The Rules of Branding
Rule #1: The "Dominant Selling Idea" Rule
Naturally, the single itam of "carry-on" that people choose is the one they deem most precious. Likewise, if your brand is to have one paramount idea with the best chance of being installed in the brain, that idea must fuse your name to a specialty that's the most superlative, important, believable, memorable, and tangible you can find. A specialty with the Five Selling Ingredients. To be specific:
1. Superlative. it must promise me something nobody else does, signaling you're #1 in whatever you do, the best at something.
2. Important. What you're #1 in has to be something that matter - something I really want or would be in the market for if I knew about it.
3. Believable. There has to be a unique, plausible reason why you claim the above that makes logical sense.
Only a specialty with these first three ingredients gets you across the moat and into the castle. Then, if you want to stick there, your specialty and everything surrounding it must be made:
4. Memorable. It has to link to an emotional feeling - the humanizing factor that gives it penetrating power. Finally and most importantly, it has to be
5. Tangible. it must perform in a way that's totally aligned and consistent with all your claims - the ultimate test. If not, no matter how lean, strong, and appealing you are, you'll be mounted on the catapult in two seconds and shot back over the wall without a net.
A specialty with all five ingredients is positioning incarnate, designed to motivate as much as it differentiates.
When such a specialty is attached to your name, it's called a Dominant Selling Idea (DSI), something we'll cover in great detail in Section II. With a DSI, your target can't even think your name without automatically linking it to an idea of superior value that sets you apart as #1 in your specialty. And, just as sweet, the target can't think of that specialty either, without thinking your name first.
If the #1 spot you want is already taken by a competitor, go to Rule 2.
Rule #2: "The Unlimited Specialty" Rule
There's this big, lucky paradox that makes it possible for anyone to succeed at finding their #1 brand idea, even though it may seem that opportunities to be #1 are, by definition, limited. The paradox is this: Yes, under the Rules of One, people focus on just one #1 brand in any perceived business specialty, but people can remember an unlimited number of specialties and categories!
Think about the thousands upon thousands of individual subjects you can instantly recall from sports to food to favorite songs to movie stars. You can articulate rich, specific impressions of your favorite in every specialty. Indeed, you can discuss secondary and tertiary players too at times - but a cogent impression of your #1 is guaranteed. Keep in mind then that even though there is only one Olympic Gold Medal to be won in each event, there will always be hundreds of events -specialties- to be winner of! And when in doubt, we can always invent more specialties or even more categories because of...
Rule #3: The "Captain Kirk" Rule
In the second Star Trek movie, when a young lieutenant despaired about an impossible dilemma, Bones spoke wistfully about Captain Kirk's legendary out-of-the-box thinking. It had gotten him through all eighty episodes and would presumably do so today. Kirk was the only cadet at Captain school who ever solved the Kobayashi Maru, the great unsolvable riddle in the final exam. Since there was no possible solution within the limits of the rules, Kirk reprogrammed the computer to change the rules.
This has big implications for the way we brand. When we look at our market and see that a competitor is way ahead the game, we don't despair. The quickest path to #1 is to change the rules that define your specialty, then claim the gold medal in the new one. In other words, when you're not #1 in your specialty, create another specialty to be #1 in.
Combining two established specialties to form a third illustrates one of several basic ways we're going to show you how to do this. Let's say there is an athlete who's clearly #1 at cross-country skiing. You're a good cross-country skier bur you can also target shoot. You create a new event called the cross-country ski & target shoot, better knows as the Olympic Biathlon. Now you can declare yourself first in the Biathlon. Subaru had an all-wheel-drive station wagon in a world of expensive, gas-guzzling SUV trucks. They knew there was a market for vehicles that combined the best of both at a moderate price. Subaru designated itself the SUV Wagon. And suddenly, in this new specialty, Subaru was, and still is, #1.