Applying The Long Tail to Branding

I recently came across an interesting white paper written by Mohammed Iqbal from Oglivy & Mather(India) – The Elongating Tail of Brand Communication: An approach to brand-building incorporating long tail economics. It compliments Chris Anderson’s Book rather nicely, applying theories/observations found in it towards brand architecture. Taken from his own description of the piece:

In it’s 22 pages you’ll find the answers all of these questions : What do you get when you apply the first principles of long tail economics to the craft of brand building? Can you create a complex, layered brand image by resorting to simple advertising? What role is user generated content going to play in the future of mainstream advertising? What lessons can space exploration and robotics teach the practitioners of brand-building? What’s the evolving science of negative databases and why do we brand custodians need to learn about it? Why is the single-minded brand proposition an anachronism in the contemporary world of marketing?

Something that I found interesting was in his critic of Maurice Saatchi’s One Word Equity. One Word Equity is Saatchi’s latest attempt to boil down successfull branding into a marketable theory. In it, they believe that a sucessfull brand should be able to convey the idea of the brand/product using only one word(i.e. simplicity is key). For example Nike – Swoosh. There has been a lot of debate on this campaign, for more reading I suggest you check out what Russell Davies(on the tyranny of the big idea) or Brand Tarot have to say, both make good points. Getting back to the article, Iqbal thinks that a brand should not restrict itself to one word in the quest for simplicity, but rather do whatever it takes to convey the complexity and richness of the brand. What people want is substance, not something dumbed down – “Simplifying was one thing, simplicity was another.”

Regardless of what you think of the topic, I suggest you give it a read. You can download it here.