Dave Murray

The New Rules of Branding

The New Rules of Branding

So what could possibly tempt yours truly, to write about something like “The New Rules of Branding” – besides the fact I’m a branding guy, of course? I’ll tell ya: it’s this graphic.

Photo showing all the brands the top 10 food corporations in the world own

Every year or so, an updated version of this graphic winds its way through the interwebz. And man, do people get mad! They freak out about the mega-corporations, and how no company should have all that money. But I don’t get mad when I see this graphic, because I recognize it for what it is: the story of the old ways of branding done right!

We often talk about just how long it takes brands to really become successful, so let’s take a peek at what years these evil mega-corporations were founded:

Unilever: 1929
Nestle: 1905
Coca-Cola: 1892
Pepsico (Pepsi): 1898
Kellogg’s: 1906
General Mills: 1856
Mars: 1911
Mondelēz International (formerly snack and food brands of Kraft Foods): 1903
Associated British Foods plc: 1935
Danone: 1919

Whoa! Seven of the corporations are over 100 years-old and the punk kid is 81? Even I wasn’t expecting that!

When these corporations and brands began, the “over-communicated society” Ries and Trout talked about in “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” wasn’t so over-communicated. These corporations didn’t have to worry as much about branding because there weren’t nearly as many competitors out there. They just needed to find a way to get their products in front of people. And since there were so few competitors, the job of doing so to become first in the mind was a lot easier than it is today.

And they’ve been growing ever since.

Two of our branding bibles: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind and The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

Today, we have that over-communicated society. And because of that, it’s never been more important to develop a brand. And here’s the kicker: developing a gutsy brand gets more crucial to business, and entrepreneurial, success as society gets even more over-communicated.

Strategy: In With the Old

Jack Trout and Al Ries first came up with the idea of positioning in 1969, which is the same year man went to the moon. Coincidence? I think not! *ahem* He and Al Ries perfected the idea, making it so positioning / brand strategy was largely about differentiation. Of course, that meant you had to know your competition. And it still does. The thing is, today, there’s a whole lot more competition.

Strategy is absolutely necessary, because that’s how you get noticed. But let’s be perfectly Sinatra about this: today, it’s only part of the equation.

Getting All Scientific and Stuff

First, I’m no scientist. Not even a little. Whenever someone mentions Pluto, I tell them I’m a Looney Tunes guy. Whenever someone brings up geology, I think of AC/DC. And whenever someone talks about the brain, I wonder what we’re gonna do tomorrow night.

Fortunately, I like research.

Emotion or Logic?

According to Decision-making: Emotional vs Logical, “Together, emotions and logic pair to become a decision-making powerhouse. To capture both in consumers, brands must first create an emotional connection between consumer and product (“Just like mom used to make!”) before then highlighting the logical reasons to make that decision (‘Now with all-natural ingredients!’).”

To put it another way, if I were to buy a woman a drink, and her emotional reaction was that short dudes creep her out, I may end up with a liberal dose of libations on my face. Later on she may justify that by thinking, “I didn’t feel like talking,” or, “What? I don’t like whiskey.” She made the decision emotionally, but now she’s justifying it to herself logically.

But if I were to buy another woman a drink, her emotional response may be he’s not creepy – at least I hope it would be – so she’d accept and we’d chat. If it were a good chat, she may think about it later and say, “He’s short, but funny and passionate are good things.” She’s already decided I’m not the devil, but now she has to rationalize it to herself.

More on How Our Decisions Are Made:
The Myth of Rational Decision-making
Decisions are Emotional, not Logical: The Neuroscience Behind Decision-making
The Limbic System

Community: We Kinda Need it

For years, marketers have known the importance of emotion in advertising, but it’s largely been manipulative. “Buy one, get one half off!” “Drink beer and get bikini models!” Or, as is the case of every insurance company ever, “BUY THIS OR YOU’LL DIE!!!”

BUY THIS OR YOU'LL DIE!!! Note: Dave doesn't sell insurance

But with new scientific – yeah, I typed that – understanding, we’re learning that humans are wired to be social, and simply want to be part of a safe community. And, without scientific understanding, we’re pretty sure humans aren’t big fans of being manipulated.

According to Matthew Lieberman, in this interview with Scientific American, “At businesses worldwide, pay for performance is just about the only incentive used to motivate employees. However, praise and an environment free from social threats are also powerful motivators. Because social pain and pleasure haven’t been a part of our theory of ‘who we are’ we tend not to use these social motivators as much as we could.”

Before I keep typing – and possibly ice my fingers – Here are the “simple definitions” of community, from Merriam-Webster:

1. a group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood)
2. a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.
3. a group of nations

At this point, we know five things:

How old brands got so huge
Emotions play a huge role in decision-making
The definitions of “community”
We’re wired to be part of communities
I don’t like having whiskey thrown in my face

The “Why.” You Knew it Was Comin’

I type a lot about Simon Sinek’s golden circle, and the importance of the “why.” Sinek defines the “why” as being a cause, a purpose, or a belief – and he goes on to say, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And, with what we know about emotions being key to decision-making, and all the examples he presents to prove his point, I have to think he’s right.

Mayniax Branding - Simon Sinek's Book: Start With Why

Now, here’s where we start to tie things together.

If we look at the second definition for “community,” we see it can mean a group of people who have the same interests. A lot of people are into the same causes. A lot of people have similar purpose. And a lot of people have similar beliefs about the world – our belief, for instance, is that the world is broken and only entrepreneurs can fix it.

In short, your “why” builds your community.

Richard Branson says, “The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit.” Now, I’m not clairvoyant – I can’t even predict what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow – but with everything we know, I think he’s right. People will rally around causes, but they don’t really rally around money.

And ya know what my favorite part of the “why” is, especially when we’re talking entrepreneurs? The fact that it’s genuine. It’s authentic. This isn’t about marketing manipulation – it’s about telling the world who you are and what you believe. And that’s how your people – be they teammates or clients – will find you.

Let Me Tell Ya a Little Story…

Okay, I don’t really have a story, but I do know the importance of a story when it comes to your brand.

Branding is all about being top of mind. And the way you get to be at that oh-so-coveted spot is by getting remembered. Stories help make that happen.

“Facts get recorded. Stories get remembered.” -Lewis Schiff, Inc. Business Owner’s Council

That quote is from an Inc article entitled, “Your Story Is Your Marketing Strategy.” In it, the author implores you to “…think beyond the bullet points of your product.”

In “Why Our Brains Crave Storytelling in Marketing,” a more scientific case is made for storytelling, based on how our brains actually work. And, spoiler alert, it also mentions how stories help us remember things.

My recommendation is to have a true story that backs up your “why,” which builds your community. See? I’m not just another guy with a face for radio. Or maybe I am and I’m just really good at research.

One more fantastic, and awesomely in-depth, story article:
The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing, Chapter Three, by Neil Patel

Get Focused

I wrote a post on focus called Focus: A Brand Strategy Assignment. In it, I detailed the importance of, and how to get, focused. So hey, check it out!

Focus on Building Locally

So far, dear entrepreneur, I’ve backed everything up with extensive research while drinking copious amounts of caffeine. But now, I’m gonna fire off an opinion, based on the state of the world today: start out by building locally.

Mayniax Branding - Our classic "focus" pic!

The fact is, most of us have me-too brands – there are already players in your field. For instance, Mayniax Branding certainly isn’t the first branding team out there. And unless you have the next wheel and a huge marketing budget, it’s gonna be tough to get your idea out into the world.

Instead, start locally and allow your brand to grow organically – because we like buzzwords – outside your local area. It’ll help you focus, which is kind of a big deal. Plus, it’s going to be a lot harder, and a lot more expensive, to get your message out to the whole world than it is your local area.

Grassroots / Local Articles:
Grassroots is the Heart of the Brand
50 Stealable Grassroots Marketing Campaigns

So, What Are the New Rules of Branding?

1. Build a strategy to get noticed
2. Build a “why” to create community
3. Tell a true story to get you remembered
4. Focus to also get remembered
5. Start locally

And avoid having whiskey poured on your face.

Stay gutsy, gang!

The world is broken, and we believe only entrepreneurs can fix it. But they’ll never get that chance if no one cares about their brands. So, with a little bit o’ nuttiness, a little bit o’ research, and a lotta bit o’ guts, it’s our job to make people care.

Wanna set up a happy fun time chat with Ann Arbor’s favorite branding team? Then click here, fill out the form, and we’ll get back to ya!

Dave Murray

Your Brand is Your Freedom!

Seriously, your brand is your freedom!

Yes, I’m completely exploiting this time of year. Yes, I’m totally shameless. And yes, I believe every word in this post.

We love doing what we do, in part, because it gives gutsy business owners and entrepreneurs a shot at better lives – side note: we say “a shot” because, after we help create the brand and advise them, it’s up to the entrepreneurs / business owners to follow through – Of course, what they do with that shot is entirely up to them. Maybe they’d simply retire to Fiji. Maybe they’d just like to relax and take more time for their friends and family. Or, maybe they’re like me, and would love to be able to take everybody on a spontaneous party trip to Italy. And maybe get on a gondola. Because I like typing “gondola.”

Of course, to do any of that, you need to be able to free up some time. And you can’t do that if you’re constantly the technician in the trenches, hoping for that next check to show up so you can pay rent, simply because you neglected your brand.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for a while, you know the huge importance we place on branding and brand strategy. It really is more important than your product or service. And I promise you, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t know, with 100% certainty, that it would drastically improve your life. It is the single, most important thing you can do for your business. Did I lay that on thick enough for ya? I hope so, because it’s the truth.

That typed, branding and brand strategy alone aren’t going to free you up for that African safari you’ve always wanted to take.

Do these three things to create your freedom!

Branding and Brand Strategy: this creates a consistent message and look that your clients and potential clients can get behind – because it’s always stuck in their brains!

Implementing Systems and Processes: I know, I know, that sounds horrendously lame. If, however, you want your business to scale to unimaginable heights, you need to set it up so other people can make it grow without your direct involvement. Your brand is your most important asset, but systems and processes make that asset work for you.

Public Relations, Marketing, and Advertising: if you want to haul ass on your road to freedom, you need to invest some time and money into getting your business out there! Get someone to interview you, set up speaking engagements, hire people who know about marketing and advertising, do the stuff that most “small” business owners and entrepreneurs won’t do because they think it’s a waste of money. Trust me, when your brand is set in stone, and your systems and processes are in place, no matter what your product or service is, you are in the marketing business!

We’ve used this quote before, but it bears repeating, ““Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” That quote comes from Peter Drucker, the granddad of business consulting. And it’s impossible to overstate its importance.

And now, for the conclusion you’ve been waiting for!

Gutsy entrepreneurs and business owners of the world, in order to create ultimate freedom, you must have a set brand, some set systems and processes, and a killer p.r. / marketing / advertising machine.

Of course, before you can implement any systems and processes, or get to marketing, you need to have your brand in place.

And that’s why I say your brand is your freedom.

If you have any questions about what branding and brand strategy can do for you, click Services. Other questions might be answered in our FAQ. And if that still doesn’t cut it, send us an email by clicking Contact.

I hope all of you in the United States had a fantastic Fourth of July. And to the rest of the world, I hope you did something extra gutsy on your seemingly normal Saturday.

As always, stay gutsy gang!


The Tingley Advantage – The Importance of Processes
Forbes – Jack Trout on Marketing