The Clock Model framework

Identifying a brand’s competitive advantage by Tristan Stevens

All Things Mango
The Pulp
Published in
4 min readSep 28, 2021

As a consumer, think about the last purchase you made. What was it that drove that purchase decision? Did you see an inspirational ad on TV? Or perhaps you opted for what you knew would be a pleasant and seamless buying experience. Or maybe the product warranty was unparalleled, and this made all other touchpoints and efforts by competitors carry little to no weight in your choice.

I was recently re-introduced to the Clock Model framework by Scott Galloway, and it continues to spark new ways of assessing and advising brands on how to unlock their point of differentiation and potentially rethink their business model completely.

The clock serves as a metaphor for all the touchpoints a consumer will have with your brand:

· Pre-purchase is from 12–4 and represents what influences a consumer’s perception of your brand before they’ve touched your product, visited your store, or spoken to a sales representative. To put it in terms my fellow advertising colleagues may best understand: this includes the first three stages of the purchase funnel as you’re building awareness, consideration, and intent. Advertising happens here, as well as tradeshows, PR, events, sponsorships, social media, etc.

· Then follows Purchase from 4–8. This is the customer’s first point of contact with the physical product or service you sell and includes distribution, packaging, store design, user reviews, UGC, financing, etc. This is where the most impactful customer experience takes place: directly with your brand.

· And lastly is Post-purchase from 8–12 where customer service, loyalty programs, and warranties all come into play.

You may have already arrived at how this framework can be useful, as what’s important to note is that most brands cannot fully commit to all three in terms of investment. More often we see brands heavy up their effort in one area and outsource or operate at industry standard in the other two. A few examples: Dove, Disney, and Nordstrom.

Unilever is the second largest global advertiser (by spend) and given they don’t own their distribution, they’re unable to exceed in all three areas. But Dove, a brand in their portfolio, is just one example of many that focuses on pre-purchase awareness and consideration building tactics — and has done so effectively. The impact made by Dove’s Real Beauty campaign extended beyond promoting beauty equality. Sales for Dove jumped from $2.5 to $4 billion in the campaign’s first ten years, and Dove bars became both the number one preferred soap brand in the U.S. and Unilever’s best-selling product company wide.

Top Global Advertisers by Spend — source: Comvergence

Disney’s 2019 financial statements revealed a $4.14 billion capital expenditure on their theme parks, and analysts estimate that Disney will spend $24 billion on new attractions over the next five years. They don’t use this monstrous investment just to make their parks special; they ensure they are spectacular, with every detail imaginable designed by the “Imagineers” who lead their theme park division. Our Mango team spent a recent content club watching The Imagineering Story, and the amount of effort it takes to create and build Disney theme parks around the world is truly fascinating. Now, as a consumer, I’m going to bet that you’re not choosing to visit a Disney Park because of the brochure you saw. It’s the magical and transformative in-park experience that you’re after.

And lastly, a personal favorite: Nordstrom. I would argue that there’s isn’t a single other brand in the retail space or otherwise that has a stronger return policy than Nordstrom. No matter how much time has passed, and regardless of whether the tag remains on the item, with a receipt you will always be able to return any item you’ve purchased. Have I taken advantage of this policy one too many times and returned things that were clearly utilized or worn before because I changed my mind? Absolutely. Will I walk past other department stores in the mall because this program alone has created an extreme sense of loyalty in me to Nordstrom? Also, yes.

Okay, now for the “So what?”

There’s no magic bullet to tell us exactly how investments should be allocated using the Clock Model, but as we switch to the mindset of “brand” — perhaps one you work for or one that’s top of mind — where do you start in figuring this out?

Scott advises a simple approach:

· Put your customer at center.

· Look at the experience holistically around the brand.

· Look at your competitors.

· Determine where the opportunity is to stand out where, with your limited capital, you can have the greatest ROI.

Do you know a brand that’s excelling in all three areas of the model? Interested in discussing how your brand currently fits into the Clock Model? Reach out at, let’s continue the conversation.



All Things Mango
The Pulp

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