In which we soak and spin Al Ries’ 22 Immutable Laws of Branding in a Maytag washer

Al Ries - The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

And what a soggy mess we get.

We continue our full frontal assault on Al Ries’ famous tome on branding, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. It’s a wonderful book, but reality, it turns out, is a bit more complex. In an effort to make the book more useful for the messy complexity of real life — and it’s the messy complexity of real life that offers all us entrepreneurs spectacular opportunities — we’re pitting the book against a set of randomly collected major brands to see if they actually follow Ries’ 22 Immutable Laws.

Since I’ve had decades of training in things like philosophy and critical thinking and logic and linguistics, I tend to read books like this and isolate the main idea. There may be 22 “immutable” laws in Ries’ book, but the central idea behind half of those laws is this: one brand must be applied to one and only one thing and be associated with one word (we call this, tongue in cheek, of course, The Law of the One). The Law of the One is half the book in a nutshell. All his laws about subbrands and line extensions and sibling brands, those are all laws working out his main principle. So when a major brand-owner breaks this main principle, they usually end up breaking over half the rules in Ries’ book.

But Ries says that brands that break his “Law of the One” are doomed to market Sheol to eat ashes for eternity. Is that true? And if it isn’t, are there ways of looking at branding in a more complex way?

By throwing brands at Al Ries’ book, we’re “smarting up” the book for entrepreneurs. In the process, we’ve come up with a principle that can potentially overrule half of Ries’ book, what we call the Opportunity Principle: a brand is an opportunity. Just what kind of opportunity and what to make of it, we’ll find out by tossing Ries’ book into a Maytag appliance!

Maytag
Maytag tops the charts as one of the most recognizable brands in America. After building a top brand in washers, Maytag successfully expanded the brand first to dryers (see our Love and Marriage corollary), but then to dishwashers, refrigerators, and other household appliances – and, by doing so, threw half of Ries’ immutable laws right out the window.

The later extensions were not Blue Oceans extensions involving a market with weak or no competitors, but were instead moves into highly competitive territory against immensely powerful brands such as General Electric, Frigidaire, and Whirlpool. While bad business decisions have hurt the company recently, the brand remains immensely strong with growth in many, not all, of these extensions.

Why? Because the word they had spent thirty years of advertising to own in the consumer’s mind was not “washing machines,” but “dependability.” In addition, since consumers tend to think of appliances as a single product type, Maytag could leverage the dependability concept to compete in a larger field. This gives us a new principle: the Principle of the Word:

The Principle of the Word

The purpose of a brand is to create opportunity.

AND . . .

The best word to own in a consumer’s mind may not be a “thing,” but a quality to provide opportunity to compete across line extensions.

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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11 Responses to “In which we soak and spin Al Ries’ 22 Immutable Laws of Branding in a Maytag washer”

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  1. [...] 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 [...]

  2. [...] 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 [...]

  3. [...] 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 [...]

  4. [...] 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 [...]

  5. [...] 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 [...]

  6. [...] 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 [...]

  7. [...] 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 [...]

  8. [...] 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 [...]

  9. [...] 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 [...]

  10. [...] 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 [...]

  11. [...] 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 [...]


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