The Secret to a Successful Brand Is One Thing

In the 1991 movie, City Slickers, Jack Palance, playing the tough, experienced and wise cowboy, Curly, advises Billy Crystal, who plays 39-year-old city slicker, Mitch Robbins, and is on a cattle drive with friends in an attempt to deal with his mid-life crisis, that the secret to a happy and successful life is one thing.  In the movie, unfortunately, Curly dies before expounding further on that philosophy.

The secret to a successful brand is also one thing. Successful brands know they must own one notion, one concept, one promise in order to stick in the mind of the consumer. So often, a company wants to “hedge their communication bet”, is reluctant to commit to one idea, and clutters their message and their brand with multiple claims and promises. The belief is that their marketing dollars will be better leveraged if the communication includes multiple claims and benefits. More often than not, the opposite is true-multiple claims leave then owning nothing in the mind of the consumer.

Successful brands like Fed Ex (overnight), Heinz Ketchup (anticipation-thick, rich), Energizer (keeps going and going) build their brand around one central notion. It takes a courageous and perceptive company to go through the discovery process, find their optimum positioning and brand strategy and commit to that one notion.

The fakir pictured above can lie comfortably on a bed of nails, but remove all but the one nail in the center and even the fakir above would not press upon it. The fakir knows what successful brands know…

…One point penetrates.

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Comment by Dennis Bailen on June 1, 2012 at 10:53pm
Thank you, Vincent. I just read Jeff's blog and you are right. We both approach the topic with similar perspectives.
Comment by Vincent Wright on June 1, 2012 at 10:01pm
Excellent points, Dennis. (Also reminds me of a post entitled "That One Thing" by Jeff Wolfe, one of my favorite writers: (Jeff's profile on is located at: ) A community of professionals focused on brand strategy for brand energy.

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