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What Is Branding?

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Caroline's Branding 101 presentation (.ppt)

Summary of basic branding concepts

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Slide 1: An introduction to product branding basics from

The 22 Immutable laws of Branding, by Al Ries

Slide 2: A successful branding program is based on the concept of singularity.

It creates in the mind of the prospect, the perception that there is no product on the market quite like your product.
  • Can a successful brand appeal to everybody? No.
  • The same concept of singularity makes certain that no one brand can possibly have universal appeal.
Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding p. 7

Slide 3: What is a brand?

  • A proper noun that can be used in place of a common word.
  • A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect.


  • Instead of an imported beer, you can ask for a Heineken.
  • Instead of an expensive Swiss watch, you can ask for a Rolex.
  • Instead of thick spaghetti sauce, you can ask for Prego.
  • Instead of a safe car, you can ask for a Volvo.
  • Instead of a driving machine, you can ask for a BMW.
Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding p. 172

Slide 4: Customers want brands that are narrow in scope

  • Marketers constantly run branding programs that are in conflict with how people want to perceive their brands.
  • Customers want brands that are narrow in scope and are distinguishable by a single word, the shorter the better.

If you want to build a powerful brand in the minds of consumers, you need to contract your brand, not expand it. In the long term, expanding your brand will diminish your power and weaken your image.

examples of bad brand extension:

  • Kleenex Super Dry baby diapers
  • Fruit of the Loom laundry detergent
  • Harley-Davidson wine coolers
  • Vaseline Intensive Care suntan lotion

Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding p. 13

Slide 5: How do you generate publicity? (by creating a new brand)

  • The best way to generate publicity is by being first.
  • In other words, by being the first brand in a new category.
(examples of first in category brands that by virtue of being 1st generated enormous amounts of publicity:)
  • Band-Aid (first adhesive bandage)
  • Jell-O (first gelatin dessert)
  • Q-tips (first cotton swab)
  • Compaq (first portable personal computer [ actually Osborne was the first, then KayPro...] )
  • Saran Wrap (first plastic food wrap)
  • Xerox (first plain-paper copier)

Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding p. 27

Slide 6: 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.
What prestige is to Mercedes, safety is to Volvo.

Slide 7: You know your brand owns the category name when people use your brand name generically.

  • What word does Kleenex own in the mind?
  • Kleenex owns the category word -- kleenex is tissue.
When a person looks across a room, sees a box of Scott tissue, and says: "Please hand me a Kleenex," you know you have a solid brand locked into the mind of the consumer.

Slide 8: "What is the size of the market?"

[If that is] the first question your company asks itself, then it is taking the wrong road to success.
  • Ask not what percentage of an existing market your brand can achieve,
  • ask how large a market your brand can create by narrowing its focus and owning a word in the mind.


  • what was the market for expensive pens before Mont blanc, or
  • expensive vodka before Stolichnaya and Absolut, or
  • safe cars before Volvo
  • nothing
Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding ch. 5

Slide 9: Never assume that people know which brand is the leader.

This is especially true in fast-growing, new categories like contact software and maintenance software.
  • Most new prospects have no experience with the category and little knowledge of available brands, so they naturally gravitate to the leading brand.
  • [In] almost all companies we have found some credentials that could be exploited. If not, we created the credentials by inventing a new category.
Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding p. 53-54

Slide 10: A leading brand should promote the category, not the brand.

A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus.
  • What happens when you narrow the focus to such a degree that there is no longer any market for the brand?
    • This is potentially the best situation of all.
    • What you have created is the opportunity to introduce a brand-new category.


  • the market for expensive cars before Mercedes-Benz - almost nothing
  • the market for cheap cars before Volkswagen - almost nothing
  • the market for home pizza delivery before Domino's Pizza - almost nothing

The most efficient, most productive, most useful aspect of branding is creating a new category.

Slide 11: To build a brand in a nonexistent category you have to do two things at once:

  1. You have to launch the brand in such a way as to create the perception that that brand was
    • the first,
    • the leader,
    • the pioneer, or
    • the original. Invariably, you should use one of these words to describe your brand.
  2. You have to promote the new category.

Customers don't really care about new brands, they care about new categories.

  • They don't care about Domino's; they care about whether or not their pizza will arrive in 30 minutes.

By first preempting the category, then aggressively promoting the category, you create both a powerful brand and a rapidly escalating market. Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding ch. 8

Slide 12: In the long run a brand is nothing more than a name

The most important branding decision you will ever make is what to name your product or service. Your brand:
  • needs a unique idea or concept to service
  • it needs to be first in a new category.
  • it needs to own a word in the mind.
but in the long term, the unique idea or concept disappears. All that is left is the difference between your brand name and the brand names of your competitors.
  • Xerox was the first plain-paper copier. This unique idea built the powerful Xerox brand in the mind. But today all copiers are plain-paper copiers. The difference between brands is not in the products, but in the product names. Or rather the perception of the names.

Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding ch. 9

Slide 13: Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference.

  • Brand names should almost always take precedence over company names. consumers buy brands, they don't buy companies.
    • Microsoft isn't Word. Procter & Gamble isn't Tide.
Caveat: Management is company-oriented and customers are brand-oriented.
  • The view from the inside is totally different than the view from the outside. Managers must constantly remind themselves that customers care only about brands, not about companies.
  • Remember. The brand isn't just the name the manufacturer puts on the package. It's the product itself

Slide 14: Most issues involving company names vs. brand names can be solved by asking yourself two questions

  1. What is the name of the brand?
  2. What is the name of the stuff inside the packaging?
Both names had better be the same or you have big problems.

Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding ch. 13

Slide 15: What branding builds, subbranding can destroy.

Subbranding is an inside-out branding strategy that tries to push the core brand into new directions.
  • The essence of a brand is some idea or attribute or market segment you can own in the mind.
  • Subbranding is a concept that takes the brand in exactly the opposite direction.
Subbranding destroys what branding builds.

examples of bad subbrands:

  • Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza --(who walks in to a Holiday Inn and asks the clerk at the front desk, "Don't you have a more expensive hotel I can stay at?")
  • Cadillac Cimarron -- (who walks into a Cadillac dealership and asks the salesperson: "Don't you have any smaller Cadillacs?" bigger maybe, but not smaller )

Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding p. 117

Slide 16: There is a time and a place to launch a second brand.

keep the following principles in mind when selecting a sibling strategy for [a] stable of brands:
  1. Focus on a common product area.
  2. Select a single attribute to segment.
  3. Set up rigid distinctions among brands.
  4. Create different, not similar brand names. You don't want to create a family of brands, you want to create a family of different brands.
  5. Launch a new sibling only when you can create a new category.

Al Reis, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding p. 125-126

Slide 17: Caroline's Branding 101 presentation

click here for: Caroline's Branding 101 presentation (.ppt)

-- PieterHartsook - 07 Jun 2006 *

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