Brand tactics

Branding_tactics_2 Brands are built…out of culture…out of meanings from culture. 

In the Volvo campaign, the meaning was safety and symbol for this safety was a little girl.  Pretty standard.

But this book is interested in new ways to source meaning.  Let’s look at new, emerging brand tactics. 

The Dove Mining Culture post: Dove went looking in a new place.  It noticed that our culture is changing the way we think about beauty.  It seized on this as a brand opportunity.  Anyone could have done this.  But only Dove did.  And there are lots of additional cultural ideas out there waiting to go.  Who will step up?   (See the post here.) 

The Nike Mining History post: Nike has worked the world of sport pretty extensively.  And now the brand is looking for new meanings, in this case from the history of sport.  "No Boots in the Shower" brilliant.  This is a bad of the culture of sports as cultivated by the British tradition.  Vivid, evocative, meaty.  (See the post here.) 

The Kleenex Mining Emotion post: A lot of marketing has devoted itself to a kind of "fun in the sun" creative.  (Think of those Coke ads in the 1950s that showed kids racing down a beach in an open convertible. Donna Marie still turns out this kind of thing.)  This is the sort of thing that made branding seem simple minded and insubstantial.  But there is change here too.  In this case, Kleenex actually reached out to claim negative emotion.  A brilliant marketing move.   Hat’s off to JWT New York. (See the post here.)

The BMW Mining Frustration post: BMW did their research.  They reached into the professional lives of the BMW owner and discovered a problem.  All of us have one of these problem.  He’s that nitwit, the  one who uses the resources of the corporation to frustrate the corporation and the talented people who work there.  Brilliant move.  A meaning that resonates with my life.  I know it resonates with yours.  Splendid way to build the brand.  (See the post here.)

The Mastercard Mining Payton Manning post: Celebrity endorsement has been with us for a long time.  In this campaign, Mastercard finds a new and interesting way to use Payton Manning in a brilliant piece of strategic and creative work.  Hat’s off McCann-Erickson/New York and of course Mr. Manning.  (See the post here.)

The American Century Fails to Mine Lance Armstrong post: When American Century created this campaign, Armstrong was just about as important as a celebrity could be.  He had defeated cancer and he had won the Tour de France.  But American Century blew it.  There is a method for extracting meanings from a famous person.  If we don’t get it right, we can do more harm than good.  (See the post here.)

The Acura Fails to Mine the Culture of the Moment post: This bring us full circle back to the opening post, the one about Dove.  Dove managed to find something in our culture that could make the brand resonate.  Here we look at Acura trying to the same thing but failing to get it right.  More proof, I think, that this meaning management thing is harder than it looks.  (See the post here.) 

In sum, two things:

1) we have build brands out of meaning for a long time, but we continue to make mistakes so fundamental I believe they qualify as "rookie errors."

2) there is plenty of room for experimentation and innovation here at the tactic level.


McCracken, Grant.  2005. Meaning management.  In Culture and Consumption II: markets, meaning and brand management.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 175-191. 

McCracken, Grant. 2006. Meet Rosi: scourge of the new advertising.  This Blog. October 27, 2008.  here