A New Brand World

This tag is associated with 2 posts

Brands are like sponges, people


On Twitter yesterday, my friend Chris Blizzard mentioned to someone that I often say “brands are like sponges.” When I saw this, I realized that a) I haven’t said this in a while and b) I should say it more often because it is a freakin’ awesome way to think about brands. So I’m saying it again right now. Right here.

A brand is like a sponge. Except it is probably dirtier than this one.

A brand is like a sponge. Except it is probably dirtier than this one.

It’s actually not my line. I got it from the Scott Bedbury book A New Brand World (one of the top ten books behind Dark Matter Matters). Near the beginning of the book, Scott, who is one of the masterminds behind the good ol’ days of the Nike brand in the 80s and the Starbucks brand in the 90s, provides one of my favorite definitions of what a brand is:

A brand is the sum of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the off strategy. It is defined by your best product as well as your worst product. It is defined by award-winning advertising as well as by the god-awful ads that somehow slipped through the cracks, got approved, and, not surprisingly, sank into oblivion. It is defined by the accomplishments of your best employee– the shining star in the company who can do no wrong– as well as by the mishaps of the worst hire that you ever made. It is also defined by your receptionist and the music your customers are subjected to when they are placed on hold. For every grand and finely worded public statement by the CEO, the brand is also defined by derisory consumer comments overheard in the hallway or in a chat room on the Internet. Brands are sponges for content, for images, for fleeting feelings. They become psychological concepts held in the minds of the public, where they may stay forever. As such, you can’t entirely control a brand. At best you can only guide and influence it.

Those last two lines have stuck in my mind since I first read them. First, the idea that a brand is a sponge, soaking up everything, both good and bad. And second, that you cannot control a brand, you can only guide and influence it.

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Brand positioning tip #3: the brand mantra


In previous posts, we’ve covered three of the four elements of good brand positioning as I learned them from Dr. Kevin Keller, strategicbrandmanagementauthor of the classic branding textbook Strategic Brand Management:

  1. Points of difference: the things that make you different from your competition (and that your customers value)
  2. Points of parity: the places where you may be weaker than the competition and need to ensure you are “good enough” so you can still win on the merits of your points of difference
  3. Competitive frame of reference: the market or competitive landscape in which you are positioning yourself

Today we will be covering the 4th element of good brand positioning: the brand mantra.

What is a brand mantra?

A brand mantra is a 3-5 word shorthand encapsulation of your brand position. It is not an advertising slogan, and, in most cases, it won’t be something you use publicly.

According to Scott Bedbury, author of A New Brand World (one the of top 10 books behind Dark Matter Matters), the term brand mantra was coined during his time at Nike.

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Hey, I Wrote a Book!

The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World

Available now in print and electronic versions.

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