Father, Son & Spirit of branding

(Find your Brand Purpose)

Having learned that ideas are nothing more than new combinations of old elements, I was able to clearly articulate what our work in “Brand Planning” is all about. We simply have to find a new combination between something in the brand and the brain that will win the battle. The stronger the bond between a person and a brand, the greater the power of that brand; but for the bond to be strong it has to have what Ries & Trout called a “competitive mental angle” stronger than the competitors in the marketplace.

The word “strategy” is derived from the word “stratagem” which was first recorded in 1489 to mean: a devise or scheme to outwit or surprise the enemy. That “big idea” or “high concept” is not created by some magical thing that pops out of nowhere. It is created by the blood, sweat and tears of triangulating insights and truths to crack the code by articulating a new combination between something in Father/Marketplace; Son/ Audience and Spirit/Brand to create god: the Answer.

The “Answer” is the Solution used to outwit the enemy. Let’s use an old classic, the “Priceless” campaign in which Mastercard positioned itself as being for “Everything” (except of course the most important things in life which are priceless). Clearly the enemy that it had to outwit was Visa. Visa had long based their positioning on universal acceptance: “Everywhere”. BBDO’s brilliance had been the tactical deployment of “it’s everywhere you want to be” going against and poking a little fun at Amex, while making the everywhere superiority claim; all the while stealing a share of Amex’s prestige to build Visa’s Esteem. Masterful positioning stories, all round…

Coca Cola’s answer back then was to position itself as “the real thing” and to do so by bringing back the heritage of its iconic bottle. Pepsi of course took “the against” position and had a lot of fun poking fun at Coke while positioning itself as the taste for the next generation. Remember the one were the deliveries get mixed up and Coca Cola goes to the youth hostel while Pepsi gets delivered to an old age home and the kids go fuddy-duddy while the oldies go “rad”. Seems like centuries ago now with Coke sparking on all cylinders with its “Liquid & Linked” strategy of spreading share worthy stories to create brand led business growth; while all that Pepsi seem to have going for it is the old, new logo — but don’t count out the challenger yet!

To unlock Solutions the magic number to combine is “Three”.

In life and in marketing “three” is the fundamental number symbolizing the intellectual and spiritual order in God, the cosmos and humankind. For Christians, God is the perfect combination of Father, Son and Spirit. In Hinduism the godhead is threefold: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Buddhism finds its fulfillment in the Triple Jewel: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Time too is threefold: past, present and future even as every great story or play has three acts. So the Chinese call “three” a perfect number. It expresses wholeness and fulfillment as in the “three in one” of all living things — and we do well to remember that brands are living things that take on a life of their own.

And so going into the new millennium I started “Triangulating” father, son and spirit finding new combinations between something in the marketplace, audience and brand. This caught on in New York and Y&R’s “3D” Planning was born. MindMarks then took 3D into the 9Ps of new century marketing as follows: multiply “positioning” x “personality” x “people” combinations to create the “purpose” which is the god force that propels Kotler’s classic 4Ps (product x promotion x price x place). ROI on purpose activation is measured by the final P for performance.

Some pages from my old 9 P’s MindMarks Workbook

God — Purpose: Fuse Positioning x Personality x People insights into a Purpose with a compelling ideology and intent.

Father — Positioning: The positioning blends the only two weapons left in marketing today the disciplines of customer intimacy and product innovation.

Spirit — Personality: Jung discovered “the collective unconscious” by observing that similar, larger than life stories and characters are prevalent across time and cultures. He called these “archetypes”. This is where the “share-worthy stories” are sourced.

Son — People: Human/consumer/shopper goals, motivations and values mapped across a territory rich in tension between the energies of the establishment versus anti-establishment and the drives towards collectivism versus individualism.

Branding — Mindmarking: This is about branding all the intrinsic + extrinsic attributes, benefits and values of the product/service to inject and leverage the “father, son and spirit” of the brand. The purpose (god) is the sun around which the marketing communications mix of advertising, publicity, sales promotion and direct marketing seamlessly integrate to spread share worthy stories that drive brand led business growth

Bank Brand Illustration.

Bank XYZ Purpose: To be the unsung hero behind your success.

Developing and nurturing real, lasting relationships is the key to personal growth, achievement and success. It is through relationships that our individual lives are enriched. When our parents see endless opportunity for us, we grow up to believe that there are no limits to what we can achieve. When our teachers help us to see solutions not problems, we learn to see the possibilities that surround us. When our team-mates let us play our positions on the field, we are all winners. When our lovers give us space to breathe, we grow ever closer to them. When spouses share common goals, each finds a deeper, more individual fulfilment. When colleagues play to our strengths, the company and each of us shine. We believe in silently partnering and empowering our clients’ success in an approachable, progressive and aspirational way.

Positioning: Trustmark (xyz) nurtures real lasting relationships through the added value of real enablement .


Personality: Sage — silently partners and empowers people in an approachable, progressive and aspirational way (eg. a professional caddy).


People: Achievers who appreciate that they cannot be all they can without supportive relationships.

Coffee Brand Illustration.

Coffee XYZ Purpose: To create real coffee ritual pleasures.

Savoring a cup of xyz coffee deserves a ritual. Taking time out. Being in the moment. Smelling the fragrance of our freshly ground beans. Enjoying the aroma as it brews. Feeling the warm cup in your hands. Feeling the coffee bathe your cheeks. Breathing deeply. Sensing new flavors and aromas. XYZ lives to create these real coffee ritual pleasures. To inject pure enjoyment into everyday moments. To be one of the finer things in your life. That’s what drives the art, science and intense passion of our real coffee brew mastership.

Positioning: DreamMark — The art, science and intense passion of real coffee brew mastership lives inside XYZ.


Personality: Queen — A story celebrating of one of the finer things in life that injects pure enjoyment into everyday moments.


People: Experience seekers who savor life by making time and space for special little pleasures because they know they deserve a small indulgence every day.

Lingerie Brand Illustration

Lingerie XYZ Purpose: Here’s to expressing all women inside each woman.

We believe that the multi-faceted nature of real women (not fashion model stereotypes) should be celebrated because lingerie is “soul wear” that reveals a woman’s state of mind, mood, attitude, character and essence. So we intend to authentically express the spirit of every facet of femininity that lives inside each and every woman who is sometimes an enchantress and sometimes a maiden, a rebel, winning athlete, professional, mother, queen or just a little girl.

Positioning: MagicMark — the innovative brand in closer touch with the intimate beauty of multi-faceted femininity.


Personality: Magician — someone who intuitively brings out every facet of a woman: the enchantress, the maiden, rebel, winning athlete, professional, mother, queen or just the little girl.


People: Self Expression — the insight is that lingerie is “soul wear” that reveals every women’s state of mind, mood, attitude, character and essence.

For me there is no better definition of a brand than to say that it’s a spirit. Yes, brands are spirits. They are an animating and vital force that give life and meaning to products and services. They have an essence or soul that is hard to describe but easy to feel. This definition that brands are spirits was shared with me by the late, great Robyn Putter who I dare not steal from. Yes only the good die young, it shouldn’t have happened to you boet, you were great; a real mench! (To be continued)

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