Monthly Archives: November 2023

Nike’s “Just Do It” Is Not a Brand Strategy.


A fellow brand strategist recently wrote a LinkedIn post about “motivating” an expected customer behavior.  It made me think.  I get doing a deep dive on what motivates customer behavior — but I’m not sure I want to build motivation in to my brand strategy claim.  This may go against the grain but “Just Do It” is a great advertising line but in my mind it’s not a good brand strategy claim.

Bear with me here.

When gathering and developing insights that feed the brand claim, I delve into customer Care-abouts and brand Good-ats. By addressing these values my hope is it results in motivation. By jumping straight to the motivation or promoting the desired behavior I believe we’ve defaulted to advertising. I repeat, by jumping to straight up motivation, we’re advertising.

“Improve your ass” might be a better brand strategy claim for Nike.  It encourages proper advertising. Is it motivation? I don’t think so. It’s a declarative statement, a scold. It’s a Care-about. “I want to improve my ass.” “If I improve my ass the rest will follow” or whatever. 

I can build three proof planks around “Improve my ass” where I can’t (not easily) around “Just Do It.”

Brand planners need not motivate. Their efforts are best spent creating an environment in which motivation results. Let the ad agencies motivate. How do we do that? By immersing oneself in the Careabouts and Good-ats.




We’re Here!


Lots has been written “attention” in advertising. Recently, I read a neat piece by Catherine Campbell of East Fork Pottery on LinkedIn where she suggests attention as too ephemeral — a social media phenomenon. She advances the idea that “consumer trust” is much more worthy as a goal than attention. Smart women. You can’t argue with her logic.  But two things at the same time can be true.

For instance, take out-of-home billboard advertising, where you have about 5 words to make an impression. Back in the 90s when ads shrunk from pages to pixels, the units were more akin to billboards than traditional print ads — a tough time to be a creative person.

One way to get attention is to tell a consumer something they didn’t know. Or show them something they’ve haven’t seen. It sparks attention.  If you pair that with a sales message you accomplish something. So, let’s not pooh-pooh attention.

I write a good deal about “We’re Here Advertising” which is little more than an announcement of what one sells and where to buy. This morning I listened to a local allergy doctor radio spot on the way to get coffee. You know what I learned?  They treat allergies. All kinds: pet, plant, food, pollen, bad advertising…

When spending money advertising “tell me something I don’t know.”  Work a little harder to prove why you’re worthy of a sale.

One of my favorite brand strategy claims, developed for an assisted living company in Westchester, NY, was “Average is the Enemy.”  When I left the premises everyone on the marketing team had their assignment.

Pair attention with trustworthy and you can build a brand.



Brand Strategy Framework.


Merriam-Webster defines the word framework as:

1.a a basic conceptional structure (as of ideas)

b a skeletal, openwork, or structural  frame

In my business, which is brand strategy development, I rely on a framework. It is made up of one brand claim, supported by three proof planks. That’s the structure. That’s the skeleton.

Everybody in branding understands the word claim. And people know what the word proof means — so, it’s not a difficult concept.   

I’ve been doing this for a while and have yet to find another brand strategy framework that outlines what a brand truly needs to truly succeed in the marketplace. And that does so in a simple way.

At What’s The Idea? brand strategy defines as “an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.” The claim and proof framework provides that organizing principle.

Another benefit of this framework is that it leaves creative development to the creatives. There is no voice. There is no persona. No purpose or essenceCreative teams deliver on the claim then prove it with evidence. That simple. Of course, there should be visual identity components: logo, name, typeface and such. But even those can be a bit fluid so long as the claim and proof are there…and the creative team has a good reason for the departure.

Google these three words “brand strategy framework” and see what happens. Then click images. It’s a strategic mess. General Patton wouldn’t approve. If you’d would like to see examples of real, clean, clear brand strategy frameworks please write Steve at WhatsTheIdea dot com.