It’s difficult to find brands with clearly aligned positioning, strategy and architecture, which is why there are so few truly great brands.
Byron Sharp, brand purpose and the tyranny of the majority
In reducing the role of branding to a single aim – growth – Byron Sharp and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute have simultaneously established the biggest strength and the greatest weakness of their ‘scientific’ approach: the single-minded pursuit of growth might be an appealing message for CMOs grasping for ‘scientific’ credibility; but it also absolves them of responsibility for important activities that should be a part of their job description, such as ensuring their businesses anticipate and respond to important changes in society, including the continuing struggles against systemic racism, climate change and social inequality.
A reading list for brand strategists
Once in a while, someone interested in becoming a brand strategist (or becoming a better brand strategist) asks me what they should read. Here’s a list (of sorts).
Predicting the rise of the Chief Creative Officer
The example of the FTSE100 shows that we have fallen into a pattern of behaviour that contradicts our stated purpose: not simply to make money but to create value. At some point, someone somewhere will establish a better pattern of behaviour. Perhaps a Chief Creative Officer will be at the heart of the change.
Fuck storytelling: great brands make a statement
This is what really great brands do: they have a point to make and then find the most effective ways to make that point.
Divided we stand: the hallmark of a resilient company
Resilience is about more than failure avoidance. It’s about creative dissent.
Kindness matters in business: why the nice guys finish first
Making the case for intelligent kindness in business.
Is the sharing economy a caring economy?
There’s a very real risk that the economic rewards offered by the “sharing economy” will crowd out the emotional and social benefits of sharing.
Brand positioning: avoiding the average
In theory, brand positioning can be an immensely useful tool for creating growth. But in practice, it is often a complete waste of time, money and effort.
Designing brands around a purpose
Intentions matter because they initiate outcomes.
The importance of unmeasurables
Not everything that can be counted counts. And not everything that counts can be counted.
Brands and the Economy of Mistrust
In the economy of mistrust, businesses create profit by outsourcing the policing of behaviour to their online communities: they establish spaces in which people are encouraged to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Would you prefer your company to work like a symphony orchestra or an improvisational jazz band?
Think about it: how many organisations have you worked in that actually operate like a symphony orchestra?
Why culture doesn’t eat strategy for breakfast
If strategy is about substance, then culture is about style – and style matters every bit as much as substance.
What makes a brand great?
Great brands don’t just deliver on expectations; they play with those expectations. They inspire us to see more of life’s infinite possibilities.
The secret to lasting leadership
Spend less time at work.
The future of brands is… Circular?
What do milk floats and glossy leggings have in common?
Authenticity: it’s not what it used to be
The past is something you learn from, but not something your brand needs to be wedded to.
Uber: is it just me?
Is Uber’s brand really worth billions?
The power of a pre-mortem
Like many things in life, strategy is rarely perfect the first time round.
Building brand engagement in a post-trust world
Brands have established a new model for growth: fostering an economy of mistrust.
No more disruption please, we’re British.
The most consistently profitable innovators are not relentlessly disruptive: they are capable of introducing radical new ideas to the world, but they hone and perfect the delivery of those ideas through years of incremental improvement to improve efficiency and profitability.
New luxury: a triumph of excess over experience?
The truth is that the modern concept of luxury remains stubbornly wedded to excess, despite all the optimistic column inches devoted to new luxury’s more balanced, less materialistic, more experiential, less conspicuous, more ethical stance.
Ten reasons for brand strategists to love Milton Glaser, too
Milton Glaser had the ability to penetrate through the layers of bullshit that often come with a job that balances the commercial with the creative. He thought seriously and deeply about this balance. Here are ten things I’ve taken away.
How Ocado embraces what makes their brand weird.
Best practice can’t happen unless we’re prepared to step away from the comfort of the usual once in a while. That’s why so many of the retail world’s most notable innovators have embraced weirdness.
Challenger banks: not radical enough?
We’re learning to love contactless and mobile forms of payment, but we’re a long way from digital banking nirvana.
Extinction Rebellion: when Nudge comes to Shove
Extinction Rebellion offers a much-needed reminder that dramatic systematic change is needed if we want to avoid screwing up the planet for future generations.
Entrepreneurs and the art of ‘enough’
It’s easy to revile entrepreneurs. They have money, power and an address list that mere mortals can only dream of. But without them where would we be?
Why commercial brands should look to not-for-profits for inspiration
A compelling charity brand is spontaneous, collaborative and delivered with charm and a warm imperfection that reminds us what it means to be human.
Does business class travel have a future?
Business class travel – whether by air or by train – is one of the most weirdly wasteful and anachronistic aspects of modern working life.