The U.S.A of Branding: Branding for All

As someone who has lived in the world of branding and ideas for a long time, I am constantly astounded as to how few senior management really understand what a brand is and how it adds value to business, and then even more astounded when people with the title  “Brand Manager” or “Marketing Manager” understand branding even less.

The Problem with Branding is that it aint rocket science but still us Marketing folks talk around the topic, and around the topic, the “people on the otherside” think we are all a bit vague and fluffy.

3 simple components of successful branding

In the past week I stumbled across a very simple mnemonic devised by Ken Carbone that helps us all understand what a good brand is and how to spot if we have one.

I call it the U.S.A of successful branding – Branding for ALL.

U is for UNITY

A good brand has UNITY within it, all components work together to build to a strong, memorable, relevant idea that people want to be a part of.  One of my favourite brands with UNITY is Pedigree Dog Food. All that they do delivers to their “We’re for Dogs” Mantra:  their homes for dogs in need of shelter, their events for dog owners to socialise their pooch as well as the good honest food they sell.


What strong brands do is they overcommit to key components or touch-points that deliver the brand idea and then eliminate everything else. This is essential so that consumers can “see” the UNITY in the brand idea. Extra fluff makes the brand fuzzy and undermines the core idea.

A is for AMPLIFY

Once you have a strong idea, find ways to bring it to life so that people can interact with the idea and experience it fully.  Amplify could also be called Activation, this is about making the idea concrete in some way. When TOMS SHOES created their Unified “Shoes for Tomorrow” brand idea they knew it would just be lip service or an invisible commitment to do good unless they involved their customers in distributing their shoes to those in need. AMPLIFY is why shoe drop events have become an important part of the TOMS SHOES communication programme.   

You might think the U.S.A mnemonic is a bit cheesy, and it might be, but in an era where the Branding bar is higher than ever and the need to get people from across the whole organisationon the same page, more of such branding “dummies guides” may help to make branding clearer and I believe better.

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