At wits' end...
At wits' end...

My humble attempt at coming to terms with modern technology

An optimistic, happy-go lucky person who hails from Kerala, the 'Gods own Country'. As a passionate marketeer and an avid reader I enjoy sharing my views on Books, Social Issues, and Public Speaking.




At wits' end...

'The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding' by Al Ries and Laura Ries

Ramya VasudevanRamya Vasudevan

As the title suggests, this is a very crisp and clear book on Branding. Even though I have ready many books on Branding, I have not come across anything that so boldly proclaims to the world that it has answers to your problems. What more can you expect from a book by the world renowned marketing strategist Al Ries and his daughter and business partner Laura Ries! I love their confidence; it displays the faith the authors have in the power of Branding and in their own abilities. They point out quite early on in the book that:

A successful branding program is based on the concept of singularity. It creates in the mind of the prospect the perception that there is no product on the market quite like your product.

The book is full of examples, and the authors have thoroughly exploited the power of story telling. Another one of my favourite books by Al Ries and Jack Trout is The Marketing Warfare ( It was suggested by my mentor as a must-read for a marketer; I still cherish that book as a treasure trove of marketing insights.

Let me jot down the 22 Laws mentioned in the book as a note to myself:

1. The Law of expansion - the power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. Expansion is good in the short term as it might help boost sales, but it weakens the brand. For example, Chevrolet has 10 different car models. It sells so many variants because Chevrolet wants to sell more cars. In the short terms, it works well but it undermines the brand name in the mind of the customer.

2. The Law of contraction - a brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus. In a few short years, Starbucks has become one of America's best known and most popular brands. Narrowing one's focus is not the same as carrying a limited line. Starbucks offers thirty different types of coffees.

3. The Law of Publicity - the birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising. In the initial stages of a brand, it is always better to develop a strategy from a publicity point of view. Advertising might be good in the later stages but publicity works best in the initial stages of brand development. The Body Shop is good example.

4. The Law of Advertising - Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy. A consistent theme of Goodyear advertising over the years has been "#1 in tires". So who makes the best tires? "It must be Goodyear," thinks the consumer. "It's the leader".

5. The Law of the Word - a brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer. FedEx became successful by being the first air cargo carrier to narrow its focus to overnight delivery, thereby owning he word "overnight" in the mind of the consumer.

6. The Law of credentials - The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity. Coca-Cola launched an advertising program called "The only thing like Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola itself. It's the real thing.", which ascribed a lot of credibility to the brand.

7. The Law of Quality - Quality is important, but brands are not built by quality alone. There is almost no correlation between success in the marketplace and success in the comparative testing of brands - whether it be taste tests, accuracy tests, reliability tests, durability tests or any other independent, objective third party testing of brands. All that matters is the perception of quality in the minds of the consumer

8. The Law of the Category - A leading brand should promote the category, not the brand. EatZi's is the first brand in a new category which it calls "the meal market", which focuses on restaurant-quality food primarily for takeout consumption.

9. The Law of the name - in the long run, a brand is nothing more than a name. Famous brands like Xerox and Google became verbs themselves (could you xerox the agenda for the meeting or did you Google that?).

10. The Law of Extensions - The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything. With a powerful marketing program, Miller High Life was rapidly gaining on market leader Budweiser (it got within 20 percent of the King of Beers). Then Miller introduced a bevy of line-extension brands and stopped Miller High Life cold.

11. The Law of Fellowship - in order to build the category, a brand should welcome other brands. One of the best locations for a number two brand is across the street from the leader. Both brands will benefit.

12. The Law of the Generic - one of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name. Blockbuster video is a good brand name, for a video rental store, while General Video Rental is not. Brands should avoid using generic names like the plague

13. The Law of the Company - Brands are brands, Companies are companies. There is a difference. Corporate endorsements are primarily for the trade, not for the enlightenment of the consumer.

14. The Law of Sub-brands - what branding builds, sub-branding can destroy. Holiday Inn has become a mega brand with the launch of sub-brands like Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Select, Holiday Inn SunSpree Resorts, and Holiday Inn Garden Court. This sub-branding is eroding the power of the core brand.

15. The Law of Siblings - There is a time and a place to launch a second brands. When Honda wanted to introduce an expensive car, it didn't call the brand a Honda Plus or a Honda Ultra. It developed a new brand called Acura, which became a big success.

16. The Law of Shape -A brand's logotype should be designed to fit the eyes. Both eyes. AA customer sees the world through the two horizontally mounted eyes. It's like looking t of the windshield of an automobile. For maximum visual impact, a logotype should have the same shape as a windshield, roughly two and one-fourth units wide and one unit high. The Avis logotype is almost the perfect shape.

17. The Law of Colour - a brand should use a colour that is the opposite of its major competitor's. What colour is a Tiffany box? It's that distinctive robin's-egg blue. All Tiffany boxes are blue. If Tiffany had used a variety of colours for its boxes, it would have lost a marvellous opportunity to reinforce the brand name with a distinctive colour.

18. The Law of Borders - there are no barriers to global branding. A brand should know no borders. Heineken NV exports its brands to some 170 different countries. In most of these countries Heineken is the largest selling high-priced beer.

19. The Law of Consistency - a brand is not built overnight. Success is measured in decades, not years. BMW has been the ultimate driving machine for 25 years. What's even more remarkable is the fact that BMW retained its strategy even though the brand was driven through three separate advertising agencies. A change of agencies usually signals the end of a brand's consistency.

20. The Law of Change - Brands can be changed, but only infrequently and only very carefully. Branding changes occur in the minds of the consumer, not inside a company. So if you want to change your mind, keep your sights on your target, the consumer's mind.

21. The Law of Mortality - no brand will live forever. Euthanasia is often the best solution. Film photography was replaced by digital photography. But Kodak refused to face that reality; it tried to save its brand by using the Kodak name on its digital products. But the consumers refused to believe that Kodak is a pioneer in anything other than conventional photography.

22. The Law of Singularity - The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. Volvo has been selling safety for close to 50 years. In the process, the brand has become the largest selling European luxury car.

Like I said, there are a lot of examples in this book that will help the reader understand the concepts well. Though this book was first published in 1999, it still holds a lot of valuable insights that can help us even in the current era. That's why I consider it as a must-read for any marketing enthusiast.

An optimistic, happy-go lucky person who hails from Kerala, the 'Gods own Country'. As a passionate marketeer and an avid reader I enjoy sharing my views on Books, Social Issues, and Public Speaking.