Optimising For Brand Experience
Tim Hawken

Great reminder.

I’d add 3 caveats.

Caveat 1

Before you optimize for brand experience be certain what the winning perception of your product must be. Your brand is that perception, optimize to it. Make it abundantly clear to customers what your product owns. Teach them exactly where to file your product away in their heads, as though you could reach inside their head and manually plant it there. That is brand optimization.


In some cases the winning perception will not be brand promotion; it will be category promotion. So optimize to the category.

When Trunk Club launched it promoted its personal stylists. And fundamentally the value proposition of a stylist is the value of looking good in your clothes. So from a brand optimization standpoint Trump Club had to promote looking good and make it clear that stylists — not Trunk Club — were responsible for it. After all, if more men realized a stylist would make them look good in clothes, more of them would hire a stylist.

Promoting the product instead of the value proposition of the category is a brand optimization mistake too many products in new categories make. Don’t limit yourself to the existing category audience if the way your product wins long-term is by growing the category pie.


Not every product needs a brand. I love a strong graphic identity no matter the product, but the fact remains not every product out there is going to live our heads along with a perception about it. There are B2C products out there that win at the point of purchase with killer marketing and sales tactics. You never file them away in your head, you just buy them when you buy them. B2B is an entirely different beast when selling to a CIO or creating strategic partnerships. Know your audience and be realistic about what you’ll be able get them to remember about your product.

If your product isn't going to live in someone’s head, if it’s a commodity to be sold by landing in the top-5 results on Amazon, then optimize away for sales. You are not building a brand. You are selling a product. And that’s OK.

Which in a roundabout way brings us back to caveat 1: know what it will take for your product to win, and optimize to that.