The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

What is Branding? Branding targets the heart, marketing efforts target the mind. Branding is nothing more than a person’s emotional connection to your company, product, service, or idea. Marketing is the things you do to make that connection.

Executing your Branding is the single most important objective of the marketing process. This is from “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand” by Al Ries and Laura Ries (1998):

1. The Law of Expansion: The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope.

What’s a Chevrolet? A large, small, cheap, expensive car.

2. The Law of Contraction: A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus. Starbucks serves just coffee.

3. The Law of Publicity: Brands are born with publicity, not advertising. With no advertising, The Body Shop has become a powerful global brand.

4. The Law of Advertising: Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy. Advertising “No. 1 in tires” keeps Goodyear No. 1 in tires.

5. The Law of the Word: A brand should own a word in the mind of the consumer. “FedEx this to LA”.

6. The Law of Credentials: The crucial ingredient to the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity. Coca-Cola is a powerful brand because it’s “the real thing.”

7. The Law of Quality: Quality is important, but brands are not built by quality alone.

8. The Law of the Category: A leading brand should promote the category, not the brand. EatZi’s is a new brand selling quality take-out meals at affordable prices.

9. The Law of the Name: In the long run, a brand is nothing more than a name. The primary difference of a Xerox copier is the Xerox brand name itself.

10. The Law of Extensions: The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything. What’s a Miller? Line extensions are killing Miller.

11. The Law of Fellowship: In order to build the category, a brand should welcome other brands. The best location for a Planet Hollywood is next to the Hard Rock Café.

12. The Law of the Generic: One of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name. Blockbuster is a good brand name while generic brand names are not.

13. The Law of the Company: Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference. Does Tide need the name P&G on the box? Brands should stand on their own.

14. The Law of Subbrands: What branding builds, subbranding can destroy. Express, Select, SunSpree, and Garden Court erode the power of the Holiday Inn brand.

15. The Law of Siblings: There is a time and a place to launch a second brand. When Honda introduced an expensive car they didn’t call the brand, “Honda Ultra.”

16. The Law of Shape: A brand’s logotype should be designed to fit the eyes. Both eyes. Avis has the right idea, Arby’s is too vertical.

 17. The Law of Color: A brand should use a color that is the opposite of its major competitor. The distinctive robin’s egg blue of a Tiffany box helps burn the brand into the mind.

18. The Law of Borders: There are no barriers to global branding. A brand should know no borders. Heineken is sold in 170 countries. All brands should be global brands.

19. The Law of Consistency: A brand is not built overnight. Success is measured in decades. BMW has been the ultimate driving machine for 25 years.

20. The Law of Change: Brands can be changed, but only infrequently and only very carefully. Twenty years ago, Citibank was a business bank. Today Citibank is a consumer bank.

21. The Law of Mortality: No brand will live forever. Euthanasia is often the best solution. Kodak is a photographic brand that will not be as effective in the digital era.

22. The Law of Singularity: The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. By focusing on safety, Volvo has become the largest selling imported European luxury car. Does a Rolex keep better time? Probably? Does it matter? Probably not.

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