Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Monday, June 04, 2007

Commercial: Brands and big ideas

Underpinning any good or great brand should be a big idea: the textbooks refer to them sometimes as a 'central organising principle' or an 'essence'. It is the thing that makes the brand different and stand out from all its competitors in its market(s); it is also the thing that is so embedded in the brand's (and hopefully the organisation where the brand comes from) DNA that its competitors cannot copy it easily. (Note that it doesn't have to be explicit in a brand's communications, but you should be able to discern it within them.)

Big ideas can be (should be?) disruptive, emotional, crazily ambitious - but above all, compelling. Ideas that people will be interested in finding out more about, becoming a part of.

Some examples of brands' big ideas were provided in The Guardian on Saturday:

Southwest Airlines
- 'democratise the skies'
ING Direct - 'lead customers back to savings'
craigslist - 'nerd values'.

But a little shows you the inherent dangers in all of these as well, and hence why it is so difficult for brands to maintain any pre-eminent position that they might achieve. For example, ING Direct have come under a lot of criticism in the UK for failing to pass on to their savers the recent UK base rate rises. How is that behaviour compatible with leading people back to savings?

If a big idea is tarnished in that way, then it is very difficult to get a warm glow back. And then your brand falls back into the pack of also-rans.

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