Dunkin’ Donuts collaboration with DTC wall paint brand Backdrop sounds like something out of MSCHF factory. Known for its purposefully absurd and random viral stunts, MSCHF is the creator of Nike sneakers filled with Holy Water, toaster-shaped bath bombs, and an app making stock investments based on astrological signs.

While it certainly wouldn’t look out of place next to the squeaky chicken bong popularized by the “factory”, the limited edition stain removal whitening toothpaste in fact dropped on StockX on October 27th. …


To earn customer loyalty, offer community, not rewards

The irony of most of today’s customer loyalty programs is that they aren’t about loyalty at all. They have more to do with an economic transaction than with true affinity for a brand. For example: some companies allow you to earn points for following them or writing a product review. This sort of bribery usually attracts the least loyal and least valuable audience — people mostly interested in claiming the reward not invested in the brand.

True loyalty is emotional and irrational and leads to customers feeling like they’re part of an…


When Tracksmith dropped its new ad last November, it sent the direct-to-consumer world in a minor frenzy. Tracksmith is a running brand, founded seven years ago around a particular aesthetic of 1970s long distance runners. More than that, Tracksmith is created in honor of the Amateur Spirit.

In its own words, the brand champions the Running Class, “the non-professional yet competitive runners dedicated to the pursuit of personal excellence.” Transport the sentiment to streetwear, watches, luxury fashion or any form of collaboration between them, and one would be hard pressed to miss an amateur changing the rules of the game…


Imitation as a business strategy

When Amazon allegedly copied Peak Design’s Everyday Sling, the bag brand promptly made a video titled “A Tale of Two Slings.” When a similar thing happened to Allbirds a year or so ago, they were considerably less amused by it. Down the coast in Silicon Valley, Snap has a “Voldemort” dossier, which documents all of Facebook’s aggressive Snapchat feature ripoffs. Businesses have been stealing best practices from each other for decades. What they haven’t been absorbing is wisdom.

Being a first mover is touted as an advantage. In reality, it’s often a curse. First movers…


Business models define revenue generation; brand models define growth trajectory

Brand modeling is charting a brand’s growth territory. Once a brand establishes its presence in the market, the challenge becomes to capture a larger market share (and to defend its current market share). In mature markets, like CPG or fashion or consumer tech, brands grow by expanding in other product categories. This expansion increases a brand’s hold on the market and fend off new market entrants by putting forward a full range of offerings. …


Five scenarios for using innovation to build brand equity

Alan Turing, WWII-code breaker and precursor of artificial intelligence, noted: “this is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what’s going to be.” They are true to any moment of a rapid change.

Since Turing’s time in mid-last century, the use of the term “innovation” skyrocketed. Companies across industries seem simultaneously obsessed with innovation, and unclear what to do about it. There are more than 3 billion search results of “innovation” on Google. There are countless attempts to create innovation labs, install chief digital and…


Macro and micro levels of value creation

Brand value is a cumulative result of sales volume, equity, audience size, and the brandʼs market potential.

But unlike other assets like stocks, bonds, commodities and real estate, there is no active market in brands that would provide comparable values. The main issue with brand valuations is their arbitrary measurement and few agreed-upon systems and processes for evaluating brand assets.

“Brands are a company’s most valued asset, yet there is not universally accepted method of measuring that value. …


How brands can strategically use it

Each of the three models of social influence has its own organizing principle, dynamic and aesthetic. Knowing the strengths and the benefits of each layer helps brands create a coherent cultural strategy and a considered media investment:


How to chart the best course for brand growth

The biggest question for brands is how to grow in the right direction.

Even global brands that are set on the path of consistent and steady growth, like Tesla or Nike or Apple or GOOP, face the need to keep evolving, stay focused, build organizational resilience and innovation and amplify the intangible parts of their brands that made them different and exciting. Too often, we see brands who lost discipline in pursuing their vision or the spark that made them successful in the first place.

A good way to avoid this…


How to create, deliver and capture social distinction

In the first part of my Taste Map analysis, I explored the taste territory that replaced traditional taste dichotomies (good vs bad taste, highbrow vs lowbrow). In the second part of the analysis, I focus on how brands can capitalize on their customers’ evolving social codes and status needs, and provide new ways of signaling distinction and belonging.

As a reminder, the four quadrants of the Taste Map are:

Q1: The domain of collaborations, one-off items and limited editions that have to be known about, chased, waited for and found. Social approval is not openly sought, but is critical for…

Ana Andjelic

Strategy Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Forbes’ one of The World’s Most Influential CMOs.

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