There was a time when successfully creating, building, and marketing brands required neither endless inspiration nor endless capital. Demand exceeded supply, and markets were uncluttered. In the main, products were physically different from each other, and brands were built on those differences.
Such was the case, for ages and ages, in the marketing, or selling, world. But once competition reached a certain threshold, every business—whether a multinational cola company or a neighborhood dry cleaner—encountered a new challenge. No matter how effective the company’s manufacturing and distribution systems, or how state of the art its dry-cleaning processes, its competitors could imitate or duplicate them. In this circumstance, businesses found that they had only two broad strategic routes to go: reduce their prices or imbue their products with meaning.
Clearly, the creation and management of meaning was the more desirable option.
Ironically, though, as critical as meaning has become, no system has been developed until now for understanding or managing the meaning of brands—be they products, services, companies, or causes. We have had manufacturing systems for producing products, message