Build or Borrow.


Brand planning is a lot like cooking. It’s all about technique, palette and ingredients.

Technique is about the where to find the inputs and how to effectively assemble them. Palette is about knowing what tastes are and meeting those tastes in a meaningful, desirable way. And Ingredients are the things of which the idea-dish is made.  Minimalism is awesome, but so is a complex sauce. Knowing what not to use is often a difference-maker.

From the palette side of the brand planning equation, let’s look at the ideas we serve up. When landing on a brand strategy, there are two approaches: build or borrow.  Build requires using words, ideas and imagery that is uniquely yours.  It’s never been done — it is a pioneering approach.  Borrowing, on the other hand, uses context of other products or culture to frame up the selling. Context borrows known messaging and repackages it.

Build is expensive. Borrow much less so. Borrow is what Samsung did with its tablet and phones. A Few Good Women, borrows from movie that has become a part of our cultural patois.  “You can’t handle the truth,” another cultural borrow from the same movie.

I love fresh. And I love build. If you have the fortitude, it’s preferred.  Marketers use famous spokespeople to embellish their brand promise, a form of borrow, because it is fast and can save a few shekels in the long run…but it is not innovative. Go forth (Levi’s), and build.