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Al Ries doesn’t know what to do with Vaseline . . . but we do!

Al Ries - The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

We’re just having too much fun reviewing Al Ries’ The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by randomly throwing brands at the book and seeing if they stick. Help! We can’t stop!

Well, talk about sticky, today we throw a gooey jar of Vaseline at the book and . . . wait! Al Ries already threw a sticky wad of Vaseline at his own book! And . . . the book lost!

“Some folks just get lucky,” he says, as he slumps away, all besmirched and beslimed. But did Vaseline get lucky? Let’s find out.

Vaseline
Although Vaseline originally started as petroleum jelly for soothing cuts and burns and medicinal relief for dry skin, Chesebrough-Pond’s successfully extended the Vaseline brand to the hand and body lotion market, thus relegating over half or Ries’ immutable laws to the dumpster.

A veritable host of line extensions and subbrands proliferate from 1970 onwards: Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion, Vaseline Intensive Bath Beads, Vaseline Intensive Care baby products, Vaseline Lip Therapy, Vaseline Dermacare Ultra-Therapeutic Lotion and Vaseline Intensive Care Hand and Nail Formula Lotion widened the brand’s application without withering its uncontestable dominant market share in petroleum jelly. These products achieved successful outcomes, and, among other things, Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion had more than twice the unit share of its closest competitor with three times the gross profit. This isn’t just an exception to the Ries Immutable and Immovable Laws — it’s a veritable hurricane.

Surprisingly, Ries acknowledges this success and, although he dismisses it as luck, actually lights on the answer:

Sometimes a company gets lucky. The line extension Vaseline Intensive Care skin lotion became the number one hand lotion brand because the customer inadvertently treated Intensive Care as a brand name, not a descriptive name. “The Law of the Generic” 66

Okay, you know you’re in trouble when the book you’re reading ascribes a phenomenal brand success to luck only.

The line extension succeeded not because of luck, but because the subbrand, “Intensive Care,” reinforced and developed the core concept of the Vaseline brand, “skin care.” This strengthening of the core concept led not only to the original line extension’s success, but opened the door for additional line extensions. There’s nothing “lucky” about it. So we add an additional corollary, the Reinforcement Corollary:

The Reinforcement Corollary
One brand = one thing = one word in the consumer’s mind.

BUT . . .

Subbrands have value if they reinforce the core concept in the consumer’s mind, that is, they put a stronger word in place of the brand.

Breaking The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding one brand at a time, part 1
Part 2: Jello, or The Blue Oceans Corollary
Part 3: Aunt Jemima, or The Love and Marriage Corollary
Part 4: Campbells, or The Brand Value Corollary
Part 5: Jacuzzi, or The Model Corollary
Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary
Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary
Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary
Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding
Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand Leadership Principle
Part 11: Maytag, or The Principle of the Word
Part 12: Gucci, or The New and Improved Principle of the Word
Part 13: Rubbermaid, or The Blue Oceans Principle of Branding
Part 14: Yamaha, or The Cultural Principle
Part 15: Ivory, or The Principle of Transcendence
Part 16: Al Ries on how to build a brand
Part 17: Al Ries on how to maintain a brand
Part 18: The Final Word

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12 Responses to “Al Ries doesn’t know what to do with Vaseline . . . but we do!”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  2. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  3. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  4. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  5. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  6. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  7. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  8. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  9. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  10. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  11. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]

  12. [...] Part 6: Formica, or The Intel Inside Corollary Part 7: Tiffany’s, or The Retail Corollary Part 8: Vaseline, or The Reinforcement Corollary Part 9: Fruit of the Loom: The Opportunity Principle of Branding Part 10: Tylenol, or The Brand [...]


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