The laws of branding


THERE was no way the laws of branding were not going to stick in my mind.

I envisioned Mlilo in the Strategic Brand Marketing module of my Master of Science Marketing class saying: “We really (this was always enough to make me laugh) expect you to know these laws and to apply them practically.

We really (more laughter) expect to produce distinctions here, but you have to put in your fair share of effort and more. Well Mlilo, I hope you are proud, I really expect you to be! Here are the Laws of Branding as I understood them . . .

The law of expansion
The power of the brand is inversely proportional to the scope.

It is not always wise to extend the brand as not all brands can withstand the expansion. Brands like Virgin may have done it but Richard Branson will tell you that it was not always easy and the brand lost significant income when some of the expansion went wrong. Expansion of a brand may sometimes diminish the brand’s power and weaken the company’s image. Only powerful brands can withstand the expansion. Mahatma Rice has expanded. I suppose National Foods was certain that the brand was powerful enough to be expanded and still remain standing hence the introduction of the other Mahatma variants.

The law of contraction
A brand becomes stronger when you narrow focus.

It is always important for a brand to dominate in its category for it to be successful. For example I would like to think that whilst Delta Beverages makes many non alcoholic drinks, Coca cola still dominates the soft drinks category and particularly so the cola category.

The law of publicity
The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity not advertising.

When Bon Marche came to Bulawayo towards the end of last year, they did not start by advertising the products that they would be selling. They were in the print media, but not in the obvious way. They ensured attention by getting readers to “watch this space” as the weeks unfolded it became obvious that it was Bon Marché that was coming to Bulawayo. Their strategy was first developed from a publicity point of view.

The law of advertising
Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy.

Whilst publicity is a powerful tool to introduce a brand, advertising keeps the brand alive in the consumer’s mind. Advertising is there to remind and reinforce the brand in the consumers mind. It is also to offset competitors advertising, to make sales people more effective and to stimulate primary and selective demand among other reasons.

The law of the word
A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer.

The fact that the Mercedes Benz is used as a taxi in the Copenhagen Denmark does not mean that it is downgraded as an automobile model. It still carries the word “prestige” in the consumer’s mind. In fact it goes to show how serious the taxi business views their clients in Denmark.

The law of credentials
The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity.

Credentials are the collateral a company puts up as guarantee that their brand will perform well. Consumers believe all a company has to say about its brand as long as it has the right credentials. Olivine cooking oil for example is known to “clearly the best”. It is a leader in its category. Consumers have been given the assurance that they are buying a quality product.

They are also of the opinion that if it is produced by Olivine then it has to be a credible product.

There are twenty two laws in total. I will continue discussing these in the next article. Till next week keep reading the red publication and remain Brand Savvy.