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The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: Part 7 of 12 — chapters 13 & 14

By January 17, 2012January 12th, 2021No Comments

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand

Written by: Al Ries and Laura Ries
Summarized by: Amie Hansen

Missed Chapters 11 & 12? Click here to read Part 6.

Part 7

Chapter 13 – The Law of the Company
Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference.

The issue of how to use a company name is at the same time simple and complicated. Simple, because the laws are so clear-cut. Complicated, because most companies do not follow the simple laws of branding and end up with s system that defies logic and results in endless brand-versus-company debates.
Brand names should almost always take precedence over company names. Consumers buy  brands, they don’t buy companies. So, when  a company name is used alone as a brand name (GE, Coca-cola, IBM, Xerox), customers see these names as brands.

When you combine  a company name with a brand name in a clear and consistent fashion, the brand name is the primary name and the company name is seen as the secondary name: General Motors Cadillac.

Customers will seldom use a company name…when they have been given a viable brand name to use. “How do you like my new Cadillac?” Nobody says, “How do you like my new General Motors luxury car?”

A company is a company as long as the name is not being used as a brand. A brand is a brand. There is a difference. A company is the organization that manufactures or produces the brand. It is not the brand itself. Microsoft isn’t Word, Proctor & Gamble isn’t Tide.

While this makes sense, it’s not usually the best branding strategy. The best branding strategy should be to use the company name as the brand name. The Coca-Cola company produces the Coca-Cola brand. Neat, simple, straightforward, easy to understand.

Management is company-oriented and customers are brand-oriented.

The view from the inside is totally different than the view from the outside. Managers must constantly remind themselves that customers care only about brands, not about companies.

The brand isn’t just the name the manufacturer puts on the package. It’s the product itself. To a customer, Coca-Cola is, a dark, sweet, reddish-brown liquid. The brand name is the word customers use to describe that liquid. What’s inside the bottle is the most important aspect of the branding process. Coca-Cola is branding the liquid itself.

It’s not a cola made by the Coca-Cola Company. The cola itself is Coca-Cola, the real thing. This distinction is at the heart of an effective branding strategy.

Most issues involving company names versus brand names can be solved by asking yourself two questions:

1.) What is the name of the brand?
2.) What is the name of the stuff inside the packaging?

Both names had better be the same or you have big problems.

As a general rule, you want a brand name to be as short and as memorable as possible. (Short names greatly improve your word-of-mouth possibilities.) When customers feel they have to use both your company name and your brand name together, you usually have a branding problem.

As far as the customer is concerned, the easiest, simplest way is the Proctor& Gamble way. Use just the brand name boldly on the package and relegate the “Procter & Gamble Company” to tiny type at the bottom.

For many brands one answer is to put the company name in small type above the brand name. Customers who are strongly motivated to use only the brand name will hardly notice the company name.

The brand name should dominate the company name.

The brand itself should be the focus of your attention. If you have to use the company name, use it. But do so in a decidedly secondary way.


Chapter 14 – The Law of Subbrands
What branding builds, subbranding can destroy.

Holiday Inn wanted to get into the upscale hotel segment.
Cadillac wanted to introduce a smaller car.
Waterford wanted to market a less expensive line.
Donna Karen wanted to market less costly and more casual clothes.

What to do? Invent a subbrand. So we have Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, Cadillac Catera, Marquis by Waterford and DKNY. We can use our well-known core brand at the same time as we launch secondary or subbrands to move into new territory.

Why would a customer expect Holiday Inn to have an upscale hotel? Why spend all that money and still stay as a Holiday Inn! The thinking is, If I am forking out the big bucks, I want to stay with a top hotel brand.

Subbranding is an inside-out branding strategy that tries to push the core brand into new directions. It captures management’s attention because of what it promises, not necessarily because of what it delivers.

Marketers are rethinking the concept of subbranding and calling it the masterbrand or megabrand strategy. “Dodge is not our brand. Our brands are: Avenger, Intrepid, Neon Stealth, Stratus and Viper.” What’s a Dodge then? “A Dodge is a megabrand.”

When you feel the need  to create subbrands, you are chasing the market, you are not building the brand.

The essence of a brand is some idea or attribute or market segment you can own in the mind. Subbranding is a concept that takes the brand in exactly the opposite direction. Subbranding destroys what branding builds.

Subbreanding, masterbranding, megabranding are NOT customer-driven concepts. They have no meaning in the minds of most consumers.

Think simple. Think like a customer and your brand will become more successful.


Click here to read part 8.

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