Decoded: How Brands Grow

the holy grail

the holy grail

Who wrote it: Byron Sharp

When was it published: 2011

Why this book: Experts have claimed that this book 'has possibly done more to shake up the world of brand marketing than anything else created or published in the last decade' - Brand Genetics

Can I get at look at this Bryon, then?

Sure. Here's a TEDx talk he gave on the science of brand marketing

What are the key points?

After several dozen pages of marketing preamble, Sharp outlines seven scientifically derived rules for brand growth:

  1. Ensure the brand is easy to buy (communicate how the brand fits into the user's life)
  2. Get noticed (grab attention and focus on brand salience to prime the user's mind)
  3. Refresh and build memory structures (respect existing associations that make the brand easy to notice and easy to buy)
  4. Create and use distinctive brand assets (use sensory cues to get noticed and stay top of mind)
  5. Be consistent (avoid unnecessary changes, whilst keeping the brands fresh and interesting)
  6. Stay competitive (keep the brand easy to buy and avoid giving excuses not to buy (i.e. by targeting a particular group)
  7. Continuously reach all buyers of the category (communication and distribution) – avoid being silent

There's no such thing as total brand loyalty

Here's some good news: you won’t need to complicate your lives with a costly customer retention or loyalty program – because evidence shows they do not work nor have an impact on growth.  

Customer loyalty is largely a myth (customers are at best ‘promiscuous loyals’ – flitting fickle-like between alternative rival brands based on availability – 72% of Coke drinkers also buy Pepsi (UK)). Likewise, for brand commitment – people buy brands out of habit, not commitment. 

Also, you can forget marketing with a view to increasing purchase frequency, as that doesn’t work either. Instead, focus your energies on occasional users that make up most of your sales and growth (i.e. the typical Coca-Cola buyer in the UK buys Coke just once a month).

So do brands grow then?

The top insight in HBG is this: the secret to growing your brand is to build ‘market-based assets’ and these come in two guises:

1. maximised distribution (physical availability); and 

2. clear and distinctive branding using sensory cues (colours, logo, design…) that are easy to remember (“distinctive memory structures”) and recall.

Where can I get this book?

Amazon and other reputable book stores.

Posted by Richard Etienne.