What do JD Power and choosy mothers have in common?

Think about the brands you trust most–and why. Chances are your impression has been shaped by a source of authority. In fact, many of the world’s most successful brands are inextricably linked to one. There are more examples of this than we can list here, but for starters, there’s Oprah for Weight Watcher’s, 4 out of 5 dentists for Trident, and Rotten Tomatoes for the next movie you might be seeing.

In contrast, when we hear that a Kardashian has reeled in over a million dollars for a single Instagram post, it becomes harder for consumers to know who or what to trust. Consequently, when a superiority claim is delivered credibly and connects with consumers, it’s not just an achievement; it’s a true competitive advantage. 

source of authority can be as integral to branding as positioning, reasons-to-believe, and brand character. But in the case of too many brands, it’s a missed opportunity, especially since it’s one of the most powerful levers that a marketer can pull to stimulate behavior change. 

Have you thought about who or what will serve as a source of authority for your brand? At Glue, we believe the most persuasive candidate will be third parties or third-party-generated content with the power to validate, create, and even elevate claims.  Candidates to be considered include

  • Individuals, eg healthcare professionals, social media influencers, current users
  • Organizations or groups, eg academic centers, associations, the media
  • Information, such as clinical trial data and survey results

The Glue message is don’t overlook source of authority as a component of your communications strategy. If you do, you may inadvertently relinquish the higher ground to a challenger already in your market–or in the wings. 

Glue has been named a top branding agency according to DesignRush. For more: https://www.designrush.com/agency/logo-branding


One brand impression or two?

Thank you to those who commented on my positioning/campaign alignment query on LinkedIn and the over 5,000 people who viewed the discussion.

The reason for my question–I found in talking to clients and colleagues that there are divergent beliefs on the need for distinct positioning and campaigns by target audience, especially in healthcare, where insights and understanding can be markedly different. I initiated the thread with a strong point of view that has been challenged by many who disagree with me, all whose opinions I respect. 

In the end, I still feel the “holy grail” is unification whenever possible, with customization at the messaging level. To achieve this, there has to be agreement that positioning is an implicit idea and that positioning should answer an unmet need that transcends target audience differences. If insights don’t support this, then all bets are off.  And I have worked on products where that is the case.  

When it is, I would argue that we, as marketers, are obligated to find a branding element or device beyond the logo that pulls everything together. Otherwise, we risk confusing those we are trying to influence. I guess fundamentally, given my CPG history, I believe that brands benefit from having one, single-minded identity, conveyed over and over again.  

Getting the best creative from your agency is a two-way street


A common refrain is that a strong client-agency partnership leads to the best creative output. At Glue–recognized as a top New York Branding Company on DesignRush–we completely agree. But what constitutes a strong partnership? And why does partnership even matter? After all, shouldn’t agencies just deliver great campaigns, since that’s what they’re paid to do?

In theory, yes. But agencies don’t sell widgets, they sell ideas, which come from the minds of people. 

As a client, you want your agency’s very best creative team to be devoted to your business. But so does everyone else. And because that team is in high demand, they almost always––maybe not at first, but eventually––have a choice about what brands they want to service.

So here are three ways to help you get the best creative team and their best work:

  1. The creative brief

Great creative campaigns are on-strategy. They engage the target audience by eliciting responses such as “that’s me! “or “that’s for me!” And then they motivate action by molding perceptions of a brand as important and differentiating, ie something of value that would be hard––if not impossible––to replace. They reflect target-audience insights, and the positioning and brand character of the product.

Sound like the core components of a creative brief? Exactly. Which is why having that document thoroughly vetted and approved by the client is the essential first step to getting great work. The creative brief and the process that produces it give the agency the knowledge it needs to not only deliver a well-designed campaign, but one that will effectively build business.

  1. Fewer meetings, more time

The big idea that generates great creative doesn’t typically arise in a formal meeting. More often than not, it surfaces at an unpredictable moment, after all of the information contained in the creative brief and supportive documents have had a chance to marinate in the minds of the creative team assigned to your business.

As Joseph Campbell might describe it, a creative thinker needs to be given a chance to follow his or her bliss. The eureka moment that results may happen in a dream, in the shower, or standing in line at the supermarket. It’s the reason copywriters and art directors keep a pad by their bedside or have the dictation function at-the-ready on their smart phone.

When we, as an agency, are in the midst of creative concepting we give our teams as much time and latitude as possible. We also welcome clients to brainstorm with us, with the caveat that fewer meetings and more unscheduled free-form interactions are the proven formula for getting the best outcomes.

  1. Transparency, accessibility, and a willingness to be uncomfortable

You’ve heard the adage that clients get the work that they deserve. In our experience, that’s true, as great creative is fueled by active client engagement. Its client guidance that ensures that the agency understands the finer nuances of the campaign’s objectives, whom the key decision makers will be, and what success looks like for them. That’s the transparency piece.

Agencies also are heavily reliant on clients to be accessible and responsive to us throughout the process, as the closer we get to identifying possible creative solutions, the more questions we are likely to have. Since we are usually facing a tight deadline, we depend upon clients to get back to us as quickly as possible, so that time is not lost going down proverbial rabbit holes. 

And last, but perhaps the hardest ‘ask’ of all, is that we want our clients to trust us enough to accept that our work may make them feel uncomfortable. Great creative must command attention, have a point-of-view, and should never be predictable.  If it’s intended to change behavior, clients and target audiences have to feel it. If the work doesn’t give you goosebumps, a quickened pulse, or make you a little nervous, how will it ever change the mindset of your intended customer?

As your agency, our job at Glue would be to find that magical idea that slices through the noise and hum of the status quo without being off-putting or inflammatory. Creative that leverages insights to do just that will capture the imagination of your customer and do what advertising does best—sell!    

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work

Social media 80/20 rule: Why it’s relevant and where it falls short

Recognized as a top 25 Digital Agency on DesignRush, Glue is something of an expert on social media! See our thoughts on social media marketing below: 

To a marketer, the greatest promise of social media lies in its ability to build relationships and do it at a scale and pace that wasn’t conceivable prior to the digital age. Still, the time-tested principles for creating and deepening relationships offline apply equally online. A relationship is a relationship.

Digital marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk confirms this, when he says that “developing relationships through social media requires the same key components that you would want in any good relationship – trust, respect and connection.”

At its core, this is what social media’s 80/20 rule is all about.

Let’s look at two different ways the 80/20 rule has been defined and examine the Glue rule that may supersede them both.

  1. The 80/20 rule of content

This long-standing guidance advocates that, for a marketer, at least 80% of your posts should educate or entertain, while no more than 20% should promote you or your business.

There’s a strong rationale for this. Think about the people you gravitate toward—the ones who freely give of themselves and their expertise without thinking about what they are going to get in return. Contrast them with people who are shameless self-promoters; those who are first and foremost looking to close a deal. Whom are you more likely to want to spend your time with, and when it comes to meeting your business needs, whom are more likely to engage?

The answer for most of us, of course, is the giver. This offline example illustrates why the 80/20 rule works online. It fosters engagement, trust, and loyalty, which are all key to relationship-building. 

  1. The 80/20 rule of origination

This guidance recognizes that original content can set you apart as a thought leader and key influencer, but only if it reaches a sizable audience.

The second definition of the 80/20 rule is more about the how than the what. It begins with the premise that you, the blogger, the poster, the expert, are a limited resource and therefore need to divide your time appropriately, devoting the majority of it to cultivating followers (80%), while leaving the rest for generating original content (20%). 

In this case, the mandate is to concentrate on mobilizing your offline contacts and converting them into online followers as quickly possible. And while you are doing that, selectively share existing, high-value curated content, to garner trust and respect by association and entice those who are active online to join your social media conversation.

  1. Overriding or at the very least complementing both is the Glue rule—be interesting and interested

The 80/20 rules on content and origination are useful rules of thumb. They likely prevent those who adhere to them from making rookie mistakes in their use of social media. However, what they fail to address head-on is that posts––regardless of whether they are entertaining, educational, promotional, shared, or original––have to be something your intended target wants to read about.

And the way to know that is to pay attention to target-audience attitudes and behaviors, just as you would when mounting any other type of campaign. The starting point here, as with other marketing outreach, is insight generation. From the Glue point of view, insights don’t just inform branding and advertising, they drive content strategy too.

So be interested in the unmet needs, beliefs, and aspirations, of your target audience. Take note of gaps in how your competitors are––or are not–– addressing them. Some market research will likely be necessary to learn what you need to know.

Once you have that information in hand, build a social-media calendar that is populated with interesting, provocative content that addresses the insights you have gleaned.

Finally, make leveraging insights in your social media posts (so that you are both interesting and interested) a rule that you stick to–100% of the time.

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work



Glue’s philosophy on positioning: start early before others do it for you!

You may have heard the marketing adage that if you don’t position your brand, somebody else will. Well that somebody else may be market forces or worse yet—another competitor.  In either case, we can say with absolute certainty that the result won’t be the one you’d wish for.

Choosing a positioning will very likely be the most important marketing decision you’ll ever make for your brand. And once you have the requisite information—which may not be every piece of information you’ll ever know—we believe it’s imperative to take the reins. In today’s complex marketplace, a simple, differentiating positioning is more important than ever. And you can’t start early enough.

In Glue’s experience, a successful positioning (and launch) depends upon three things:

  1. Understanding the unmet needs of the decision-makers who will buy and use the product.
  2. Demonstrating how your brand solves those needs better than the competitors do.
  3. An unwavering commitment to telling that story over and over again—the sooner, the better.

Your brand’s positioning should serve as a guidepost for early strategic decisions and ultimately, tactical choices. What’s communicated at every touchpoint should consistently support the one single-minded idea that will set your brand apart at launch. And before launch, those communications should seed the market for what’s to come.

The primary reason that it’s important to start early is that positioning is about perception, not reality. Al Ries and Jack Trout stress the importance of this principle in their book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. They explain that “the minds of customers or prospects are very difficult to change, (because) with a modicum of experience, a consumer assumes that he or she is right.

A customer’s first exposure to a brand, which may occur before that brand reaches the market, can form an impression that may be impossible to change. At the very least, such an impression can be costly to overcome. 

One example of this can be found in the e-reader category, where Nook made an attempt to challenge Kindle. Nook had some better features, but Amazon killed it because it was second to market (not always a death knoll) and Nook never got out in front on the positioning conversation. While knowing what we know now about the marketing muscle of Amazon versus Barnes & Noble, it may seem that the difference was more about size and scale and maybe even price. But the problem started with poor launch preparation leading up to Nook’s introduction in 2009, long before Amazon was the amazon it is today.

The positioning process

The hierarchy of communication, shown below, is our useful construct for positioning development.  It begins with product facts and fundamentals and ladders up to higher-order ideas. This approach ensures that the product benefit, product positioning, and ultimately, brand character are ownable, believable, tightly integrated, and focused on the target audience.

Positioning workshops

Workshopping offers an ideal format for developing a brand’s positioning. By inviting the extended team to generate a range of potential approaches, workshops offer an opportunity to evaluate which positionings are working hardest, and then forge a consensus. Given the importance of unmet needs (as described above), at the outset of any workshop, it’s critical to indoctrinate participants on what is known about the mindset of your target audience. From there, the discussion can move on to product facts and fundamentals and an exercise to prioritize the same. Those that are both important and differentiating become the basis for positioning brainstorming.

And what’s the ideal output? Positioning options that are grounded in insight will by definition be relevant and compelling to your target audience. And because market research will be the immediate next step, they must also be testably different.

In another classic by Ries and Trout, Positioning, The Battle for your Mind, the authors reaffirm their philosophy, and Glue’s, that positioning is about molding perceptions, making it “not something that you do to the product, but something you do to the mind of the prospect.

And they cap the introduction to the book by tipping their hats to the adage we mentioned upfront–telling their readers that “if you don’t understand and use the principles of positioning, your competitors undoubtedly will.”

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work

Data overload leading to data avoidance? You’re not alone.

We commonly hear from clients that they have lots of data. However, more often than not, they characterize what exists as “overwhelming” and therefore, “impossible to use.” The result is that learnings that are there for the taking are not realized.

According to a Forbes Magazine article published April, 2016 (https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/04/28/big-data-overload-most-companies-cant-deal-with-the-data-explosion/#5ab9c9886b0d) the problem is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of data have a limited lifespan.  At some point in time, they become irrelevant, inaccurate, or outdated.  But often, the data are held onto anyway in the mistaken belief that at some point they might prove valuable.

As the availability of data grows and the speed with which we can accumulate them increases, these issues are only going to worsen. And yet, as budgets shrink, one of those perennial trends that we identified in another blog post (https://glueadvertising.com/glueblog/uncategorized/2017-trends-as-seen-through-the-glue-lens/), the mandate to capitalize on what “we know” is only going to become more pressing.

With that in mind, here is some food for thought that can counteract information overload and help you get what you need—and do that faster than you think:

  1. There are data and then there are actionable data. Discriminating between the two will make any analysis more manageable (sounds obvious, we know). However, the process for doing that isn’t always straightforward. Suppose brand sales are declining? How should you respond? Well, looking at trends in the aggregate can be alarming, but it doesn’t provide insights on where and how to act. What’s required is determining if there are merely pockets of weakness or if the downturn is systemic. Once that is known, we can analyze the reasons why.

 One way to get at the source of a slump is to develop hypotheses as to the underlying cause––or causes––and then look to support or refute them. Another option is to bring in professionals—we work with Proximo—who can conduct various kinds of analyses to quantitatively reveal and prioritize the data elements that correlate to the downturn in question.

  1. Avoid surprises. Isolating and monitoring leading indicators allows for early intervention and can even become a competitive advantage. Acting early can neutralize negative trends, but it can also capitalize on positive ones. To do this well, it is essential to know which metrics are the most revealing—the real harbingers of things to come—and then watch them very carefully. These trends may be different from brand to brand.

The actionable data analyses described above are the first place to start when there’s a need to uncover these leading indicators. But in an era when so much information can be found in social media, it can also be important to track positive and negative sentiment online by monitoring common platforms or conducting a thorough digital landscape analysis. And let’s not forget about the age-old practice of staying close to the 20% of customers who contribute 80% of your sales—by routinely soliciting their feedback on areas that matter most to them via the most personal means possible.

  1. Once the cause(s) of sales increases or decreases are understood, and leading indicators have been identified, converting them into measureable KPIs is the next step. Furthermore, making those KPIs specific and time-bound will allow them to be organized into an at-a-glance dashboard and updated according to the frequency with which meaningful changes are likely to occur. Dashboards can be populated automatically, pushed out routinely, and available on-demand as well. On the surface, this sounds optimal, ie, once we have improved selectivity and accessibility, insights gleaned from data will be applied more consistently. Well maybe or maybe not.

Sometimes a focused solution that’s easy to access and delivered regularly can result in an “I’ll-get-to-that-later” complacency. Dashboards can effectively combat the numbness that arises in response to data overload, but only if the people on the distribution list receiving their rich data and insights give them the timely attention that they deserve.  

Data can be an incredible asset, and as mentioned above, have the potential to become a source of competitive advantage. The challenge and opportunity, as with any precious resource, are to use them wisely.

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work



Is your brand prepared for the future? It can be with a competitive simulation workshop.

Companies can anticipate possible or likely competitive behaviors and environmental dynamics faster and better than they would otherwise with a competitive simulation workshop. Armed with the critical insights they yield, brands can adapt their plan to gain significant competitive advantage. That’s why they should be a core component of strategic brand development.

When executed properly, their output can help guide everything from positioning and messaging to branding, tactical planning, preemptive competitive counter-attacks, and ongoing lifecycle management. They should also be structured to ensure effective learning.

Getting started: The catalyst for a competitive simulation workshop is a comprehensive understanding of potential future-state scenarios. These scenarios are typically based on

  • Information available in the literature
  • Competitive intelligence provided by the client
  • Primary market research involving internal and external stakeholders, especially influencers.

Once this information is synthesized, the future scenarios should:

  • Be feasible and of high probability
  • Have significant impact on the brand’s ability to meet sales and market share objectives
  • Remain largely outside of client control
  • Take into account potential competitive action at the product or portfolio level
  • Be different enough from the other scenarios to be worthy of consideration

The workshop itself: Workshops are ideally 1.5 to 2 days in duration. On Day 1, scenarios are evaluated iteratively in small and large groups using tools and templates that assist in determining:

1) The probability that the scenario (all or in part) will occur

2) Product/portfolio winners and losers

3) Baseline and emergent unmet needs by target-audience type

4) The most significant opportunities and threats to brand success

5) A recommended set of prioritized actions that should be taken as a result, either proactively or reactively.

Ideally, Day 2 culminates in a live presentation to senior management that focuses on the critical steps the team will take in response to prevailing trends. In addition, the group determines what steps should be implemented once certain future-state scenario events occur. Whether or not such a presentation is feasible, these action steps are captured in a PowerPoint deck to serve as a guiding star for the extended team.

 Making it memorable: According to Stanford physics and education professor and Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, an effective active learning approach can improve understanding and retention of the material being discussed, while boosting the satisfaction of those taking part in the discussion as well.

Based upon these findings, Glue fosters active learning in our workshops. We consider them a success only if the learnings are remembered, and applied to strategy, positioning messaging, tactical planning, etc. by the full team.

To heighten attendee involvement and long-term impact, we recommend a range of creative and interactive exercises that are incredibly fun, and are able to pull even the most reserved participants out of their shells.

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work

How can we improve pharma marketing? By learning from CPG marketing.

Just last week, one of our clients volunteered over lunch that pharmaceutical marketing is looking a lot like consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) marketing. We couldn’t agree more, especially since we handle Rx, OTC, financial services, and food products––and routinely recommend and implement similar activities for all of them.

Factors for this trend, at a high level, include narrowing profit margins, increased pressure from payers, digital transformation, and a proliferation of OTC switches over the last 20 years. (The Glue team had the privilege of working on the Pepcid OTC switch, which was one of the earliest brands to convert.) To keep up, pharma has had to change.

With that as a backdrop to an intriguing phenomenon, let’s consider the specifics of what’s driving this trend and the potential upside: understanding and implementing even more CPG lessons will make pharma marketing efforts that much more successful.

  1. Cost and value have become central to decision-making. There was a time when price was never mentioned by consumers or prescribers as a factor, and manufacturers could raise the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of their brands every year with impunity. Today, as consumers are underwriting a larger share of the drugs they are prescribed, they and their physicians not only consider whether a treatment option is affordable, but whether its value is truly reflected in its cost.

To ensure that consumers believe there is value, pharma marketers need to clearly articulate what their products do in compelling sound bites––just as their CPG counterparts do. One way to achieve this objective is to design clinical studies so that they yield outcomes that can be communicated in easy-to-understand, lay language that consumers will embrace.

  1. Marketing dollars have been radically redeployed. With increasing pressure on margins, pharma companies have had to rethink their marketing spend. The traditional mainstay of brand promotion––the sales force––has been profoundly edited. A 1996 study calculated that the volume of sales reps had surpassed the capacity of all physicians who could possibly see them. As we know, much has changed in the last 20 years!

In the age of ever-expanding digital channels, many pharma brands are now completely and cost-effectively supported by a suite of on-line tactics that may include complementary, unbranded social media. Taking a page from CPG marketing, the opportunity here is to look at this non-personal promotion from the target audience’s point of view and ensure that the end-user experience is as customized, consistent, and cohesive as possible—across all touch-points.  

  1. In certain disease categories, Rxs are competing against OTCs. As an agency that is currently active in the allergy market, with a team that was also involved in the launch of Linzess, we have had to consider how to drive preference for an Rx when there are a myriad of options on the retail shelf. While a copay program that results in an equal or lower out-of-pocket cost to the consumer provides part of the answer, it’s even more important to make the case for superiority. (If the consumer believes an OTC is good enough, messages about the cost of an Rx alternative will be irrelevant to them.)

To do this well, CPG principles dictate that we take an insight-based approach to defining the unmet need, pervasively elevate awareness of this need, and then position the Rx as meeting this need better than an OTC option. In cases where the unmet need is not broadly recognized, but still held by a segment large enough, and loyal enough, to sustain the brand, precision targeting should be added to the mix.

The way to beat OTCs is to join them. Pharma needs to employ the same techniques that have proven so successful in the CPG marketers’ practice. Pharma just needs to execute them more effectively.  

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work

Business insights courtesy of my seat-mate

Sometimes you get great business insights from unexpected sources in unexpected places. That happened to me just last week.

I was flying home from Florida after visiting my dad for a few days. It had been so hot—yes, even hotter than in New York—that I was looking forward to a solid couple of hours in some good old-fashioned, freeze-you-to-the-bone air conditioning. And I expected to be sleeping.

I was seated in 1D, which required some extra effort in hoisting a heavy carry-on into the overhead so that the aisle in front of me would be clear for take-off. In another row, I would have just placed the bag at my feet. But then, I wouldn’t have met my seat-mate. It was my struggle that caused the man seated next to me to jump up and help. And because he extended himself, we got to talking.

At first, it was the usual airline banter, as our flight had been very delayed due to weather. Then we segued to aging parents and his relief that he and his wife had moved to Florida in recent years, which allowed them to spend time with his mother and father before he lost them to illnesses.

After about an hour, we started discussing our careers. I was especially interested in what he did, since I had already learned, as part of our airline conversation, that he flew all over the world for his job and back and forth between Florida and New York on a weekly basis.

Turns out, he was a very senior information technology officer at a major bank in New York. This piqued my interest as my younger son is also in the computer science field. Since Jed has set his sights on one day becoming a Chief Technology Officer and has been asking me about the merits of an MBA in supporting his aspirations, I posed that question to this open and engaging man.

He never answered it, at least not directly. In retrospect, he answered the question that I should have asked on behalf of Jed, and maybe even, on behalf of myself.

His guidance was that the way to grow your career and get to where you want to be is to become the expert in your field. You need to be the person who others seek out when they need to know what you know, and you should be the first person who comes to mind.

I found this such a simple, but compelling thought, that I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any of the underling nuances. So I asked him what he had done to get there.

He said that for him, incessant curiosity about technology was the key. Since he loved the subject matter, he explained that keeping up with computer science through reading was something he would do anyway. As a result, his knowledge was always fresh and cutting edge without his even really trying. This had elevated his stature and made it so that he could effectively mentor and lead, giving him the added benefit of learning from those who reported to him and the ability to always hire the very best.

Even though I hadn’t thought about career growth, my progression, or Jed’s in that way, everything he said made so much sense. As a marketing person, I often find that the insights that we land on are just like that. They make so much sense, yet they haven’t been articulated clearly and compellingly by another brand, so we leverage them for the benefit of the one that we are working on.

I gave these insights to Jed and I’m giving them to you to leverage on behalf of your personal brand. I’m certainly planning to put them to work for mine.

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work

Branded house or house of brands—which is right for your company?

When it’s time for reputation-building at the corporate level, the first question to be asked and answered is “What should the underlying strategy be?”

Should the company dedicate its resources to promoting individual brands and benefit from their successes—as in the house-of-brands strategy popularized by P&G and commonly applied in consumer packaged goods. Or should it focus on its corporate image, with the idea that positives created there will accrue to all its products equally—as with the branded-house approach practiced by Federal Express and many other service companies.

And what about a hybrid model, where product offerings have separate identities, but align with the parent (or master brand) in some fashion? Think Courtyard by Marriott or Crewcuts.

The answer, as you probably guessed—is it all depends. But sometimes, it’s not obvious which way to go. The mandate may be to get senior leaders in a room to flesh out which brand architecture to adopt, since the decision is not an insignificant one.

Here are a just a few, far from complete set of considerations, which will help you get started in determining the best model for your company.

1. Are your products targeting the same audience?

When products are similar from an offering and image perspective, or at least have the same consumers in common, it is easier and always more economical to organize them under a branded-house structure. In this case, the marketing budget is deployed in a focused, cohesive way, which is a positive. The downside is that individual product attributes are given less weight than they would be in a house of brands. In a very noisy marketplace, especially one where competitors are loudly touting their differentiators, this construct may put your brands at a disadvantage.

2. Are there any risks in marketing your products together?

When brands are inextricably linked, as in a branded house strategy, their fortunes tend to rise and fall collectively, and they are more likely to directly benefit or be damaged by company and/or portfolio activities. When risks are high, for whatever reason, it is better to diversify—an investment principle that applies here as well. As far as brand architecture goes, this translates to putting each brand in charge of its own destiny with a house-of- brands approach.

3. Where do brand equities within the company currently reside?

Brand equities are built over time. This means that a historical preference for one structure over another usually means that when it comes to brand architecture, the past dictates the future. Acquisitions or divestitures challenge this notion, since brand power, corporate versus products, is thrown into a state of flux. Recently, we worked in a situation where the corporate brand had been dominant, but new assets, added through an acquisition, had such strong, independent equities that we and the client agreed to a hybrid model to preserve them.

As with most strategic decisions, this one requires careful consideration of the trade-offs that result from going in one direction or another. Since course correction can be difficult, costly, and potentially even ineffective, it’s best to get it right the first time.

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work