How to chart the best course for brand growth

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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

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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…


How consumers’ taste shapes brand strategy

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Taste shapes how we see the world. It encodes symbols and meaning into products, places and people. Taste connects the symbolic and the commercial, and links aesthetics to consumer behavior. It reveals consumers values, identity and their desired status. If a person likes Stella McCartney, they signal their commitment to sustainability, trendiness, quality and also their ability to afford expensive clothes. By conveying various dimensions of consumers’ life, taste creates new inequalities.

Brands are in the business of taste.

Knowing how consumers are distributed on the taste map informs brands’ allocation of their production, distribution and marketing resources, informs their…


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When Tracksmith dropped its new ad last month, 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…


Seducing a changed consumer

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Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2020/21 show (above) on March 3rd was the ultimate fashion fantasy. Chanel shows always are. They recreate a mountain vista, an oceanfront, a rainforest, the Parisian rooftops and are usually thought of as a pinnacle of an industry made of, and for, dreams.

Forward a couple of weeks ahead, and the reality became so dire that our dreams revolve around living “normally.”

Escapism is out, reality is in.

The unreality of 2020 changed the fashion flex. A head-to-toe designer-dressed influencer posing in an exotic location feels sorely out of place and out of different…


What new ways of showing off mean for the consumer market

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Flex commerce \ˈfleks \ ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs is demonstration of one’s taste, wokeness and cultural savvy through their spending.

Flex commerce is like having a giant dog in NYC. It’s a flex that one has an apartment big enough for a mastiff.

The purpose of flex commerce is to establish one’s status as distinct and superior to others. Unlike other forms of commerce, it’s unrelated to the cost of goods and services, but to their intangible, symbolic value. In flex commerce, price is secondary. …


How brands fare on the four criteria

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Last week, I wrote about the signals to look for when predicting a brand’s success. This is the second part of that analysis, and includes evaluation of a sample of brands according to the set of 12 criteria grouped into four segment (culture, consumer, category, and company).

Culture refers to the emerging social, cultural and political values; it also refers to definition of the core social terms (e.g. influence, community, taste, equality, aspiration); mood, attention and vocabulary. E.g. early on, Glossier mastered the language of modern culture: BFF, intimate, personal, direct. The brand behavior reflected how modern culture socializes.

Consumer…


How to detect winners early on

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A few weeks ago, Tayler Haney, the founder of Outdoor Voices, opened up about the things she learned. By now, these sort of confessionals have become a business genre that has more to do with specific VC-powered growth dynamics than with the founders themselves. The high failure rate and mediocre median returns of this growth dynamic ask for a new approach in decoding the signals of a company’s potential.

In this new approach, a rapid short-term success is a fake signal of a company’s long-term value and cultural relevance. …


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Heron Preston’s collaboration with oral care brand MOON 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. …

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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