• Best in ‘Positioning’ Durabilty: Five Unlikely Brands

    by  • March 1, 2011 • Branding, Marketing

    If I asked you to name the five most distinctive brand icons of all time, where would you begin? Well, you’ve likely already begun. The question can’t help but conjure several images in your mind. Many of you will visualize white lettering on a shiny-red circle, a single swoosh or two yellow arches. Brands, to most of us are consumable goods and services marketed by big business. With all that marketing muscle, is it any wonder when we think of brands we think in a commercial context? Yet, so many of these famous brand names are young, many conceived within our lifetimes.

    Just for fun, consider the most durable international brand icons not created by business, industry or not-for-profit causes. The pic is gives you a big hint. Make a list of five. When I went through the exercise I settled on five durable symbols that passed the ultimate test of a brand — an enduring, well-differentiated brand platform; each of these iconic designs stand for a unique and indelible position in our minds. But don’t expect any of them to make 2011’s list of the world’s best brands–especially number 5. Here’s my top five as measured by durable brand positioning:

    1. The Christian Cross: This brand has stood for ‘Christian faith’ since the second century. Two thousand years later, the promise is as strong as ever to millions.

    2. The Star of David was first used in the eleventh century. Nothing embodies the ‘Jewish identity’ like it.

    3. The Statue of Liberty is distinctively ‘American’ and the nation’s symbol of ‘democratic freedom’.

    4. The Olympic Rings have stood for global ‘athletic unification’ since 1914. I admit to treading on thin ice with the Olympics — there’s certainly a strong case to be made for commerciality.

    5. The Swastika: Though the sight of the swastika brings discomfort, few can deny its clarity in positioning. Hitler’s re-branding of the three thousand year-old symbol will sadly be associated with ‘death and hate’ forever.

    Inherent in these world marks is deep human emotion. A business brand seeks to capture the target’s emotional heartstrings, but compared to these brands, nothing measures up.


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    Formerlife: Jacobs Suchard CEO (Kraft, Nabob), Strategy Consultant. Afterlife: Palgrave Macmillan Author, Historical Novelist, Business Journalist

    2 Responses to Best in ‘Positioning’ Durabilty: Five Unlikely Brands

    1. Blake
      March 2, 2011 at 12:32 am

      >While lazing on the beach this afternoon I couldn’t help but identify the most common brand stamped on almost every piece of beach paraphernalia, our national flags, do they count? Some incorporate religious symbolism via color or sign, like British flags with a symbol of Christianity. In any case the most popular start of conversation between people I have met along the way is, “where are you from?” As a Canadian I can’t help but feel we are clearly represented by our flag…

    2. John Bell
      March 2, 2011 at 12:50 am

      >Blake is right. National flags count as brands. Some differentiate better than others. Americans have been known to stitch a small Canadian flag on their backpacks while traipsing through Europe. Now…why would someone do that?