The 14 New Rules of Brand Strategy

The world has changed. Here’s how to adapt.

A lot has changed in the past few years. People are different. Brands are different. And I am a very different strategist.

That’s why I’ve decided to revisit my viral article on the 16 Rules of Brand Strategy and write a new one. This time with 14 rules, and much deeper thinking.

I’ve spent a great deal of time evaluating my own mental model for brand strategy - something every strategist may feel but rarely puts into a framework - and within this list of 14 new rules I’ve found a couple of breakthroughs.

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At Concept Bureau, our model for brand strategy transcends the traditional boundaries of business and marketing, and you’ll see that theme dominates this list.

These rules advocate for a more intense, almost therapeutic understanding of your audience than you may be comfortable with. They require you to be a student of human nature and become highly emotion-centric.

Emotion, as you will read, is the only way decisions are made. Especially difficult ones.

These rules also prove that brand is quickly becoming synonymous with operations. You will see that there is simply no way for brand to exist outside of product development, UI, UX, HR, or even your company's organizational structure anymore.

Brand is all of those things. And without them, brand is nothing.

The once-familiar territories of brand are gone and we’re left with a new frontline: community. When people look to understand a brand, they look to the community first - not to read reviews or get product information, but to assess the thickness of that community, its quality, its tenor.

Your audience wants to feel the people who already know you. That is how they assess brand.

I believe the path to an incredible brand strategy already exists for every brand. Your job is to keep searching until you find it, and my hope is that this list acts as a wayfinder on your journey there.

Improvement On A Design

Here's what we've been consuming.

Love and Money—and How They’re Connected (Wall Street Journal): “If you are needy of love, the more anxious type, you use money as a means to be loved and be appreciated and have people around you [...] You may fall in the anxious category if you often pick up the check, give expensive gifts, regularly buy new cars and wear pricey clothes. Maybe you’re the person others treat as an ATM, bumming a few dollars or asking for larger sums because you have a hard time saying no."

Religious Imagination As The Future Unfolds (NOEMA): “Questions such as ‘Who am I, where did I come from, where do I fit in, why am I responsible, what does my life mean, how will I face death?’ don’t go away despite all that humans have achieved. No matter how large our language models, how unlimited their data inputs and how smart the algorithms, so much of human becoming and being dwells between and beyond lines of code.”

2 Factors Will Determine How Much AI Transforms Our Economy (Kellogg Insight): “‘Productivity growth has been unusually slow,’ says Jones. Despite jaw-dropping advances in computing power, the economy has not become a lot more productive, nor have living standards dramatically increased. To make sense of this contradiction, says Jones, ‘you have to realize something very important about how economies grow: it’s what we’re bad at that really matters [...] That is, productivity isn’t dependent on how efficient the economy is at its best, but at its worst.”

Economic Growth Is Collapsing Around the World (Peter Zeihan): “No matter where you live in the world, this stagnation of economic growth will hit you, from the rich world to the developing world, and even the country that has had the highest growth rates for years - China. There might be a few isolated pockets of growth seen in areas that are nearshoring or friendshoring, but this will just exasperate the economic collapse of other places as industry pulls out.”

A Fantasy of Fashion (Articles of Interest Episode #7): “They all wore strange dirty dresses and mismatched jackets, all bedraggled from years of volunteers playing with them and switching up their outfits… A bright fluorescent light flickered above them, accentuating their creepiness [...] These dolls weren’t supposed to be so macabre… these dolls had saved French fashion.”

‘Mommunes’: Mothers Are Living Single Together (New York Times): “The living arrangement isn’t novel — mothers, particularly those in nonwhite communities, have been house-sharing for centuries. But the pandemic, plus a rising number of white, non-Hispanic single-mother households in the United States, has put a new spotlight on the make-your-own-family structure...“This is part of the larger trend of parents stretching traditional boundaries of what a family is, and taking matters into their own hands to find creative solutions.”"

The Future of Fertility (The New Yorker): "Her daughter’s generation will likely freeze their eggs early, have babies in their forties or fifties, and anticipate living into their nineties. 'It will feel completely arcane and mind-boggling for her that any generation before just simply went into menopause like it was an unavoidable thing,' she concluded. 'That is going to feel as foreign to a woman in twenty years in the developed world as the pre-C-section or pre-birth-control era.'”

Emotional Wealth

Creative inspirations for the other side of your brain.

Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.