May 1, 2015

How Brands Grow

Last year saw the 5th reprint of Byron Sharp’s fantastic book ‘How Brands Grow’. It has been doing the rounds amongst enlightened marketers and planners for just over 4 years. It’s popular because unlike a lot of marketing books it is based on scientific analysis of over a decade’s worth of sales, usage and brand data across hundreds of brands and categories.

The book reminds us that underneath all the new modern marketing opportunities that exist there are some fundamentals you need to get right.

Here is our summary of Sharp’s key findings:

1. In order to grow your brand you have to focus on increasing penetration (new customers) not increasing frequency of use. Given this, you are better off reaching light users of your brand – and non-users similar to them – than focusing on people who reflect your heavy users

2. Having a brand that is salient is way more valuable than creating a brand that is differentiated. It is more important to build your brand on a consumer truth that is resonant and do so in a way that is distinctive and memorable, than to search for the USP

3. Tapping into an emotional need is more potent than making a rational argument for why people should buy a brand

4. Find out through research what your brand assets are – the things that make it resonant, distinctive and memorable and then focus on bringing these to life as often as you can. (This could be language, visual assets, a narrative, an idea etc)

5. Being ever present whenever people are in market – “mental or physical availability” – is critical to success. So short bursts of activity or fleeting explosions of presence or ‘buzz’ is not very useful. You need to be visible or present on a more continuous basis. Better to sacrifice continuity of presence over reach to drive sales

6. Loyalty programs, for the most part, are a waste of money. You are much better off investing in customer acquisition – that’s where you’ll get discernable returns on your marketing investment

7. Promotions are not clever. The data shows that they very much appeal to existing customers who would have bought from you anyway. The data shows that promotions erode margin and are not very good at bringing in new customers

Some of these are quite controversial. Others are old news. The great thing is – it’s all based on hard data. If you haven’t read the book, you must.

Tags: Advertising, Antidote, Byron Sharp,

Leave a Reply