will continue to buy and pay more for reliable brand reputations that enrich the depth and breadth of their own identity. The future belongs to any product that can give users a unique identity and place, be it real or virtual. 2010 will be about combining an engaging story with an immersive experience so that the brand becomes an avatar and the communications investment becomes an extension of the brand experience. Communications technology is now the enabler, source and subject matter of human entertainment as a result the concept of the “Avatar” has crossed the chasm into mainstream culture and branding., Advertising’s Not Dead. But Some Expert Predictions Should Be Taken Out Back and Shot., Jan 2010


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1. The Law of Expansion: The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. Trying to be all things to all people undermines the power of the brand. The strength of brands lies in becoming synony-mous with a single category. Brands that spread themselves across categories lose brand focus, identity, and ultimately market share.
2. The Law of Contraction: A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus. By narrowing the focus to a single category, a brand can achieve extraordinary success. Starbucks, Subway and Dominos Pizza became category killers when they narrowed their focus.
3. The Law of Publicity: The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising. A new brand must be capable of generating favorable public-ity in the media or it won’t have a chance in the marketplace. Anita Roddick built the Body Shop into a global brand with no advertising, but with massive amounts of publicity. On the other hand, Miller Brewing spent $50 million in advertising to launch a brand called Miller Regular. The brand generated no publicity and very little sales.
4. The Law of Advertising: Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy. Sooner or later, a brand leader has to shift its branding strategy from publicity to advertising. By raising the price of admission, advertising makes it difficult for a competitor to carve out a substantial share of the market.
5. The Law of the Word: A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer. If you want to build a brand, you must focus your branding efforts on owning a word in the prospect’s mind. A word that nobody else owns. Kleenex owns “tissue,” Federal Express owns “overnight,” Volvo owns “safety.”
6. The Law of Credentials: The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity. Coke is the real thing in the minds of many, even though the last “real thing” advertisement ran almost thirty years ago. A brand’s credentials in a category as authentic, real, original, or the leader are very powerful indeed.
7. The Law of Quality: Quality is important, but brands are not built by quality alone. Does a Rolex keep better time than a Timex? Does Hertz have better service than Alamo? Does a Montblanc pen write better than a Cross? Are you sure? The perception of quality, more than quality itself, is what builds a brand. And the best way to build a quality perception in the mind of consumers is by following the laws of branding.
8. The Law of the Category: A leading brand should promote the category, not the brand. The most efficient, most productive, most useful aspect of branding is creating a new category. Customers don’t really care about new brands, they care about new categories. What was the market for cheap cars before Volkswagen? What was the market for home pizza delivery before Dominos? What was the market for in-line skates before Rollerblade?
9. The Law of the Name: In the long run, a brand is nothing more than a name. In the short term, a brand needs a unique idea or concept to survive. But in the long term, all that is left is the difference between your brand name and the brand names of your competitors. Shorter names that are unique and memorable are far stronger than longer, vague or generic names.
10. The Law of Extensions: The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything. More than 90% of all new product introductions in the U.S. are line extensions. Line extensions destroy brand value by weakening the brand. The effects can be felt in diminished market share of the core brand, a loss of brand identity, and a cannibalization of the one’s own sales. Often, the brand extension directly attacks the strength of the core brand. Does Extra Strength Tylenol imply that regular Tylenol isn’t strong enough?
11. The Law of Fellowship: In order to build the category, a brand should welcome other brands. Consumers want to have choices. Choice stimulates demand. Healthy competition helps to build the category. The competi-tion between Coke and Pepsi makes customers more cola conscious. Per capita consumption goes up.
12. The Law of the Generic: One of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name. The problem with a generic brand name is its inability to differentiate the brand from the competition. At your local health food store, you’ll find Nature’s Resource, Nature’s Answer, Nature’s Bounty, Nature’s Secret, Nature’s Way, Nature’s Best, Nature’s Plus, etc. Will any of these generic brands break into the mind and become a major brand? Unlikely.
13. The Law of the Company: Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference. Customer’s think of brands, not companies. Procter and Gamble isn’t Tide. General Motors isn’t Cadillac. The brand itself should be the focus of your attention. Use the company name, if necessary, in a decidedly secondary way.
14. The Law of Subbrands: What branding builds, subbranding can destroy. Subbranding erodes the power of the core brand. Waterford is the leading Irish crystal maker. Introducing “cheap” Waterford as “Marquis by Waterford” only dilutes the Waterford brand. Subbranding attacks a brand’s place in he mind of the prospect.
15. The Law of Siblings: There is a time and place to launch a second brand. A second brand can be launched to focus on a new subcategory within the same product family. Toyota launched Lexus because the Toyota brand couldn’t fill the luxury ar category. The focus is on the brand, not the company. Customers buy a Lexus not because it’s made by Toyota, but in spite of it.
16. The Law of Shape: A brand’s logotype should be designed to fit the eyes. Both eyes. A customer sees the world through two horizontal-ly mounted eyes peering out of the head. For maximum visual impact, a logotype should have a horizontal shape. The ideal shape is 2 1 /4 units wide by 1 unit high.
17. The Law of Color: A brand should use a color that is the opposite of its major competitor. Coke is red, and Pepsi is Blue. Hertz is yellow, and Avis is Red. Color consistency over the long term can help a brand burn its way into the mind.
18. The Law of Borders: There are no barriers to global branding. A brand should know no borders. The perfect solution to growth in a competitive market is not line extensions, but building a global brand. A brand should have a consistent message globally, but must take into account the perceptions of its country of origin.
19. The Law of Consistency: A brand is not built overnight.
Success is measured in decades, not years.This is the law which is violated most frequently. Once a brand occupies a position in the mind, the manufacturer often thinks of reasons to change. Markets may change, but brands shouldn’t. They may be bent slightly, or given a new slant, but their essential characteristics should never be changed. Long-term, consistent programs might be boring, but they are also immensely powerful.
20. The Law of Change: Brands can be changed, but only infrequently and only very carefully. Nothing is absolute and there are exceptions to every rule. There are three situations where changing your brand is feasible: When your brand is weak or non-existent in the mind, when you want to move your brand down the food chain to a lower price and perception point, or when your brand is in a slow-moving field and the change is going to take place over an extended period of time. Remember, changing your brand is a long and difficult process. Change at your own risk!
21. The Law of Mortality: No brand will live forever. Euthanasia is often thebest solution. While the laws of branding are immutable, brands themselves are not. They are born, grow up, mature, and eventually will die. Yet companies that are willing to spend millions to save a dying brand, won’t spend pennies to launch a new one. Opportunities for new brands and threats to old ones are constantly being created by the invention of new categories. The rise of personal computers created opportunities for Compaq, Dell and Gateway, but put pressure on Digital, Data General and Wang.
22. The Law of Singularity: The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. What is a brand? A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect. It’s as simple or as difficult as that.

Excerpted from “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding”

Excerpted from “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding”


If a brand logo is a visual mark of ownership of a company, product, service or person and symbolizes the differentiating promise of value that brand boasts, then a brand name stands for the verbal and written ownership of that promise of value and symbolizes it phonically each time the name is uttered. Overtime, if your brand delivers on this promise without fail, then your brand name will come to symbolize that value concept in the minds of your market. In many instances, a name can become the verb that stands for the value concept. FedEx it. Google it. Xerox it. (Clearly, the inventor of the facsimile machine didn’t hire a branding agency. Fax it. Oops!)

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Brand naming drives brand launch success.

Interbrand Blog | Social Media and Brand Names: protect your names.

We learned the hard way, when the world wide web opened up for mass use, what it means to have cyber-squatters. Brands late to the game found themselves in the midst of fighting for usage rights of their own URL handles, and squatters rubbing their palms – and coins – together in profitable glee.

And yet, it seems our memory is short. Some did not learn from these costly mistakes.

As the likes of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have gained mass adoption, those brands treading cautiously around them forgot one simple rule: always protect your brand name. Always. Regardless of approach – whether you want to take your time deciding on the right strategy for social media, or even if you never intend on using these platforms – it always pays to protect your name.

A recent AdvertisingAge article found that many marketers that have not registered brand names or handles are concerned over their brand reputation. According to the article:

“A quick survey of accounts for the top 100 national advertisers, as ranked by Advertising Age’s DataCenter, shows that surprisingly few have ownership of the Twitter handles that correspond to the names of their companies or their brands.”

Companies being squatted on include General Motors, Nestle, and MasterCard – all using variations of their brand names (e.g., MasterCardNews). A surprise on the list? Burger King. Even Walmart is grappling with the issue. Twitter, in the meantime:

“…has hinted heavily that a “Twitter Pro” service is coming, figuring this issue for marketers and trademarked brands will be an increasing headache.”

While many squatters don’t actively use the accounts, there’s always the risk one could use it negatively. And while, on Twitter, inactive handles tend not to rank high in search results, it can still be a source of frustration for brands when trying to wrest their names back from anonymous squatters.

Registering Names and Handles

Like URLs, it’s important to reserve or register brand names on major social media platforms – and consider also reserving both good and bad variations of the name.

Jerome McDonnell, Interbrand’s Trademark Consultant advises:

“From a trademark perspective, a user name or domain name that’s already taken, by itself is not an automatic trademark conflict.  If the person who registered it did so legitimately, they are entitled to it. Of course, if bad faith or intent to confuse/deceive the public is evident, there is recourse – but better to avoid this by first reserving them yourself.”

Social Media Strategy

Protecting your name doesn’t just mean registering it – it means knowing what people are saying, and responding when appropriate.

Nora Geiss, Senior Consultant and social media expert at Interbrand says:

“Hire social-savvy people passionate about your brand to get in the conversation. Fact is, “bad press” isn’t always so bad – it might give you presence to an audience that you might not normally reach. Having people who “get” this environment will help you focus your attention on the areas that actually make an impact with people you want to engage. Protection isn’t just about being reactive, but proactive.”

While plans for using social media platforms may vary today, brands can’t always anticipate where their strategy, or their customers needs, will lead them. It’s then you’ll want to have those names secured, protected and ready for use.

People often ask, ‘‘What is brand equity?’’ There are many ways to
answer this. Some say it’s everything associated with the brand that adds to
or subtracts from the value it provides to a product or service. Others emphasize
the financial value of the brand asset. Still others stress the consumer
loyalty or price premium generated by brand equity. Some even talk about
the permission and flexibility a brand gives an organization to extend into
new product and service categories. While all of these are very important
parts of brand equity, I think the following story best illustrates what brand
equity is.

Imagine you are having lunch with a long-time and very good friend.
Several times throughout the lunch, she makes disparaging and sarcastic remarks
that make you feel bad. You think to yourself, ‘‘This just isn’t like her.
She must be having a bad day.’’ You meet with her again a week or two later,
and again she acts ornery and negative. You think to yourself, ‘‘Something
must be going on in her life that she’s really struggling with. Maybe she is
having difficulties with her job or her health or her marriage or her children.’’
You may even ask her if everything is all right. She snaps back, ‘‘Of course
it is.’’
Your interaction with her continues in this vein over the next couple of
months. You continue to try to be supportive, but she’s definitely getting on
your nerves. After many meetings and much interaction, you finally decide
that she’s a changed person and someone with whom you prefer to spend
less and less time. You may get to this point after a few months, or perhaps
even after a year or more. She doesn’t change, and eventually the relationship
peters out.
Now consider for a moment that the person you first had lunch with is the
same person as before, with one exception: She is a total stranger to you.
You haven’t met her previously and she is not your dear friend. I would guess
that after enduring many caustic comments and being insulted a few times at
that lunch, your first impression wouldn’t be very positive. In fact, you’d probably
be inclined not to get together with that person again. You’d probably
walk away from that lunch thinking, ‘‘What a miserable person. I hope I don’t
run into her again.’’
In both of these scenarios it is the same person behaving the same way in
the same situation. Yet in the first scenario, you are very quick to forgive the
behavior. In fact, you feel a lot of concern toward her. In the second scenario,
you can’t wait for the lunch to be over and you hope never to see the person
In the first scenario, the person was a long-time good friend. She had a
lot of equity with you. In the second scenario, she had no equity at all. You
see, if people or brands have a lot of equity—that is, if you know, like, and
trust them —you will ‘‘cut them a lot of slack’’ even if they repeatedly fail to
meet your expectations. If a person, product, service, or organization has no
equity with you, no emotional connection, and no trust, then you are much
less inclined to forgive unmet expectations.

Brand equity creates a relationship and a strong bond that grows over
time. It is often so strong that it compensates for performance flaws, such as
an out-of-stock situation, poor customer service, a product that falls apart,
inconvenient store hours, or a higher-than-average-price. In the end, you
want to deliver good quality and good value, innovation, relevant differentiation,
convenience, and accessibility with your brand. However, we must
never forget that building brand equity is like building a close friendship. It
requires a consistent relationship over time, trust, and an emotional connection.

Credit goes to Derrick Daye, Managing Partner of The Blake Project

Derrick has spent the past 18 years helping organizations release the full potential of their brands. His experience is as deep as it is diverse encompassing the disciplines of advertising, branding, sales promotion and public relations. Most notably he has worked with the White House Press Corps, Johnson & Johnson and the National Basketball Association.