The Eight Rules of Branding

The Eight Rules of Branding

A brand is an emotional connection that is built through an experiential relationship. Think of a ladder, at the lowest rung your brand exists as a utilitarian commodity. As you climb, the peak is when your brand is linked to an emotional experience.

The goal of our eight rules of branding is to identify how your brand relates to these rules or concepts and where there are gaps. If you’re looking to rebrand or reposition your brand in the market, this is a great place to start!

Rule One: A successful brand is a single idea or concept that stands for something inside the customer’s mind.

We want to boil down your brand into a singular idea or concept. This should be more than just what your products and services are. How do you do business? How do you work with your customers? Work to whittle down your services or products into a single idea that you can own.

Rule Two: Branding consistently conveys your values. They reinforce your commitment to your product and company.

When we get to rule two, a SWOT analysis can help determine your values. Your internal strengths can play a large role in your brand’s values. How do you approach business?

Rule Three: Consumers accept brands that are narrow in scope.

We’ve all been to a restaurant that has hundreds of menu items and ranges from Mexican cuisine to Italian and everything in between. And that begs us to ask the question, “what are you?” You can’t be all things to all people. Narrowing the scope of your audience will enable you to be more successful in the long run.

Rule Four: Successful brands evoke a feeling of leadership.

In rule four, we go back to the brand’s strengths, as well. Position yourself in your market or brand category as a leader by conveying your strengths and how they make you different! For instance, if your company is using technology in a unique way in a category that traditionally doesn’t use technology, position yourself as a leader by demonstrating your expertise!

Rule Five: Communication builds brands.

Communication is vital to building your brand. Create a communication strategy, plotting and identifying when and how to communicate with your consumers. Identify your key messaging and use them in your communication tactics.

Take McDonalds’ for example. Their key message is “I’m lovin’ it.” What’s your core message?

Rule Six: Brand leaders promote and build a category.

For rule six, we’re going to go back to what we learned in rule one. A brand leader should promote the concept of their brand and distinguish themselves in the market place.

What brand comes to mind when you think of organic food? The majority of people will say Whole Foods. In the category of organic foods, Whole Foods is a brand category leader. What word can you own, and become the leader in that market?

Rule Seven: Building a powerful brand requires building a powerful perception of quality.

Just like we break down your brand into a single word and concept, we need to break down the term quality for it to best fit your brand. What does the word quality mean to your brand?

Take a look at Aldi for example. If you purchase a product at Aldi that is not good or not up to your standards, you can return it with no questions asked. That is their definition of quality.

Rule Eight: Sub-branding can erode the power of the core brand.

All of these rules connect and intertwine. Rule eight and rule three go hand-in-hand. Sub-branding by putting your name on everything can actually hurt your brand as a whole.

Virgin Mobile is a great example. They expanded their category to so many things that it makes us ask, “what are you?” It’s just another way of saying you can’t be all things to all people.


At TAG, we offer clients a Brand Workshop where we go over these eight important rules, and help to determine who you are as a brand and where you want to go. Often, we can determine a lot of this information through hearing stories about your company or brand and use those to demonstrate what your company values. Could your brand benefit from a Brand Workshop? Contact us today to learn more about how a Brand Workshop could be beneficial!



The HAVlife™ Foundation was established in 2007 in the memory of Hunter Aaron Vondran, the son of founder and TAG President and CEO, Mike Vondran. Hunter spent his life exercising his passion for the arts and athletics with the opportunities he was fortunate to have access to, and truly lived life to its fullest!

Since its inception six years ago, the foundation has raised and granted more than $375,000 to schools and organization in the Quad Cities and surrounding communities that support youth in the areas of arts, athletics and music. These grants provide thousands of youth scholarships and opportunities focused on Preventing Lost Potential.

HAVlife™ raises a majority of funds through a series of community events held throughout the year.  In 2014 HAVlife™ aims to grant an additional $125,000 to various groups, reaching a new milestone of $500,000 granted. Our largest fundraising event is just around the corner. The Martini Shakeoff™ will take place February 13, 2014 at the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport.  To learn more about this event and others throughout the year visit

Support and participation of HAVlife™ has also become widespread among TAG team members. Several employees have volunteered their talents on committees, graphic design and most recently website development to further the cause – and with great success.

The message and mission of HAVlife™ continues to flourish within our communities. This year, the HAVlife™ Foundation was recognized with the Small Business Excellence Award in the non-profit category by the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce. This is important because it demonstrates the community realizes the importance our youth play in the wellbeing of our future and it is our responsibility to identify, encourage and support their potential now more than ever!

To learn more about the HAVlife™ Foundation, make a donation or get involved, visit our website at

Natalie Johansen Murray, HAVlife™ Board Advocate and Director of Operations / Communications at TAG

The Science of Event Sponsorship


It’s no doubt that at some point in time your business has gotten approached to sponsor or participate in a particular event in your community. It’s hard to say no- especially to little Jimmy’s T-ball team or Sally’s Save the Whales demonstration –  but to make event and sponsorship marketing investments impactful, we have to think of them strategically. When you start to look at event and sponsorship marketing as an aspect of your overall strategy – the choice to sponsor/not sponsor and how to do it will become clearer.

First, ask yourself, what is the target demographic this event with be drawing? Does this fit with the people you are trying to reach and influence to purchase your products and services? The best event marketing allows you to reach and interact with your target demographic outside traditional methods.

Second, what opportunities exist to maximize your investment? It’s more than just putting your logo on the back of a T-shirt, be proactive and see how you can aggressively interact with your potential audience. Can you set up a booth? Have additional signage? Hand out trial packages? Showcase product demonstrations? All these efforts enhance your investment of the sponsorship and create a lasting impression with event goers.

Third, set goals! What are you doing there and how will you translate participation into action? Like other marketing efforts, you should have a goal going into your decision to sponsor. Is it to capture leads, impact sales, make relationships, increase visibility? Whatever your goal, you need to integrate activities that help make that goal a reality. Activities may include:

  • Hosting a contest (helps collect contact names and build a database)
  • Handing out special offers (that can be coded and integrate digital tactics such as Facebook and your Website)
  • Play promotional content that directs people to action (increases awareness while drives people to digital spaces)

Forth, what was the impact of your investment? Event marketing is often a difficult thing for people to measure. However, by setting goals, you have a way to track the success of your efforts. If your goal is to build your Facebook fan base, activities such as database generation for future marketing/contesting and communication can support this effort. By setting clear goals in advance, you are more likely to produce success.

Event marketing can be a successful fun tactic of your overall marketing strategy. But it should be well thought out with goals and metrics to ensure your investment produce results.