“If it’s pink and snorts and got a curly tail then –
it might not be a pig.”


A brand that appears to evolve a life of its own and glides with purpose and seemingly natural talent to reach the giddy heights of number one is Utopia for most marketers. And for most marketing budgets it is an elusive dream. What makes a Coca Cola or McDonalds? And why do we confuse their entities with say the brand objectives for the Widget 2000 non-reversible bolt for nuclear power stations?

To know what is achievable and how to achieve it requires clarification.

What does brand and branding mean?
What is a successful brand made of?
What variables make the difference?

There are two types of brand out there: the living brand and synthetic brand.

The Living Brand

The Living Brand possesses autogenic qualities. It has a critical mass that self-generates through the rotating dynamic of the market place. It is the in-vogue night club and given the nature of divine providence, there are very few of those in town.

The Synthetic Brand

Most products in most markets are cursed with being synthetic brands. They are the result of passive thinking or assumptions about what a brand is and how it should be developed. The biggest assumption is that branding is all about marketing communications (marcom).

The Synthetic Brand is therefore highly geared; meaning that it requires a disproportionate amount of marketing communications budget to keep it afloat. If the marcom spend falls below a certain critical mass then market share degrades disproportionately faster. The benefits of marcom investment are therefore relatively immediate and short lived. The brand is less of a glider and more of a brick and its market position relies on a direct correlation with marcom awareness and/or positioning strategies. To stay high requires a frantic flapping of wings: a highly paced strategy involving lots of money.

To understand the difference between a Living and Synthetic brand means we need to refine the definitions of the components that make the Brand and the rationale behind each application. These defined principles we will call determinants.


Brand:The brand does not exist unless it is used – all else is transient presentation.

The only tool that directly creates the brand is the experience and momentum of product usage (see Triggering). To achieve autogenic activity for a brand therefore requires a consistent experience of product usage. Marcom therefore cannot create the Living Brand. Marcom can only encourage usage.

Causation: branding and the brand is a consequence of other things and not a cause. In the context of brand component evaluation, branding as a generic marketing term is not considered useful.

Awareness: As a marcom objective wastes budget. (See Awareness). And being academic for a moment; Elements of Adoption Process Models such as Robertson are therefore reevaluated (‘A Critical Examination of Adoption Process Models of Consumer Behaviour,’ Models of Buyer Behaviour).

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