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The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

  1. The Law of Expansion
    The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. When you put your brand name on everything, that name loses its power.
  2. The Law of Contraction
    A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus. A powerful branding program always starts by contracting the category, not expanding it.
  3. The Law of Publicity
    The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising. The best way to generate publicity is by being first – the first brand in a new category.
  4. The Law of Advertising
    Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy. Brand leaders advertise their leadership. Leadership is the single most important motivating factor in customer behavior.
  5. The Law of the Word
    A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer. For example, Kleenex = tissue.
  6. The Law of Credentials
    The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity. Customers are suspicious. For example, Coke: “It’s the real thing.”
  7. The Law of Quality
    Quality is important, but brands are not built on quality alone. Sometimes expressed through a higher price and accompanying feature that seems to justify the price. For example, Rolex.
  8. The Law of the Category
    A leading brand should promote the category, not the brand.
  9. The Law of the Name
    In the long run, a brand is nothing more than a name. The difference between brands is not in the products, but in the product names – the perception of the names.
  10. The Law of Extensions
    The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything.
  11. The Law of Fellowship
    To build the category, a brand should welcome other brands. Healthy competition brings more customers to the category.
  12. The Law of Generic
    One of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name. (National…,General…, Nature’s…) It’s hard to differentiate a generic-named brand from the competition.
  13. The Law of the Company
    Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference.
  14. The Law of Subbrands
    What branding builds, subbranding can destroy.
  15. The Law of Siblings
    There is a time and a place to launch a second brand. For example, A&E launched The History Channel.
  16. The Law of Shape
    A brand’s logo should be designed to fit the eyes – both eyes. Horizontal shape provides maximum impact.
  17. The Law of Color
    A brand should use a color that is the opposite of its major competitor’s.
  18. The Law of Borders
    There are no barriers to global branding. A brand should know no borders. Crossing a border often adds value to a brand. The perception of where the brand comes from can add or subtract value.
  19. The Law of Consistency
    A brand is not built overnight. Success is measured in decades, not years.
  20. The Law of Change
    Brands can be changed, but only infrequently and only very carefully.
  21. The Law of Mortality
    No brand will live forever. Euthanasia is often the best solution.
  22. The Law of Singularity
    The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. A brand is a singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect. A brand is a proper noun that can be used in place of a common word.

SOURCE: Al Ries and Laura Ries, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, HarperCollins, 2009.

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