Real branding isn’t a beauty contest about the most creative advertising. It’s about boosting the bottom-line.


  1. Example: Marks & Spencer’s revival
  2. Real brands build on deep, immersive insights. You find these out in the real world, not watching 8 strangers drinking cheap wine from behind a 2-way mirror
  3. Example: Pampers learnt from child experts that dry babies sleep well, play more, and so develop better
  4. Real brands drive the whole business, not just the image wrapper of advertising and logo Example: Apple (product, design, store, website, packaging, innovation)
  5. Real brands are authentic, building on a genuine product truth. Accepting that “all products are the same” is surrendering to retailers’ own label brands
  6. Example: the product passion of innocent smoothies
  7. Real brands use emotion (“sizzle”) to sell a compelling product story (“sausage”). Emotion without product truth is just sponsored entertainment
  8. Example: Harley Davidson’s rugged, rough at the edges, throatily roaring bikes
  9. Real brands avoid “brand ego trips” when extending, by sticking to what made them famous and avoiding extensions with no added value
  10. Example: Dove’s extension into shower, hair and deo based on its 1/4 moisturising cream product truth
  11. Real brands are a magical mix of smart strategy and excellent execution
  12. Example: Gu puddings’ perfect product and phenomenal packaging
  13. Real brand leaders inspire their people by saying less and doing more, being the living, breathing embodiment of their brand
  14. Examples: Brand CEOs Steve Jobs/Apple, Richard Reed/Innocent, Silvia Lagnado/Dove