22 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF BRANDING
How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand
Al Ries and Laura Ries
Al Ries is a marketing strategist. Laura is president of their consulting firm Ries & Ries. This edition of the book has been expanded to include 11 immutable laws of Internet branding.
“What is branding? From a business point of view, branding in the marketplace is very similar to branding on the ranch. A branding program should be designed to differentiate your product from all the other cattle on the range.” “The objective is to create in the mind of the prospect the perception that there is no other product on the market quite like your product.” (Introduction)
“Branding ‘pre-sells’ the product or service to the user.” “There’s a seismic shift taking place in the world of business. The shift from selling to buying.” (Introduction)
Here are a few of the 22 Laws of Branding and the 11 Laws of Internet Branding, several of which seem to say the same thing in different words:
1 The Law of Expansion – the power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. ““When you put your brand name on everything, that name loses its power.” (3) “In their minds, most people try to assign one brand name to each product.” (5) “Customers want brands that are narrow in scope and are distinguishable by a single word, the shorter the better. (6)
2 The Law of Contraction – A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus. “Fred DeLuca [Subway] narrowed the focus to one type of sandwich, the submarine sandwich.” (9) Toys “R” Us sells 20% of all toys sold in the U.S. “Good things happen when you contract rather than expand your business.” (10)
Five-step pattern: 1. Narrow the focus. 2. Stock in depth. 3. Buy cheap. 4. Sell cheap. 5. Dominate the category. (10)
3 The Law of Publicity – The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising. “Starbucks doesn’t spend a hill of beans on advertising.” (13) “Today brands are born, not made. A new brand must be capable of generating favorable publicity in the media or it won’t have a chance in the marketplace.” “The best way to generate publicity is by being first. In other words, by being the first brand in a new category.” (14) “What others say about your brand is much more powerful than what you say about it yourself.” (15)
4 The Law of Advertising – Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy. “There’s no news story left to tell, so advertising takes over.” (19) “Those massive advertising dollars don’t buy you anything; they just keep you from losing market share to your competition.” (18) Advertising is expensive. (21)
5 The Law of the Word – A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer. Mercedes owns the word prestige. Volvo owns the word safety. (22) “The ultimate word to own in the mind is the name of the category itself.” (23) Kleenex owns the category word. Kleenex is tissue.” Jell-O owns gelatin dessert. Coca-Cola owns cola. Band-Aid owns adhesive bandage. “You can’t become generic by overtaking the leader.” If you weren’t first in a category, you may be able to create a new category by simply narrowing your focus. Federal Express narrowed the focus of delivery to only small packages overnight. (24) Forget about the laundry list of wonderful qualities of your product. Reduce the essence of your brand to a single thought or attribute. (26)
6 The Law of Credentials – The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity. The one thing that elevates the brand above the competition is the claim to authenticity. “Credentials are the collateral you put up to guarantee the performance of your brand.” (29) Successful brands promote themselves as “the leader” in some category. “Never forget leadership. No matter how small the market, don’t get duped into simply selling the benefits of the category....” “Never assume that people know which brand is the leader.” (32)
7 The Law of Quality – Quality is important, but brands are not built by quality alone. Quality of the product has little to do with success in the market. The perception of quality is in the mind of the buyer. You must build a powerful perception of quality. (35) “High price is a benefit to customers. It allows the affluent customer to obtain psychic satisfaction from the public purchase and consumption of a high-end brand.” (37) “...deliberately start with a higher price. Then ask yourself, What can we put into our brand to justify the higher price?” (38) [It’s hard to imagine Jesus saying something like this. I wonder how many of these “laws” are consistent with a Christian worldview. dlm]
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. In other words, narrowing the focus to nothing and starting something totally new. That’s the way to become the first brand in a new category and ultimately the leading brand in a rapidly growing new segment of the market.” “Customers don’t really care about new brands, they care about new categories.” (40) Prince began the category of oversize tennis rackets. Domino’s pioneered home delivery of pizza. EatZi’s has created an industry of high-end restaurant take-out meals. (41) “When you’re first,... you’re the only brand associated with the concept.” (42)
9 The Law of the Name – “The most important branding decision you will ever make is what to name your product or service.” In the long term...all that is left is the difference between your brand name and the brand names of your competitors.” (44) Xerox was the first plain-paper copier. It is still the best brand by far and one reason is the name itself. (45)
12 The Law of the Generic – One of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name. The vast majority of brand communication takes place verbally and the mind responds to sounds. The name needs an easily recognizable sound. Blockbuster Video is a powerful brand name. General Video Rental is not. “Intelligent Chip Company is a lousy brand name, but Intel Corp. is terrific.” (65)
13 The Law of the Company “Brand names should almost always take precedence over company names. Consumers buy brands, they don’t buy companies.” (67) The name of the brand should be the name of the stuff inside the package. (70)
16 The Law of Shape “A logotype is a combination of a trademark, which is a visual symbol of the brand, and the name of the brand set in distinctive type.” (83) The ideal shape is horizontal because your eyes are side by side. Legibility is the most important aspect of a typeface. (84) “A great deal of effort has gone into creating elaborate symbols for use in logotypes.” “For the most part, these efforts are wasted.” “There are only a handful of simple symbols that make effective trademarks. The Mercedes three-pointed star is one of them.” (85)
17 The Law of Color. It is best to stick to one of the five basic colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue). Red is the color of energy and excitement, an “in-your-face” color. Blue is peaceful and tranquil, a “laid-back” color. Red attracts attention. Blue connotes stability. White = purity. Black = luxury. Blue = leadership. Purple is royalty. Green = environment and health. Focus on the mood you want. (86-87) Choose the opposite color of your competitor.
18 The Law of Borders – A brand should know no borders.
In order to grow, “Keep the brand’s narrow focus in its home country. Go global.” (91) Be first. Make your product fit the perceptions of its country of origin. (93) A brand name for use on the worldwide market had better sound OK in English. It doesn’t have to be an English word but it should sound like one. (96)
19 The Law of Consistency – Success is measured in decades, not years. “Brands shouldn’t change. They may be bent slightly or given a new slant, but their essential characteristics (once those characteristics are firmly planted in the mind) should never be changed.” (97) “Brands are used as personality statements.” (98) What did introducing a station wagon do for BMW? Nothing, except erode the driving image in the mind of the consumer. (99) “You should limit your brand. That’s the essence of branding.” (100)
22 The Law of Singularity – The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. “What’s a Chevrolet? A large, small, cheap, expensive car or truck.” Once it loses its singularity a brand burns out. A brand is “a singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect.” (109-10) [ACMC helps churches in missions. dlm]
The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding
[This is like a separate book in the same cover.]
1 The Law of Either/Or – the Internet can be a business or a medium but not both. Internet brands are quite different from ordinary brands. To build a powerful Internet brand, treat the Internet like a business opportunity. Endless opportunities are available to those who can create new categories. The Internet will affect your business but it will not completely replace it. Make it part of a larger business strategy. Ask: What works on the Internet? The shorter the name the better.
How to tell if the Internet is a business or a medium for your brand:
1. For tangible products, the Internet tends to be an information medium. Financial services and travel services will move to the Net.
2. The Internet is a medium for fashionable products, like clothing.
3. If the product is available in thousands of variations, the Internet tends to be a business.
4. If low price is a significant factor in purchase, the Internet tends to be a business, like eBay.com and Priceline.com
5. If shipping costs are a significant factor the Internet tends to be a medium. Like groceries. (121-125)
2 The Law of Interactivity –“The Internet has the opportunity to exploit a totally new attribute, interactivity. Present your brand so that your customers and prospects can interact with your message. “Without it, your website and your brand will go nowhere.” On the Internet a brand lives or dies in an interactive environment.” “If you want to build a brand on the Internet, ...you have to build interactivity into your site, and you generally need a new name.” “Interactivity is the ability to type in your instructions and have the site deliver the information you requested in the form you requested it.” It is also “the ability of the site to furnish additional information based on your original query.” Ask Amazon for a title and it will give you three related titles as well. “Interactivity is also the ability of the site to diagnose a situation and suggest remedies.” “Interactivity is a powerful metaphor for the patient-doctor or the student-teacher relationship.” (128-133)
4 The Law of the Proper Name – Your name stands alone on the Internet, so you’d better have a good one. It must not be a common or generic name (Law 3). It should be short (not PricewaterhouseCoopers) and not easily misspelled (see above), simple (see above), unique and alliterative (Blockbuster, Volvo), and speakable (not Onsale.com or 1stBuy.com). It should suggest the category without falling into the generic trap. When possible name the site after an individual. ()
5 The Law of Singularity – At all costs you should avoid being second in your category. In the real world there is always room for a number two brand. On the Internet there is no intermediary offering you the second choice. “Second place is no place.” (165)
6 The Law of Internet Advertising. “The Internet will not be dominated by advertising because it is interactive. The user is in charge. And the user doesn’t like advertising. “The target is in charge, not the shooter.” The advertising will be off the Net, not on it. (175, 177)
8 The Law of Time – Just do it. You have to be fast. You have to be first. You have to be focused. You can’t dawdle with endless testing, focus groups and market surveys. “You don’t win by being better: You win by being first.” But moving rapidly is not enough: you have to have a basically good idea. (193-96)
11 The Law of Transformation – The Internet revolution will transform all aspects of our lives. Paper directories, paper catalogs and full color brochures will become rare. Classified advertising will shift to the web. Internet retailing will become a price game. Retailing off the net will be based more on service. (220-230)
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