Brand Disruption: Be the Disruptor or Be Defeated

Disruption happens. In the world of brands, standing still is not an option. Recent events at Whole Foods Market have reminded us that brands are living entities. While every brand has a different lifespan, as with all living things, youth fades and the peak of health simply cannot last forever — brand disruption, time for a complete overhaul?


Average Company Lifespan

Image via Innospan


The average life of a company is a fraction of the 60+ years it realised following World War II, and it has been growing significantly shorter and shorter, now closing in on just 10 years which makes regular health checks even more critical to your brand’s survival.


“Change before you have to.”

Jack Welch

(Former chairman and CEO of General Electric, 1981-2001, during which time the company’s value rose 4,000%.)


In the 2016 book, “Simplify: How the Best Businesses in the World Succeed,” the foreword opens with “…it is inevitable that sooner or later, someone will come along and revolutionise your industry…The good ol’ boys club rarely sees the outsiders coming until it’s too late.”


Related: The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands


According to St. Gallen University in Switzerland, the basic business model is quite simple; it must provide answers to four questions. The answers will change — and must change — over time, or the brand will not survive.



Business Model

Image via St. Gallen University

Whole Foods: A Case Study in Brand Disruption

Whole Foods Market tells the story of their own modest first operation in Austin, Texas. “The original Whole Foods Market opened in 1980 with a staff of only 19 people. It was an immediate success. At the time, there were less than half a dozen natural food supermarkets in the United States.”[1]


Actually, Whole Food’s success story wasn’t at all an organic one. Growth came about in large part due to mergers and acquisitions in the USA, Canada, and United Kingdom. In effect, while Whole Foods disrupted traditional grocers, it was in the process of disrupting potential competitors within its own niche of natural, healthy, and organic foods. Over four decades, it certainly did grow. There are currently 87,000 employees and 466 Whole Foods Market stores.[2]


Now Amazon, the giant online shopping service which disrupted retail, is about to disrupt grocery, which had disrupted natural foods. In June 2017, Amazon filed a bid to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in cash.[3]


What happened?


Just a few years earlier in 2013, an ABC-TV news report heaped praise upon Whole Foods Market as “the grocer of the 21st century.” The interview with co-founder John Mackey mentioned “cult-like devotion,” saying “the place just looks delicious,” and “if you squint, the produce department resembles an edible Monet…”





However, things can certainly change fast in fast-moving consumer goods, right? Whole Foods lost almost half its value between October 2013 and July 2014.[4]


Related: Rebrand or Refresh? That is the Question

When Whole Foods Lost its Way

By 2015, it was apparent to all that trouble was brewing at Whole Foods. The “Whole Paycheck” moniker struck a chord…and it stuck. In addition:

  • Customers took note when a massive overpricing scandal was revealed and settled for $500,000.
  • Whole Foods received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration for a variety of hygiene problems at a food preparation facility.
  • New York City Department of Consumer Affairs accused Whole Foods of systematic overcharging for prepackaged foods, calling it the worst case of mislabeling they had ever seen.
  • Whole Foods apologised, but it was perceived as a weak apology, and the overpricing wasn’t easily shrugged off by consumers.
  • Online food delivery had taken off and customers were shopping elsewhere where prices were lower.

Related: How to Manage, Survive, and Thrive





Earlier this year, a Barclays analyst issued a report estimating that Whole Foods lost as many as 14 million customers over the previous six quarters. “The magnitude of the traffic declines…is staggering. As most retailers know — once traffic has been lost, those patterns rarely reverse,”[5] said the bank.


Reportedly Whole Foods didn’t listen and learn. This week, an American financial news service reported that a basket of eight everyday food items purchased at Whole Foods cost $38.29; at Walmart, $19.86; and at Kroger, $16.58.[6]


Whole Foods pivoted somewhat in 2016, launching its own new, cheaper chain; but the change was too little, too late.



Whole Foods Market Traffic

Image via WFM Traffic Comps, Barclays

Enter: Home Grocery Delivery On Demand

Look at the Whole Foods Market website home page. It mentions grocery delivery but doesn’t give it any emphasis.


Whole Foods Market Home Page

Image via Whole Foods Market


Perhaps the grocery store was not seeing the potential in home delivery…potential that Amazon surely does? Whole Foods must have been aware of this, as they purchased an equity stake in Instacart[7], Internet-based delivery service — but not until 2016.[8]



Grocery Delivery Truck

Image via Ken, flickr 2.0


While Amazon / Whole Foods observers are saying that the logistics of perishable home grocery delivery (within two hours, please) are a nightmare,[9] let us recall milk truck deliveries. They certainly managed just fine without the benefit of high-tech.


Grocery shopping is a massive time waster. Driving to the grocery store, dealing with the parking, navigating the aisles, queuing up to pay, and lugging it all back home. However, the solution couldn’t be worth $13.7 billion — or could it?


Rather than internet-based home delivery of groceries, could the Amazon deal actually be about data acquisition? Or prime real estate that Whole Foods has cherry picked over the years? Or all of the above?


Only Jeff Bezos is likely to know which industrie(s) Amazon is about to disrupt.

Grocery Industry is Disrupted

Meantime, the planets are colliding in the home delivery business. Online groceries generated more than $15 billion in sales last year, which represented big growth but also represented a tiny fraction of the $1 trillion grocery market, according to Forrester Research.[10]

Disrupting Brand Disruption

Watch: “How Blue Apron Became a $3 Billion Company in 5 Years” by delivering pre-proportioned ingredients to customers’ doorsteps for around $10 a meal.




An impressive story…until the disruptor became disrupted by the Amazon / Whole Foods deal. “It was terrible timing for Blue Apron. Many potential investors quickly identified the possibility of more competition in the food-delivery industry and ran the other way,” reported Business Insider.[11]


Blue Apron gives us another example of how dramatic, dynamic, disruptive shifts can occur overnight for brands. The meals delivery startup was anticipating its own juicy IPO with a valuation of $3 billion in June 2017. Two weeks after the Amazon / Whole Foods surprise takeover announcement, Blue Apron’s valuation was slashed by more than one-third to $1.9 billion and shares opened flat at $10, down from an anticipated pre-IPO $17.


A group of large grocers: Walmart, Dollar General, SuperValu, Target, Costco, and Kroger (a.k.a. WDSTCK) — lost $24 billion in market value in the week following the Whole Foods deal.[12]


Following this Amazon filed a trademark for a meal kit service of its own knocking Blue Apron even harder — time to cook up a new highly innovative disruptive brand strategy!



Building Brands: Disruption is Ideation to the Nth Degree

Challenger brands have an important role to play by offering a superior product and satisfying customers. But not every challenger brand is a disruptor. And not every disruptor needs to tackle a huge industry sector. It all begins with an idea that clicks.


In 2010, Dollar Shave Club was aimed at a niche pain in men’s grooming — the high price of razor blades.


In San Francisco in 2007, Airbnb was born from the idea of two roommates sharing their air mattress and breakfast with out-of-town convention delegates to make a few bucks.


In Austin in 1980, Whole Foods Market was aimed at consumers of natural health foods — a very tiny niche.


In 2009, Uber realised that possession of a smartphone — but not a car — was central to the shared economy concept. Uber is currently at the top of the leaderboard for the world’s unicorns, that is, private startup companies with a $1-plus billion valuation.[13]

  • Industries that have stopped innovating are prime for disruption.
  • Market complacency is a telltale sign of a sector that’s ready for disruption.
  • Services where customers voice frustration are prime for disruption.

Related: How Do Challenger Brands Become Market Leaders?


“Something can be better, cheaper, and more convenient without being disruptive. The distinction, the one that people constantly miss, is that real disruption is almost impossible to see until it’s too late because the technology or business is so different from what already exists.”

Business Insider

In Silicon Valley, disruption is a buzzword. Examples of consumer brands litter the landscape, from travel, transport and accommodation to retailing and genetic testing — populating a rich list as well as the brand graveyard. For example, these remarkable stories have played out within just a few short years.

Related: 10 Branding Tips From Silicon Valley on How to Be a Successful Startup Brand



BrandIndustry & IdeaResult
Dollar Shave ClubMen’s grooming. Home delivery of inexpensive razors and blades via membership club.


Successful exit. Sold to Gillette (Unilever) for $1   billion within 5 years.
AirbnbHotels and travel. Changing how people think about accommodation via online listings at tariffs set by private hosts.Backed by $2.5 billion in venture capital, still private, profitable. Operating in 65,000 cities, 191 countries.


Public transportation, taxis, limousines. Rides on demand.$66 billion valuation, still private, yet to make a profit. Co-founder and CEO fired after investigation into its corporate culture.
TheranosBlood testing. Devices to automate and miniaturise blood tests using microscopic amounts.From $4.5 billion to $0, a saga of controversy, allegations, failed lab inspections. Founder sanctioned.

Ripe for Brand Disruption

In services, tech, consumer goods, and lifestyle, entrepreneurs are asking questions like these:

  • What deep consumer frustrations are really behind the shocking behaviour we’re seeing in economy class on some of the world’s major airlines?
  • Why has the cost of college more than doubled in 30 years and significantly outpaced inflation…and what can be done about it?
  • What industries will the capabilities of 3D-printing disrupt first?
  • When will we have a tiny battery that lasts?
  • Can we develop a solution for non-invasive blood sugar level testing?
  • What are the solutions for childcare and dual income, full-time working parents?


Are you feeling vulnerable in your sector? Are you equipped to make the requisite innovation and change to ensure your brand’s future relevance and success? Is it time to give your brand a health check to identify not only areas of strength and weakness but most importantly where the opportunities for potential innovation and growth exist.





If you want direction giving your brand a health check then take a look at our brand audit programme called the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™. This online course takes you through all the key steps you need to consider in giving your brand a health check. It enables you to identify areas of strength, weakness and pinpoint new opportunities for innovation and growth. You can watch a free course preview here.


Alternatively, if you want in-person professional direction with experienced expertise or would like us to conduct your brand audit for you and would like to discuss the process and working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours 9:00-17:00). We’d be delighted to talk with you.




Brand Audit Health Check

Audit your brand now so you can identify where to innovate and ensure your brand is not disrupted!



So the questions in 2017 are;

  • What industries need a top-to-bottom brand shakeup?
  • What markets are ripe for brand disruption?
  • What big problems are waiting to be solved?
  • Where are the opportunities to fix what’s broken?
  • Can you identify opportunities in your niche or in your community?
  • Is it time to leverage a brand audit to help you identify strengths, weaknesses and areas for innovation and growth?












[10] Ibid.


[12] ibid.


7 Ways A Brand Refresh Will Make You More Productive And Increase Sales

It’s often human nature to resist change because persisting with the comfortingly familiar feels ‘safer’. Sadly the marketplace is littered with case studies and examples of once very successful brands now gone forever, often because their leaders didn’t implement the critical changes needed, together with a brand refresh, that were essential to ensuring a successful future.


“A Business That Doesn’t Change

Is A Business That Is

Going To Die”

Frank Perdue


The most recent example of this kind of demise is Stuttafords, a 159-year icon leading department store in South Africa, which will permanently close its doors at the end of July 2017.[1]


Another example is Sears, America’s previously largest retailer. It was a mistake their leaders made to assume no one could overtake them, and yet both Walmart and Amazon have. Sears failed to adapt and as a result, in June 2017, closed yet another 72 stores.[2]


Related: How Do Challenger Brands Become Market Leaders?


Both Stuttafords and Sears could still be flourishing today if they had been more open to real change and the sad fact is, to quote Buckminster Fuller, “You never change things by fighting reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” so a well-timed brand refresh underpinned by a thorough brand audit could have resulted in a very different story for both.


In this article, we’ll uncover the 7 ways a brand refresh could have prevented the downfall of some of the world’s greatest companies, to make them more productive so they could have maintained and increased their sales.


What Is The Meaning Of “Brand Refresh”?

A brand refresh means giving your core proposition a health check, using a brand audit, to identify where weaknesses, strengths and opportunities for innovation exist.


The findings can change the very foundation of a business, indeed the whole business model. It may have kept Sears, once the largest American retailer, and the doors of Stuttafords open.





For example, a brand refresh may mean a change in communication emphasis internally and externally, or a change in operations or perhaps an aspect of the brand story needs leveraging differently or the development of a whole new product or service is required to add a new revenue stream and meet customers’ needs. It may be that the company’s messaging, language and copywriting needs re-evaluation because it’s no longer relevant or appropriate to where the market has moved.


Related: Rebrand or Refresh? That is the Question


Refreshing your brand may even require a change at the very core of the business and what it stands for, and how that manifests in the organisation’s culture. What’s often misunderstood by many is thinking that a “brand refresh” entails cosmetic changes in the form of design only — that is a big mistake!


Changes such as design, video, photography, fonts, colour palettes and so forth should only be instigated as a result of much deeper strategic input where the brand has been fully evaluated, re-codified and mapped out for current and future market relevance.





In fact, nothing in the visual aspect of a brand should be touched or given a visual refresh until the strategic rationale behind that change has been fully developed in depth because it’s the outputs from that process that informs and provides much-needed direction for a design change.



Approaching your brand refresh in this way ensures a successful result and strong return on investment while also avoiding decisions based on uninformed subjective preferences.


Zopa Brand Refresh

Image via Zopa


Zopa, a UK based company founded in 2004 and consisting of approximately 200 staff members, was the first peer to peer lending company, and provides clarity on what “brand refresh” entails:




Related: The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands

Read more

From Zero to Hero: How to Become a Must-Have Brand

Apple did it. Starbucks did it, too. And so did Barbie dolls by Mattel. If you’re wondering how these items scaled from new idea to nice-to-have to must-have hero brands, let Steve Jobs explain: “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.”[1]





Is it really as easy as the Apple genius makes it sound for a brand to carve out its space as a necessity in the consumer’s mind? As we can see, there is no prescribed area for items such as smartphones, lattes, and plastic fashion dolls in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as described in “A Theory of Human Motivation.”[2]


Image via Wikipedia


Are there any guideposts along the way for a brand to follow on its journey to must-have hero brand status? What steps can a brand take to go in the right direction?


Strategic Brand Foundations for Hero Brands

Of course, every business has some sort of a brand, good or bad, whether it’s generically commoditized and barely surviving or a profit powerhouse hero brand. Branding is not just for global giants. It’s equally important for local enterprises, too. Although resources may be thinner on the ground, the business of creating a successful brand cannot be over emphasised and it’s doable even on more modest budgets. But it does take time, consistent application, expertise, and experience.





Before taking that very first step, several strong, well-thought out, basic brand foundations must be in place:

  • Your Brand Values
  • Your Brand Purpose
  • Your Brand Positioning
  • Your Brand Promise
  • Your Brand Personality
  • Your Brand Delivery Experience


When these branding essentials are lacking, it’s rather like going on a road trip without a map…and a leaky petrol tank as well. Got it? Let’s get the car started.





6 Steps To Go from Zero to Hero Brand


  1. Create a Brand with Differentiation


Step One: Start your engines! Building a brand that has the X factor — something unique — is like putting the key in the ignition. In order to start the engine, you need to set your brand apart in some way that provides a benefit to the potential customer. Otherwise, there’s simply no spark.


One or more points of brand differentiation can revolve around the product, design, price point, distribution, social conscience, even its compelling brand story. In a small-to-medium sized business, brand differentiation is even more important, as without it there’s no chance to be noticed on a larger playing field.


Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 1 of 2)


Once you’ve set your brand apart, its personality can shine through. If your brand is lacking in personality, a brand audit is a business tool that will enable you to bring it sharply into focus because it is a process that identifies areas of strength, weakness and opportunities for innovation and growth. You can give your brand a health check using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ system. Find our more about it here.


Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits


For examples, think of the automobile makes and models you love best. Whether sporty, racy, or utilitarian, a car choice oozes in personality that in turn, reflects on its owner. All brands have the capacity to achieve this as succinctly as seen here:


Images via Pinterest,, abcnews



  1. Define Your Core Brand Values

Step Two: You’re in the driver’s seat. To decide which way you’re going to steer, determine what core values your hero brand stands for. Your brand’s core values are unwavering, fundamental beliefs reflected in your mission, management, employees, practices, and customer relations.


Embrace your brand’s True North with a well-defined set of values that can actually increase the value of your brand. Compare no name jeans to a designer label (a label which cannot always be seen) and determine what accounts for the difference. Whether pricey or a bargain basement deal, a good brand projects the same thing: that it creates more value than it costs.



Example: Glamour Closet is a small retail business with one shop in each of four major US cities. They stock nearly new showroom, runway, overstock, and sample designer name bridal gowns at 35 to 75 percent lower than retail, because every bride wants the best, but not every bride has the budget. Unlike most showrooms from which these high-end gowns are sourced, no appointment is necessary and photos are permitted, adding to Glamour Closet’s differentiation.


Image via Glamour Closet


The family-run business has a tagline: “Quality. Trust. Community.” They have a strong CSR strategy where a portion of profits are donated to foundations dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s, arising from the owner’s personal family story touched by this disease.[3]


Related: Brand CSR, The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good


  1. Build a Brand Promise

Step Three: Commit to a path. Create your brand promise and live it every day. In return, your employees will deliver on it.

Example: The City of Rancho Cordova, California has 69 employees, which it runs like a small business. Every other week, staff get to present suggestions for new programs and improved processes to a five-member advisory team in the “office of new ideas.” Brainstorming sessions select the best ideas for implementation involving the employees.


Related: Brand Promises, How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success


Twice a week, lunchtime in the gym is extended by 30 minutes for well-being exercise sessions with colleagues. A tablet is offered to any employee demonstrating three ways that using one can increase his/her productivity, including flexihours. The Employee Activities Team helps coordinate numerous 40-plus charitable events throughout the year.


Rancho Cordova promises to the community of 65,000 and its employees that public service doesn’t have to mean sacrificing best practices and innovative culture of private enterprise. The local government attracts an average of 140 applicants per job.[4]


Images via Rancho Cordova


  1. Deliver Your Brand Experience


Step Four: Get to know your passengers. Small business owners realise that connection is critical because the customer experience is paramount to maintaining, nurturing, and growing the brand. Gary Erickson, CEO of Clif Bar & Co. exemplifies zero-to-hero in turning his homemade energy bar into a $100 million phenomenon with an emphasis on outdoor adventures.



Family and employee-owned, this has become one of America’s fastest-growing private companies with an estimated 35 million customers. These customers feel good about buying into the Clif Bar sustainability mission, “Think Like a Tree.”[5]


Related: Family Business Branding and The Secret Drivers to Brand Success


In his book, “Raising the Bar,” Erickson gives the reader compelling personal stories about trekking in the Himalayas, climbing in the Sierra Nevadas, and biking through Europe as inspiration for his philosophy of business: honesty, humour, and integrity. He aims to convince readers that supporting employees in their work, goals, and endeavours has a positive knock-on effect for the community and the environment.





Image via Clifbar



Happy employees are happy to keep your brand promise to your customers by wanting to deliver it, says Erickson.


  1. Identify Your Brand Touchpoints


Step Five: Use your front, side and rear view mirrors. Successful brands don’t overlook any “moment of truth” as seen through the eyes of the customer. The goal? “To create a highly adaptive customer experience that consistently delivers an extraordinary experience for the customer,” says one chief strategy officer.[6]


Related: Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them


Example: In Nottingham, UK, the Restaurant Sat Bains With Rooms is independent, chef-owned, and completely different. In an unglamorous location near a motorway flyover, Chef Sat has managed to create a brand that is considered one of the world’s most innovative, earning him two Michelin stars. Only 7- and 10-course dinners are served, with specially designed tabletop cutlery holders so guests are not interrupted with constant silverware replacement by servers. And, because diners travel for the experience, eight deluxe guest bedrooms are situated on the premises.





This infographic map demonstrates chef’s understanding that the guest journey begins with touch points beyond food and drink, such as the reservation and the car park.


Image via


Image via



  1. Strategize Your Brand Communications

Step Six: Keep your eyes on the road. When your external and internal brand communications are consistent across all media, properly planned and executed, there’s no need to text and drive.





Your brand tone-of-voice is authentic and humanised, it speaks to your target audience, it represents the brand personality and connects customers to your brand, successfully creating the reaction you’re looking for.


Related: How to Develop Your Brand Tone of Voice to Increase Sales

Example: In Seattle, home of the famous Pike Market with its iconic sign and fishmongers known for tossing fish to one another across their stalls, Virgin America got their message across on social media using humour. Here’s how they let customers know that they can expect power outlets at each seat on the airline.


Related: Brand Strategy, 6 Tips for Building Your Proft Growth Plan




How do small companies get big? As an SME / SMB, business owners can stay nimble, exercising a greater ability to manoeuvre twists and turns on the road to successful brand growth. With timely MOTs or NCTs (that’s an annual vehicle checkup for our American friends) from branding professionals in the form of a brand audit health check, the brand you’re driving can make it successfully across the finish line first, and consistently stay ahead of the competition.


Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales


Image via Twitter



And the good news, if you want to get your brand roadmap on track …we’re here to help!


If you want direction and support transforming your brand so it fully embraces changing trends and increases sales then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you.

This is a two-day brand building intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers where you work on your brand with our leadership. In fact, over the two days, you re-evaluate your brand, codify it and create your brand strategy from the ground up whether you’re revitalising an existing brand or creating a new one.

At the end of the two-day Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind you leave with your fully documented brand strategy ready for implementation in your business or organisation.


If your team is larger and you’d like to include everyone’s’ participation in the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind then we also run in-house private client brand building intensive programmes too. Just drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT 9:00 – 17:00) to discuss your preferences and we’ll develop your brand building intensive bespoke to your particular brand requirements.




Alternatively, if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.


Want to do-it-yourself and build your own brand road map, then we also have a solution for you to with our online ‘How to Build a Brand’ eCourse called the Personality Profile Performer™ online programme which is also now part of ‘The Economist Group” platform. You can find out more here and you can watch a free course preview here.




Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Brand Growth and Success


1. Have I laid strong foundations in place for my brand?


2. Have I shared my brand values with all stakeholders, including employees?


3. Have I performed regular brand audits to ensure that I’ve not veered off course in my brand’s direction and objectives?


4. Alternatively, does that brand direction require a refresh, due to changed circumstances?


5. Have I reviewed my customer touch points and ensured these align with brand values at every intersection?


6. Have I developed an engaging personality for my brand and a consistent message with an appropriate tone of voice?






[1] Walter Isaacson, “Steve Jobs,” Simon & Schuster, 2011






Personal Branding: We Are All CEOs (Part 2)

In the second of a two-part post, we take a look at identifying your personal brand and maintaining it…and why personal branding no longer important just for celebrities or VIPs anymore.


To reinforce the message of this article Part 1, we reiterate: Everyone has a personal brand, whether they like it or not. To get the right personal brand so you can;

  • Align yourself more effectively with your corporate brand
  • Leverage yourself as an industry leader
  • Mitigate risk in your business
  • Get paid what you deserve!
  • Manage your reputation
  • Accelerate your career
  • Get headhunted

you must map it out, create it to your liking, develop it and then nurture it.


Personal Branding – When the Brand is You



When Does Personal Branding Begin?

Good question. Actually, you’re never too young to begin personal branding. In our example from Part 1 of this article, we introduced Ryan. Ryan is 5 years old, has nearly 8 million subscribers, is the top money maker on YouTube, and is currently attracting more than $1 million per month from advertisers on his channel, Ryan ToysReview.


Image via Ryan’s Toy Review – YouTube


Fair enough, Ryan has built spectacular audience numbers for his personal brand over a two year period. Having said that, it does mean he got started at age 3!


Related: Personal Branding: We Are All CEOs (Part 1)


Some of the biggest YouTube celebrities are super young and successful. If you’re fine with being just a little bit jealous, check out these 13 pint-sized millionaires covered in a 2014 feature in Business Insider.[1]


ZayZay and Jojo, 5 and 7, are huge on YouTube with millions of subscribers and views of their videos


However, personal branding isn’t just about one’s social media presence and a sales channel. So many early life choices about ourselves — our preferences in clothing, grooming, friendship circles, sports, hobbies — are actually branding at work as we mature and learn about ourselves.


In his TEDx talk at the University of California at Berkeley, Tai Tran talks about his personal journey from “zero to infinity.” Born in Vietnam to street vendors, new to the USA at age 6, he explains the why of building a personal brand — that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know by growing your network — and how to achieve your goals.





School Leavers Personal Branding: Your Personal Statement, Your CV, Your Network

In our final year of secondary school, we’re made keenly aware that a whole new world awaits. Whether it’s crafting a personal statement for a university application or writing a CV for employment or volunteerism, we are already putting a stamp on a personal brand.

A network of peers and mentors further defines your personal brand. By the time you’re preparing to leave school, you are expected to have gathered some reliable references who are happy to testify to that unique brand which is you.


Finding the Personal Brand at Your Core 

Two popular 20th-century theories, Myers-Briggs and The Colour Code, both related to personality types have been widely embraced by individuals, educational concerns, and employers for several decades. There’s still some relevance in both these last century approaches so these exercises may help you determine your personal brand.


Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits



Introduced in 1962, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® identifies and describes 16 distinctive personality types based on preferences posed by 93 questions such as these.[2]


Image via


Personality type combinations derive from your tendencies, as follows.


Favourite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).


Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).


Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).


Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).


These possible personality type combinations derive from your gut-reaction answers:[3] When you decide on your preference in each question, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed in four letters.



Back in 1987, Dr. Taylor Hartman created The Colour Code Personality Profile,[4] based on the principle of four key personalities, which he then organised into colour groups for ease of identification.


  • REDS

Need to look good technically, be right, and be respected. They are strong leaders and love challenges.



Need to have integrity and be appreciated. They are focused on quality and creating strong relationships.



Need to be accepted and treated with kindness. They are logical, objective, and tolerant of others.



Need to be noticed and have fun. They love life, social connections, and being positive and spontaneous.




Reds are motivated by power. They are decisive and assertive. They’re planners. Problem solvers, adventurous and restless, planning for what’s going to be happening in the future. They are also great at solving problems and fixing situations. Reds are natural born leaders.


> Examples: Mark Zuckerberg, Angelina Jolie, Lebron James






Blues are driven by connecting and building relationships. They can be rather controlling in wishing to ensure everyone else is connected also, creating a potential clash with reds who don’t want to be controlled. Blues are people pleasers who can take critical feedback if it means being a more likable person. Blues are loyal; they remember names, dates and events.


> Examples: Oprah Winfrey, Mel Gibson in “Braveheart,” Forrest Gump character






People whose core colour is white are driven by peace – they really just want to get along but are often misunderstood. They are logical, passive, accepting, truthful, and tolerant. They may need to be asked for an opinion think and will frequently come up with amazing ideas when prodded a bit. Whites can are happy to work independently and avoid confrontations.


> Examples: John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.





Yellows are the fun lovers, optimistic, spontaneous social butterflies. They’re carefree and enjoying the moment. Yellows let baggage go, they can easily erase things and move on. They are very curious people, like to learn new things and ask a lot of questions. Yellow have magnetic charisma.


> Examples: Ellen deGeneres, Will Smith, the Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin”




Dr. Hartman’s theory is supported by a 45-question free quiz, found here, intended to help you identify your personal brand.

Different Types of Offline Personal Brands

Your personal branding begins with your name. Although choosing your birth name wasn’t your decision, so much of your personal brand — how you appear to the world — is completely within your control.


These are a few examples of highly effective “types” you may model yourself on.[5] You may encompass one or more of them…indeed, the rare individual has something from all of these types.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”


  1. Youthful Excitement: You are daring, spirited, imaginative and up-to-date
  2. Authenticity: You are honest, genuine and cheerful
  3. Confident: You are tough, strong, outdoorsy and rugged
  4. Competence: You are reliable, responsible, dependable and efficient
  5. Elegant Sophistication: You are worldly, cultured, charming and glamorous
  6. Unique Persona: You are meticulous, independent, fearless and Persistent
  7. Zen Master: You are conscientious, observant, intelligent and humble





Different Types of Online Personal Brands

Faced with the prospect of online personal branding, some people protest, “Hey, I’m just a regular person!” No worries, that’s a type of personal brand, too.


Still, others say, “I don’t go online that much.” Neither good nor bad, such a behavioural choice also reflects your personal brand, frankly.

Take a look at these seven basic types of online personal brand[6] to determine where you fit.


1. The Content Creator

You’ve got talent. Whether your platform is YouTube, Instagram, Medium, your own blog or something else, you are known for producing terrific original content.


2. The Curator

Just like a museum curator, you assemble a collection of interesting stuff and share it widely. People follow you because you’ve got your finger on the pulse, even if you’re not the creator.


3. The Journalist

You can analyse and interpret without passing judgement. You’re part content creator and part content curator. You provide fact-based commentary and are a reliable voice; a go-to news source for your market or niche.


4. The Instigator / Critic

You play devil’s advocate and raise questions when other people don’t think to consider an alternative angle. You’re able to spark meaningful debate in your industry.


5. The Case Study

You’re the first to try things, an early adopter. People come to you as a good source to find out what works, what doesn’t, and why because they figure you’ve tested it.


6. The “Regular Person”

You let your personality shine through and it comes across as likable, genuine and authentic, even if you don’t consider your extraordinary in any particular field. Your brand is entirely built off you just being you.


7. The Industry Expert

You know your stuff inside and out. You’re widely considered a true professional in your niche and people turn to you for top notch advice.





Big or Small, Personal Brands Benefit From Care and Attention

Sure, life throws curve balls. But at the end of the day, you are the one responsible for making or breaking your own personal brand. No fabulous trophies or championship prize monies can do that on your behalf.


Related: Brand Sponsorships: The Best Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll


Tiger Woods: One of the world’s most successful golfers, a highly paid athlete and brand ambassador, has seen his brand fizzle under his own stewardship.





Related: Brand Crisis – How to Manage, Survive and Thrive


Case Study: Executive Chef Matthew Dolan

Executive Chef Matthew Dolan started working in kitchens as a dishwasher and a fry cook at age 14. In June 2016, his own top-class restaurant, 25 Lusk, was selected to host President Obama for a business leaders dinner in San Francisco.


Although Dolan humbly says, “I am a cook,” there’s a great deal more to it. Watch as Chef Dolan mentors Thunder, a former criminal, as a chef-in-training apprentice, changing the young man’s life in the process. The astute viewer observes that two personal brands are being shaped here.


Executive Chef Matthew Dolan and Thunder via



Maintaining Your Personal Brand

It’s instilled in us from an early age that first impressions count and that we must maintain a good reputation. This applies to both online and offline interactions. Your personal brand is defined by your reputation, including other people’s perceptions of you, in everything you do, everyone you meet, everywhere to go.


If you want some direction mapping our your personal brand then take a look at our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. This online course takes you through all the key steps you need to consider in building your brand. You can watch a free course preview here.



Alternatively, if you want in-person professional direction and expert consulting support to build your brand and would like to discuss working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours 9:00-17:00). We’d be delighted to talk with you.


Controlling your personal brand must include awareness of your internet-based reputation. The management of your personal brand includes proper exposure across all internet “real estate.” Your professional website, social media profiles, photos, and published content should all reflect the brand promise you want to deliver.


Related: Brand Promises: How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success


Top 7 Tips for Developing and Maintaining Your Personal Brand

Fundamental to the process is your decision about exactly how you want to manage your social media outlets. Do you prefer to isolate Facebook for purely social reasons and use LinkedIn for your professional life? What about Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and more?


  1. Photo: Ditch the sunglasses. Don’t use blurry images. Invest in a headshot that’s professional enough for your website and for LinkedIn A more relaxed profile image is appropriate for Facebook and other social media platforms whereas LinkedIn requires a more professional and groomed image — ladies don’t wear off-the-shoulder numbers on LinkedIn because it looks like you’re naked (unless that’s congruent with your personal and professional brand!) Pay attention to cover photo choices as well.
  2. Profile: Craft an elevator pitch. Make it brief enough for Twitter or for shaking hands in person when you’re asked: “What do you do?” It is intended to support your personal brand and strengthen your brand recognition. Write a succinct and compelling personal biography.
  3. Position: State your position. Reflect a personal brand philosophy that’s well defined and consistent in every piece of content that appears in connection with your name.
  4. Website: Build a quality website. It’s one of the first places you’ll be discovered online. Keep it vibrant, up-to-date, interesting and a positive reflection of your personal brand.
  5. Business cards: Ensure it’s consistent in messaging, language and design style with your other online assets, both social media profiles and website. Offer yours. It goes with a handshake, smile, and a look in the eyes. Even in the digital age, people still use business cards and yours should reflect your personal brand. It’s worth the extra effort and shows considered thought and preparation.
  6. Privacy: Stay secure. Double check your privacy settings on all platforms. The default may be to share with everyone, including those you are not connected with, and this may not be your preference. Best advice: Don’t post anything you’ll regret, especially as online privacy settings are frequently changing and old posts aren’t easy to cleanse.
  7. Network: Don’t hide. Make valuable connections. Join groups online and offline that reflect your interests and provide the right opportunities for supporting your personal brand and making connections within your niche.


Related: CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth


Question to consider…

Is your personal brand the best it can be? Ask yourself the following six questions so you can evaluate, identify, develop and maintain your personal brand more effectively:

  1. If your personal brand isn’t altogether clear to you, how can you make it clear to others?
  2. How could you benefit from assistance in creating a personal brand?
  3. Is your personal brand consistent across all platforms, both online and offline?
  4. Have you set objectives for your personal brand?
  5. How confident are you that your personal brand will achieve its objectives?
  6. Does your personal brand need a health check?





[3] MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®




Brand Strategy: 6 Tips for Building Your Profit Growth Plan

Up until the 1980’s, Sears dominated the retail niche with its brand strategy. And then Sears was annihilated by Amazon; reduced to a home and appliance goods market, its former splendour in ruins.[1]


Today, in just about every industry, competition is fierce with new challengers and disruptors changing the status quo in every sector.


To ensure survival, leaders of businesses must see tomorrow and infuse (and re-infuse) their brands with an evolving vision which is developed through brand strategy.


Today, this is even more critical when you consider the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has declined from around 75 years half a century ago to less than 15 years today…and it’s declining all the time.


So the question is, can you clearly articulate;
• what your brand stands for
• what makes you different to your competitors and
• how you dominate (or plan to dominate) your sector


Your brand strategy is the foundation to your business success. It goes hand-in-hand with, and informs your overall business strategy so it pays to give it the attention it deserves because you can’t fully achieve your growth plan without a strong brand strategy.


Related: How Do Challenger Brands Become Market Leaders?


Here we share with you 6 tips for building a strong brand strategy to set you apart, and in front of your competitors, both now and into the future.


And unlike Sears, to keep you there.




6 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Strategy


1.   Make Brand Strategy The Foundation on Which Your Business is Built

Brand strategy should be the core driver of every business strategy, because it’s a long-term plan for business success and impacts every area of the business, from employee recruitment, marketing and sales, to competitor differentiation, consumer needs and nurturing customer emotional engagement.


Remember: People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards so you must win the heart first so you can move the mind to purchase.


It is the brand strategy that sets you apart from your competitors and determines the culture and value of your company.


Let’s take a look at Chubbies Shorts. On their website, they list their beliefs which drives everything they do and really showcases their brand personality and what they stand for:


Image via Chubbies


Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits


Essentially, the Chubbies Shorts[2] brand is a lifestyle, and all their marketing reflects that. For instance, their Facebook page is listed not as a business page, but as an entertainment page, and they fulfill that promise. Their page consists of user generated video clips about how their customers wear Chubbies Shorts, and funny videos Chubbies create for their followers.


Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales


Wildly popular, it’s no surprise they are currently sitting on a whopping 1,568,919 likes, with each post boasting anything from 1 – 23K views.


Image via Chubbies


Humorous entertainment drives the brand’s connection with its audience; have a look at the video clip about the unconventional Chubbies Shorts company.




The lesson? Chubbies Shorts would never be the trendy, fun brand they are if the founders did not use their brand strategy to underpin the business growth to success.


Your business can also become a beloved brand, no matter how lacklustre it might appear to be at present! Give it a growth boost now by using our online brand building programme, the Personality Profile Performer™ course. This will empower you to build your brand so you so achieve your profit growth plan.


2.   Identify and Instill Your Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition is what separates your business from your competitors.


Unbounce defines it as, “a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.” And it does so in one concise sentence.


Typically, it’s the UVP that tells a visitor within seconds of arriving at one of your brand touchpoints, like your website, how your business can help him or her.


Nike’s mission statement[3], or UVP, is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Coca-Cola has seasonal campaigns, the latest being, “taste the feeling”[4]. Walmart’s is, “Save money. Live better.”[5]


An exceptional example of a UVP-driven company is Bombas[6], an e-commerce store that sells socks. For every pair of socks that’s sold, one pair is donated to a homeless shelter.


Image via Bombas


Added to that is the fact their socks are designed uniquely; they claim they are the most comfortable socks you’ll ever wear, and that they are made with technology that makes them a better sock for the lifestyle of the homeless.


Image via Bombas


Bombas was started to help homeless people. Their UVP is reflected in all the company does and their corporate social responsibility brand sits at the heart of their brand strategy.


What makes your company unique? How can you communicate the benefits of your brand within 8 seconds (using emotionally compelling language to drive home your message in a way your ideal customer finds really irresistible)?


Related: Brand CSR, The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good


3.   Understand Your Ideal Customers

Marketing endeavours will only ever be successful when they align with the interests and needs of your primary target customers.


It’s a mistake to market to everyone; it only wastes time and money because you can never solve everyone’s problems or provide a solution for everyone. Understanding your target customer, what they care about and building your brand strategy around them, is essential for your growth plan.


Take Pura Vida[7] who sell handmade bracelets made in Costa Rica. They have a rich understanding of their ideal ‘Purchaser Persona’ and have mastered the art of brand storytelling, establishing themselves as a beloved brand.[8] In fact it’s essential you learn how to inject your brand with purpose, meaning, stories and feelings so you can increase your sales.


In the example below, instead of an annoying website pop-up, they provide value to their visitors with a pretty pink spinning wheel – technically also a pop-up, but one which

  1. is attractive to women and
  2. provides value to the kind of person, their ‘Purchaser Persona’ that typically buys from them.


Their visitors are fully engaged and can hardly resist clicking on the “spin to win” wheel. When clicked, it spins and lands on one of the four options:

  • A free bracelet
  • 10% off purchases
  • 5% off purchases
  • Free shipping


Image via Pura Vida


The result?

24% submission rate and a 34.76% conversion rate lift.[9]


Every business has a minimum of between two to twenty different ‘Purchase Personas’ so it’s essential you identify and map out each of your different customer types because you need to understand your target audience, their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations intimately, in order to maximize your brand strategy growth results.


In fact, this exercise is one of the key elements in our ten-part brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. As you map out each of your different customer types using the ‘Purchaser Personas’ system, the outputs provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers on their terms so they find your message compelling — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business. You can watch a free course preview here.


Build Your Profitable Brand Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter


Alternatively if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.


4.   Define Your Story

Brand storytelling can be defined as the conscious and unconscious, verbal and nonverbal messages a brand tells its customers and prospects.


Now, every company that advertises or has a marketing strategy, is telling a story. Think of it this way: when you first make a new friend on Facebook, you might check out the person’s “about” tab, photos and news feed. By doing that, you’re building a picture of what’s important to your new buddy. Everything that person posts, tells a story about who they are and what they value.


Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 1 of 2)


In the same way, everything your business “puts out there”, is telling a story. The question is, has your ‘brand’ story been an accidental manifestation or is it a highly strategic narrative, authentic in quality and very customer focussed — memorable, emotionally compelling and referable.


Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 2 of 2)


Chase Bank went to great lengths not to leave their brand storytelling to chance. Stacey Warwick, Head of Brand Innovation at JPMorgan Chase, says that the company believes, “content humanizes financial brands and builds relatability”. They aim to provide helpful content that empowers their clients.


Their website is proof that they’re not just another bank; it includes value-added content, as per their brand strategy:


Image via Chase Bank



Following the aim of their brand story, care for their clients is evident on their Facebook page which consistently provides relevant information to their target audience:



It’s clear that Chase Bank has a defined story that is well executed throughout their brand strategy.


Here are five more fantastic examples of brand storytelling.


Related: What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns


5.   Conduct Competitor Research

Your competitors serve as a meaningful resource to find out what’s working, what’s not, and may provide inspiration for doing things differently for your new brand strategy growth plan.


Let’s say you wanted to start a coffee shop. If you were smart, you’d do your competitor research first, perhaps first learning about the most popular coffee shop brand in the world: Starbucks. You’d recognize that with more than 18784 locations worldwide, they’ve grown substantially since 1971 when they opened their first store, and analyzing how they do things may help you with your strategizing.


In this video[10], a marketing analysis of the Starbucks brand is conducted by James Molnar, who discusses some of the things which are useful to know if you’re considering building or refreshing a consumer brand. The principles discussed are broadly applicable to many scenarios requiring competitor evaluation.




Some of the major benefits of competitor research for your brand strategy are as follows:

  • An enhanced understanding of your target audience
  • Evaluating what competitors are offering
  • Keeping track of competitors’ price points and positioning
  • Ways of finding new customers


It doesn’t need to be complex; there are many competitor research online tools to assist.


6.   Prioritize Internal Branding

Research from Deloitte[11] has proven that “mission-driven”, employee centric, brand driven companies are more innovative, have lower staff turnover, and they tend to be first or second in their industry.


Related: CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth


Internal branding means that the company has a brand strategy to attract and retain the “right fit” employee, in order to maximize return on investment. Hiring and keeping the right staff leads to a more productive workforce, competitive differentiation, innovation and decreased staff turnover. The right staff will show high commitment levels, deliver better quality work in less time, and become influential brand advocates online and offline.


Related: Brand Sponsorships, The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll


Think Google. Google attracts the very best people, because of their culture-by-design. If you’ve ever watched, “The Internship”, you’ll know what I mean.


Better than attempting to explain “Googliness” to you, watch this video[12] on the Google culture:



You don’t need to be a multi-billion dollar company to work on your own particular “Googliness”; but certainly start by creating an internal branding strategy. Then roll it out to your entire company, so that you can attract and retain the right people who will accomplish your business goals. You may find it helpful to use one of our bespoke brand building workshops to help you develop your strategy effectively. Feel free to drop us a line to [email protected] or ring us at +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours) if you’d like to know more. We’d be delighted to help.



Your brand strategy is the foundation to your business success. It goes hand-in-hand with, and informs your overall business strategy so give it the attention it deserves because you can’t fully achieve your growth plan without a strong brand strategy.


  1. Your Unique Value Proposition is what separates your business from the next. It’s what makes your brand stand out and differentiates you from your competition. Adding your UVP to the most visible part of all your key touch points, like your website, communicates the benefits of your business to your ideal visitors fast.
  2. A deep knowledge of your target audience should determine every brand strategy. No marketing strategy can succeed without it so map out your Purchaser Persona for each of your different customer types so you can build your brand to attract them and really meet their needs.
  3. Your brand story needs to be memorable, referable, worth talking about so don’t leave it to chance or worse still something mis-representative. Build your compelling brand story and make it central to everything you do so it’s used to grow your business and attract your ideal customers



  1. Assumptions are dangerous and competitor research is essential because it gives you a better understanding of your target audience, and is a powerful source of innovation. Consider a brand audit, it’s an essential brand management tool for every organisation, even with limited resources a lot can be uncovered which is invaluable and critical to your success.


Start auditing your brand here


  1. Strong employer branded companies do better than those who do not. That is you need to ensure your internal team are informed, regularly trained and indoctrinated into your brand philosophy. How you present your brand to your internal team, staff and stakeholders alike is just as important as how you present it to customers. In fact your team can’t sell or represent your brand successfully unless they are fully informed and aligned with the external market so your internal branding strategy needs to be planned and rolled out across your organization in order for your business to be successful.


Questions to consider…

  • Does your company have a Unique Value Proposition?
  • Does your brand message communicate within seconds, to your target audience, exactly how you solve their problems or have a solution which is a perfect fit for their needs?
  • Have you mapped out all your Purchaser Personas?
  • What message does your brand send out to prospects? Is it consistent across all touchpoints?
  • Do you know your competitors and what they’re doing well or badly as the case may be? What can you do differently and a lot better?
  • Are your employees highly engaged with your brand? How have you evaluated their level of engagement? When did you last get their feedback? Do you have an indiscriminate system, formally or informally, within your organisation that empowers your team to share their thoughts, feedback and suggestions?
















CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth

In shaping a brand, CEO brand leadership plays a critical role as the visionary behind the brand. Leaders with vision are aspirational; they stretch the imagination and they look to the future. They understand that a vision is not just a statement; it’s a process. It’s alive. It changes as the world presents new opportunities. True leaders embody and define a brand vision and culture, which must be shared and cultivated to exist.


It’s worthwhile examining lessons from three of the most influential, visionary, and successful CEOs of our times:

  • Jeff Bezos continues to break records leading the fastest-growing company in world history.


Image via Amazon


  • Steve Jobs developed the first personal computer and laid the foundation for the world’s highest-valued company.


Image via Apple



  • Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest individual, built the world’s first software company and is now running the world’s largest private charitable foundation.[1]



Image via Microsoft



Not all visionary CEOs are corporate giants, of course. Sectors such as nonprofits, services, and even political parties also require leaders with exemplary vision. And it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs and startups to be guided by a founder whose passion results from personal experience that is shaped into a brand vision.


Related: CEO Brand Leadership – How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?


Visionary Branding: CEO Brand Leadership Must See Tomorrow


Regardless, in all cases it is the CEO’s responsibility to own the vision, to effectively communicate the vision, to provide the resources to deliver the vision, to authentically support the vision, to engage in dialogue with stakeholders, and to continually refresh and drive the brand vision.


Branding that reflects a vision is key to a company’s long-term survival and market leadership and success. It may be time for you shape your brand strategy to rebrand, refresh or relaunch. Talk to us about taking the next step to re-shape your vision and align your branding to ensure its long term health and growth.



Related: A Rebranding Strategy Guide for Brand Owners and Managers



Strong Brand Culture: Shaped by The CEO’s Brand Leadership Vision

It’s well known in Silicon Valley circles that in the months leading up to Facebook’s IPO in 2012, a slogan was painted on the wall at headquarters proclaiming, “Done is better than perfect.” That underscores the company culture in a brand that didn’t exist before 2004. Now Facebook has over 1.86 billion monthly active users run by a 32-year-old founder and CEO who ranks as the world’s fifth wealthiest individual.[2]


Related: 10 Branding Tips From Silicon Valley on How to be a Successful Startup Brand



Image via CNBC


“When we first launched we were hoping for maybe 400 or 500 people…so who knows where we’re going next?” a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg told CNBC about his new college social networking site that had achieved 100,000 users in 2004. “Maybe we can make something cool.”


While the words “company culture” are bandied about quite a bit, one Melbourne-based international consultant cuts through the jargon to explain the concept succinctly. “For example, if it is 5 o’clock and you are walking out the door and the phone rings – if you care about the goals of the business you will pick up that call.”[3]


That level of employee care, explains Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp, has its roots in the leadership. While the CEO cannot sit in on every meeting, corporate culture is intrinsically linked to leadership and trust.


Companies and workers either have it or they don’t, says Elzinga, after studying 600 firms representing more than two million employees.

Ultimately, successful leaders shape their company culture, they do not allow the company to shape their vision. Modern business analyses indicate that “the way things work around here” is driven day-to-day from the top, deeply embedded in processes, reward systems, and behaviors.[4]


Related: What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand and How do You Create One?


As a case in point, we only need to look to the headlines following events of April 2017, when United Airlines’ CEO made a reportedly bad situation infinitely worse by publicly doubling down on company culture, citing terms and conditions instead of responding with sincere apologies. “I’ve learned,” says Oscar Munoz, about what he refers to as his “shame and embarrassment.”





Brand Survival: CEOs Must Keep the Ship Afloat


In the influential bestseller, “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail,” author Clayton M. Christensen noted that companies must consistently disrupt their existing product lineup with “the next new thing” in each of the categories in which they compete.[5]



Related: The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands



To ensure survival, a CEO must see tomorrow and infuse (and re-infuse) the brand with an evolving vision. Today, this is even more critical than when Christensen’s book was first published in 1997. Astonishingly, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has declined from around 75 years half a century ago to less than 15 years today…and it is declining all the time.[6]




Brand Vision: When the CEO is Customer-Centric


Amazon, Apple, Microsoft: Dedication to a superior customer experience is the thread shared by extraordinary leaders like Jobs, Bezos, and Gates.


Jeff Bezos founded to be the “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.” When in 2005, CustomerThink awarded the internet giant with a customer-centric leadership award, Amazon responded with, “It is simply in our DNA to approach our business by starting with the customer and working backward, and for the past 10 years we have stayed laser-focused on this core principle.”[7]


Bezos says you can have one of 4 primary business focuses:
1. Competitor focus
2. Product focus
3. Business model focus
4. Customer focus


In Bezos’ view, constant customer focus yields the best returns and it’s fundamental to his brand vision and the whole Amazon brand culture. Because customers are endlessly dissatisfied, a company that obsesses about its customers happiness is constantly lifting the bar on the quality of the experience and inventing new ways to please. Together, these actions lead to superior results.


Image via


Early Amazon employees could tell you about the empty chair at the conference table, placed there to represent the customer, “the most important person in the room,” according to Bezos. “The thing that connects everything that Amazon does is customer obsession,” Bezos explained in a 2016 interview,[8] recalling that Amazon used to only sell books and he drove the packages to the post office himself. With a net wealth of $75.6 billion, he may have a point.



Related: Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them



On his return to Apple 12 years after being fired, speaking at a Worldwide Developers Conference in 1997, Steve Jobs defined what he called “the right path” for his strategy and vision. “What incredible benefits can we bring to the customer? Where can we take the customer? It’s not starting with let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and then how can we market that.”[9]


Image via Wikimedia Commons


Throughout his lifetime, this customer-centric approach remained at the heart of Jobs’ laser focus on every detail, in all the touchpoints and design elements of Apple’s products, including even internal ones that cannot be seen.


Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (David Geller, flickr 2.0)


Bill Gates on Steve Jobs, “He knew about brand in a very positive sense; he had an intuitive sense for marketing that was amazing.”[10]


And while happy customers are the goal, Bill Gates has commented on his own leadership at Microsoft, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”[11]




Brand Success: CEO Brand Leadership Vision For an SME


The most important CEO function in a small-to-medium sized business is setting strategy and vision says Rushika Bhatia, Editor of SME Advisor magazine. “Lots of people can help the senior management team develop strategy. Lots more – including the investors and shareholders – can approve a business plan. Yet the actual direction, destination and market positioning can only be set by one person: the CEO.”[12]





In Silicon Valley, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz is a startup expert who echoes this view. “The story of the company goes beyond quarterly or annual goals and gets to the hardcore question of why? Why should I join this company? Why should I be excited to work here? Why should I buy your product? Why should I invest in the company? Why is the world better off as a result of this company’s existence? Some employees make products, some make sales; the CEO makes visionary decisions.”[13]


Due to the smaller size of a startup or SME, a CEO is closer to internal functions, all stakeholders, and ultimately, customer experiences. At small-to-medium sized businesses, leaders have greater opportunity for direct control of the organizational climate and brand culture, hence interaction for delivering the vision. CEO advocates of the ‘customer first’ approach can directly influence that vision as the head of an SME.


If you want in-person professional direction to re-evaluate your brand or clarity on how to articulate what your brand stands for so you can sell more effectively and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.


Alternatively you can also build your brand yourself using our Personality Profile Performer™ programme so you can identify what makes it really different, distinctive and memorable to standout. This is a step-by-step brand building programme, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you build your brand. You can watch a section of the programme here.




Building a Brand From Scratch: An Innovative Ice Cream Story


In 2007, Robyn Sue FIsher had an MBA from Stanford University, no money, and a passion for ice cream. She started selling her Smitten Ice Cream brand on the streets of San Francisco from a Radio Flyer wagon to transport her innovative machinery.

As CEO, she now has three patents on a liquid nitrogen machine, 10 Smitten stores across California and 200 employees. The vision was to produce the best-tasting, wholesome, handmade ice cream from scratch, one scoop at a time, from all natural ingredients, using technology to get old-fashioned flavours.


Image via Smitten Ice Cream


In a podcast interview, Robyn says, “I get closer and closer to our amazing people as we grow. A lot of the things that make me sit behind a computer, which is not what I signed up for, can be handed off to people who can do them better than me so I can actually build our culture and be in charge of innovation. Growth enables me to shine and everyone else to take ownership and help steer the company.”[14]



Image via Smitten Ice Cream




Brand Loyalty and Longevity: A Natural Health and Wellness Story


Just one mile from Harvard Square, a husband-and-wife team started a natural health and wellness specialist store after graduating from college in 1974, and have been running Cambridge Naturals ever since. Co-founder Michael Kanter carries the title Chief Visionary Officer, embracing a belief “that strong employees are absolutely vital to a thriving business, and that improving our employees’ standard of living will in turn help our business to grow and prosper.” Leading by example, he has raised the business’ starting hourly pay to considerably above minimum wage plus 100% medical and dental benefits for full-time staff.[15]



Cambridge Naturals: Family business, Michael Kanter and Elizabeth Stagl with daughter Emily Kanter and son-in-law Caleb Dean



A founding member of Cambridge Local First, Michael has been actively involved in both federal and state campaigns to raise the minimum wage, hosting former Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez in 2014 for a local business roundtable on the impact of wages on employee and business health and success and writing about it for the U.S. Department of Labour Blog.[16]


Image via Cambridge Naturals


Michael’s vision extends to consulting for other natural products businesses and speaking at industry trade events about the rewards and the struggles of running a locally-owned, community-oriented business.


Cambridge Naturals: Company Outing




Ultimate Brand: When the CEO is the Brand


In a family business, a small-to-midsized business, a larger firm, or even an entire nation, a founder and/or CEO’s persona can permeate the brand. Such a personification of brand vision can resonate far more deeply than a logo ever will, a tagline, or an advertising campaign. And it can be kept alive through generations. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, about 90 percent of American businesses are family-owned or controlled.[17]


Related: Family Business Branding and The Secret Drivers to Brand Success


Personal infusion or identity crossover can generate iconic status for the brand. Well-known examples of founders and CEOs who have personally underscored brand strength include Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company, innovator Walt Disney of the Disney Company, and entrepreneur Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.


The strength of vision from these three futurist dreamers has changed the world. Listen to Walt Disney’s daughter on the emerging vision of her father from the drawing board to Disneyland theme parks for children of all ages.


Image via Walt Disney


Hear Sir Richard Branson connect the dots between airplanes and his vision for space travel by millions of earth dwellers.


Image via Virgin


An elected head of state is perhaps the best example to most starkly illustrate how a leader’s personal stamp critically shapes a brand, in this case, the brand of a country.


Related: What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns


Think of the president of the United States or the prime minister of the United Kingdom, for example, as a CEO. This individual embodies and defines the vision for the national brand — including its perception at home and globally — with massive implications based upon their own individual vision.


Image via Wikimedia Commons


When you realise that 60% of branding is about perception and only 40% about all the more tangible stuff, be that product or service, then the power of branding really hits home.





Are you a visionary CEO and have you considered?

  • Do you feel confident expressing your brand vision succinctly and authentically — what your brand stands for?
  • What are the leadership principles you most admire and who embodies them best?
  • Do you both ‘talk the talk’ and ‘walk the walk’ as the visionary behind your brand and the face of your brand?
  • How does your brand vision continually adapt to changing times?
  • How well do you communicate your brand vision to all stakeholders? Can you clearly articulate what makes your brand different compared to your competitors — in terms that are compelling to both customers and stakeholders alike.
  • Does your vision feel fresh and futuristic or is your brand ripe for a refresh?



If you need direction and support giving your brand a health check or brand revitalisation feel free to get in touch [email protected] or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours).


Alternatively you can also give your brand a health check yourself to identify its strengths, weakness and areas for potential innovation and growth using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme. This is a step-by-step walk through, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you audit your brand. You can watch a section of the programme here.


Start auditing your brand here




















Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

Sorting through all the noise we’re bombarded with in the digital era is certainly a challenge. It’s essential for a brand to avoid getting lost in the daily deluge as customers navigate information overload and a visual avalanche to focus on what’s most relevant. That’s where emotional connections come in, solving a digital age dilemma by using humour in branding as the delivery vehicle[1].




Strong content will stop consumers skipping adverts, according to a study conducted by Millward Brown as reported in Marketing Week[2], which reveals the top five reasons someone will watch. These are:

1) An advert is funny

2) It is for a category the recipient is interested in

3) There is a reward, such as coupon or points

4) The advert is for a brand the consumer is interested in

5) Something noteworthy happens in the first few seconds

Consumer research from Adobe and Edelman Berland indicates that humour is best for product recall according to 7 out of 10 respondents. [3]


Top Five Benefits of Emotionally Driven Humour in Branding


Research tells us that when customers feel a genuine emotional connection with a particular brand, they generate disproportionate value for that brand. Those who are ‘fully connected’ emotionally are 52% more valuable to brands than customers who are ‘highly satisfied’, reports Harvard Business Review. [4]


Five benefits of emotional branding, especially humour, are:

  1. Differentiation
  2. Storytelling
  3. Personalization
  4. Relationship
  5. Loyalty


Image via Harvard Business Review

1. Differentiation Through Humour in Branding

Of course, some brands have it easier by their very nature. But it isn’t necessary to be Disney or Ben & Jerry’s to find a deeply personal, possibly humourous, way to present for that all-important emotional bond. Indeed, it’s the all-important way that Disney can differentiate themselves from Universal Studios Hollywood or Legoland and Ben & Jerry’s can inform their strategic direction based on differences from the likes of Häagen Dazs. Humour also amplifies your brand’s personality, giving it more character and life which enables it to standout more strongly and consequently attract your ideal audience.


Read more about how to make your brand standout here: Personality Matters, Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits


2. Storytelling Through Humour in Branding

In the automobile world, for example, it could be a desire to appear flashy, a have a sense of freedom, or the express wish to transport the children safely. Alternatively, Volvo suggests it could be the wish to “Live Fully Now.” While this advertisement’s humour is not the belly laugh type, it’s impossible not to smile as Volvo holds up a mirror to tell the story of each of us (personalization is at work here, as well).


Watch as Volvo evolves from their earlier hard sell and deadly serious car crash commercials emphasizing their steel cage design, to now endeavouring to make a successful emotional connection in the 2017 video,” The Get Away Car,” imploring us to “Live Fully Now.”



Learn how to use storytelling to increase your sales here: Brand Stories, 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves


3. Personalization Through Humour in Branding

Nobody is better at personalization than Amazon, who are acutely aware of any product you search on the web, and quick to pass you pop-up banner ads and emails to let you know that they know. But small brands without the sophisticated big data collection of Amazon can accomplish personalization — with humour — as well.


Read more about delivering customer expectations here: Brand Promises, How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success


Victor Pest makes mousetraps and is a supplier of rodent control supplies — not very sexy as products go. A Victor rodent trap will never make an appropriate birthday or Valentine’s Day purchase, nor anybody’s Christmas wish list.


Image via Victor® Pest


They’ve used Twitter and Pinterest as channels for a humorous tone of voice directed at likely customer audiences: home builders, decorators, realtors, property management, home inspectors, exterminators, DIY shop owners, etc. The result goes way beyond what one might expect from a pest repellent company to create top-of-mind-awareness branding for an unsavoury problem.



Join our ‘How to Build Your Brand’ programme here



4. Relationship Building with Humour in Branding

“Hello, I’m a Mac. And I’m a PC” was aired by Apple from 2006 to 2009. What’s the key to this classic ad? Making your own brand the butt of the joke. When you give your brand a frivolous name (Ex: Macintosh, Dunkin’ Donuts, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter), it’s a head start.


Image via Apple


Building your customer relationships using other types of humorous treatment for your brand include:


  • Video commercial. Has there ever been a better example of that first 30-second Old Spice commercial featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”? The “wildly smug, cool-cat smooth dude persona” introduced in 2010 maintained eye contact with the camera throughout, creating a connection between audience and Old Spice Man, reaping awards and more than 53 million views by January, 2017.


Old Spice – we have used often, but here it is again because it’s one of the best!




  • Print ad. Proving that a picture is worth 1,000 words, Rowenta 2100 Watt Vacuum Cleaner does just that with one image. It connects perfectly with an outdoorsy audience who we imagine must be looking after heritage country estates that require lots of dust busting.



  • Jingle and lyrics. “The Meow Mix Theme” was created in 1970 and performed by a dubbed singing cat using subtitles and a bouncing ball on the lyrics. Simple and memorable, “Tastes so good, cats ask for it by name” is considered an advertising classic that cat owners adore.




Learn more about standing out here: How to Use Brand Positioning to Build Brand Impact in an Overcrowded Market


5. Loyalty Created Through Humour in Branding

No matter what size, service, or product, any business can find an emotional connection that creates brand loyalty. Add in a dash of humour for a winning formula with stickiness for loyalty.



Talk about loyalty…Some of the best-known advertising icons, Poppin’ Fresh Pillsbury Doughboy (1965) and the Morton Salt Girl (1914) are still hard at work through generations of loyal customers.



More than a century later, Morton’s girl is now seen on bus stop shelters to encouraging selfies.



Even a contemporary supply chain software called Kinaxis has found a path for humour, using actors as characters who display their benefits as a service (Simplicity, Flexibility, Easy Upgrades, etc.) in a dating series of videos; have a look.



High tech startup brands don’t expect decades of loyalty in a single ad campaign, but they are looking for swift and sticky traction — translated as loyalty in 21st century lingo.


“Customers define themselves through brands they use. The branded clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the drinks they consume, university they attended, favourite spots to hang out, and so on.”

– Nyimpini Mabunda, Smirnoff Vodka Marketing Manager: “Emotional Branding In a Changing Marketplace”.


Redefine Your Ideal Target Audiences

Remember, there’s a risk with being brilliantly clever and funny. That is, there’s nothing worse than humour that strikes out. To make sure you’re addressing the right humour to an audience to appreciate it, a brand audit is the best way to ensure that your branding reaches the right audience(s). It’s also important to ensure you have your ideal audience fully identified and mapped out in detail. Purchaser Personas or customer pen portraits are an essential tool to ensure you get this right.


“One of the major keys to a successful humorous campaign is variety, once a commercial starts to wear out there’s no saving it without some variation on the concept…while making the customer laugh, they have to keep things interesting, because old jokes die along with their products”.

– Mark Levit, Managing Partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and professor of marketing at New York University.


If you need direction and support giving your brand a health check feel free to get in touch [email protected] or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours). Alternatively you can also give your brand a health check yourself to identify its strengths, weakness and areas for potential innovation and growth using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme. This is a step-by-step walk through, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you audit your brand. You can watch a section of the programme here.


Give your brand a health check here so you become more profitable



Why Humour in Branding Works Best for Sharing and Word-of-Mouth

Your fans and followers on social media provide one of the best ways to get a targeted expanded audience, that is, their friends with look-alike habits, likes, tastes, budgets. When you deliver humorous content, you significantly increase the chances that your fans will share your message.[5]



Don’t Take Your Own Brand Too Seriously

In summary,

  1. Even mundane products like bathroom tissue, computer hardware, and home owners’ insurance can come to life through the use of humour.
  2. Bring a smile to their faces — it’s a small gift — it doesn’t have to be a huge guffaw.
  3. Aim for hearts over wallets, the heads will follow — remember you must move the heart first if you want to win the mind


“When a brand shows that it doesn’t always take itself too seriously, it’s a powerful way to demonstrate authenticity and confidence, as well as connect with your community.”

– Tim Washer, standup comedian, Webby-nominated video producer and corporate humorist; creator of Cisco’s “The Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day” video for the $80,000 ASR 9000 router.



Here’s one of our all-time favorites from Blendtec to inspire you to think outside the box when creating humorous content.



Questions for Brand Owners, Managers and Entrepreneurs About Using Humour in Branding


1. Does your brand lend itself to humour across customers, staff, and stakeholders?


2. How well do you know your customer base? When did you last conduct a brand audit of your customers?


3. Have you clearly identified your prime target audiences beyond your immediate base? Have you mapped out your different customer types with your Purchaser Personas™ so you can attract your ideal audience more effectively?


4. When was the last time you conducted a comprehensive health check of your brand?


5. Will a tasteful, humorous approach fit with your brand promise and your audience(s)?


Want to make your brand more successful or launch a new one? Find out how you can here.


Build your winning brand with The Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here








Family Business Branding and The Secret Drivers to Brand Success

At his Tuscan estate overlooking Siena, Dr. Francesco Mazzei pours a glass of ruby red Chianti Classico while beginning to tell the story behind the distinctive label that represents several legacies: the name of his family’s medieval country house castle, the village hamlet, the family winery, and the year it was founded. “Castello Fonterutoli Mazzei 1435” wine is one of the acclaimed reds the Mazzei family has been producing for a remarkable 24 generations; in fact, in terms of family business branding, they’re one of the ten oldest family enterprises in Italy. Naturally, wine lovers are intrigued to hear more from the charismatic Marchesi Mazzei and eager to taste his time-honoured Chianti.


Family Business Branding

Image via Mazzei


Family Business Brands Drive the Economy

Family-owned and operated businesses come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Yet they share the roots of a common attribute: quintessential authenticity. A family business brand has a distinctly personal voice and can uniquely build unparalleled trust. Trust underpins profitable brand growth because without trust customers won’t buy from you.


It’s critical to understand, whether your business is a family enterprise or not, branding is NOT marketing or design but the bedrock strategy supporting and directing your whole business so your brand strategy is fundamental to your business’s longevity and ongoing profitability.


Global management consultancies are wise to keep a keen eye on family enterprises. EY suggests that family business is the world economy’s “secret driver of success.” Their research library published a 2015 report undertaken with Kennesaw State University Cox Family Enterprise Center (Georgia, USA) indicating that: “The importance of family businesses to the global economy is undeniable. They account for more than two-thirds of all companies around the world, many of which are household brand names, and 50%–80% of employment in most countries.”[1]


At the KPMG Family Business Practice Global Think Tank, the group’s CEO for France explains, “It’s a philosophy, it’s a spirit, it’s a backbone of our economy.” [2]


“Before the multinational corporation, there was family business. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was family business. Before the enlightenment of Greece and the empire of Rome, there was family business.” – William T. O’Hara, author, “Centuries of Success


We’re all busy so building the bedrock brand strategy supporting and directing your whole business to ensure it’s growth and sustained longevity may not be your top skillset. If you’d like professional branding input and want access to a detailed overview of what’s key in the brand strategy context to grow your business then get in touch? Alternatively book one of our transformational workshops, brand building intensives or masterclasses.

The Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind empowers you to build your brand strategy, raise the visibility of your brand, reduce customer acquisition costs and position your brand as the №1 choice for your customers.


Persona Brand Building Blueprint Workshop

Build your standout brand at the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind with Lorraine Carter


Family Business Branding Has a Lasting Brand Message

“From our family to yours…” is a strong, positive, relatable and emotive message. Family businesses are proud of their companies and their families, with 76 percent of those reporting in the EY study saying they refer to themselves as a family business in advertising, websites, social media, press releases and other promotional material and brand collateral. [3]


Related: Design Is NOT Branding: 10 Things Every Business Owner and Entrepreneur Should Know


Nothing is more enduring as a family business than two hospitality examples from Japan. Zengoro Hoshi is the 46th generation boss of The Hoshi Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn established 1,300 years ago.


Family Business Branding

Image via 663 Highland (Wikimedia CC 2.0)


The world’s oldest hotel is run by Fujiwara Mahito, the 52nd generation descendant to manage Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan since the year 705, beside hot springs where travelling samurai and Shogun once stopped to refresh.[4] In an interview with the KPMG Family Business Think Tank, Hoshi explains that both the family and the business core values are seamlessly expressed and impressed, “instilling the simple business motto in each new generation.”[5]


Family Business Branding


Related: 7 Powerful Components Of A Lasting Luxury Brand


When success breeds success and astronomical growth and wealth occur rapidly in the span of one lifetime, keeping customers connected to core brand values is a strong message that the founder can embrace and project. Two powerful examples of self-made 20th-century patriarchs are seen here:


Family Business Branding Through Their Founders Can Embody Authentic Brand Values


1) IKEA – From humble beginnings, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals is the 90-year-old founder of the largest furniture store group on earth, as well as the second-largest charitable foundation. He eschews the trappings of wealth, living in his boyhood rural Älmhult municipality, where IKEA headquarters is located.

Related: Social Responsibility: How to Build a Socially Conscious Brand


As a boy, Ingvar Kamprad bought matches in bulk from Stockholm to re-sell via bicycle in the vicinity of his parents’ farm, Elmtaryd, in the small Swedish village of Agunnaryd. As a teenager, Ingvar expanded into seeds, pencils, wooden Christmas decorations and more items. Working at the kitchen table, he named his little enterprise IKEA, combining his own initials plus the farm name and the village name.




In the autobiographical “Leading by Design: The IKEA Story,” and in the resource “Ikea Bible,” founder Kamprad has emphasized that “wasting resources is a mortal sin at Ikea.”[6] In his years at the helm of the budget-focused retailer, now run by his son, Kamprad pursued management by example, that is, emphasizing cost control. He has spoken of shopping post-season sales, flying economy class, driving a 20-year-old Volvo and encouraging staff to use both sides on a piece of paper.[7]


2) Berkshire Hathaway – Another farm kitchen table entrepreneur empowered by his bicycle, a young Warren Buffett sold chewing gum, Coca-Cola bottles, and weekly magazines door-to-door in his native Omaha, Nebraska.


Ever thrifty at age 86, Buffett is currently ranked as the world’s third wealthiest person[8], the legendary investor is grounded and approachable. He pays himself a modest salary of $100,000 annually and still lives in the Omaha home he purchased for $31,500 in 1958.



A voracious reader, Buffett practices his brand philosophy, frequently sharing advice with groups of college students to remind them that the best thing they can do is develop good qualities and habits early.[9]


Family Business Branding Creates Meaningful Brand Differentiation

Nobody can weave a more engaging, authentic brand story than a family business, and this is key to one of a brand’s eight pillars: differentiation. The perceived distinctiveness of the brand instantly separates a family brand from its competition. These brand pillars are fundamental to success regardless of your brand sector, B2B or B2C — which has also been abundantly evidenced by our experience in working with small and large family businesses nationally and internationally.


Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Business Profit Starts With Your Brand Mission


How did a first-generation pioneer build a company from nothing to pass on to the next generation? What was the initial spark of an idea? These are the stories that inspire pride and loyalty among employees, customers, suppliers and the local community. Such wonderfully curated (and honest!) anecdotes can be as juicy and delicious as your grandmother’s time-honoured recipe for apple pie.



If birthright or marriage has made you lucky enough to inherit a family brand, or if you aspire to achieve a highly recognisable, memorable — and loved — brand name, our Personality Profile Performer™ Programme shows you how to build your brand so you become, or maintain number one place in your market — how to enhance your brand relevance and improve your profits.


Also, times flies and we are aware that family businesses must be astute about strengthening, re-evaluating and leveraging brand relevance while training and managing succession and growth over the next 5, 10, 15-plus years. If you want in-person professional direction to re-evaluate your brand and would like professional input then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.




Examples of Intimate Brands in SMB/SME Family Business Branding


  1. Family Business Branding, Goorin Bros. Hatmakers

Family Business Branding

Image via Goorin Bros. Hatmakers


What We Love: Vintage sepia tones and modern fashion shots merge on this American hatmakers’ website. It’s sprinkled with historical anecdotes, providing interesting insights into the family brand established in 1895 (I know anything over a century is almost ancient, by American standards!) Goorin Bros. is painfully aware that hats are no longer the mandatory accessory they once were. The website relates the compelling story of brand survival and interprets the castle logo design.


Family Business Branding

Image via Goorin Bros. Hatmakers


Takeaway: Cosy store interiors are decorated in vintage style, including an antique popcorn machine spitting out free samples, with highly personal assistance from the well-trained hat sellers.



Related: The Impact of Company Brand Culture On Driving Performance and Increasing Sales


  1. Family Business Branding, Manor Farm Chicken

Family Business Branding

Image via Manor Farm


What We Love: More than 240 years later, one of Ireland’s oldest companies remains a family business. To establish an immediately personal connection to the brand, the website’s “Welcome Home” page features a seal of approval-style stamp reading “Irish Family Owned Since 1775.” It invites visitors for a glimpse behind the scenes to “Meet the Flock” of family farmer suppliers via their outdoor snapshots and to share the “Tasty News” recipe buddy.


Family Business Branding

Image via Manor Farm


Takeaway: Manor Farms engages their B2B and B2C audiences by using humour. Chicken Facts & Tips includes Q&A such as “Are the chickens really Irish?” and “Can a chicken fly?”

Related: From Zero to Hero: How to Become a Must-Have Brand


  1. Family Business Branding Arnold Clark Automobiles

Family Business Branding

Image via Arnold Clark


What We Love: In 1954, Arnold Clark purchased a Morris Ten Four for £70 and, after many careful hours restoring the car to its original condition, sold it for a profit. The brand’s storyline is front and centre on the website where Arnold Clark proclaims itself “Europe’s Number 1 independently owned family-run car dealer.” One of Scotland’s largest companies, the family-owned firm run by its founder, whose story is a centrepiece for the brand. Sir Arnold is still in charge and has been joined in the business by his children and grandchildren.


Family Business Branding

Image via Arnold Clark


Takeaway: The Arnold Clark testimonial page tells the story in the customers’ own words and leaves no room whatsoever for anything but strong assurances about the brand’s commitment to integrity.


Related: How to Develop Your Brand Tone of Voice to Increase Sales


  1. Family Business Branding, Massey Bros. 

Family Business Branding


What We Love: Massey Bros. provide a really important service in one of the oldest services in society. They take care of you and your family in very distressing circumstances, the death of a loved one. They deal with death on a daily basis throughout the year. And yet their mission in dealing with death every day is to do whatever it takes to make the recognition and memory of your loved really special. Their mission is to Honour the Life of your loved one.

Massey Bros. is a business that can’t market itself like most others, they can’t overtly sell what they do, but they can share why they do what they do.  Their purpose it what drives their big why and it’s one of the critical secrets to their success since the 1930s.


Family Business Branding


Takeaway: Testimonials that support the brand promise are featured throughout the website, which makes all the sense in the world in any business, especially one that requires utter all-encompassing care and total discretion.

Full disclosure: Persona Design worked with Massey Bros. on their brand revitalisation. You can read the case study here. In truth, haven’t worked with any other business which gets the amount of unsolicited thank you cards and letters that Massey Bros. get. They truly live their brand mission, like many other successful and very dedicated family businesses.



  1. Family Business Branding, Sonderen Packaging

What We Love: The Sonderen tagline, “Packaging Solutions That Create Lifelong Customer Relationships” gets to the core of this family-owned B2B operation where we meet the second and third generation Mark, Matt, and Keva Sonderen, “Trusted Since 1963.” A complete folding carton manufacturer in Spokane, Washington USA, they do everything custom from design to finish, including inks, hard surface coatings, and die cut options.


Family Business Branding

Image via Sonderen Packaging


Takeaway: A video, “Want to Learn More About Who We Are” presents the passion behind the business, its growth from 8 to 140 employees and its recovery from a devastating warehouse fire to achieve a customer retention rate above 95 percent.




Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Family Business Branding

  1. Have you identified your eight brand pillars and evaluated how they’re addressed from the customers and team internal perspective? These include elements such as your brand purpose, vision, values and personality.
  2. Have you developed passionate storytelling about your brand involving personal bits and pieces about family members that pertain to building the company and have those authentic story nuggets been shared congruently across all your brand touchpoints?
  3. Have you fully developed your standout brand messaging with its own unique personality, copywriting, language style and turn of phrase? Does your family business take full advantage of its brand messaging opportunities across all relevant brand collateral and media channels on and offline?
  4. Have you developed and displayed a proud history timeline in the proper tone of voice to suit your brand?
  5. Is there a cohesive branding message and visual language across every customer touchpoint, from website to logo, from uniforms, to colour palette and packaging, for example?
  6. Has the company story been shared with employees? Is it featured in all new hire training materials? Have your team been fully brand inducted and is ongoing training a part of your brand culture for ensuring cohesiveness, strong morale, innovation, growth and longevity?





[1] Global Data Points; Family Enterprise Statistics from around the World, Family Firm Institute,






[7] Ibid.




Rebranding: 15 Do’s and Don’ts for Brand Success

Since 1903, the Pepsi-Cola (and later Pepsi) logo has seen many changes and facelifts in the form of rebranding and revitalisations. Through the last 100-plus years, the logo has evolved from what we might consider today an old-fashioned typeface through many fresh new looks.


Image via Pepsi


But while it’s interesting to follow the evolution of a well-known brand, let’s be perfectly clear. Changing a logo, altering the colour or even tweaking the name is not a rebranding strategy. Rebranding is much more than a design facelift. It may result in the design of new logos and the creation of new brand names, but it all starts as with your brand strategy first long before anything else relating to design is considered.


It’s essential to note that branding is NOT marketing or design but the bedrock foundation underpinning your whole business so getting your rebranding strategy right is critical to your success. In short, your rebranding strategy provides the direction for all your marketing, communications, positioning, language, messaging along with design.


And there are many strategic reasons to rebrand. A company may need to rebrand to:

  1. Re-establish its market prominence
  2. Acknowledge and reflect a major acquisition
  3. Announce a new technology or invention that changes its mission and vision
  4. Revitalize the voice and significance of the brand
  5. Refocus the company around major customer and/or industry trends
  6. Reflect a strategic move to reach new markets
  7. Give new life to flagging sales
  8. Move beyond a negative event


Whatever the reason, the key is to use your rebranding to help move your business and its products and services forward. Regardless of whether you’re rebranding a bank, hotel, power company or canned fruit, having the right strategy makes all the difference.



Want to discover more about rebranding to build your standout, №1 powerhouse, premium priced brand working with us so you can increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind?

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s implement the plan together  
  4. Contact us [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)


One study of the hotel and hospitality industry in the United States attributes a 6.31% increase in occupancy to rebranding—and 60% of that to the power of the brand.[1] As researchers explain in their study, “Corporate Rebranding: An Integrative Review of Major Enablers and Barriers to the Rebranding Process”:

“Critical to successful corporate rebranding is the identification and application of six major enablers, including strong rebranding leadership and coordination among multiple functions and stakeholder groups.”[2]


To this end, we’ve compiled our list of 15 Do’s and Don’ts for Rebranding Success in order to help you navigate your next strategic rebranding and focus on critical leadership and coordination issues. We’ve been leading clients through all the various aspects of rebranding for more than twenty years so we want to ensure you engage in the process successfully by starting off on the right foot!



Also to help you achieve success, get our free download “Top 20 Rebranding Mistakes to Avoid.” here


We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to rebrand or revitalise your brand successfully yourselves so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you rebrand successfully. So depending on your preferences:

  1. We can build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here. This is a two-day intensive where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials
  3. Want a DIY solution? Check out our ‘How to Audit Your Brand’ eprogramme here and How to Build a Brand eprogramme here


Top Rebranding Do’s and Don’ts


How important is your brand? The market research firm Millward Brown attributes more than 30% of the value of companies in the S&P 500 to the brand value.[3] Your brand is just as important, which is why you can’t cut corners during your rebranding.


1. DO challenge your reasons for rebranding

It’s not enough to “feel” that it’s time for a change. Whether you’re rebranding a product or the company, question the strategic advantage of your decision. What do you gain? Are there any other options or avenues open to you short of a complete rebrand? In other words, go into this with your wide eyes open and a clear sense of where you’re going and why.


When the Langham Hospitality Group decided to refocus its business to better serve a large middle-income population, it rebranded the business to focus on its new mission of service. In this discussion on Bloomberg, CEO Robert Warman clearly articulates their thinking:




2. DON’T focus your rebranding on simply redesigning your logos, changing colours and replacing fonts

There’s nothing wrong with giving your brand a facelift; just don’t confuse a design initiative with the objective of a true rebranding which is driven by a specific strategic intent. When you rebrand, you are communicating a fundamental change in the business.


In this video, UPS helps its SME / SMB customers understand the power of branding (and by extension rebranding). This is a strategic endeavor that extends to absolutely every aspect of your business…right down to a greeting and a handshake.




3. DO assess exactly what’s not working or what needs to change (and why) as well as what needs to remain the same by giving your brand a health check before rebranding

Just as you need to challenge your decision to rebrand (#1) you also need to dig deep into all aspects of your business to ensure you change/expand/update those things that need to be rebranded. And at the same time retain what’s still working and still reflects how you are doing business going forward.




If you need direction and support in giving your brand a health check feel free to get in touch [email protected] or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours). Alternatively, you can also give your brand a health check yourself to identify its strengths, weakness and areas for potential innovation and growth using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme. This is a step-by-step DIY walkthrough, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you audit your brand yourself. You can watch a section of the programme here.


Want to give your brand a health check. Use the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme – get it here



Consider Malaysia Airlines. After the Flight 370 tragedy, you might think that their decision to rebrand would mean starting completely fresh—even changing the name. But as the new CEO Christoph Mueller tells CNN, there is so much loyalty to the brand that they feel that they need to keep the name.





4. DON’T use your competition as the focus of your rebranding

While it is essential that you know what your competition is doing and how you fit in among your key competitors, don’t let the competition drive your decisions. Do what is best for your business, what makes the most sense in terms of your products and services and what attracts your customers.


When you let the competition drive your business decisions, you’ll almost always end up playing a game of catch up or “me too.” To stand out, you need to be true to your vision, your culture, your philosophy and how it intersects with the values of your customers.



5. DO your homework on industry trends and your market before rebranding

While you need to know who your competition is and what they’re doing, your best insight is going to come from having a thorough up-to-date understanding of both industry trends and the wants and needs of the customers you are trying to reach.


This is doubly important if part of your rebranding strategy is to try to expand into a new industry or new marketplace. And your research should include talking with prospective customers in this new market. The more you know going into your rebranding effort, the better your position and your potential to succeed.



6. DON’T rebrand because it’s supposedly ‘cool’

Familiarity can breed boredom. And who’s more familiar with a brand than the people who deal with it every working day. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need something fresh and new just because it’s been around for a while.


But here’s the good news: If you understand the strategic importance of your brand and how it stands for who, what and why you’re in business, you’ll be less apt to fall into this trap. Maybe you need to refresh your logo, change your packaging, advertising, update your brand collateral or bring something new to your social media approach. But these are more tactical changes—window dressing—and not a dramatic change in strategic direction.



7. DO involve all your employees in the rebranding discussion

When a business decision requires rebranding, it needs to be felt and carried out at all levels of the company. Everyone from the CEO to the newest hire has to be on board. But rather than hand down a new brand directive from the top, start your rebranding at the grassroots. Involve everyone in the process. Invite their input. Ensure that where management thinks it needs to take the brand is something that everyone can deliver on. Your employees will be more willing to do their part when they are empowered to participate in the process.




8. DON’T forget to interview your customers and get their perspective before rebranding

Just as you want to talk with prospective customers in any new markets you plan to reach, you don’t want to leave your current customers behind. Remember, it’s easier to retain customers than acquire new ones. So make sure that customers understand your decision to rebrand and feel comfortable that you’ll still be able to meet their wants and needs. And invite them to share their thoughts. They may have a perspective that you need to incorporate into your rebranding strategy.



9. DO work with experienced brand experts who can help guide you through the rebranding process successfully and ask the right questions along the way

There are so many moving parts to developing and executing a rebranding strategy that it pays to work with experts—people who live and breath the branding process. Not only can a branding consultant make your rebranding process easier, they can also help ensure that you don’t overlook some critical steps.




10. DON’T wait until after you change direction with your rebranding to think about the rollout

While it’s easy to get caught up in the details of the rebranding strategy itself, there are a lot of tactical steps to launching your rebranding—e.g., the event, a strategic location, how to employ social media. These are not afterthoughts. It’s not as simple as one day posting a new logo on your website, announcing an acquisition or creating the content and brand collateral needed to reach a new market.


You need your rebranding to launch without a hitch. So be sure to assign part of your marketing team to create the tactical plan that will help you relaunch your brand successfully.



11. DO manage your customers’ expectations with your rebranding

In addition to getting your existing customers’ perspectives on your brand and where you’re going in the future, you don’t want your rebrand to blindside your loyal customers.


If you have field reps, plan for them to speak with customers. Let them give their customers a head’s up as well as reassure them that their needs will be fully met going forward. If you rely on inside sales and don’t have a sales force, you might have a top executive call key customers or send out personal letters. You don’t want to lose the trust of the customers that have helped you build your business.



12. DON’T try to keep the old brand alive in any form with your rebranding

During your relaunch, you’ll announce that X is now Y. And once you’ve made the announcement, don’t try to make a slow or gradual transition. Dump the old logo, the old name, the old brand collateral…everything that represented who you WERE. Trying to phase out or use up old brochures or letterhead is confusing and actually defeats the purpose of the rebranding. The transformation must happen across all your brand touch-points consistently and congruently at the same time—not months apart! Move on with confidence, strength and clarity.



13. DO communicate your new strategy and tie it directly to the rebranding so everyone understands what you’re doing and why

Few things are more important than communication. The more people understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how it will impact them and the timeline for everything you’re doing, the easier it is for them to support you and help ensure a smooth rebranding process.


After TriNet, an outsourcer of HR services acquired a large company, it quickly went through a rebranding. This brief video is a clip from a longer presentation showing how TriNet keeps its customer-facing employees informed and completely in the loop.




14. DON’T forget to register any new trademarks as part of your rebranding

Whether you’re changing the name of the company or adding new branded products, sub-brands or services, you’ll naturally check to make sure the names are available. Don’t forget to register and protect these names for your exclusive use in every country or market where you plan to do business. Without registering your brand names (and the relevant brand assets like your logo artwork) you may find yourself in a losing battle later to protect the brands you’ve worked hard to develop.



15. DO discuss the ownership of any copyrights on creative outputs as part of your rebranding

Finally, there’s the matter of creative ownership. When you hire a freelance artist or graphic designer or design agency you want to make sure that you have exclusive use of the intellectual property. While the law differs slightly from country to country, you’ll probably want to establish a “work for hire” arrangement. Talk with your attorney and your brand consultant on how best to proceed. Even if you don’t end up owning the creative outright, you can pay to lock up its exclusive use.


Rebranding Case Study #1: Putting Some New Kick in Old Spice


Although Old Spice has been creating personal grooming products for more than 70 years, the brand began to stagnate in the 1980s and didn’t improve even after Procter & Gamble bought the company. That changed, however, in 2010 with an extension to the product line and the funky rebranding in the guise of the Old Spice Guy. P&G didn’t simply reposition the product; it sold women on the idea of buying its new line of body washes for their men.





Old Spice is an often-told story of a great brand comeback through rebranding. Best of all, they didn’t make the mistake of losing the trust and following of loyal customers. If there’s one weakness in the Old Spice strategy, however, it may be that they’ve failed to stay one step ahead of other brands that have followed in their footsteps with equally off-beat videos.


Takeaway: With rebranding, you can bring new audiences to an old, established brand. But once you get the momentum going (or have the good fortune of going viral) you need to keep it going with marketing automation and strong data management techniques that allow you to interact with customers.


Rebranding Case Study #2: ABM Does More Than Windows!


Image via ABM


Just three years after the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco was rebuilt and booming—enough so that Morris Rosenberg started up his window-washing business. In 1913, Rosenberg renamed his one-man operation American Building Maintenance Company and expanded into comprehensive janitorial services. Today the 100,000 employees of ABM Industries provide janitorial and facilities management around the world.




But ABM had a problem. While the company’s capabilities had expanded dramatically, most prospective customers still thought of it as a successful custodial service. ABM needed to build awareness for its expanded capabilities, including security and property systems engineering. It used the 2010 acquisition of the Linc Group to gain that awareness through a strategic rebranding that;

  1. Reorganized and simplified the range of service offerings
  2. Focused on the overall value ABM delivers through its integrated facility solutions
  3. Included a whole new brand identity


Takeaway: Rebranding your company can help you get the attention you need when you have a big message to deliver. In the case of ABM Industries, they capped off the whole process—new logo, reorganization of services, a new tagline—by ringing the NYSE closing bell in October 2012. ABM sent a message throughout the industry that this company is still growing and looking to the future.



Are You Ready for Rebranding?

If you think your company will benefit from a rebranding, ask yourself:

  1. Do we have a good reason for rebranding? If so, you need to be able to articulate it clearly.
  2. What are the strategic implications for our business? Is there any potential downside? Will this move leave any of our stakeholders behind?
  3. Have you presented the task to the entire company—from CEO to newest hire?
  4. Have you looked at your brand through your customers’ eyes and talked with them about your decision?
  5. Have you considered how you will bring your business plan into alignment with your brand going forward?
  6. Do you have a thorough plan for rolling out and implementing your rebranding? Do your employees understand the plan, know how it impacts them and have confidence they can live up to the objectives?


We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to rebrand or revitalise your brand successfully yourselves so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you rebrand successfully. So depending on your preferences:

  1. We can build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here. This is a two-day intensive where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials
  3. Want a DIY solution? Check out our ‘How to Audit Your Brand’ eprogramme here and How to Build a Brand eprogramme here


Want to discover more about rebranding to build your standout, №1 powerhouse, premium priced brand working with us so you can increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind?

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s implement the plan together  
  4. Contact us [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)


Your Client Satisfaction Guarantee

  1. When you work with us we’ll create a customised brand building plan and strategy with clear investment for you tailored to your specific requirements and preferences
  2. You’ll know each step of your brand building journey before we start because we’ll discuss it, document it and agree on it with you before work commences
  3. You’ll have timelines, key milestones and deliverables to evaluate and approve for each stage and part of your brand building process
  4. Because we know the unexpected sometimes happens we can make adjustments along the way if you need it and if something extra is requested we’ll ensure you’re fully appraised about what that entails before committing
  5. As we achieve pre-agreed objectives you’ll be able to evaluate your brand building work and strategy in progress, coupled with the outcomes to ensure return on investment

Get in touch today because we’d love to get started helping you build your standout, powerhouse brand so you can increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind. Email us [email protected] or ring us +35318322724 (GMT 9:00-17:30) and ask about our VIP Brand Strategy Discovery.


Image via Zillon Designs







7 Universal Branding Lessons From Christmas Adverts

You’d not be alone in thinking that 2016 delivered some unexpected political surprises on both sides of the pond. Your customers may share that thought. But uncertainty is no friend to retail therapy, so to lighten the mood and reinforce economic prosperity, we’ve collected some of the outstanding moments — for better or for worse — as distributed in video format by the forefront U.K. brands doing their best at storytelling this holiday season.

While entertaining to watch, you may also benefit from pairing several observations that apply to strategic thinking for SMBs / SMEs and enterprise organisations — we all need a laugh at the moment! Have you seen Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot Christmas advert?


Here are our favourites and others that miss the mark. Yet, lessons are learned all around.

Do you agree? Did we miss any?


1.  Brand Personification

Aldi is a leading global retailer and one of the world’s largest privately owned companies with over 7,500 store locations. But that hasn’t stopped them from adopting a brand voice in the form of an animated three-inch-tall carrot who desperately wants to meet Santa. A sure fire winner due in no small part to the theme song from “Home Alone,” the one-minute rhymed narration has had 1.8 million YouTube views in its first four weeks. Short and sweet.


Takeaway: Give your brand an irresistible personality. Humanize your brand, give it an authentic voice, enable connections with the character your brand embodies. Think of enduring 20th century mascots such as the Jolly Green Giant and Ol’ Lonely, the Maytag Repairman with nothing to fix. Consider 21st century successes like the sexy Old Spice Man and “The Most Interesting Man in the World” by Dos Equis.




2. Confusing Branding

For the holiday voice of Sainsbury’s, James Corden sings, “The streets are chaotic, the shops idiotic, there’s a queue for the queue…” Weirdly, it’s an animation about a frazzled dad stuck on a delayed train (“It’s a catastrophe! I’ll never get it done!”) who perhaps never heard of online shopping. We’re not sure what mileage Sainsbury’s gets out of 3:35 minutes of highlighting the hassle of Christmas shopping.


Takeaway: Don’t stray off message. To elevate your brand, stick to the core messaging so consumers can quickly see the call to action. Like too many different fonts and colours on the same page, a message can easily get lost in the shuffle…especially during peak times such as holidays and back to school. Be clear, be consistent, be focused, be unified in your messaging.




3. Feel Good Branding

At a rather lengthy 2:10 minutes, John Lewis’s Christmas Advert 2016 takes a risk that viewers’ attention won’t wander. However, there’s not a chance, as viewers really do want to see how this story concludes. Featuring the family pet, foxes, badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs, we see animals enjoying a secret midnight trampoline romp. With extensive social media and TV tie-ins garnering a remarkable 21 million views and counting, it’s less of an advert than a short movie clip with an uplifting soundtrack (“One Day I’ll Fly Away”) about Buster the Boxer. Highly shareable — and directly associated with the store’s toy department — it’s a distinct pull away from last year’s lonely, elderly man “sadvertising” theme.


Takeaway: Emotional branding has huge appeal. To successfully tap into creating a bond between brand and consumer is the most effective connection of all. Get it right, like John Lewis does here, and you’re golden. (Bonus: Word-of-mouth and shares are guaranteed!)




4. Branding Content Without a Point

Tesco chooses to introduce us to yet another “typical” shopper annoyed with the season’s chores. We get to hear the thoughts running through her mind (“It’s only November and my clothes still smell of Bonfire”) as she becomes overwhelmed by a mental to-do list, rendering her frozen behind the shopping trolley in mid-aisle. We certainly get a sense of place (the uninspiring inside of a Tesco store), but what’s the story line? The only point made comes at the end (for any viewers that have hung around) when she speaks Tesco’s tagline aloud, “Nah, bring it on.” Did they actually think this advert would get many shares?


Takeaway: Like any good story, your brand message must grab your audience’s attention in the first few seconds, or they’re gone. Many video views will be made on mobile and a good percentage[1] will be seen in public places with the volume turned off, so a woman standing still by her shopping cart cannot maintain audience interest.




5. Branding That Spins a Classic

Marks & Spencer re-purposes an age-old story, this one is about Santa and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve, and re-tells it with a modern spin. You needn’t have the Hollywood budget and Oscar-star studded cast that M&S can afford in order to accomplish something similar. The result is a compelling, contemporary tale with a feminist twist that some viewers are calling, “a hundred times better than John Lewis’s,” in the 2016 Christmas advert annual parade. Some 7.3 million views so far for “Christmas With Love From Mrs Claus.”


Takeaway: Dress up a classic tale is usually a good storytelling idea. Mrs Claus in a red sheath dress and high heels delivering gifts in her own helicopter works incredibly well. The advert manages to also provide a call to action that is on point for the brand, once we see what’s in the gift box Mrs Claus leaves under the Christmas tree.




6. Branding to Surprise and Delight

And the winner is…Heathrow Airport, connecting with everyone in their advertisement, “Coming Home for Christmas.” Anyone who has flown home for the holidays can identify with these two elderly teddy bears making their way from arrival gate to meeting point. Take a close look at Edward Bair’s passport — he’s 71, just like Heathrow Airport. Stay tuned for the surprise ending; there’s a lovely surprise.


Takeaway: Making authentic connections to human emotions are any brand’s surefire success. LHR does everything right in this year’s ad. Not a department store, not a supermarket, Heathrow Airport is the glue that speaks to both travelers and their hosts coming home for the holidays, so most everyone can relate to this tearjerker, even without the soundtrack.




7. Branding From Our House to Yours

Lidl Ireland packs a lot of emotion into one minute with “Homecoming.” See behind the scenes as a lovely, but unassuming family, prepares the country house and Christmas supper for a recently widowed Grandpa as guest of honor. At one minute, the length is perfect. No words are needed — go ahead, watch it without the sounds and see that it can still work.


Takeaways: Again, emotional branding that leaves people with a strong feeling is the hot button here. Will they smile or cry? That’s your choice. When you create material that’s so compelling that it’s eminently shareable, your viral brand is massively strengthened in customers’ hearts and minds.




Questions you may ask yourself about branding lessons from the pros:

  1. Does my brand have a strong brand promise?
  2. Have I fully communicated that brand promise well?
  3. Does my brand have a personality? Does it align with my product or service?
  4. Have I used my brand persona to grow audience beyond my base?
  5. Does my brand receive more than its fair share? Or does my brand under-perform?
  6. How do I know if it’s time for a brand re-fresh?


Want to clarify your brand promise, develop your brand personality — standout more effectively to increase your sales? Then take a look here at our online eprogramme which walks you through step-by-step ‘How to Build Your Brand’.


Alternatively if you want some in-person professional direction to build your brand then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT).

We’d be delighted to help.


Find out ‘How to Build Your Brand’ with the Personality Profile Performer™ programme