Mark Ritson wrote an article for MarketingWeek titled Standing out is the key brand challenge – that’s why great brands play with their codes.

« Purpose-wank aside, removing every single letter from your packaging is actually a very smart and very effective move. Because when companies play with well-established codes [distinctive brand assets] like this and remove or alter their appearance, the impact on salience and brand image is significantly improved. »

« When you fuck around with a properly distinctive asset like a logo or a colour or a shape, the market notices far more than if you stick to the brand management manual and a consistent look and feel. It’s a paradoxical effect but removing the word ‘Cadbury’ from a Cadbury bar actually makes you notice Cadbury more. »

« 99% of marketers underestimate the importance of salience. »

« While marketers labour anyway in their brightly-lit ‘system 2’ world of differentiation, brand image and overly clever and subtle communications, their target consumers bump into furniture inside foggy ‘system 1’ bubbles that screen out all but the most distinctive of marketing efforts. »

« I don’t side with those who claim that differentiation does not exist. I think that’s balls. But I do believe we all followed Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller and a host of other experts down a rabbit hole labelled ‘differentiate or die’. In that world, brand awareness was merely a prelude to building a differentiated position in the market. Maybe 15% or 20% of the branding challenge.

In reality, generating and maintaining salience is certainly the bigger challenge when compared with brand image and differentiation. For starters, 95% of all consumer decisions occur within system 1 mode, where the rational mind isn’t engaged. And if you don’t achieve any salience brand image is a total waste of time because no-one knows you exist. »

« The only caution in all of this is that you have to spend a lifetime building and reinforcing a code before you get to play around with it. The only reason Picasso could be abstract is that he spent the first 20 years of his life training to be a (very accomplished) realist. »

« The lesson to take from the list is that code play is reserved only for the biggest and best run brands – the ones that built brand equity decades ago and refused the siren song of stupid rebranding and logo changes when the idiots came knocking. »

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