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In Pursuit of Relevance, McDonald’s Trademarks ‘McBrunch’

In Pursuit of Relevance, McDonald’s Trademarks ‘McBrunch’

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McDonald’s has trademarked ‘McBrunch,’ and we can only guess what that means for avid lovers of the McMuffin

McDonald's looks to be working toward a brunch menu.

McDonald’s, the major fast food company which has recently struggling to stay relevant to consumers, has trademarked the term “McBrunch,” suggesting plans to capitalize on the fast food breakfast wars that have been particularly heated this year.

According to research from MarketWatch, McDonald’s has continued to falter amongst one of the most powerful and elusive demographics — the millennials — on whom research abounds, and little is truly known, except that they have a lot of purchasing power, and they really, really love brunch.

Although McDonald’s has not yet announced any menu items for McBrunch, the rumor of extended breakfast hours has been met with considerable interest.

Scott Hume, editor of Burger Business, speculated to USA Today that the move to trademark, coupled with McDonald’s declining sales, suggests plans to move in on the late morning crowd. Hume speculates that the McBrunch menu would likely be available only on weekends and holidays, and include specialty items not currently on the breakfast menu.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

The 25 Greatest Food Lyrics in Rap

This simple hustler’s credo has always been fundamental to the urban rags-to-riches story, which at its core is a fight to put a meal on the table, and to evolve from canned sardines to seafood towers. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that food has always had a place in rap lyricism. Yet reaching all the way back to Wonder Mike’s fumbling lines about dinner at a friend’s house on the seminal “Rapper’s Delight” (“I mean the macaroni’s soggy, the peas are mushed, and the chicken tastes like wood”), it’s remarkable how many ways MCs have found to slice and dice food references into their verses. Who would have thought that hip-hop would take it this far?

These days, Action Bronson reigns as the undisputed king of the culinary rap style, turning mixtape drops into food-blog fodder for the first time ever. But fans of food and hip-hop would be foolish to stop there: From Rakim’s oft-quotes bars about glazed donuts and fish, to the gonzo gastronomic obsessions of avante-garde MCs like Ghostface and MF DOOM, the grub references committed to wax go well beyond a zeitgeist-y shout out to Eataly. There are poetic odes to the humble foods of the have-nots, boasts about crustacean- and champagne-fueled benders, coke-rap allegories that conflate cooking drugs with cooking meals, and even a whole subgenre of lyrical homages to Benihana. It’s a smorgasbord that no rap historian could possibly ignore.

We’ve tackled the greatest food-rap MCs of all time, whose entire body of work demonstrates a commitment to the subgenre. But here, we’re celebrating the hottest food-related lyrics, period. The clips are cued up so you can press play and listen the lines—this is rap after all, so delivery is crucial. We’ve also argued the case for each reference’s place in the pantheon, and trust us—we have heard Biggie’s “T-bone steak, cheese eggs, and Welch’s grape” line. It’s not that hot.

Crank the speakers and gorge on the 25 best food references in rap. Got a favorite that’s missing? Tweet it @firstwefeast with the hash tag #foodrap.

Written by Chris Schonberger (@cschonberger) and Nick Schonberger (@nschon)

Newcomers have one important advantage over incumbents—a clean slate. To reinvent its industry, an incumbent must first reinvent itself. Strategic renewal is creative reconstruction. It requires innovation with respect to one’s traditional business model.

It usually takes a performance crisis to prompt the work of renewal. Rather than go from success to success, most companies go from success to failure and then, after a long, hard climb, back to success. Resilience refers to a capacity for continuous reconstruction. It requires innovation with respect to those organizational values, processes, and behaviors that systematically favor perpetuation over innovation.

Strategic resilience is not about responding to a onetime crisis. It’s not about rebounding from a setback. It’s about continuously anticipating and adjusting to deep, secular trends that can permanently impair the earning power of a core business. It’s about having the capacity to change before the case for change becomes desperately obvious.

Stay Ahead of Your Competition

With scarcer resources than your rivals’, you need to continually outsmart your better-financed competition. Competitive innovation can help. Consider these approaches:

  • Build layers of advantages. Don’t rely on just one source of advantage, such as cheap labor. Also build your brand, increase your distribution channels, and tailor your products to unique markets.
  • Stake out undefended territory. Honda identified “low end” motorcycles as an uncontested market. While selling 50cc bikes in the United States, it raced bigger ones in Europe—assembling the design skills and technology it needed to dominate the entire business. Rivals never saw Honda’s strategic intent and growing competence in engines and power trains.
  • Change the terms of engagement. While Xerox built a wide range of copiers it leased to corporate copy centers through a huge sales force, Canon standardized copy machines and components to reduce costs, sold its offerings outright through office-product dealers, and appealed to people who wanted their own machines. By developing capabilities that contrasted with Xerox’s, Canon created a new “recipe” for success, short-circuiting Xerox’s ability to retaliate quickly.
  • Compete through collaboration. Electronics manufacturer Fujitsu’s alliances with Siemens and British computer maker STC and with Amdahl in the United States boosted their manufacturing capacity and opened doors to Western markets.

Sixteen years ago, when Gary Hamel, then a lecturer at London Business School, and C.K. Prahalad, a University of Michigan professor, wrote “Strategic Intent,” the article signaled that a major new force had arrived in management.

Hamel and Prahalad argue that Western companies focus on trimming their ambitions to match resources and, as a result, search only for advantages they can sustain. By contrast, Japanese corporations leverage resources by accelerating the pace of organizational learning and try to attain seemingly impossible goals. These firms foster the desire to succeed among their employees and maintain it by spreading the vision of global leadership. This is how Canon sought to “beat Xerox” and Komatsu set out to “encircle Caterpillar.”

This strategic intent usually incorporates stretch targets, which force companies to compete in innovative ways. In this McKinsey Award–winning article, Hamel and Prahalad describe four techniques that Japanese companies use: building layers of advantage, searching for “loose bricks,” changing the terms of engagement, and competing through collaboration.

Today managers in many industries are working hard to match the competitive advantages of their new global rivals. They are moving manufacturing offshore in search of lower labor costs, rationalizing product lines to capture global scale economies, instituting quality circles and just-in-time production, and adopting Japanese human resource practices. When competitiveness still seems out of reach, they form strategic alliances—often with the very companies that upset the competitive balance in the first place.

Important as these initiatives are, few of them go beyond mere imitation. Too many companies are expending enormous energy simply to reproduce the cost and quality advantages their global competitors already enjoy. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it will not lead to competitive revitalization. Strategies based on imitation are transparent to competitors who have already mastered them. Moreover, successful competitors rarely stand still. So it is not surprising that many executives feel trapped in a seemingly endless game of catch-up, regularly surprised by the new accomplishments of their rivals.

For these executives and their companies, regaining competitiveness will mean rethinking many of the basic concepts of strategy. 1 As “strategy” has blossomed, the competitiveness of Western companies has withered. This may be coincidence, but we think not. We believe that the application of concepts such as “strategic fit” (between resources and opportunities), “generic strategies” (low cost versus differentiation versus focus), and the “strategy hierarchy” (goals, strategies, and tactics) has often abetted the process of competitive decline. The new global competitors approach strategy from a perspective that is fundamentally different from that which underpins Western management thought. Against such competitors, marginal adjustments to current orthodoxies are no more likely to produce competitive revitalization than are marginal improvements in operating efficiency. (The sidebar “Remaking Strategy” describes our research and summarizes the two contrasting approaches to strategy we see in large multinational companies.)

Remaking Strategy

Over the last ten years, our research on global competition, international alliances, and multinational management has brought us into close contact with senior managers in the United States, Europe, and Japan. As we tried to unravel the reasons for success and surrender in global markets, we became more and more suspicious that executives in Western and Far Eastern companies often operated with very different conceptions of competitive strategy. Understanding these differences, we thought, might help explain the conduct and outcome of competitive battles as well as supplement traditional explanations for Japan’s ascendance and the West’s decline.

We began by mapping the implicit strategy models of managers who had participated in our research. Then we built detailed histories of selected competitive battles. We searched for evidence of divergent views of strategy, competitive advantage, and the role of top management.

Two contrasting models of strategy emerged. One, which most Western managers will recognize, centers on the problem of maintaining strategic fit. The other centers on the problem of leveraging resources. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they represent a significant difference in emphasis—an emphasis that deeply affects how competitive battles get played out over time.

Both models recognize the problem of competing in a hostile environment with limited resources. But while the emphasis in the first is on trimming ambitions to match available resources, the emphasis in the second is on leveraging resources to reach seemingly unattainable goals.

Both models recognize that relative competitive advantage determines relative profitability. The first emphasizes the search for advantages that are inherently sustainable, the second emphasizes the need to accelerate organizational learning to outpace competitors in building new advantages.

Both models recognize the difficulty of competing against larger competitors. But while the first leads to a search for niches (or simply dissuades the company from challenging an entrenched competitor), the second produces a quest for new rules that can devalue the incumbent’s advantages.

Both models recognize that balance in the scope of an organization’s activities reduces risk. The first seeks to reduce financial risk by building a balanced portfolio of cash-generating and cash-consuming businesses. The second seeks to reduce competitive risk by ensuring a well-balanced and sufficiently broad portfolio of advantages.

Both models recognize the need to disaggregate the organization in a way that allows top management to differentiate among the investment needs of various planning units. In the first model, resources are allocated to product-market units in which relatedness is defined by common products, channels, and customers. Each business is assumed to own all the critical skills it needs to execute its strategy successfully. In the second, investments are made in core competences (microprocessor controls or electronic imaging, for example) as well as in product-market units. By tracking these investments across businesses, top management works to assure that the plans of individual strategic units don’t undermine future developments by default.

Both models recognize the need for consistency in action across organizational levels. In the first, consistency between corporate and business levels is largely a matter of conforming to financial objectives. Consistency between business and functional levels comes by tightly restricting the means the business uses to achieve its strategy—establishing standard operating procedures, defining the served market, adhering to accepted industry practices. In the second model, business-corporate consistency comes from allegiance to a particular strategic intent. Business-functional consistency comes from allegiance to intermediate-term goals or challenges with lower-level employees encouraged to invent how those goals will be achieved.

Few Western companies have an enviable track record anticipating the moves of new global competitors. Why? The explanation begins with the way most companies have approached competitor analysis. Typically, competitor analysis focuses on the existing resources (human, technical, and financial) of present competitors. The only companies seen as a threat are those with the resources to erode margins and market share in the next planning period. Resourcefulness, the pace at which new competitive advantages are being built, rarely enters in.

In this respect, traditional competitor analysis is like a snapshot of a moving car. By itself, the photograph yields little information about the car’s speed or direction—whether the driver is out for a quiet Sunday drive or warming up for the Grand Prix. Yet many managers have learned through painful experience that a business’s initial resource endowment (whether bountiful or meager) is an unreliable predictor of future global success.

Think back: In 1970, few Japanese companies possessed the resource base, manufacturing volume, or technical prowess of U.S. and European industry leaders. Komatsu was less than 35% as large as Caterpillar (measured by sales), was scarcely represented outside Japan, and relied on just one product line—small bulldozers—for most of its revenue. Honda was smaller than American Motors and had not yet begun to export cars to the United States. Canon’s first halting steps in the reprographics business looked pitifully small compared with the $4 billion Xerox powerhouse.

If Western managers had extended their competitor analysis to include these companies, it would merely have underlined how dramatic the resource discrepancies between them were. Yet by 1985, Komatsu was a $2.8 billion company with a product scope encompassing a broad range of earth-moving equipment, industrial robots, and semiconductors. Honda manufactured almost as many cars worldwide in 1987 as Chrysler. Canon had matched Xerox’s global unit market share.

The lesson is clear: Assessing the current tactical advantages of known competitors will not help you understand the resolution, stamina, or inventiveness of potential competitors. Sun-tzu, a Chinese military strategist, made the point 3,000 years ago: “All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer,” he wrote, “but what none can see is the strategy out of which great victory is evolved.”

Companies that have risen to global leadership over the past 20 years invariably began with ambitions that were out of all proportion to their resources and capabilities. But they created an obsession with winning at all levels of the organization and then sustained that obsession over the 10- to 20-year quest for global leadership. We term this obsession “strategic intent.”

On the one hand, strategic intent envisions a desired leadership position and establishes the criterion the organization will use to chart its progress. Komatsu set out to “encircle Caterpillar.” Canon sought to “beat Xerox.” Honda strove to become a second Ford—an automotive pioneer. All are expressions of strategic intent.

At the same time, strategic intent is more than simply unfettered ambition. (Many companies possess an ambitious strategic intent yet fall short of their goals.) The concept also encompasses an active management process that includes focusing the organization’s attention on the essence of winning, motivating people by communicating the value of the target, leaving room for individual and team contributions, sustaining enthusiasm by providing new operational definitions as circumstances change, and using intent consistently to guide resource allocations.

Strategic intent captures the essence of winning.

The Apollo program—landing a man on the moon ahead of the Soviets—was as competitively focused as Komatsu’s drive against Caterpillar. The space program became the scorecard for America’s technology race with the USSR. In the turbulent information technology industry, it was hard to pick a single competitor as a target, so NEC’s strategic intent, set in the early 1970s, was to acquire the technologies that would put it in the best position to exploit the convergence of computing and telecommunications. Other industry observers foresaw this convergence, but only NEC made convergence the guiding theme for subsequent strategic decisions by adopting “computing and communications” as its intent. For Coca-Cola, strategic intent has been to put a Coke within “arm’s reach” of every consumer in the world.

Strategic intent is stable over time.

In battles for global leadership, one of the most critical tasks is to lengthen the organization’s attention span. Strategic intent provides consistency to short-term action, while leaving room for reinterpretation as new opportunities emerge. At Komatsu, encircling Caterpillar encompassed a succession of medium-term programs aimed at exploiting specific weaknesses in Caterpillar or building particular competitive advantages. When Caterpillar threatened Komatsu in Japan, for example, Komatsu responded by first improving quality, then driving down costs, then cultivating export markets, and then underwriting new product development.

Strategic intent sets a target that deserves personal effort and commitment.

Ask the CEOs of many American corporations how they measure their contributions to their companies’ success, and you’re likely to get an answer expressed in terms of shareholder wealth. In a company that possesses a strategic intent, top management is more likely to talk in terms of global market leadership. Market share leadership typically yields shareholder wealth, to be sure. But the two goals do not have the same motivational impact. It is hard to imagine middle managers, let alone blue-collar employees, waking up each day with the sole thought of creating more shareholder wealth. But mightn’t they feel different given the challenge to “beat Benz”—the rallying cry at one Japanese auto producer? Strategic intent gives employees the only goal that is worthy of commitment: to unseat the best or remain the best, worldwide.

Many companies are more familiar with strategic planning than they are with strategic intent. The planning process typically acts as a “feasibility sieve.” Strategies are accepted or rejected on the basis of whether managers can be precise about the “how” as well as the “what” of their plans. Are the milestones clear? Do we have the necessary skills and resources? How will competitors react? Has the market been thoroughly researched? In one form or another, the admonition “Be realistic!” is given to line managers at almost every turn.

But can you plan for global leadership? Did Komatsu, Canon, and Honda have detailed, 20-year strategies for attacking Western markets? Are Japanese and Korean managers better planners than their Western counterparts? No. As valuable as strategic planning is, global leadership is an objective that lies outside the range of planning. We know of few companies with highly developed planning systems that have managed to set a strategic intent. As tests of strategic fit become more stringent, goals that cannot be planned for fall by the wayside. Yet companies that are afraid to commit to goals that lie outside the range of planning are unlikely to become global leaders.

Although strategic planning is billed as a way of becoming more future oriented, most managers, when pressed, will admit that their strategic plans reveal more about today’s problems than tomorrow’s opportunities. With a fresh set of problems confronting managers at the beginning of every planning cycle, focus often shifts dramatically from year to year. And with the pace of change accelerating in most industries, the predictive horizon is becoming shorter and shorter. So plans do little more than project the present forward incrementally. The goal of strategic intent is to fold the future back into the present. The important question is not “How will next year be different from this year?” but “What must we do differently next year to get closer to our strategic intent?” Only with a carefully articulated and adhered to strategic intent will a succession of year-on-year plans sum up to global leadership.

Just as you cannot plan a ten- to 20-year quest for global leadership, the chance of falling into a leadership position by accident is also remote. We don’t believe that global leadership comes from an undirected process of intrapreneurship. Nor is it the product of a Skunk Works or other technique for internal venturing. Behind such programs lies a nihilistic assumption: that the organization is so hidebound, so orthodox ridden, the only way to innovate is to put a few bright people in a dark room, pour in some money, and hope that something wonderful will happen. In this Silicon Valley approach to innovation, the only role for top managers is to retrofit their corporate strategy to the entrepreneurial successes that emerge from below. Here the value added of top management is low indeed.

Sadly, this view of innovation may be consistent with reality in many large companies. 2 On the one hand, top management lacks any particular point of view about desirable ends beyond satisfying shareholders and keeping raiders at bay. On the other, the planning format, reward criteria, definition of served market, and belief in accepted industry practice all work together to tightly constrain the range of available means. As a result, innovation is necessarily an isolated activity. Growth depends more on the inventive capacity of individuals and small teams than on the ability of top management to aggregate the efforts of multiple teams toward an ambitious strategic intent.

In companies that have overcome resource constraints to build leadership positions, we see a different relationship between means and ends. While strategic intent is clear about ends, it is flexible as to means—it leaves room for improvisation. Achieving strategic intent requires enormous creativity with respect to means: Witness Fujitsu’s use of strategic alliances in Europe to attack IBM. But this creativity comes in the service of a clearly prescribed end. Creativity is unbridled but not uncorralled, because top management establishes the criterion against which employees can pretest the logic of their initiatives. Middle managers must do more than deliver on promised financial targets they must also deliver on the broad direction implicit in their organization’s strategic intent.

Strategic intent implies a sizable stretch for an organization. Current capabilities and resources will not suffice. This forces the organization to be more inventive, to make the most of limited resources. Whereas the traditional view of strategy focuses on the degree of fit between existing resources and current opportunities, strategic intent creates an extreme misfit between resources and ambitions. Top management then challenges the organization to close the gap by systematically building new advantages. For Canon, this meant first understanding Xerox’s patents, then licensing technology to create a product that would yield early market experience, then gearing up internal R&D efforts, then licensing its own technology to other manufacturers to fund further R&D, then entering market segments in Japan and Europe where Xerox was weak, and so on.

In this respect, strategic intent is like a marathon run in 400-meter sprints. No one knows what the terrain will look like at mile 26, so the role of top management is to focus the organization’s attention on the ground to be covered in the next 400 meters. In several companies, management did this by presenting the organization with a series of corporate challenges, each specifying the next hill in the race to achieve strategic intent. One year the challenge might be quality, the next it might be total customer care, the next, entry into new markets, and the next, a rejuvenated product line. As this example indicates, corporate challenges are a way to stage the acquisition of new competitive advantages, a way to identify the focal point for employees’ efforts in the near to medium term. As with strategic intent, top management is specific about the ends (reducing product development times by 75%, for example) but less prescriptive about the means.

Like strategic intent, challenges stretch the organization. To preempt Xerox in the personal copier business, Canon set its engineers a target price of $1,000 for a home copier. At the time, Canon’s least expensive copier sold for several thousand dollars. Trying to reduce the cost of existing models would not have given Canon the radical price-performance improvement it needed to delay or deter Xerox’s entry into personal copiers. Instead, Canon engineers were challenged to reinvent the copier—a challenge they met by substituting a disposable cartridge for the complex image-transfer mechanism used in other copiers.

Corporate challenges come from analyzing competitors as well as from the foreseeable pattern of industry evolution. Together these reveal potential competitive openings and identify the new skills the organization will need to take the initiative away from better-positioned players. (The exhibit “Building Competitive Advantage at Komatsu” illustrates the way challenges helped Komatsu achieve its intent.)

Building Competitive Advantage at Komatsu

For a challenge to be effective, individuals and teams throughout the organization must understand it and see its implications for their own jobs. Companies that set corporate challenges to create new competitive advantages (as Ford and IBM did with quality improvement) quickly discover that engaging the entire organization requires top management to do the following:

  • Create a sense of urgency, or quasi crisis, by amplifying weak signals in the environment that point up the need to improve, instead of allowing inaction to precipitate a real crisis. Komatsu, for example, budgeted on the basis of worst-case exchange rates that overvalued the yen.
  • Develop a competitor focus at every level through widespread use of competitive intelligence. Every employee should be able to benchmark his or her efforts against best-in-class competitors so that the challenge becomes personal. For instance, Ford showed production-line workers videotapes of operations at Mazda’s most efficient plant.
  • Provide employees with the skills they need to work effectively—training in statistical tools, problem solving, value engineering, and team building, for example.
  • Give the organization time to digest one challenge before launching another. When competing initiatives overload the organization, middle managers often try to protect their people from the whipsaw of shifting priorities. But this “wait and see if they’re serious this time” attitude ultimately destroys the credibility of corporate challenges.
  • Establish clear milestones and review mechanisms to track progress, and ensure that internal recognition and rewards reinforce desired behaviors. The goal is to make the challenge inescapable for everyone in the company.

It is important to distinguish between the process of managing corporate challenges and the advantages that the process creates. Whatever the actual challenge may be—quality, cost, value engineering, or something else—there is the same need to engage employees intellectually and emotionally in the development of new skills. In each case, the challenge will take root only if senior executives and lower-level employees feel a reciprocal responsibility for competitiveness.

We believe workers in many companies have been asked to take a disproportionate share of the blame for competitive failure. In one U.S. company, for example, management had sought a 40% wage-package concession from hourly employees to bring labor costs into line with Far Eastern competitors. The result was a long strike and, ultimately, a 10% wage concession from employees on the line. However, direct labor costs in manufacturing accounted for less than 15% of total value added. The company thus succeeded in demoralizing its entire blue-collar workforce for the sake of a 1.5% reduction in total costs. Ironically, further analysis showed that their competitors’ most significant costs savings came not from lower hourly wages but from better work methods invented by employees. You can imagine how eager the U.S. workers were to make similar contributions after the strike and concessions. Contrast this situation with what happened at Nissan when the yen strengthened: Top management took a big pay cut and then asked middle managers and line employees to sacrifice relatively less.

Reciprocal responsibility means shared gain and shared pain. In too many companies, the pain of revitalization falls almost exclusively on the employees least responsible for the enterprise’s decline. Too often, workers are asked to commit to corporate goals without any matching commitment from top management—be it employment security, gain sharing, or an ability to influence the direction of the business. This one-sided approach to regaining competitiveness keeps many companies from harnessing the intellectual horsepower of their employees.

Creating a sense of reciprocal responsibility is crucial because competitiveness ultimately depends on the pace at which a company embeds new advantages deep within its organization, not on its stock of advantages at any given time. Thus, the concept of competitive advantage must be expanded beyond the scorecard many managers now use: Are my costs lower? Will my product command a price premium?

Few competitive advantages are long lasting. Uncovering a new competitive advantage is a bit like getting a hot tip on a stock: The first person to act on the insight makes more money than the last. When the experience curve was young, a company that built capacity ahead of competitors, dropped prices to fill plants, and reduced costs as volume rose went to the bank. The first mover traded on the fact that competitors undervalued market share—they didn’t price to capture additional share because they didn’t understand how market share leadership could be translated into lower costs and better margins. But there is no more undervalued market share when each of 20 semiconductor companies builds enough capacity to serve 10% of the world market.

Keeping score of existing advantages is not the same as building new advantages. The essence of strategy lies in creating tomorrow’s competitive advantages faster than competitors mimic the ones you possess today. In the 1960s, Japanese producers relied on labor and capital cost advantages. As Western manufacturers began to move production offshore, Japanese companies accelerated their investment in process technology and created scale and quality advantages. Then, as their U.S. and European competitors rationalized manufacturing, they added another string to their bow by accelerating the rate of product development. Then they built global brands. Then they de-skilled competitors through alliances and outsourcing deals. The moral? An organization’s capacity to improve existing skills and learn new ones is the most defensible competitive advantage of all.

To achieve a strategic intent, a company must usually take on larger, better-financed competitors. That means carefully managing competitive engagements so that scarce resources are conserved. Managers cannot do that simply by playing the same game better—making marginal improvements to competitors’ technology and business practices. Instead, they must fundamentally change the game in ways that disadvantage incumbents: devising novel approaches to market entry, advantage building, and competitive warfare. For smart competitors, the goal is not competitive imitation but competitive innovation, the art of containing competitive risks within manageable proportions.

For smart competitors, the goal is not competitive imitation but competitive innovation, the art of containing competitive risks within manageable proportions.

Four approaches to competitive innovation are evident in the global expansion of Japanese companies. These are: building layers of advantage, searching for loose bricks, changing the terms of engagement, and competing through collaboration.

The wider a company’s portfolio of advantages, the less risk it faces in competitive battles. New global competitors have built such portfolios by steadily expanding their arsenals of competitive weapons. They have moved inexorably from less defensible advantages such as low wage costs to more defensible advantages such as global brands. The Japanese color television industry illustrates this layering process.

By 1967, Japan had become the largest producer of black-and-white television sets. By 1970, it was closing the gap in color televisions. Japanese manufacturers used their competitive advantage—at that time, primarily, low labor costs—to build a base in the private-label business, then moved quickly to establish world-scale plants. This investment gave them additional layers of advantage—quality and reliability—as well as further cost reductions from process improvements. At the same time, they recognized that these cost-based advantages were vulnerable to changes in labor costs, process and product technology, exchange rates, and trade policy. So throughout the 1970s, they also invested heavily in building channels and brands, thus creating another layer of advantage: a global franchise. In the late 1970s, they enlarged the scope of their products and businesses to amortize these grand investments, and by 1980 all the major players—Matsushita, Sharp, Toshiba, Hitachi, Sanyo—had established related sets of businesses that could support global marketing investments. More recently, they have been investing in regional manufacturing and design centers to tailor their products more closely to national markets.

These manufacturers thought of the various sources of competitive advantage as mutually desirable layers, not mutually exclusive choices. What some call competitive suicide—pursuing both cost and differentiation—is exactly what many competitors strive for. 3 Using flexible manufacturing technologies and better marketing intelligence, they are moving away from standardized “world products” to products like Mazda’s minivan, developed in California expressly for the U.S. market.

Another approach to competitive innovation, searching for loose bricks, exploits the benefits of surprise, which is just as useful in business battles as it is in war. Particularly in the early stages of a war for global markets, successful new competitors work to stay below the response threshold of their larger, more powerful rivals. Staking out underdefended territory is one way to do this.

To find loose bricks, managers must have few orthodoxies about how to break into a market or challenge a competitor. For example, in one large U.S. multinational, we asked several country managers to describe what a Japanese competitor was doing in the local market. The first executive said, “They’re coming at us in the low end. Japanese companies always come in at the bottom.” The second speaker found the comment interesting but disagreed: “They don’t offer any low-end products in my market, but they have some exciting stuff at the top end. We really should reverse engineer that thing.” Another colleague told still another story. “They haven’t taken any business away from me,” he said, “but they’ve just made me a great offer to supply components.” In each country, the Japanese competitor had found a different loose brick.

The search for loose bricks begins with a careful analysis of the competitor’s conventional wisdom: How does the company define its “served market”? What activities are most profitable? Which geographic markets are too troublesome to enter? The objective is not to find a corner of the industry (or niche) where larger competitors seldom tread but to build a base of attack just outside the market territory that industry leaders currently occupy. The goal is an uncontested profit sanctuary, which could be a particular product segment (the “low end” in motorcycles), a slice of the value chain (components in the computer industry), or a particular geographic market (Eastern Europe).

When Honda took on leaders in the motorcycle industry, for example, it began with products that were just outside the conventional definition of the leaders’ product-market domains. As a result, it could build a base of operations in underdefended territory and then use that base to launch an expanded attack. What many competitors failed to see was Honda’s strategic intent and its growing competence in engines and power trains. Yet even as Honda was selling 50cc motorcycles in the United States, it was already racing larger bikes in Europe—assembling the design skills and technology it would need for a systematic expansion across the entire spectrum of motor-related businesses.

Honda’s progress in creating a core competence in engines should have warned competitors that it might enter a series of seemingly unrelated industries—automobiles, lawn mowers, marine engines, generators. But with each company fixated on its own market, the threat of Honda’s horizontal diversification went unnoticed. Today, companies like Matsushita and Toshiba are similarly poised to move in unexpected ways across industry boundaries. In protecting loose bricks, companies must extend their peripheral vision by tracking and anticipating the migration of global competitors across product segments, businesses, national markets, value-added stages, and distribution channels.

Changing the terms of engagement—refusing to accept the front-runner’s definition of industry and segment boundaries—represents still another form of competitive innovation. Canon’s entry into the copier business illustrates this approach.

During the 1970s, both Kodak and IBM tried to match Xerox’s business system in terms of segmentation, products, distribution, service, and pricing. As a result, Xerox had no trouble decoding the new entrants’ intentions and developing countermoves. IBM eventually withdrew from the copier business, while Kodak remains a distant second in the large copier market that Xerox still dominates.

Canon, on the other hand, changed the terms of competitive engagement. While Xerox built a wide range of copiers, Canon standardized machines and components to reduce costs. It chose to distribute through office product dealers rather than try to match Xerox’s huge direct sales force. It also avoided the need to create a national service network by designing reliability and serviceability into its product and then delegating service responsibility to the dealers. Canon copiers were sold rather than leased, freeing Canon from the burden of financing the lease base. Finally, instead of selling to the heads of corporate duplicating departments, Canon appealed to secretaries and department managers who wanted distributed copying. At each stage, Canon neatly sidestepped a potential barrier to entry.

Canon’s experience suggests that there is an important distinction between barriers to entry and barriers to imitation. Competitors that tried to match Xerox’s business system had to pay the same entry costs—the barriers to imitation were high. But Canon dramatically reduced the barriers to entry by changing the rules of the game.

Changing the rules also short-circuited Xerox’s ability to retaliate quickly against its new rival. Confronted with the need to rethink its business strategy and organization, Xerox was paralyzed for a time. Its managers realized that the faster they downsized the product line, developed new channels, and improved reliability, the faster they would erode the company’s traditional profit base. What might have been seen as critical success factors—Xerox’s national sales force and service network, its large installed base of leased machines, and its reliance on service revenues—instead became barriers to retaliation. In this sense, competitive innovation is like judo: The goal is to use a larger competitor’s weight against it. And that happens not by matching the leader’s capabilities but by developing contrasting capabilities of one’s own.

Competitive innovation works on the premise that a successful competitor is likely to be wedded to a recipe for success. That’s why the most effective weapon new competitors possess is probably a clean sheet of paper. And why an incumbent’s greatest vulnerability is its belief in accepted practice.

Through licensing, outsourcing agreements, and joint ventures, it is sometimes possible to win without fighting. For example, Fujitsu’s alliances in Europe with Siemens and STC (Britain’s largest computer maker) and in the United States with Amdahl yield manufacturing volume and access to Western markets. In the early 1980s, Matsushita established a joint venture with Thorn (in the United Kingdom), Telefunken (in Germany), and Thomson (in France), which allowed it to quickly multiply the forces arrayed against Philips in the battle for leadership in the European VCR business. In fighting larger global rivals by proxy, Japanese companies have adopted a maxim as old as human conflict itself: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.

Hijacking the development efforts of potential rivals is another goal of competitive collaboration. In the consumer electronics war, Japanese competitors attacked traditional businesses like TVs and hi-fis while volunteering to manufacture next generation products like VCRs, camcorders, and CD players for Western rivals. They hoped their rivals would ratchet down development spending, and, in most cases, that is precisely what happened. But companies that abandoned their own development efforts seldom reemerged as serious competitors in subsequent new product battles.

Collaboration can also be used to calibrate competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Toyota’s joint venture with GM, and Mazda’s with Ford, give these automakers an invaluable vantage point for assessing the progress their U.S. rivals have made in cost reduction, quality, and technology. They can also learn how GM and Ford compete—when they will fight and when they won’t. Of course, the reverse is also true: Ford and GM have an equal opportunity to learn from their partner-competitors.

The route to competitive revitalization we have been mapping implies a new view of strategy. Strategic intent assures consistency in resource allocation over the long term. Clearly articulated corporate challenges focus the efforts of individuals in the medium term. Finally, competitive innovation helps reduce competitive risk in the short term. This consistency in the long term, focus in the medium term, and inventiveness and involvement in the short term provide the key to leveraging limited resources in pursuit of ambitious goals. But just as there is a process of winning, so there is a process of surrender. Revitalization requires understanding that process, too.

Given their technological leadership and access to large regional markets, how did U.S. and European countries lose their apparent birthright to dominate global industries? There is no simple answer. Few companies recognize the value of documenting failure. Fewer still search their own managerial orthodoxies for the seeds of competitive surrender. But we believe there is a pathology of surrender that gives some important clues. (See the sidebar “The Process of Surrender.”)

The Process of Surrender

On the battles for global leadership that have taken place during the past two decades, we have seen a pattern of competitive attack and retrenchment that was remarkably similar across industries. We call this the process of surrender.

The process started with unseen intent. Not possessing long-term, competitor-focused goals themselves, Western companies did not ascribe such intentions to their rivals. They also calculated the threat posed by potential competitors in terms of their existing resources rather than their resourcefulness. This led to systematic underestimation of smaller rivals who were fast gaining technology through licensing arrangements, acquiring market understanding from downstream OEM partners, and improving product quality and manufacturing productivity through company-wide employee involvement programs. Oblivious of the strategic intent and intangible advantages of their rivals, American and European businesses were caught off guard.

Adding to the competitive surprise was the fact that the new entrants typically attacked the periphery of a market (Honda in small motorcycles, Yamaha in grand pianos, Toshiba in small black-and-white televisions) before going head-to-head with incumbents. Incumbents often misread these attacks, seeing them as part of a niche strategy and not as a search for “loose bricks.” Unconventional market entry strategies (minority holdings in less-developed countries, use of nontraditional channels, extensive corporate advertising) were ignored or dismissed as quirky. For example, managers we spoke with said Japanese companies’ position in the European computer industry was nonexistent. In terms of brand share that’s nearly true, but the Japanese control as much as one-third of the manufacturing value added in the hardware sales of European-based computer businesses. Similarly, German auto producers claimed to feel unconcerned over the proclivity of Japanese producers to move upmarket. But with its low-end models under tremendous pressure from Japanese producers, Porsche has now announced that it will no longer make “entry level” cars.

Western managers often misinterpreted their rivals’ tactics. They believed that Japanese and Korean companies were competing solely on the basis of cost and quality. This typically produced a partial response to those competitors’ initiatives: moving manufacturing offshore, outsourcing, or instituting a quality program. Seldom was the full extent of the competitive threat appreciated—the multiple layers of advantage, the expansion across related product segments, the development of global brand positions. Imitating the currently visible tactics of rivals put Western businesses into a perpetual catch-up trap. One by one, companies lost battles and came to see surrender as inevitable. Surrender was not inevitable, of course, but the attack was staged in a way that disguised ultimate intentions and sidestepped direct confrontation.

It is not very comforting to think that the essence of Western strategic thought can be reduced to eight rules for excellence, seven S’s, five competitive forces, four product life-cycle stages, three generic strategies, and innumerable two-by-two matrices. 4 Yet for the past 20 years, “advances” in strategy have taken the form of ever more typologies, heuristics, and laundry lists, often with dubious empirical bases. Moreover, even reasonable concepts like the product life cycle, experience curve, product portfolios, and generic strategies often have toxic side effects: They reduce the number of strategic options management is willing to consider. They create a preference for selling businesses rather than defending them. They yield predictable strategies that rivals easily decode.

Strategy recipes limit opportunities for competitive innovation. A company may have 40 businesses and only four strategies—invest, hold, harvest, or divest. Too often, strategy is seen as a positioning exercise in which options are tested by how they fit the existing industry structure. But current industry structure reflects the strengths of the industry leader, and playing by the leader’s rules is usually competitive suicide.

Armed with concepts like segmentation, the value chain, competitor benchmarking, strategic groups, and mobility barriers, many managers have become better and better at drawing industry maps. But while they have been busy mapmaking, their competitors have been moving entire continents. The strategist’s goal is not to find a niche within the existing industry space but to create new space that is uniquely suited to the company’s own strengths—space that is off the map.

The strategist’s goal is not to find a niche within the existing industry space but to create new space that is uniquely suited to the company’s own strengths—space that is off the map.

This is particularly true now that industry boundaries are becoming more and more unstable. In industries such as financial services and communications, rapidly changing technology, deregulation, and globalization have undermined the value of traditional industry analysis. Mapmaking skills are worth little in the epicenter of an earthquake. But an industry in upheaval presents opportunities for ambitious companies to redraw the map in their favor, so long as they can think outside traditional industry boundaries.

Concepts like “mature” and “declining” are largely definitional. What most executives mean when they label a business “mature” is that sales growth has stagnated in their current geographic markets for existing products sold through existing channels. In such cases, it’s not the industry that is mature, but the executives’ conception of the industry. Asked if the piano business was mature, a senior executive at Yamaha replied, “Only if we can’t take any market share from anybody anywhere in the world and still make money. And anyway, we’re not in the ‘piano’ business, we’re in the ‘keyboard’ business.” Year after year, Sony has revitalized its radio and tape recorder businesses, despite the fact that other manufacturers long ago abandoned these businesses as mature.

A narrow concept of maturity can foreclose a company from a broad stream of future opportunities. In the 1970s, several U.S. companies thought that consumer electronics had become a mature industry. What could possibly top the color TV? they asked themselves. RCA and GE, distracted by opportunities in more “attractive” industries like mainframe computers, left Japanese producers with a virtual monopoly in VCRs, camcorders, and CD players. Ironically, the TV business, once thought mature, is on the verge of a dramatic renaissance. A $20 billion-a-year business will be created when high-definition television is launched in the United States. But the pioneers of television may capture only a small part of this bonanza.

Most of the tools of strategic analysis are focused domestically. Few force managers to consider global opportunities and threats. For example, portfolio planning portrays top management’s investment options as an array of businesses rather than as an array of geographic markets. The result is predictable: As businesses come under attack from foreign competitors, the company attempts to abandon them and enter other areas in which the forces of global competition are not yet so strong. In the short term, this may be an appropriate response to waning competitiveness, but there are fewer and fewer businesses in which a domestic-oriented company can find refuge. We seldom hear such companies asking, Can we move into emerging markets overseas ahead of our global rivals and prolong the profitability of this business? Can we counterattack in our global competitors’ home market and slow the pace of their expansion? A senior executive in one successful global company made a telling comment: “We’re glad to find a competitor managing by the portfolio concept—we can almost predict how much share we’ll have to take away to put the business on the CEO’s ‘sell list.’ ”

Companies can also be overcommitted to organizational recipes, such as strategic business units (SBUs) and the decentralization an SBU structure implies. Decentralization is seductive because it places the responsibility for success or failure squarely on the shoulders of line managers. Each business is assumed to have all the resources it needs to execute its strategies successfully, and in this no-excuses environment, it is hard for top management to fail. But desirable as clear lines of responsibility and accountability are, competitive revitalization requires positive value added from top management.

Few companies with a strong SBU orientation have built successful global distribution and brand positions. Investments in a global brand franchise typically transcend the resources and risk propensity of a single business. While some Western companies have had global brand positions for 30 or 40 years or more (Heinz, Siemens, IBM, Ford, and Kodak, for example), it is hard to identify any American or European company that has created a new global brand franchise in the past ten to 15 years. Yet Japanese companies have created a score or more—NEC, Fujitsu, Panasonic (Matsushita), Toshiba, Sony, Seiko, Epson, Canon, Minolta, and Honda among them.

General Electric’s situation is typical. In many of its businesses, this American giant has been almost unknown in Europe and Asia. GE made no coordinated effort to build a global corporate franchise. Any GE business with international ambitions had to bear the burden of establishing its credibility and credentials in the new market alone. Not surprisingly, some once-strong GE businesses opted out of the difficult task of building a global brand position. By contrast, smaller Korean companies like Samsung, Daewoo, and Lucky-Goldstar are busy building global-brand umbrellas that will ease market entry for a whole range of businesses. The underlying principle is simple: Economies of scope may be as important as economies of scale in entering global markets. But capturing economies of scope demands interbusiness coordination that only top management can provide.

Economies of scope may be as important as economies of scale in entering global markets. But capturing economies of scope demands interbusiness coordination that only top management can provide.

We believe that inflexible SBU-type organizations have also contributed to the de-skilling of some companies. For a single SBU, incapable of sustaining an investment in a core competence such as semiconductors, optical media, or combustion engines, the only way to remain competitive is to purchase key components from potential (often Japanese or Korean) competitors. For an SBU defined in product market terms, competitiveness means offering an end product that is competitive in price and performance. But that gives an SBU manager little incentive to distinguish between external sourcing that achieves “product embodied” competitiveness and internal development that yields deeply embedded organizational competencies that can be exploited across multiple businesses. Where upstream component-manufacturing activities are seen as cost centers with cost-plus transfer pricing, additional investment in the core activity may seem a less profitable use of capital than investment in downstream activities. To make matters worse, internal accounting data may not reflect the competitive value of retaining control over a core competence.

Together, a shared global corporate brand franchise and a shared core competence act as mortar in many Japanese companies. Lacking this mortar, a company’s businesses are truly loose bricks—easily knocked out by global competitors that steadily invest in core competences. Such competitors can co-opt domestically oriented companies into long-term sourcing dependence and capture the economies of scope of global brand investment through interbusiness coordination.

Last in decentralization’s list of dangers is the standard of managerial performance typically used in SBU organizations. In many companies, business unit managers are rewarded solely on the basis of their performance against return on investment targets. Unfortunately, that often leads to denominator management because executives soon discover that reductions in investment and head count—the denominator—“improve” the financial ratios by which they are measured more easily than growth in the numerator: revenues. It also fosters a hair-trigger sensitivity to industry downturns that can be very costly. Managers who are quick to reduce investment and dismiss workers find it takes much longer to regain lost skills and catch up on investment when the industry turns upward again. As a result, they lose market share in every business cycle. Particularly in industries where there is fierce competition for the best people and where competitors invest relentlessly, denominator management creates a retrenchment ratchet.

The concept of the general manager as a movable peg reinforces the problem of denominator management. Business schools are guilty here because they have perpetuated the notion that a manager with net present value calculations in one hand and portfolio planning in the other can manage any business anywhere.

In many diversified companies, top management evaluates line managers on numbers alone because no other basis for dialogue exists. Managers move so many times as part of their “career development” that they often do not understand the nuances of the businesses they are managing. At GE, for example, one fast-track manager heading an important new venture had moved across five businesses in five years. His series of quick successes finally came to an end when he confronted a Japanese competitor whose managers had been plodding along in the same business for more than a decade.

Regardless of ability and effort, fast-track managers are unlikely to develop the deep business knowledge they need to discuss technology options, competitors’ strategies, and global opportunities substantively. Invariably, therefore, discussions gravitate to “the numbers,” while the value added of managers is limited to the financial and planning savvy they carry from job to job. Knowledge of the company’s internal planning and accounting systems substitutes for substantive knowledge of the business, making competitive innovation unlikely.

When managers know that their assignments have a two- to three-year time frame, they feel great pressure to create a good track record fast. This pressure often takes one of two forms. Either the manager does not commit to goals whose time line extends beyond his or her expected tenure. Or ambitious goals are adopted and squeezed into an unrealistically short time frame. Aiming to be number one in a business is the essence of strategic intent but imposing a three- to four-year horizon on the effort simply invites disaster. Acquisitions are made with little attention to the problems of integration. The organization becomes overloaded with initiatives. Collaborative ventures are formed without adequate attention to competitive consequences.

Almost every strategic management theory and nearly every corporate planning system is premised on a strategy hierarchy in which corporate goals guide business unit strategies and business unit strategies guide functional tactics. 5 In this hierarchy, senior management makes strategy and lower levels execute it. The dichotomy between formulation and implementation is familiar and widely accepted. But the strategy hierarchy undermines competitiveness by fostering an elitist view of management that tends to disenfranchise most of the organization. Employees fail to identify with corporate goals or involve themselves deeply in the work of becoming more competitive.

Almost every strategic management theory and nearly every corporate planning system is premised on a strategy hierarchy in which corporate goals guide business unit strategies and business unit strategies guide functional tactics.

The strategy hierarchy isn’t the only explanation for an elitist view of management, of course. The myths that grow up around successful top managers—“Lee Iacocca saved Chrysler,” “Carlo De Benedetti rescued Olivetti,” “John Sculley turned Apple around”—perpetuate it. So does the turbulent business environment. Middle managers buffeted by circumstances that seem to be beyond their control desperately want to believe that top management has all the answers. And top management, in turn, hesitates to admit it does not for fear of demoralizing lower-level employees.

The result of all this is often a code of silence in which the full extent of a company’s competitiveness problem is not widely shared. We interviewed business unit managers in one company, for example, who were extremely anxious because top management wasn’t talking openly about the competitive challenges the company faced. They assumed the lack of communication indicated a lack of awareness on their senior managers’ part. But when asked whether they were open with their own employees, these same managers replied that while they could face up to the problems, the people below them could not. Indeed, the only time the workforce heard about the company’s competitiveness problems was during wage negotiations when problems were used to extract concessions.

Unfortunately, a threat that everyone perceives but no one talks about creates more anxiety than a threat that has been clearly identified and made the focal point for the problem-solving efforts of the entire company. That is one reason honesty and humility on the part of top management may be the first prerequisite of revitalization. Another reason is the need to make “participation” more than a buzzword.

A threat that everyone perceives but no one talks about creates more anxiety than a threat that has been clearly identified and made the focal point for the problem-solving efforts of the entire company.

Programs such as quality circles and total customer service often fall short of expectations because management does not recognize that successful implementation requires more than administrative structures. Difficulties in embedding new capabilities are typically put down to “communication” problems, with the unstated assumption that if only downward communication were more effective—“if only middle management would get the message straight”—the new program would quickly take root. The need for upward communication is often ignored, or assumed to mean nothing more than feedback. In contrast, Japanese companies win not because they have smarter managers but because they have developed ways to harness the “wisdom of the anthill.” They realize that top managers are a bit like the astronauts who circle the Earth in the space shuttle. It may be the astronauts who get all the glory, but everyone knows that the real intelligence behind the mission is located firmly on the ground.

Japanese companies realize that top managers are a bit like the astronauts who circle the Earth in the space shuttle. It may be the astronauts who get all the glory, but everyone knows that the real intelligence behind the mission is located firmly on the ground.

Where strategy formulation is an elitist activity, it is also difficult to produce truly creative strategies. For one thing, there are not enough heads and points of view in divisional or corporate planning departments to challenge conventional wisdom. For another, creative strategies seldom emerge from the annual planning ritual. The starting point for next year’s strategy is almost always this year’s strategy. Improvements are incremental. The company sticks to the segments and territories it knows, even though the real opportunities may be elsewhere. The impetus for Canon’s pioneering entry into the personal copier business came from an overseas sales subsidiary—not from planners in Japan.

The goal of the strategy hierarchy remains valid—to ensure consistency up and down the organization. But this consistency is better derived from a clearly articulated strategic intent than from inflexibly applied top-down plans. In the 1990s, the challenge will be to enfranchise employees to invent the means to accomplish ambitious ends.

The goal of the strategy hierarchy remains valid—to ensure consistency up and down the organization. But this consistency is better derived from a clearly articulated strategic intent than from inflexibly applied top-down plans.

We seldom found cautious administrators among the top managements of companies that came from behind to challenge incumbents for global leadership. But in studying organizations that had surrendered, we invariably found senior managers who, for whatever reason, lacked the courage to commit their companies to heroic goals—goals that lay beyond the reach of planning and existing resources. The conservative goals they set failed to generate pressure and enthusiasm for competitive innovation or give the organization much useful guidance. Financial targets and vague mission statements just cannot provide the consistent direction that is a prerequisite for winning a global competitive war.

This kind of conservatism is usually blamed on the financial markets. But we believe that in most cases, investors’ so-called short-term orientation simply reflects a lack of confidence in the ability of senior managers to conceive and deliver stretch goals. The chairman of one company complained bitterly that even after improving return on capital employed to over 40% (by ruthlessly divesting lackluster businesses and downsizing others), the stock market held the company to an 8:1 price/earnings ratio. Of course, the market’s message was clear: “We don’t trust you. You’ve shown no ability to achieve profitable growth. Just cut out the slack, manage the denominators, and perhaps you’ll be taken over by a company that can use your resources more creatively.” Very little in the track record of most large Western companies warrants the confidence of the stock market. Investors aren’t hopelessly short-term, they’re justifiably skeptical.

We believe that top management’s caution reflects a lack of confidence in its own ability to involve the entire organization in revitalization, as opposed to simply raising financial targets. Developing faith in the organization’s ability to deliver on tough goals, motivating it to do so, focusing its attention long enough to internalize new capabilities—this is the real challenge for top management. Only by rising to this challenge will senior managers gain the courage they need to commit themselves and their companies to global leadership.

1. Among the first to apply the concept of strategy to management were H. Igor Ansoff in Corporate Strategy: An Analytic Approach to Business Policy for Growth and Expansion (McGraw-Hill, 1965) and Kenneth R. Andrews in The Concept of Corporate Strategy (Dow Jones-Irwin, 1971).

2. Robert A. Burgelman, “A Process Model of Internal Corporate Venturing in the Diversified Major Firm,” Administrative Science Quarterly, June 1983.

3. For example, see Michael E. Porter, Competitive Strategy (Free Press, 1980).

4. Strategic frameworks for resource allocation in diversified companies are summarized in Charles W. Hofer and Dan E. Schendel, Strategy Formulation: Analytical Concepts (West Publishing, 1978).

5. For example, see Peter Lorange and Richard F. Vancil, Strategic Planning Systems (Prentice-Hall, 1977).


The word, brand, derives from its original and current meaning as a firebrand, a burning piece of wood. That word comes from the Old High German, brinnan and Old English byrnan, biernan, and brinnan via Middle English as birnan and brond. [11] Torches were used to indelibly mark items such as furniture and pottery, and to permanently burn identifying marks into the skin of slaves and livestock. Later the firebrands were replaced with branding irons. [12] [13] The marks themselves took on the term and came to be closely associated with craftsmen's products. Through that association, the term eventually acquired its current meaning.

Branding and labeling have an ancient history. Branding probably began with the practice of branding livestock to deter theft. Images of the branding of cattle occur in ancient Egyptian tombs dating to around 2,700 BCE. [14] Over time, purchasers realised that the brand provided information about origin as well as about ownership, and could serve as a guide to quality. Branding was adapted by farmers, potters, and traders for use on other types of goods such as pottery and ceramics. Forms of branding or proto-branding emerged spontaneously and independently throughout Africa, Asia and Europe at different times, depending on local conditions. [15] Seals, which acted as quasi-brands, have been found on early Chinese products of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) large numbers of seals survive from the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley (3,300–1,300 BCE) where the local community depended heavily on trade cylinder seals came into use in Ur in Mesopotamia in around 3,000 BCE and facilitated the labelling of goods and property and the use of maker's marks on pottery was commonplace in both ancient Greece and Rome. [15] Identity marks, such as stamps on ceramics, were also used in ancient Egypt. [16]

Diana Twede has argued that the "consumer packaging functions of protection, utility and communication have been necessary whenever packages were the object of transactions". [17] She has shown that amphorae used in Mediterranean trade between 1,500 and 500 BCE exhibited a wide variety of shapes and markings, which consumers used to glean information about the type of goods and the quality. The systematic use of stamped labels dates from around the fourth century BCE. In largely pre-literate society, the shape of the amphora and its pictorial markings conveyed information about the contents, region of origin and even the identity of the producer, which were understood to convey information about product quality. [18] David Wengrow has argued that branding became necessary following the urban revolution in ancient Mesopotamia in the 4th century BCE, when large-scale economies started mass-producing commodities such as alcoholic drinks, cosmetics and textiles. These ancient societies imposed strict forms of quality-control over commodities and also needed to convey value to the consumer through branding. Producers began by attaching simple stone seals to products which, over time, gave way to clay seals bearing impressed images, often associated with the producer's personal identity thus giving the product a personality. [19] Not all historians agree that these markings are comparable with modern brands or labels, with some suggesting that the early pictorial brands or simple thumbprints used in pottery should be termed proto-brands [20] while other historians argue that the presence of these simple markings does not imply that mature brand management practices operated. [21]

Scholarly studies have found evidence of branding, packaging, and labeling in antiquity. [22] [23] Archaeological evidence of potters' stamps has been found across the breadth of the Roman Empire and in ancient Greece. Stamps were used on bricks, pottery, and storage containers as well as on fine ceramics. [24] Pottery marking had become commonplace in ancient Greece by the 6th century BCE. A vase manufactured around 490 BCE bears the inscription "Sophilos painted me", indicating that the object was both fabricated and painted by a single potter. [25] Branding may have been necessary to support the extensive trade in such pots. For example, 3rd-century Gaulish pots bearing the names of well-known potters and the place of manufacture (such as Attianus of Lezoux, Tetturo of Lezoux and Cinnamus of Vichy) have been found as far away as Essex and Hadrian's Wall in England. [26] [27] [28] [29] English potters based at Colchester and Chichester used stamps on their ceramic wares by the 1st century CE. [30] The use of hallmarks, a type of brand, on precious metals dates to around the 4th century CE. A series of five marks occurs on Byzantine silver dating from this period. [31]

Some of the earliest use of maker's marks, dating to about 1,300 BCE, have been found in India. [14] The oldest generic brand in continuous use, known in India since the Vedic period (ca. 1,100 BCE to 500 BCE), is the herbal paste known as Chyawanprash, consumed for its purported health benefits and attributed to a revered rishi (or seer) named Chyawan. [32] One well-documented early example of a highly developed brand is that of White Rabbit sewing needles, dating from China's Song Dynasty (960 to 1127 CE). [33] [34] A copper printing-plate used to print posters contained a message which roughly translates as: "Jinan Liu’s Fine Needle Shop: We buy high-quality steel rods and make fine-quality needles, to be ready for use at home in no time." [35] The plate also includes a trademark in the form of a 'White Rabbit", which signified good luck and was particularly relevant to women, who were the primary purchasers. Details in the image show a white rabbit crushing herbs, and text includes advice to shoppers to look for the stone white rabbit in front of the maker's shop. [36]

In ancient Rome, a commercial brand or inscription applied to objects offered for sale was known as a titulus pictus. The inscription typically specified information such as place of origin, destination, type of product and occasionally quality claims or the name of the manufacturer. [37] Roman marks or inscriptions were applied to a very wide variety of goods, including, pots, ceramics, amphorae (storage/ shipping containers) [20] and on factory-produced oil-lamps. [38] Carbonized loaves of bread, found at Herculaneum, indicate that some bakers stamped their bread with the producer's name. [39] Roman glassmakers branded their works, with the name of Ennion appearing most prominently. [40]

One merchant who made good use of the titulus pictus was Umbricius Scaurus, a manufacturer of fish sauce (also known as garum) in Pompeii, circa 35 CE. Mosaic patterns in the atrium of his house feature images of amphorae bearing his personal brand and quality claims. The mosaic depicts four different amphora, one at each corner of the atrium, and bearing labels as follows: [41]

1. G(ari) F(los) SCO[m]/ SCAURI/ EX OFFI[ci]/NA SCAU/RI (translated as: "The flower of garum, made of the mackerel, a product of Scaurus, from the shop of Scaurus") 2. LIQU[minis]/ FLOS (translated as: "The flower of Liquamen") 3. G[ari] F[los] SCOM[bri]/ SCAURI (translated as: "The flower of garum, made of the mackerel, a product of Scaurus") 4. LIQUAMEN/ OPTIMUM/ EX OFFICI[n]/A SCAURI (translated as: "The best liquamen, from the shop of Scaurus")

Scaurus' fish sauce was known by people across the Mediterranean to be of very high quality, and its reputation traveled as far away as modern France. [41] In both Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum, archaeological evidence also points to evidence of branding and labeling in relatively common use across a broad range of goods. Wine jars, for example, were stamped with names, such as "Lassius" and "L. Eumachius" probably references to the name of the producer.

The use of identity marks on products declined following the fall of the Roman Empire. In the European Middle Ages, heraldry developed a language of visual symbolism which would feed into the evolution of branding, [42] and with the rise of the merchant's guilds the use of marks resurfaced and was applied to specific types of goods. By the 13th century, the use of maker's marks had become evident on a broad range of goods. In 1266 makers' marks on bread became compulsory in England. [43] The Italians used brands in the form of watermarks on paper in the 13th century. [44] Blind stamps, hallmarks, and silver-makers' marks – all types of brand – became widely used across Europe during this period. Hallmarks, although known from the 4th-century, especially in Byzantium, [45] only came into general use during the Medieval period. [46] British silversmiths introduced hallmarks for silver in 1300. [47]

Some brands still in existence as of 2018 [update] date from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries' period of mass-production. Bass & Company, the British brewery founded in 1777, became a pioneer in international brand marketing. Many years before 1855 Bass applied a red triangle to casks of its Pale Ale. In 1876 its red-triangle brand became the first registered trademark issued by the British government. [48] Guinness World Records recognizes Tate & Lyle (of Lyle's Golden Syrup) as Britain's, and the world's, oldest branding and packaging, with its green-and-gold packaging having remained almost unchanged since 1885. [49] Twinings Tea has used the same logo — capitalized font beneath a lion crest — since 1787, making it the world's oldest in continuous use. [50] [51]

A characteristic feature of 19th-century mass-marketing was the widespread use of branding, originating with the advent of packaged goods. [14] Industrialization moved the production of many household items, such as soap, from local communities to centralized factories. When shipping their items, the factories would literally brand their logo or company insignia on the barrels used, effectively using a corporate trademark as a quasi-brand. [53]

Factories established following the Industrial Revolution introduced mass-produced goods and needed to sell their products to a wider market – that is, to customers previously familiar only with locally produced goods. [54] It became apparent that a generic package of soap had difficulty competing with familiar, local products. Packaged-goods manufacturers needed to convince the market that the public could place just as much trust in the non-local product. Gradually, manufacturers began using personal identifiers to differentiate their goods from generic products on the market. Marketers generally began to realize that brands, to which personalities were attached, outsold rival brands. [55] By the 1880s large manufacturers had learned to imbue their brands' identity with personality traits such as youthfulness, fun, sex appeal, luxury or the "cool" factor. This began the modern practice now known as branding, where the consumers buy the brand instead of the product and rely on the brand name instead of a retailer's recommendation.

The process of giving a brand "human" characteristics represented, at least in part, a response to consumer concerns about mass-produced goods. [56] The Quaker Oats Company began using the image of the Quaker man in place of a trademark from the late 1870s, with great success. [57] Pears' soap, Campbell's soup, Coca-Cola, Juicy Fruit chewing gum and Aunt Jemima pancake mix were also among the first products to be "branded" in an effort to increase the consumer's familiarity with the product's merits. Other brands which date from that era, such as Uncle Ben's rice and Kellogg's breakfast cereal, furnish illustrations of the trend.

By the early 1900s, trade-press publications, advertising agencies and advertising experts began producing books and pamphlets exhorting manufacturers to bypass retailers and to advertise directly to consumers with strongly branded messages. Around 1900, advertising guru James Walter Thompson published a housing advertisement explaining trademark advertising. This was an early commercial explanation of what scholars now recognize as modern branding and the beginnings of brand management. [58] This trend continued to the 1980s, and as of 2018 [update] is quantified in concepts such as brand value and brand equity. [ citation needed ] Naomi Klein has described this development as "brand equity mania". [59] In 1988, for example, Philip Morris purchased Kraft for six times what the company was worth on paper. Business analysts reported that what they really purchased was the brand name.

With the rise of mass media in the early 20th century, companies adopted techniques that allowed their messages to stand out. Slogans, mascots, and jingles began to appear on radio in the 1920s and in early television broadcasting in the 1930s. Soap manufacturers sponsored many of the earliest radio-drama series, and the genre became known as soap opera. [60]

By the 1940s manufacturers began to recognize the way in which consumers had started to develop relationships with their brands in a social/psychological/anthropological sense. [61] Advertisers began to use motivational research and consumer research to gather insights into consumer purchasing. Strong branded campaigns for Chrysler and Exxon/Esso, using insights drawn from research into psychology and cultural anthropology, led to some of the most enduring campaigns of the 20th-century. [62] Brand advertisers began to imbue goods and services with a personality, based on the insight that consumers searched for brands with personalities that matched their own. [63]

Effective branding, attached to strong brand values, can result in higher sales of not only one product, but of other products associated with that brand. [ citation needed ] If a customer loves Pillsbury biscuits and trusts the brand, he or she is more likely to try other products offered by the company – such as chocolate-chip cookies, for example. Brand development, often the task of a design team, takes time to produce.

Brand names and trademarks Edit

A brand name is the part of a brand that can be spoken or written and identifies a product, service or company and sets it apart from other comparable products within a category. A brand name may include words, phrases, signs, symbols, designs, or any combination of these elements. For consumers, a brand name is a "memory heuristic": a convenient way to remember preferred product choices. A brand name is not to be confused with a trademark which refers to the brand name or part of a brand that is legally protected. [64] For example, Coca-Cola not only protects the brand name, Coca-Cola, but also protects the distinctive Spencerian script and the contoured shape of the bottle.

It appears that a brand name and the relationship the consumer keep with the brand as a whole has evolved. From the simple product recognition process a brand name now holds a symbolic and social identification spectrum. [fournier 1998] For example, one can buy Nike because they want to be associated with the kind of people who wear Nike and with the values and attributes of that brand. More than a product it is a statement that one should seek to purchase by proxy of the brand [Belk 1988].

Corporate brand identity Edit

The brand identity is a set of individual components, such as a name, a design, a set of images, a slogan, a vision, writing style, a particular font or a symbol etc. which sets the brand aside from others. [65] [66] For a company to exude a strong sense of brand identity, it must have an in-depth understanding of its target market, competitors and the surrounding business environment. [8] Brand identity includes both the core identity and the extended identity. [8] The core identity reflects consistent long-term associations with the brand whereas the extended identity involves the intricate details of the brand that help generate a constant motif. [8]

According to Kotler et al. (2009), a brand's identity may deliver four levels of meaning:

A brand's attributes are a set of labels with which the corporation wishes to be associated. For example, a brand may showcase its primary attribute as environmental friendliness. However, a brand's attributes alone are not enough to persuade a customer into purchasing the product. [65] These attributes must be communicated through benefits, which are more emotional translations. If a brand's attribute is being environmentally friendly, customers will receive the benefit of feeling that they are helping the environment by associating with the brand. Aside from attributes and benefits, a brand's identity may also involve branding to focus on representing its core set of values. [65] If a company is seen to symbolise specific values, it will, in turn, attract customers who also believe in these values. [ citation needed ] For example, Nike's brand represents the value of a "just do it" attitude. [ citation needed ] Thus, this form of brand identification attracts customers who also share this same value. Even more extensive than its perceived values is a brand's personality. [65] Quite literally, one can easily describe a successful brand identity as if it were a person. [65] This form of brand identity has proven to be the most advantageous in maintaining long-lasting relationships with consumers, as it gives them a sense of personal interaction with the brand [67] Collectively, all four forms of brand identification help to deliver a powerful meaning behind what a corporation hopes to accomplish, and to explain why customers should choose one brand over its competitors. [8]

Brand personality Edit

Brand personality refers to "the set of human personality traits that are both applicable to and relevant for brands." [68] Marketers and consumer researchers often argue that brands can be imbued with human-like characteristics which resonate with potential consumers. [69] Such personality traits can assist marketers to create unique, brands that are differentiated from rival brands. Aaker conceptualised brand personality as consisting of five broad dimensions, namely: sincerity (down-to-earth, honest, wholesome, and cheerful), excitement (daring, spirited, imaginative, and up to date), competence (reliable, intelligent, and successful), sophistication (glamorous, upper class, charming), and ruggedness (outdoorsy and tough). [70] Subsequent research studies have suggested that Aaker's dimensions of brand personality are relatively stable across different industries, market segments and over time. Much of the literature on branding suggests that consumers prefer brands with personalities that are congruent with their own. [71] [72]

Consumers may distinguish the psychological aspect (brand associations like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and so on that become linked to the brand) of a brand from the experiential aspect. The experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand and is termed the consumer's brand experience. The brand is often intended to create an emotional response and recognition, leading to potential loyalty and repeat purchases. The brand experience is a brand's action perceived by a person. [73] The psychological aspect, sometimes referred to as the brand image, is a symbolic construct created within the minds of people, consisting of all the information and expectations associated with a product, with a service, or with the companies providing them. [73]

Marketers or product managers responsible for branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique. [ citation needed ] A brand can, therefore, become one of the most valuable elements in an advertising theme, as it demonstrates what the brand owner is able to offer in the marketplace. [ clarification needed ] The art of creating and maintaining a brand is called brand management. The orientation of an entire organization towards its brand is called brand orientation. Brand orientation develops in response to market intelligence. [ citation needed ]

Careful brand management seeks to make products or services relevant and meaningful to a target audience. Marketers tend to treat brands as more than the difference between the actual cost of a product and its selling price rather brands represent the sum of all valuable qualities of a product to the consumer and are often treated as the total investment in brand building activities including marketing communications. [74]

Consumers may look on branding as an aspect of products or services, [ citation needed ] as it often serves to denote a certain attractive quality or characteristic (see also brand promise). From the perspective of brand owners, branded products or services can command higher prices. Where two products resemble each other, but one of the products has no associated branding (such as a generic, store-branded product), potential purchasers may often select the more expensive branded product on the basis of the perceived quality of the brand or on the basis of the reputation of the brand owner.

Brand awareness Edit

Brand awareness involves a customers' ability to recall and/or recognize brands, logos, and branded advertising. Brands help customers to understand which brands or products belong to which product or service category. Brands assist customers to understand the constellation of benefits offered by individual brands, and how a given brand within a category is differentiated from its competing brands, and thus the brand helps customers & potential customers understand which brand satisfies their needs. Thus, the brand offers the customer a short-cut to understanding the different product or service offerings that make up a particular category.

Brand awareness is a key step in the customer's purchase decision process, since some kind of awareness is a precondition to purchasing. That is, customers will not consider a brand if they are not aware of it. [75] Brand awareness is a key component in understanding the effectiveness both of a brand's identity and of its communication methods. [76] Successful brands are those that consistently generate a high level of brand awareness, as this can often [ quantify ] be the pivotal factor in securing customer transactions. [77] Various forms of brand awareness can be identified. Each form reflects a different stage in a customer's cognitive ability to address the brand in a given circumstance. [10]

Marketers typically identify two distinct types of brand awareness namely brand recall (also known as unaided recall or occasionally spontaneous recall) and brand recognition (also known as aided brand recall). [78] These types of awareness operate in entirely different ways with important implications for marketing strategy and advertising.

  • Most companies aim for "Top-of-Mind" which occurs when a brand pops into a consumer's mind when asked to name brands in a product category. For example, when someone is asked to name a type of facial tissue, the common answer, "Kleenex", will represent a top-of-mind brand. Top-of-mind awareness is a special case of brand recall.
  • Brand recall (also known as unaided brand awareness or spontaneous awareness) refers to the brand or set of brands that a consumer can elicit from memory when prompted with a product category
  • Brand recognition (also known as aided brand awareness) occurs when consumers see or read a list of brands, and express familiarity with a particular brand only after they hear or see it as a type of memory aide.
  • Strategic awareness occurs when a brand is not only top-of-mind to consumers, but also has distinctive qualities which consumers perceive as making it better than other brands in the particular market. The distinction(s) that set a product apart from the competition is/are also known [by whom?] as the unique selling point or USP.

Brand recognition Edit

Brand recognition is one of the initial phases of brand awareness and validates whether or not a customer remembers being pre-exposed to the brand. [77] Brand recognition (also known as aided brand recall) refers to consumers' ability to correctly differentiate a brand when they come into contact with it. This does not necessarily require that the consumers identify or recall the brand name. When customers experience brand recognition, they are triggered by either a visual or verbal cue. [10] For example, when looking to satisfy a category need such as a toilet paper, the customer would firstly be presented with multiple brands to choose from. Once the customer is visually or verbally faced with a brand, he/she may remember being introduced to the brand before. When given some type of cue, consumers who are able to retrieve the particular memory node that referred to the brand, they exhibit brand recognition. [10] Often, this form of brand awareness assists customers in choosing one brand over another when faced with a low-involvement purchasing decision. [79]

Brand recognition is often the mode of brand awareness that operates in retail shopping environments. When presented with a product at the point-of-sale, or after viewing its visual packaging, consumers are able to recognize the brand and may be able to associate it with attributes or meanings acquired through exposure to promotion or word-of-mouth referrals. [80] In contrast to brand recall, where few consumers are able to spontaneously recall brand names within a given category, when prompted with a brand name, a larger number of consumers are typically able to recognize it.

Brand recognition is most successful when people can elicit recognition without being explicitly exposed to the company's name, but rather through visual signifiers like logos, slogans, and colors. [81] For example, Disney successfully branded its particular script font (originally created for Walt Disney's "signature" logo), which it used in the logo for

Brand recall Edit

Unlike brand recognition, brand recall (also known as unaided brand recall or spontaneous brand recall) is the ability of the customer retrieving the brand correctly from memory. [10] Rather than being given a choice of multiple brands to satisfy a need, consumers are faced with a need first, and then must recall a brand from their memory to satisfy that need. This level of brand awareness is stronger than brand recognition, as the brand must be firmly cemented in the consumer's memory to enable unassisted remembrance. [77] This gives the company huge advantage over its competitors because the customer is already willing to buy or at least know the company offering available in the market. Thus, brand recall is a confirmation that previous branding touchpoints have successfully fermented in the minds of its consumers. [79]

Marketing-mix modeling can help marketing leaders optimize how they spend marketing budgets to maximize the impact on brand awareness or on sales. Managing brands for value creation will often involve applying marketing-mix modeling techniques in conjunction with brand valuation. [ citation needed ]

Brands typically comprise various elements, such as: [82]

  • name: the word or words used to identify a company, product, service, or concept
  • logo: the visual trademark that identifies a brand
  • tagline or catchphrase: "The Quicker Picker Upper" is associated [by whom?] with Bounty paper towels
  • graphics: the "dynamic ribbon" is a trademarked part of Coca-Cola's brand
  • shapes: the distinctive shapes of the Coca-Cola bottle and of the Volkswagen Beetle are trademarked elements of those brands
  • colors: the instant recognition consumers have when they see Tiffany & Co.’s robin's egg blue (Pantone No. 1837). Tiffany & Co.’s trademarked the color in 1998. [83]
  • sounds: a unique tune or set of notes can denote a brand. NBC's chimes provide a famous example.
  • scents: the rose-jasmine-musk scent of Chanel No. 5 is trademarked
  • tastes: Kentucky Fried Chicken has trademarked its special recipe of eleven herbs and spices for fried chicken
  • movements: Lamborghini has trademarked the upward motion of its car doors

Brand communication Edit

Although brand identity is a fundamental asset to a brand's equity, the worth of a brand's identity would become obsolete without ongoing brand communication. [84] Integrated marketing communications (IMC) relates to how a brand transmits a clear consistent message to its stakeholders . [76] Five key components comprise IMC: [65]

  1. Advertising
  2. Sales promotions
  3. Direct marketing
  4. Personal selling
  5. Public relations

The effectiveness of a brand's communication is determined by how accurately the customer perceives the brand's intended message through its IMC. Although IMC is a broad strategic concept, the most crucial brand communication elements are pinpointed [ by whom? ] to how the brand sends a message and what touch points the brand uses to connect with its customers. [76]

One can analyse the traditional communication model into several consecutive steps: [65]

  • Firstly, a source/sender wishes to convey a message to a receiver. This source must encode the intended message in a way that the receiver will potentially understand. [76]
  • After the encoding stage, the forming of the message is complete and is portrayed through a selected channel. [85] In IMC, channels may include media elements such as advertising, public relations, sales promotions, etc. [76]
  • It is at this point where the message can often deter from its original purpose as the message must go through the process of being decoded, which can often lead to unintended misinterpretation. [85]
  • Finally, the receiver retrieves the message and attempts to understand what the sender was aiming to render. Often, a message may be incorrectly received due to noise in the market, which is caused by "…unplanned static or distortion during the communication process". [65]
  • The final stage of this process is when the receiver responds to the message, which is received by the original sender as feedback. [67]

When a brand communicates a brand identity to a receiver, it runs the risk of the receiver incorrectly interpreting the message. Therefore, a brand should use appropriate communication channels to positively "…affect how the psychological and physical aspects of a brand are perceived". [86]

In order for brands to effectively communicate to customers, marketers must "…consider all touch point|s, or sources of contact, that a customer has with the brand". [87] Touch points represent the channel stage in the traditional communication model, where a message travels from the sender to the receiver. Any point where a customer has an interaction with the brand - whether watching a television advertisement, hearing about a brand through word of mouth, or even noticing a branded license plate – defines a touch point. According to Dahlen et al. (2010), every touch point has the "…potential to add positive – or suppress negative – associations to the brand's equity" [86] Thus, a brand's IMC should cohesively deliver positive messages through appropriate touch points associated with its target market. One methodology involves using sensory stimuli touch points to activate customer emotion. [87] For example, if a brand consistently uses a pleasant smell as a primary touch point, the brand has a much higher chance of creating a positive lasting effect on its customers' senses as well as memory. [67] Another way a brand can ensure that it is utilizing the best communication channel is by focusing on touch points that suit particular areas associated with customer experience. [65] As suggested Figure 2, certain touch points link with a specific stage in customer-brand-involvement. For example, a brand may recognize that advertising touch points are most effective during the pre-purchase experience stage therefore they may target their advertisements to new customers rather than to existing customers. Overall, a brand has the ability to strengthen brand equity by using IMC branding communications through touch points. [87]

Brand communication is important in ensuring brand success in the business world and refers to how businesses transmit their brand messages, characteristics and attributes to their consumers. [88] One method of brand communication that companies can exploit involves electronic word-of mouth (eWOM). EWoM is a relatively new [ when? ] approach identified [ by whom? ] to communicate with consumers. One popular method of eWOM involves social networking sites (SNSs) such as Twitter. [89] A study found that consumers classed their relationship with a brand as closer if that brand was active on a specific social media site (Twitter). Research further found that the more consumers "retweeted" and communicated with a brand, the more they trusted the brand. This suggests that a company could look to employ a social-media campaign to gain consumer trust and loyalty as well as in the pursuit of communicating brand messages.

McKee (2014) also looked into brand communication and states that when communicating a brand, a company should look to simplify its message as this will lead to more value being portrayed as well as an increased chance of target consumers recalling and recognizing the brand. [90]

In 2012 Riefler stated that if the company communicating a brand is a global organization or has future global aims, that company should look to employ a method of communication which is globally appealing to their consumers, and subsequently choose a method of communication with will be internationally understood. [91] One way a company can do this involves choosing a product or service's brand name, as this name will need to be suitable for the marketplace that it aims to enter. [92]

It is important that if a company wishes to develop a global market, the company name will also need to be suitable in different cultures and not cause offense or be misunderstood. [93] When communicating a brand, a company needs to be aware that they must not just visually communicate their brand message and should take advantage of portraying their message through multi-sensory information. [94] One article suggests that other senses, apart from vision, need to be targeted when trying to communicate a brand with consumers. [95] For example, a jingle or background music can have a positive effect on brand recognition, purchasing behaviour and brand recall.

Therefore, when looking to communicate a brand with chosen consumers, companies should investigate a channel of communication which is most suitable for their short-term and long-term aims and should choose a method of communication which is most likely to adhere to [ clarification needed ] by their chosen consumers. [91] The match-up between the product, the consumer lifestyle, and the endorser is important for the effectiveness of brand communication.

Brand name Edit

The term "brand name" is quite often used interchangeably with "brand", although it is more correctly used to specifically denote written or spoken linguistic elements of any product. In this context, a "brand name" constitutes a type of trademark, if the brand name exclusively identifies the brand owner as the commercial source of products or services. A brand owner may seek to protect proprietary rights in relation to a brand name through trademark registration – such trademarks are called "Registered Trademarks". Advertising spokespersons have also become part of some brands, for example: Mr. Whipple of Charmin toilet tissue and Tony the Tiger of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. Putting a value on a brand by brand valuation or using marketing mix modeling techniques is distinct to valuing a trademark.

Types of brand names Edit

Brand names come in many styles. [96] A few include:

  • initialism: a name made of initials, such as "UPS" or "IBM"
  • descriptive: names that describe a product benefit or function, such as "Whole Foods" or "Toys R' Us"
  • alliteration and rhyme: names that are fun to say and which stick in the mind, such as "Reese's Pieces" or "Dunkin' Donuts"
  • evocative: names that can evoke a vivid image, such as "Amazon" or "Crest"
  • neologisms: completely made-up words, such as "Wii" or "Häagen-Dazs"
  • foreign word: adoption of a word from another language, such as "Volvo" or "Samsung"
  • founders' names: using the names of real people, (especially a founder's surname), such as "Hewlett-Packard", "Dell", "Disney", "Stussy" or "Mars"
  • geography: naming for regions and landmarks, such as "Cisco" or "Fuji Film"
  • personification: taking names from myths, such as "Nike" or from the minds of ad execs, such as "Betty Crocker"
  • punny: some brands create their name by using a silly pun, such as "Lord of the Fries", "Wok on Water" or "Eggs Eggscetera"
  • portmanteau: combining multiple words together to create one, such as "Microsoft" ("microcomputer" and "software"), "Comcast" ("communications" and "broadcast"), "Evernote" ("forever" and "note"), "Vodafone" ("voice", "data", "telephone")

The act of associating a product or service with a brand has become part of pop culture. Most products have some kind of brand identity, from common table salt to designer jeans. A brandnomer is a brand name that has colloquially become a generic term for a product or service, such as Band-Aid, Nylon, or Kleenex—which are often used to describe any brand of adhesive bandage any type of hosiery or any brand of facial tissue respectively. Xerox, for example, has become synonymous with the word "copy".

Brand line Edit

A brand line allows the introduction of various subtypes of a product under a common, ideally already established, brand name. Examples would be the individual Kinder Chocolates by Ferrero SA, the subtypes of Coca-Cola, or special editions of popular brands. See also brand extension.

Open Knowledge Foundation created in December 2013 the BSIN (Brand Standard Identification Number). BSIN is universal and is used by the Open Product Data Working Group [97] of the Open Knowledge Foundation to assign a brand to a product. The OKFN Brand repository is critical for the Open Data movement.

Brand identity Edit

The expression of a brand – including its name, trademark, communications, and visual appearance – is brand identity. [98] Because the identity is assembled by the brand owner, it reflects how the owner wants the consumer to perceive the brand – and by extension the branded company, organization, product or service. This is in contrast to the brand image, which is a customer's mental picture of a brand. [98] The brand owner will seek to bridge the gap between the brand image and the brand identity. Brand identity is fundamental to consumer recognition and symbolizes the brand's differentiation from competitors.Brand identity is distinct from brand image.

Brand identity is what the owner wants to communicate to its potential consumers. However, over time, a product's brand identity may acquire (evolve), gaining new attributes from consumer perspective but not necessarily from the marketing communications, an owner percolates to targeted consumers. Therefore, businesses research consumer's brand associations.

The brand identity works as a guideline, as the frame in which a brand will evolve and define itself, or in the words of David Aaker, "…a unique set of brand associations that the brand strategist aspires to create or maintain."

According to Kapferer (2007), there are 6 facets to a brand's identity:

  • Physique: The physical characteristics and iconography of your brand ( such as the Nike swoosh or the orange pantone of easyJet).
  • Personality: The persona, how a brand communicates with their audience, which is expressed through its tone of voice, design assets and then integrates this into communication touchpoints in a coherent way.
  • Culture: The values,the principles on which a brand bases its behaviour. For example, Google flexible office hours and fun environment so the employees feel happy and creative at work.
  • Reflection: The "stereotypical user" of the brand. A brand is likely to be purchased by several buyer's profiles but they will have a go-to person that they use in their campaigns. For example, Lou Yetu and the Parisian chic profile.
  • Relationship: The bond between a brand and its customers, and the customer expectations of the brand (the experience beyond the tangible product). Such as warranties or services during and after purchase help maintain a sustainable relationship and keep the consumer trust.

Self-image: How does one brand-customer portrays their ideal self – how they want to look and behave what they aspire to – brands can target their messaging accordingly and make the brand's aspirations reflect theirs.

Visual brand identity Edit

A brand can also be used to attract customers by a company, if the brand of a company is well established and has goodwill. The recognition and perception of a brand is highly influenced by its visual presentation. A brand's visual identity is the overall look of its communications. Effective visual brand identity is achieved by the consistent use of particular visual elements to create distinction, such as specific fonts, colors, and graphic elements. At the core of every brand identity is a brand mark, or logo. In the United States, brand identity and logo design naturally grew out of the Modernist movement in the 1950s and greatly drew on the principles of that movement – simplicity (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's principle of "Less is more") and geometric abstraction. These principles can be observed in the work of the pioneers of the practice of visual brand identity design, such as Paul Rand and Saul Bass. As part of a company's brand identity, a logo should complement the company's message strategy. An effective logo is simple, memorable, and works well in any medium including both online and offline applications.

Color is a particularly important element of visual brand identity and color mapping provides an effective way of ensuring color contributes to differentiation in a visually cluttered marketplace. [99]

Brand trust Edit

Brand trust is the intrinsic 'believability' that any entity evokes. In the commercial world, the intangible aspect of brand trust impacts the behavior and performance of its business stakeholders in many intriguing ways. It creates the foundation of a strong brand connect with all stakeholders, converting simple awareness to strong commitment. [100] This, in turn, metamorphoses normal people who have an indirect or direct stake in the organization into devoted ambassadors, leading to concomitant advantages like easier acceptability of brand extensions, the perception of premium, and acceptance of temporary quality deficiencies. Brand trust is often used as an important part of developing the portrayal of the business globally. Foreign companies will often use names that are associated with quality, in order to entrust the brand itself. An example would be a Chinese company using a German name.

The Brand Trust Report is syndicated primary research that has elaborated on this metric of brand trust. It is a result of the action, behavior, communication, and attitude of an entity, with the most trust results emerging from its action component. The action of the entity is most important in creating trust in all those audiences who directly engage with the brand, the primary experience carrying primary audiences. However, the tools of communications play a vital role in transferring the trust experience to audiences who have never experienced the brand, the all-important secondary audience.

Brand parity Edit

Brand parity is the perception of the customers that some brands are equivalent. [101] This means that shoppers will purchase within a group of accepted brands rather than choosing one specific brand. When brand parity operates, quality is often not a major concern because consumers believe that only minor quality differences exist. Instead, it is important to have brand equity which is "the perception that a good or service with a given brand name is different, better, and can be trusted" according to Kenneth E Clow. [102]

The original aim of branding was to simplify the process of identifying and differentiating products. Over time, manufacturers began to use branded messages to give the brand a unique personality. Brands came to embrace a performance or benefit promise, for the product, certainly, but eventually also for the company behind the brand.

Today, brands play a much bigger role. The power of brands to communicate a complex message quickly, with emotional impact and with the ability of brands to attract media attention, makes them ideal tools in the hands of activists. [103] Cultural conflict over a brand's meaning has also influences the diffusion of an innovation. [104]

During the Covid-19 pandemic, 75% of US customers tried different stores, websites or brands, and 60% of those expect to integrate new brands or stores into their post-pandemic lives. If brands can find ways to help people feel empowered and regain a sense of control in uncertain times, they can help people reconnect and heal (and be appreciated for it). [105]

Company name Edit

Often, especially in the industrial sector, brand engineers will promote a company's name. Exactly how the company name relates to product and services names forms part of a brand architecture. Decisions about company names and product names and their relationship depend on more than a dozen strategic considerations. [106]

In this case, a strong brand-name (or company name) becomes the vehicle for marketing a range of products (for example, Mercedes-Benz or Black & Decker) or a range of subsidiary brands (such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Cadbury Flake, or Cadbury Fingers in the UK).

Corporate name-changes offer particularly stark examples of branding-related decisions. [107] A name change may signal different ownership or new product directions. [108] Thus the name Unisys originated in 1986 when Burroughs bought and incorporated UNIVAC and the newly-named International Business Machines represented a broadening of scope in 1924 from its original name, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. A change in corporate naming may also have a role in seeking to shed an undesirable image: for example, Werner Erhard and Associates re-branded its activities as Landmark Education in 1991 at a time when publicity in a 60 Minutes investigative-report broadcast cast the est and Werner Erhard brands in a negative light, [109] and Union Carbide India Limited became Eveready Industries India in 1994 subsequent to the Bhopal disaster of 1984

Individual branding Edit

Marketeers associate separate products or lines with separate brand names - such as Seven-Up, Kool-Aid, or Nivea Sun (Beiersdorf - which may compete against other brands from the same company (for example, Unilever owns Persil, Omo, Surf, and Lynx).

Challenger brands Edit

A challenger brand is a brand in an industry where it is neither the market leader nor a niche brand. Challenger brands are categorised by a mindset that sees them have business ambitions beyond conventional resources and an intent to bring change to an industry.

Multiproduct branding strategy Edit

Multiproduct branding strategy is when a company uses one name across all its products in a product class. When the company's trade name is used, multiproduct branding is also known as corporate branding, family branding or umbrella branding. Examples of companies that use corporate branding are Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, and Sony as the company's brand name is identical to their trade name. Other examples of multiproduct branding strategy include Virgin and Church & Dwight. Virgin, a multination conglomerate uses the punk-inspired, handwritten red logo with the iconic tick for all its products ranging from airlines, hot air balloons, telecommunication to healthcare. Church & Dwight, a manufacturer of household products displays the Arm & Hammer family brand name for all its products containing baking soda as the main ingredient. A multiproduct branding strategy has many advantages. It capitalises on brand equity as consumers that have a good experience with the product will in turn pass on this positive opinion to supplementary objects in the same product class as they share the same name. Consequently, the multiproduct branding strategy makes product line extension possible.

Product line extension Edit

A product line extension is the procedure of entering a new market segment in its product class by means of using a current brand name. An example of this is the Campbell Soup Company, primarily a producer of canned soups. They utilize a multiproduct branding strategy by way of soup line extensions. They have over 100 soup flavours putting forward varieties such as regular Campbell soup, condensed, chunky, fresh-brewed, organic, and soup on the go. This approach is seen as favourable as it can result in lower promotion costs and advertising due to the same name being used on all products, therefore increasing the level of brand awareness. Although, line extension has potential negative outcomes with one being that other items in the company's line may be disadvantaged because of the sale of the extension. Line extensions work at their best when they deliver an increase in company revenue by enticing new buyers or by removing sales from competitors.

Subbranding Edit

Subbranding is used by certain multiproduct branding companies. Subbranding merges a corporate, family or umbrella brand with the introduction of a new brand in order to differentiate part of a product line from others in the whole brand system. Subbranding assists to articulate and construct offerings. It can alter a brand's identity as subbranding can modify associations of the parent brand. Examples of successful subbranding can be seen through Gatorade and Porsche. Gatorade, a manufacturer of sport-themed food and beverages effectively introduced Gatorade G2, a low-calorie line of Gatorade drinks. Likewise, Porsche, a specialised automobile manufacturer successfully markets its lower-end line, Porsche Boxster and higher-end line, Porsche Carrera.

Brand extension Edit

Brand extension is the system of employing a current brand name to enter a different product class. Having a strong brand equity allows for brand extension. Nevertheless, brand extension has its disadvantages. There is a risk that too many uses for one brand name can oversaturate the market resulting in a blurred and weak brand for consumers. Examples of brand extension can be seen through Kimberly-Clark and Honda. Kimberly-Clark is a corporation that produces personal and health care products being able to extend the Huggies brand name across a full line of toiletries for toddlers and babies. The success of this brand extension strategy is apparent in the $500 million in annual sales generated globally. Similarly, Honda using their reputable name for automobiles has spread to other products such as motorcycles, power equipment, engines, robots, aircraft, and bikes.

Co-branding Edit

Co-branding is a variation of brand extension. It is where a single product is created from the combining of two brand names of two manufacturers. Co-branding has its advantages as it lets firms enter new product classes and exploit a recognized brand name in that product class. An example of a co-branding success is Whitaker's working with Lewis Road Creamery to create a co-branded beverage called Lewis Road Creamery and Whittaker's Chocolate Milk. This product was a huge success in the New Zealand market with it going viral.

Multibranding strategy Edit

Multibranding strategy is when a company gives each product a distinct name. Multibranding is best used as an approach when each brand in intended for a different market segment. Multibranding is used in an assortment of ways with selected companies grouping their brands based on price-quality segments. Procter & Gamble (P&G), a multinational consumer goods company that offers over 100 brands, each suited for different consumer needs. For instance, Head & Shoulders that helps consumers relieve dandruff in the form of a shampoo, Oral-B which offers inter-dental products, Vicks which offers cough and cold products, and Downy which offers dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Other examples include Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Kellogg's, and Mars.

This approach usually results in higher promotion costs and advertising. This is due to the company being required to generate awareness among consumers and retailers for each new brand name without the benefit of any previous impressions. Multibranding strategy has many advantages. There is no risk that a product failure will affect other products in the line as each brand is unique to each market segment. Although, certain large multiband companies have come across that the cost and difficulty of implementing a multibranding strategy can overshadow the benefits. For example, Unilever, the world's third-largest multination consumer goods company recently streamlined its brands from over 400 brands to centre their attention onto 14 brands with sales of over 1 billion euros. Unilever accomplished this through product deletion and sales to other companies. Other multibrand companies introduce new product brands as a protective measure to respond to competition called fighting brands or fighter brands.

Fighting brands Edit

The main purpose of fighting brands is to challenge competitor brands. For example, Qantas, Australia's largest flag carrier airline, introduced Jetstar to go head-to-head against the low-cost carrier, Virgin Australia (formerly known as Virgin Blue). Jetstar is an Australian low-cost airline for budget conscious travellers, but it receives many negative reviews due to this. The launching of Jetstar allowed Qantas to rival Virgin Australia without the criticism being affiliated with Qantas because of the distinct brand name.

Private branding strategy Edit

Private branding (also known as reseller branding, private labelling, store brands, or own brands) have increased in popularity. Private branding is when a company manufactures products but it is sold under the brand name of a wholesaler or retailer. Private branding is popular because it typically produces high profits for manufacturers and resellers. The pricing of private brand product are usually cheaper compared to competing name brands. Consumers are commonly deterred by these prices as it sets a perception of lower quality and standard but these views are shifting. [ citation needed ]

In Australia, their leading supermarket chains, both Woolworths and Coles are saturated with store brands (or private labels). For example, in the United States, Paragon Trade Brands, Ralcorp Holdings, and Rayovac are major suppliers of diapers, grocery products, and private label alkaline batteries, correspondingly. Costco, Walmart, RadioShack, Sears, and Kroger are large retailers that have their own brand names. Similarly, Macy's, a mid-range chain of department stores offers a wide catalogue of private brands exclusive to their stores, from brands such as First Impressions which supply newborn and infant clothing, Hotel Collection which supply luxury linens and mattresses, and Tasso Elba which supply European inspired menswear. They use private branding strategy to specifically target consumer markets.

Mixed branding strategy Edit

Mixed branding strategy is where a firm markets products under its own name(s) and that of a reseller because the segment attracted to the reseller is different from its own market. For example, Elizabeth Arden, Inc., a major American cosmetics and fragrance company, uses mixed branding strategy. The company sells its Elizabeth Arden brand through department stores and line of skin care products at Walmart with the "skin simple" brand name. Companies such as Whirlpool, Del Monte, and Dial produce private brands of home appliances, pet foods, and soap, correspondingly. Other examples of mixed branding strategy include Michelin, Epson, Microsoft, Gillette, and Toyota. Michelin, one of the largest tire manufacturers allowed Sears, an American retail chain to place their brand name on the tires. Microsoft, a multinational technology company is seriously regarded as a corporate technology brand but it sells its versatile home entertainment hub under the brand Xbox to better align with the new and crazy identity. Gillette catered to females with Gillette for Women which has now become known as Venus. The launch of Venus was conducted in order to fulfil the feminine market of the previously dominating masculine razor industry. Similarly, Toyota, an automobile manufacturer used mixed branding. In the U.S., Toyota was regarded as a valuable car brand being economical, family orientated and known as a vehicle that rarely broke down. But Toyota sought out to fulfil a higher end, expensive market segment, thus they created Lexus, the luxury vehicle division of premium cars.

Attitude branding and iconic brands Edit

Attitude branding is the choice to represent a larger feeling, which is not necessarily connected with the product or consumption of the product at all. Marketing labeled as attitude branding include that of Nike, Starbucks, The Body Shop, Safeway, and Apple Inc.. In the 1999 book No Logo, Naomi Klein describes attitude branding as a "fetish strategy". [59] Schaefer and Kuehlwein analyzed brands such as Apple, Ben & Jerry's or Chanel describing them as 'Ueber-Brands' – brands that are able to gain and retain "meaning beyond the material." [110]

A great brand raises the bar – it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it's the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness, or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you're drinking really matters. – Howard Schultz (President, CEO, and Chairman of Starbucks)

Iconic brands are defined as having aspects that contribute to consumer's self-expression and personal identity. Brands whose value to consumers comes primarily from having identity value are said to be "identity brands". Some of these brands have such a strong identity that they become more or less cultural icons which makes them "iconic brands". Examples are: Apple, Nike, and Harley-Davidson. Many iconic brands include almost ritual-like behaviour in purchasing or consuming the products.

There are four key elements to creating iconic brands (Holt 2004):

  1. "Necessary conditions" – The performance of the product must at least be acceptable, preferably with a reputation of having good quality.
  2. "Myth-making" – A meaningful storytelling fabricated by cultural insiders. These must be seen as legitimate and respected by consumers for stories to be accepted.
  3. "Cultural contradictions" – Some kind of mismatch between prevailing ideology and emergent undercurrents in society. In other words, a difference with the way consumers are and how they wish they were.
  4. "The cultural brand management process" – Actively engaging in the myth-making process in making sure the brand maintains its position as an icon.

Schaefer and Kuehlwein propose the following 'Ueber-Branding' principles. They derived them from studying successful modern Prestige brands and what elevates them above mass competitors and beyond considerations of performance and price (alone) in the minds of consumers: [110]

  1. "Mission Incomparable" – Having a differentiated and meaningful brand purpose beyond 'making money.' [111] Setting rules that follow this purpose – even when it violates the mass marketing mantra of "Consumer is always Boss/right".
  2. "Longing versus Belonging" – Playing with the opposing desires of people for Inclusion on the one hand and Exclusivity on the other.
  3. "Un-Selling" – First and foremost seeking to seduce through pride and provocation, rather than to sell through arguments. [112]
  4. "From Myth To Meaning" – Leveraging the power of myth – 'Ueber-Stories' that have fascinated- and guided humans forever. [113]
  5. "Behold!" – Making products and associated brand rituals reflect the essence of the brand mission and myth. Making it the center of attention, while keeping it fresh.
  6. "Living the Dream" – Living the brand mission as an organization and through its actions. Thus radiating the brand myth from the inside out, consistently and through all brand manifestations. – For "Nothing is as volatile than a dream." [114]
  7. "Growth without End" – Avoiding to be perceived as an omnipresent, diluting brand appeal. Instead 'growing with gravitas' by leveraging scarcity/high prices, 'sideways expansion' and other means. [115]

"No-brand" branding Edit

Recently, a number of companies have successfully pursued "no-brand" strategies by creating packaging that imitates generic brand simplicity. Examples include the Japanese company Muji, which means "No label" in English (from 無印良品 – "Mujirushi Ryohin" – literally, "No brand quality goods"), and the Florida company No-Ad Sunscreen. Although there is a distinct Muji brand, Muji products are not branded. This no-brand strategy means that little is spent on advertisement or classical marketing and Muji's success is attributed to the word-of-mouth, simple shopping experience and the anti-brand movement. [116] [117] [118] "No brand" branding may be construed as a type of branding as the product is made conspicuous through the absence of a brand name. "Tapa Amarilla" or "Yellow Cap" in Venezuela during the 1980s is another good example of no-brand strategy. It was simply recognized by the color of the cap of this cleaning products company.

Derived brands Edit

In this case the supplier of a key component, used by a number of suppliers of the end-product, may wish to guarantee its own position by promoting that component as a brand in its own right. The most frequently quoted example is Intel, which positions itself in the PC market with the slogan (and sticker) "Intel Inside".

Brand extension and brand dilution Edit

The existing strong brand name can be used as a vehicle for new or modified products for example, many fashion and designer companies extended brands into fragrances, shoes and accessories, home textile, home decor, luggage, (sun-) glasses, furniture, hotels, etc.

Mars extended its brand to ice cream, Caterpillar to shoes and watches, Michelin to a restaurant guide, Adidas and Puma to personal hygiene. Dunlop extended its brand from tires to other rubber products such as shoes, golf balls, tennis racquets, and adhesives. Frequently, the product is no different from what else is on the market, except a brand name marking. Brand is product identity.

There is a difference between brand extension and line extension. A line extension is when a current brand name is used to enter a new market segment in the existing product class, with new varieties or flavors or sizes. When Coca-Cola launched "Diet Coke" and "Cherry Coke", they stayed within the originating product category: non-alcoholic carbonated beverages. Procter & Gamble (P&G) did likewise extending its strong lines (such as Fairy Soap) into neighboring products (Fairy Liquid and Fairy Automatic) within the same category, dish washing detergents.

The risk of over-extension is brand dilution where the brand loses its brand associations with a market segment, product area, or quality, price or cachet. [ citation needed ]

Social media brands Edit

In The Better Mousetrap: Brand Invention in a Media Democracy (2012), author and brand strategist Simon Pont posits that social media brands may be the most evolved version of the brand form, because they focus not on themselves but on their users. In so doing, social media brands are arguably more charismatic, in that consumers are compelled to spend time with them, because the time spent is in the meeting of fundamental human drivers related to belonging and individualism. "We wear our physical brands like badges, to help define us – but we use our digital brands to help express who we are. They allow us to be, to hold a mirror up to ourselves, and it is clear. We like what we see." [119]

Multi-brands Edit

Alternatively, in a market that is fragmented amongst a number of brands a supplier can choose deliberately to launch totally new brands in apparent competition with its own existing strong brand (and often with identical product characteristics) simply to soak up some of the shares of the market which will, in any case, go to minor brands. The rationale is that having 3 out of 12 brands in such a market will give a greater overall share than having 1 out of 10 (even if much of the share of these new brands is taken from the existing one). In its most extreme manifestation, a supplier pioneering a new market which it believes will be particularly attractive may choose immediately to launch a second brand in competition with its first, in order to pre-empt others entering the market. This strategy is widely known as a multi-brand strategy.

Individual brand names naturally allow greater flexibility by permitting a variety of different products, of differing quality, to be sold without confusing the consumer's perception of what business the company is in or diluting higher quality products.

Procter & Gamble is a leading exponent of this approach to branding, running as many as ten detergent brands in the US market. This also increases the total number of "facings" it receives on supermarket shelves. Sara Lee, on the other hand, uses the approach to keep the very different parts of the business separate—from Sara Lee cakes through Kiwi polishes to L'Eggs pantyhose. In the hotel business, Marriott uses the name Fairfield Inns for its budget chain (and Choice Hotels uses Rodeway for its own cheaper hotels).

Cannibalization is a particular challenge with a multi-brand strategy approach, in which the new brand takes business away from an established one which the organization also owns. This may be acceptable (indeed to be expected) if there is a net gain overall. Alternatively, it may be the price the organization is willing to pay for shifting its position in the market the new product being one stage in this process.

Private labels Edit

Private label brands, also called own brands, or store brands have become popular. Where the retailer has a particularly strong identity (such as Marks & Spencer in the UK clothing sector) this "own brand" may be able to compete against even the strongest brand leaders, and may outperform those products that are not otherwise strongly branded.

Designer Private Labels

A relatively recent innovation in retailing is the introduction of designer private labels. Designer-private labels involve a collaborative contract between a well-known fashion designer and a retailer. Both retailer and designer collaborate to design goods with popular appeal pitched at price points that fit the consumer's budget. For retail outlets, these types of collaborations give them greater control over the design process as well as access to exclusive store brands that can potentially drive store traffic.

In Australia, for example, the department store, Myer, now offers a range of exclusive designer private labels including Jayson Brundson, Karen Walker, Leona Edmiston, Wayne Cooper, Fleur Wood and ‘L’ for Lisa Ho. [120] Another up-market department store, David Jones, currently offers ‘Collette’ for leading Australian designer, Collette Dinnigan, and has recently announced its intention to extend the number of exclusive designer brands. [121] Target has teamed up with Danii Minogue to produce her "Petites" range. [122] Specsavers has joined up with Sydney designer, Alex Perry to create an exclusive range of spectacle frames while Big W stocks frame designed by Peter Morrissey.

Individual and organizational brands Edit

With the development of the brand, Branding is no longer limited to a product or service. [123] There are kinds of branding that treat individuals and organizations as the products to be branded. Most NGOs and non-profit organizations carry their brand as a fundraising tool. The purpose of most NGOs is to leave a social impact so their brand becomes associated with specific social life matters. Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, World Wildlife Fund and AIESEC are among the most recognized brands around the world. [124] NGOs and non-profit organizations moved beyond using their brands for fundraising to express their internal identity and to clarify their social goals and long-term aims. Organizational brands have well-determined brand guidelines and logo variables. [125]

Personal branding Edit

Employer branding Edit

Crowd sourced branding Edit

These are brands that are created by "the public" for the business, which is opposite to the traditional method where the business creates a brand.

Personalised branding Edit

Many businesses have started to use elements of personalisation in their branding strategies, offering the client or consumer the ability to choose from various brand options or have direct control over the brand. Examples of this include the #ShareACoke campaign by Coca-Cola [ citation needed ] which printed people's names and place names on their bottles encouraging people. AirBNB has created the facility for users to create their own symbol for the software to replace the brand's mark known as The Bélo. [126]

Nation branding (place branding and public diplomacy) Edit

Nation branding is a field of theory and practice which aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries (closely related to place branding). Some approaches applied, such as an increasing importance on the symbolic value of products, have led countries to emphasise their distinctive characteristics. The branding and image of a nation-state "and the successful transference of this image to its exports – is just as important as what they actually produce and sell."

Destination branding Edit

Destination branding is the work of cities, states, and other localities to promote the location to tourists and drive additional revenues into a tax base. These activities are often undertaken by governments, but can also result from the work of community associations. The Destination Marketing Association International is the industry leading organization.

Brand protection Edit

Intellectual property infringements, in particular counterfeiting, can affect consumer trust and ultimately damage brand equity. Brand protection is the set of preventive, monitoring and reactive measures taken by brand owners to eliminate, reduce or mitigate these infringements and their effect.

A doppelgänger brand image or "DBI" is a disparaging image or story about a brand that it circulated in popular culture. DBI targets tend to be widely known and recognizable brands. The purpose of DBIs is to undermine the positive brand meanings the brand owners are trying to instill through their marketing activities. [127]

The term stems from the combination of the German words doppel (double) and gänger (walker).

Doppelgänger brands are typically created by individuals or groups to express criticism of a brand and its perceived values, through a form of parody, and are typically unflattering in nature.

Due to the ability of Doppelgänger brands to rapidly propagate virally through digital media channels, they can represent a real threat to the equity of the target brand. Sometimes the target organization is forced to address the root concern or to re-position the brand in a way that defuses the criticism.

  • Joe Chemo campaign organized to criticize the marketing of tobacco products to children and their harmful effects. [128]
  • Parody of the Pepsi logo as an obese man to highlight the relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity. [129]
  • The FUH2 campaign protesting the Hummer SUV as a symbol of corporate and consumer irresponsibility toward public safety and the environment. [130]

In the 2006 article "Emotional Branding and the Strategic Value of the Doppelgänger Brand Image", Thompson, Rindfleisch, and Arsel suggest that a doppelgänger brand image can be a benefit to a brand if taken as an early warning sign that the brand is losing emotional authenticity with its market. [127]

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In March 1970, Larry D. Nichols invented a 2×2×2 "Puzzle with Pieces Rotatable in Groups" and filed a Canadian patent application for it. Nichols's cube was held together by magnets. Nichols was granted U.S. Patent 3,655,201 on 11 April 1972, two years before Rubik invented his Cube.

On 9 April 1970, Frank Fox applied to patent an "amusement device", a type of sliding puzzle on a spherical surface with "at least two 3×3 arrays" intended to be used for the game of noughts and crosses. He received his UK patent (1344259) on 16 January 1974. [15]

Rubik's invention

In the mid-1970s, Ernő Rubik worked at the Department of Interior Design at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest. [16] Although it is widely reported that the Cube was built as a teaching tool to help his students understand 3D objects, his actual purpose was solving the structural problem of moving the parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart. He did not realise that he had created a puzzle until the first time he scrambled his new Cube and then tried to restore it. [17] Rubik applied for a patent in Hungary for his "Magic Cube" (Bűvös kocka in Hungarian) on 30 January 1975, [4] and HU170062 was granted later that year.

The first test batches of the Magic Cube were produced in late 1977 and released in Budapest toy shops. Magic Cube was held together with interlocking plastic pieces that prevented the puzzle being easily pulled apart, unlike the magnets in Nichols's design. With Ernő Rubik's permission, businessman Tibor Laczi took a Cube to Germany's Nuremberg Toy Fair in February 1979 in an attempt to popularise it. [18] It was noticed by Seven Towns founder Tom Kremer, and they signed a deal with Ideal Toys in September 1979 to release the Magic Cube worldwide. [18] Ideal wanted at least a recognisable name to trademark that arrangement put Rubik in the spotlight because the Magic Cube was renamed after its inventor in 1980. The puzzle made its international debut at the toy fairs of London, Paris, Nuremberg, and New York in January and February 1980. [19]

After its international debut, the progress of the Cube towards the toy shop shelves of the West was briefly halted so that it could be manufactured to Western safety and packaging specifications. A lighter Cube was produced, and Ideal decided to rename it. "The Gordian Knot" and "Inca Gold" were considered, but the company finally decided on "Rubik's Cube", and the first batch was exported from Hungary in May 1980. [20]

1980s Cube craze

After the first batches of Rubik's Cubes were released in May 1980, initial sales were modest, but Ideal began a television advertising campaign in the middle of the year which it supplemented with newspaper advertisements. [21] At the end of 1980, Rubik's Cube won a German Game of the Year special award [22] and won similar awards for best toy in the UK, France, and the US. [23] By 1981, Rubik's Cube had become a craze, and it is estimated that in the period from 1980 to 1983 around 200 million Rubik's Cubes were sold worldwide. [24] In March 1981, a speedcubing championship organised by the Guinness Book of World Records was held in Munich, [22] and a Rubik's Cube was depicted on the front cover of Scientific American that same month. [25] In June 1981, The Washington Post reported that Rubik's Cube is "a puzzle that's moving like fast food right now . this year's Hoola Hoop or Bongo Board", [26] and by September 1981, New Scientist noted that the cube had "captivated the attention of children of ages from 7 to 70 all over the world this summer." [27]

As most people could solve only one or two sides, numerous books were published including David Singmaster's Notes on Rubik's "Magic Cube" (1980) and Patrick Bossert's You Can Do the Cube (1981). [22] At one stage in 1981, three of the top ten best selling books in the US were books on solving Rubik's Cube, [28] and the best-selling book of 1981 was James G. Nourse's The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube which sold over 6 million copies. [29] In 1981, the Museum of Modern Art in New York exhibited a Rubik's Cube, and at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee a six-foot Cube was put on display. [22] ABC Television even developed a cartoon show called Rubik, the Amazing Cube. [30] In June 1982, the First Rubik's Cube World Championship took place in Budapest and would become the only competition recognized as official until the championship was revived in 2003. [31]

In October 1982, The New York Times reported that sales had fallen and that "the craze has died", [32] and by 1983 it was clear that sales had plummeted. [22] However, in some Communist countries, such as China and the USSR, the craze had started later and demand was still high because of a shortage of Cubes. [33] [34]

21st-century revival

Rubik's Cubes continued to be marketed and sold throughout the 1980s and ’90s, [22] but it was not until the early 2000s that interest in the Cube began increasing again. [35] In the US, sales doubled between 2001 and 2003, and The Boston Globe remarked that it was "becoming cool to own a Cube again". [36] The 2003 World Rubik's Games Championship was the first speedcubing tournament since 1982. [35] It was held in Toronto and was attended by 83 participants. [35] The tournament led to the formation of the World Cube Association in 2004. [35] Annual sales of Rubik branded cubes were said to have reached 15 million worldwide in 2008. [37] Part of the new appeal was ascribed to the advent of Internet video sites, such as YouTube, which allowed fans to share their solving strategies. [37] Following the expiration of Rubik's patent in 2000, other brands of cubes appeared, especially from Chinese companies. [38] Many of these Chinese branded cubes have been engineered for speed and are favoured by speedcubers. [38] On 27 October 2020, Spin Master said it will pay $50 million to buy the Rubik's Cube brand. [1]

Taking advantage of an initial shortage of cubes, many imitations and variations appeared, many of which may have violated one or more patents. Today, the patents have expired and many Chinese companies produce copies of—and in nearly all cases, improvements upon—the Rubik and V-Cube designs. [38]

Patent history

Nichols assigned his patent to his employer Moleculon Research Corp., which sued Ideal in 1982. In 1984, Ideal lost the patent infringement suit and appealed. In 1986, the appeals court affirmed the judgment that Rubik's 2×2×2 Pocket Cube infringed Nichols's patent, but overturned the judgment on Rubik's 3×3×3 Cube. [39]

Even while Rubik's patent application was being processed, Terutoshi Ishigi, a self-taught engineer and ironworks owner near Tokyo, filed for a Japanese patent for a nearly identical mechanism, which was granted in 1976 (Japanese patent publication JP55-008192). Until 1999, when an amended Japanese patent law was enforced, Japan's patent office granted Japanese patents for non-disclosed technology within Japan without requiring worldwide novelty. [40] [41] Hence, Ishigi's patent is generally accepted as an independent reinvention at that time. [42] [43] [44] Rubik applied for more patents in 1980, including another Hungarian patent on 28 October. In the United States, Rubik was granted U.S. Patent 4,378,116 on 29 March 1983, for the Cube. This patent expired in 2000.


Rubik's Brand Ltd. also holds the registered trademarks for the word "Rubik" and "Rubik's" and for the 2D and 3D visualisations of the puzzle. The trademarks have been upheld by a ruling of the General Court of the European Union on 25 November 2014 in a successful defence against a German toy manufacturer seeking to invalidate them. However, European toy manufacturers are allowed to create differently shaped puzzles that have a similar rotating or twisting functionality of component parts such as for example Skewb, Pyraminx or Impossiball. [45]

On 10 November 2016, Rubik's Cube lost a ten-year battle over a key trademark issue. The European Union's highest court, the Court of Justice, ruled that the puzzle's shape was not sufficient to grant it trademark protection. [46]

A standard Rubik's Cube measures 5.6 centimetres ( 2 + 1 ⁄ 4 in) on each side. The puzzle consists of 26 unique miniature cubes, also known "cubies" or "cubelets". Each of these includes a concealed inward extension that interlocks with the other cubes while permitting them to move to different locations. However, the centre cube of each of the six faces is merely a single square façade all six are affixed to the core mechanism. These provide structure for the other pieces to fit into and rotate around. Hence, there are 21 pieces: a single core piece consisting of three intersecting axes holding the six centre squares in place but letting them rotate, and 20 smaller plastic pieces that fit into it to form the assembled puzzle.

Each of the six centre pieces pivots on a screw (fastener) held by the centre piece, a "3D cross". A spring between each screw head and its corresponding piece tensions the piece inward, so that collectively, the whole assembly remains compact but can still be easily manipulated. The screw can be tightened or loosened to change the "feel" of the Cube. Newer official Rubik's brand cubes have rivets instead of screws and cannot be adjusted. However, Old Cubes made by the Rubik's Brand Ltd. and from dollar stores do not have screws or springs, all they have is a plastic clip to keep the centre piece in place and freely rotate.

The Cube can be taken apart without much difficulty, typically by rotating the top layer by 45° and then prying one of its edge cubes away from the other two layers. Consequently, it is a simple process to "solve" a Cube by taking it apart and reassembling it in a solved state.

There are six central pieces that show one coloured face, twelve edge pieces that show two coloured faces, and eight corner pieces that show three coloured faces. Each piece shows a unique colour combination, but not all combinations are present (for example, if red and orange are on opposite sides of the solved Cube, there is no edge piece with both red and orange sides). The location of these cubes relative to one another can be altered by twisting an outer third of the Cube by increments of 90 degrees, but the location of the coloured sides relative to one another in the completed state of the puzzle cannot be altered it is fixed by the relative positions of the centre squares. However, Cubes with alternative colour arrangements also exist for example, with the yellow face opposite the green, the blue face opposite the white, and red and orange remaining opposite each other.

Douglas Hofstadter, in the July 1982 issue of Scientific American, pointed out that Cubes could be coloured in such a way as to emphasise the corners or edges, rather than the faces as the standard colouring does but neither of these alternative colourings has ever become popular. [42]

The puzzle was originally advertised as having "over 3,000,000,000 (three billion) combinations but only one solution". [47] Depending on how combinations are counted, the actual number is significantly higher.


The original (3×3×3) Rubik's Cube has eight corners and twelve edges. There are 8! (40,320) ways to arrange the corner cubes. Each corner has three possible orientations, although only seven (of eight) can be oriented independently the orientation of the eighth (final) corner depends on the preceding seven, giving 3 7 (2,187) possibilities. There are 12!/2 (239,500,800) ways to arrange the edges, restricted from 12! because edges must be in an even permutation exactly when the corners are. (When arrangements of centres are also permitted, as described below, the rule is that the combined arrangement of corners, edges, and centres must be an even permutation.) Eleven edges can be flipped independently, with the flip of the twelfth depending on the preceding ones, giving 2 11 (2,048) possibilities. [48]

which is approximately 43 quintillion. [49] To put this into perspective, if one had one standard-sized Rubik's Cube for each permutation, one could cover the Earth's surface 275 times, or stack them in a tower 261 light-years high.

The preceding figure is limited to permutations that can be reached solely by turning the sides of the cube. If one considers permutations reached through disassembly of the cube, the number becomes twelve times larger:

which is approximately 519 quintillion [49] possible arrangements of the pieces that make up the cube, but only one in twelve of these are actually solvable. This is because there is no sequence of moves that will swap a single pair of pieces or rotate a single corner or edge cube. Thus, there are 12 possible sets of reachable configurations, sometimes called "universes" or "orbits", into which the cube can be placed by dismantling and reassembling it.

The preceding numbers assume the centre faces are in a fixed position. If one considers turning the whole cube to be a different permutation, then each of the preceding numbers should be multiplied by 24. A chosen colour can be on one of six sides, and then one of the adjacent colours can be in one of four positions this determines the positions of all remaining colours.

Centre faces

The original Rubik's Cube had no orientation markings on the centre faces (although some carried the words "Rubik's Cube" on the centre square of the white face), and therefore solving it does not require any attention to orienting those faces correctly. However, with marker pens, one could, for example, mark the central squares of an unscrambled Cube with four coloured marks on each edge, each corresponding to the colour of the adjacent face a cube marked in this way is referred to as a "supercube". Some Cubes have also been produced commercially with markings on all of the squares, such as the Lo Shu magic square or playing card suits. Cubes have also been produced where the nine stickers on a face are used to make a single larger picture, and centre orientation matters on these as well. Thus one can nominally solve a Cube yet have the markings on the centres rotated it then becomes an additional test to solve the centres as well.

Marking Rubik's Cube's centres increases its difficulty, because this expands the set of distinguishable possible configurations. There are 4 6 /2 (2,048) ways to orient the centres since an even permutation of the corners implies an even number of quarter turns of centres as well. In particular, when the Cube is unscrambled apart from the orientations of the central squares, there will always be an even number of centre squares requiring a quarter turn. Thus orientations of centres increases the total number of possible Cube permutations from 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 (4.3×10 19 ) to 88,580,102,706,155,225,088,000 (8.9×10 22 ). [50]

When turning a cube over is considered to be a change in permutation then we must also count arrangements of the centre faces. Nominally there are 6! ways to arrange the six centre faces of the cube, but only 24 of these are achievable without disassembly of the cube. When the orientations of centres are also counted, as above, this increases the total number of possible Cube permutations from 88,580,102,706,155,225,088,000 (8.9×10 22 ) to 2,125,922,464,947,725,402,112,000 (2.1×10 24 ).


In Rubik's cubers' parlance, a memorised sequence of moves that has a desired effect on the cube is called an algorithm. This terminology is derived from the mathematical use of algorithm, meaning a list of well-defined instructions for performing a task from a given initial state, through well-defined successive states, to a desired end-state. Each method of solving the Cube employs its own set of algorithms, together with descriptions of what effect the algorithm has, and when it can be used to bring the cube closer to being solved.

Many algorithms are designed to transform only a small part of the cube without interfering with other parts that have already been solved so that they can be applied repeatedly to different parts of the cube until the whole is solved. For example, there are well-known algorithms for cycling three corners without changing the rest of the puzzle or flipping the orientation of a pair of edges while leaving the others intact.

Some algorithms do have a certain desired effect on the cube (for example, swapping two corners) but may also have the side-effect of changing other parts of the cube (such as permuting some edges). Such algorithms are often simpler than the ones without side-effects and are employed early on in the solution when most of the puzzle has not yet been solved and the side-effects are not important. Most are long and difficult to memorise. Towards the end of the solution, the more specific (and usually more complicated) algorithms are used instead.

Relevance and application of mathematical group theory

Rubik's Cube lends itself to the application of mathematical group theory, which has been helpful for deducing certain algorithms – in particular, those which have a commutator structure, namely XYX −1 Y −1 (where X and Y are specific moves or move-sequences and X −1 and Y −1 are their respective inverses), or a conjugate structure, namely XYX −1 , often referred to by speedcubers colloquially as a "setup move". [51] In addition, the fact that there are well-defined subgroups within the Rubik's Cube group enables the puzzle to be learned and mastered by moving up through various self-contained "levels of difficulty". For example, one such "level" could involve solving cubes that have been scrambled using only 180-degree turns. These subgroups are the principle underlying the computer cubing methods by Thistlethwaite and Kociemba, which solve the cube by further reducing it to another subgroup.

Move notation

Many 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube enthusiasts use a notation developed by David Singmaster to denote a sequence of moves, referred to as "Singmaster notation". [52] Its relative nature allows algorithms to be written in such a way that they can be applied regardless of which side is designated the top or how the colours are organised on a particular cube.

  • F (Front): the side currently facing the solver
  • B (Back): the side opposite the front
  • U (Up): the side above or on top of the front side
  • D (Down): the side opposite the top, underneath the Cube
  • L (Left): the side directly to the left of the front
  • R (Right): the side directly to the right of the front
  • f (Front two layers): the side facing the solver and the corresponding middle layer
  • b (Back two layers): the side opposite the front and the corresponding middle layer
  • u (Up two layers): the top side and the corresponding middle layer
  • d (Down two layers): the bottom layer and the corresponding middle layer
  • l (Left two layers): the side to the left of the front and the corresponding middle layer
  • r (Right two layers): the side to the right of the front and the corresponding middle layer
  • x (rotate): rotate the entire Cube on R
  • y (rotate): rotate the entire Cube on U
  • z (rotate): rotate the entire Cube on F

When a prime symbol ( ′ ) follows a letter, it denotes an anticlockwise face turn while a letter without a prime symbol denotes a clockwise turn. These directions are as one is looking at the specified face. A letter followed by a 2 (occasionally a superscript 2 ) denotes two turns, or a 180-degree turn. R is right side clockwise, but R′ is right side anticlockwise. The letters x, y, and z are used to indicate that the entire Cube should be turned about one of its axes, corresponding to R, U, and F turns respectively. When x, y, or z are primed, it is an indication that the cube must be rotated in the opposite direction. When they are squared, the cube must be rotated 180 degrees.

The most common deviation from Singmaster notation, and in fact the current official standard, is to use "w", for "wide", instead of lowercase letters to represent moves of two layers thus, a move of Rw is equivalent to one of r. [53]

For methods using middle-layer turns (particularly corners-first methods), there is a generally accepted "MES" extension to the notation where letters M, E, and S denote middle layer turns. It was used e.g. in Marc Waterman's Algorithm. [54]

  • M (Middle): the layer between L and R, turn direction as L (top-down)
  • E (Equator): the layer between U and D, turn direction as D (left-right)
  • S (Standing): the layer between F and B, turn direction as F

The 4×4×4 and larger cubes use an extended notation to refer to the additional middle layers. Generally speaking, uppercase letters (F B U D L R) refer to the outermost portions of the cube (called faces). Lowercase letters (f b u d l r) refer to the inner portions of the cube (called slices). An asterisk (L*), a number in front of it (2L), or two layers in parentheses (Ll), means to turn the two layers at the same time (both the inner and the outer left faces) For example: (Rr)' l2 f' means to turn the two rightmost layers anticlockwise, then the left inner layer twice, and then the inner front layer anticlockwise. By extension, for cubes of 6×6×6 and larger, moves of three layers are notated by the number 3, for example, 3L.

An alternative notation, Wolstenholme notation, [55] is designed to make memorising sequences of moves easier for novices. This notation uses the same letters for faces except it replaces U with T (top), so that all are consonants. The key difference is the use of the vowels O, A, and I for clockwise, anticlockwise, and twice (180-degree) turns, which results in word-like sequences such as LOTA RATO LATA ROTI (equivalent to LU′ R′ U L′ U′ R U2 in Singmaster notation). The addition of a C implies rotation of the entire cube, so ROC is the clockwise rotation of the cube around its right face. Middle layer moves are denoted by adding an M to the corresponding face move, so RIM means a 180-degree turn of the middle layer adjacent to the R face.

Another notation appeared in the 1981 book The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube. Singmaster notation was not widely known at the time of publication. The faces were named Top (T), Bottom (B), Left (L), Right (R), Front (F), and Posterior (P), with + for clockwise, – for anticlockwise, and 2 for 180-degree turns.

Another notation appeared in the 1982 "The Ideal Solution" book for Rubik's Revenge. Horizontal planes were noted as tables, with table 1 or T1 starting at the top. Vertical front to back planes were noted as books, with book 1 or B1 starting from the left. Vertical left to right planes were noted as windows, with window 1 or W1 starting at the front. Using the front face as a reference view, table moves were left or right, book moves were up or down, and window moves were clockwise or anticlockwise.

Optimal solutions

Although there are a significant number of possible permutations for Rubik's Cube, a number of solutions have been developed which allow solving the cube in well under 100 moves.

Many general solutions for the Cube have been discovered independently. David Singmaster first published his solution in the book Notes on Rubik's "Magic Cube" in 1981. [51] This solution involves solving the Cube layer by layer, in which one layer (designated the top) is solved first, followed by the middle layer, and then the final and bottom layer. After sufficient practice, solving the Cube layer by layer can be done in under one minute. Other general solutions include "corners first" methods or combinations of several other methods. In 1982, David Singmaster and Alexander Frey hypothesised that the number of moves needed to solve the Cube, given an ideal algorithm, might be in "the low twenties". [56] In 2007, Daniel Kunkle and Gene Cooperman used computer search methods to demonstrate that any 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube configuration can be solved in 26 moves or fewer. [57] [58] [59] In 2008, Tomas Rokicki lowered that number to 22 moves, [60] [61] [62] and in July 2010, a team of researchers including Rokicki, working with Google, proved the so-called "God's number" to be 20. [63] [64] This is optimal, since there exist some starting positions which require a minimum of 20 moves to solve. More generally, it has been shown that an n×n×n Rubik's Cube can be solved optimally in Θ(n 2 / log(n)) moves. [65]

Speedcubing methods

A solution commonly used by speedcubers was developed by Jessica Fridrich. This method is called CFOP standing for "cross, F2L, OLL, PLL". It is similar to the layer-by-layer method but employs the use of a large number of algorithms, especially for orienting and permuting the last layer. The cross is done first, followed by first layer corners and second layer edges simultaneously, with each corner paired up with a second-layer edge piece, thus completing the first two layers (F2L). This is then followed by orienting the last layer, then permuting the last layer (OLL and PLL respectively). Fridrich's solution requires learning roughly 120 algorithms but allows the Cube to be solved in only 55 moves on average.

A now well-known method was developed by Lars Petrus. In this method, a 2×2×2 section is solved first, followed by a 2×2×3, and then the incorrect edges are solved using a three-move algorithm, which eliminates the need for a possible 32-move algorithm later. The principle behind this is that in layer-by-layer, one must constantly break and fix the completed layer(s) the 2×2×2 and 2×2×3 sections allow three or two layers (respectively) to be turned without ruining progress. One of the advantages of this method is that it tends to give solutions in fewer moves. For this reason, the method is also popular for fewest move competitions. [66]

The Roux Method, developed by Gilles Roux, is similar to the Petrus method in that it relies on block building rather than layers, but derives from corners-first methods. In Roux, a 3×2×1 block is solved, followed by another 3×2×1 on the opposite side. Next, the corners of the top layer are solved. The cube can then be solved using only moves of the U layer and M slice. [67]

Beginners' methods

Most beginner solution methods involve solving the cube one layer at a time, using algorithms that preserve what has already been solved. The easiest layer by layer methods require only 3–8 algorithms. [68] [69]

In 1981, thirteen-year-old Patrick Bossert developed a solution for solving the cube, along with a graphical notation, designed to be easily understood by novices. [70] It was subsequently published as You Can Do The Cube and became a best-seller. [71]

In 1997, Denny Dedmore published a solution described using diagrammatic icons representing the moves to be made, instead of the usual notation. [72]

Philip Marshall's The Ultimate Solution to Rubik's Cube takes a different approach, averaging only 65 twists yet requiring the memorisation of only two algorithms. The cross is solved first, followed by the remaining edges, then five corners, and finally the last three corners. [73]

Rubik's Cube solver program

The most move optimal online Rubik's Cube solver programs use Herbert Kociemba's Two-Phase Algorithm which can typically determine a solution of 20 moves or fewer. The user has to set the colour configuration of the scrambled cube, and the program returns the steps required to solve it. [74]

Speedcubing competitions

Speedcubing (or speedsolving) is the practice of trying to solve a Rubik's Cube in the shortest time possible. There are a number of speedcubing competitions that take place around the world.

A speedcubing championship organised by the Guinness Book of World Records was held in Munich on 13 March 1981. [75] The contest used standardised scrambling and fixed inspection times, and the winners were Ronald Brinkmann and Jury Fröschl with times of 38.0 seconds. [75] The first world championship was the 1982 World Rubik's Cube Championship held in Budapest on 5 June 1982, which was won by Minh Thai, a Vietnamese student from Los Angeles, with a time of 22.95 seconds. [76]

Since 2003, the winner of a competition is determined by taking the average time of the middle three of five attempts. However, the single best time of all tries is also recorded. The World Cube Association maintains a history of world records. [77] In 2004, the WCA made it mandatory to use a special timing device called a Stackmat timer.

In addition to the main 3x3x3 event, the WCA also holds events where the cube is solved in different ways: [78]

  • Blindfolded solving [79]
  • Multiple Blindfolded solving, or "multi-blind", in which the contestant solves any number of cubes blindfolded in a row [80]
  • Solving the cube using a single hand [81]
  • Solving the cube in the fewest possible moves [82]

In Blindfolded Solving, the contestant first studies the scrambled cube (i.e., looking at it normally with no blindfold), and is then blindfolded before beginning to turn the cube's faces. Their recorded time for this event includes both the time spent memorizing the cube and the time spent manipulating it.

In Multiple Blindfolded, all of the cubes are memorised, and then all of the cubes are solved once blindfolded thus, the main challenge is memorising many – often ten or more – separate cubes. The event is scored not by time but by the number of points achieved after the one-hour time limit has elapsed. The number of points achieved is equal to the number of cubes solved correctly, minus the number of cubes unsolved after the end of the attempt, where a greater number of points is better. If multiple competitors achieve the same number of points, rankings are assessed based on the total time of the attempt, with a shorter time being better.

In Fewest Moves solving, the contestant is given one hour to find a solution and must write it down.


Competition records

  • Single time: The world record time for solving a 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube is 3.47 seconds, held by Du Yusheng (杜宇生) of China, on 24 November 2018 at Wuhu Open 2018. [83]
  • Average time: The world record average of the middle three of five solve times (which excludes the fastest and slowest) is 5.53 seconds, set by Feliks Zemdegs of Australia at Odd Day at Sydney 2019. [84]
  • One-handed solving: The world record fastest one-handed solve is 6.82 seconds, set by Max Park of the United States on 12 October 2019 at Bay Area Speedcubin' 20 2019. The world record fastest average of five one-handed solves is 9.42 seconds, also set by Max Park at Berkeley Summer 2018. [85]
  • Feet solving: The world record fastest Rubik's Cube solve with one's feet is 15.56 seconds, set by Mohammed Aiman Koli of India on 27 December 2019 at VJTI Mumbai Cube Open 2019. The world record average of five feet solves is 19.90 seconds, set by Lim Hung (林弘) of Malaysia on 21 December 2019 at Medan 10th Anniversary 2019. [86] Since 1 January 2020, 3x3x3 With Feet is no longer an event recognized by the WCA, and no results are being accepted. [87]
  • Blindfold solving: The world record fastest Rubik's Cube solve blindfolded is 15.50 seconds (including memorization), set by Max Hilliard of the United States on 1 August 2019 at CubingUSA Nationals 2019. The world record mean of three for blindfold solving is 18.18 seconds, set by Jeff Park of the United States on 14 December at OU Winter 2019. [88]
  • Multiple blindfold solving: The world record for multiple Rubik's Cube solving blindfolded is 59 out of 60 cubes, set by Graham Siggins of the United States on 9 November 2019 at OSU Blind Weekend 2019. Siggins inspected 60 cubes, donned a blindfold, and solved successfully 59 of them, all under the time limit of one hour. [89]
  • Fewest moves solving: The world record of fewest moves to solve a cube, given one hour to determine one's solution, is 16, which was achieved by Sebastiano Tronto of Italy on 15 June 2019 at FMC 2019. The world record mean of three for the fewest moves challenge (with different scrambles) is 22.00, also set by Sebastiano Tronto of Italy on 15 June 2019 at FMC 2019. [90]

Other records

  • Non-human solving: The fastest non-human Rubik's Cube solve was performed by Rubik's Contraption, a robot made by Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo. A YouTube video shows a 0.38-second solving time using a Nucleo with the min2phase algorithm. [91]
  • Highest order physical n×n×n cube solving: Jeremy Smith solved a 17x17x17 in 45 minutes and 59.40 seconds. [92][93]
  • Group solving (12 minutes): The record for most people solving a Rubik's Cube at once in twelve minutes is 134, set on 17 March 2010 by schoolboys from Dr Challoner's Grammar School, Amersham, England, breaking the previous Guinness World Record of 96 people at once. [94]
  • Group solving (30 minutes): On 21 November 2012, at the O2 Arena in London, 1414 people, mainly students from schools across London, solved Rubik's Cube in under 30 minutes, breaking the previous Guinness World Record of 937. The event was hosted by Depaul UK. [95]

Top 10 solvers by single solve [97]

Position Name Result Nationality Competition
1 Yusheng Du (杜宇生) 3.47 China Wuhu Open 2018
2 Feliks Zemdegs 4.16 Australia Auckland Summer 2020
3 Patrick Ponce 4.24 United States CubingUSA Northeast Championship 2019
4 Nicolás Sánchez 4.38 United States GA Cubers Feet Fest 2019
5 Max Park 4.40 United States SacCubing V 2018
6 Juliette Sébastien 4.44 France Sens Open 2019
7 Tymon Kolasiński 4.51 Poland Warm Up Sydney 2019
8 Jakub Kipa 4.59 Poland Polish Championship 2018
8 SeungBeom Cho (조승범) 4.59 Republic of Korea ChicaGhosts 2017
10 Tanzer Balimtas 4.64 United States Pennsylvania 2018

Top 10 solvers by average of 5 solves [98]

Position Name Average Nationality Competition Solves
1 Feliks Zemdegs 5.53 Australia Odd Day in Sydney 2019 7.16 / 5.04 / 4.67 / 6.55 / 4.99
2 Max Park 5.59 United States Houston Winter 2020 4.90 / 5.72 / 6.53 / 5.50 / 5.56
3 Sean Patrick Villanueva 5.98 Philippines Marikina City Open II 2019 7.67 / 5.72 / 5.99 / 5.52 / 6.23
4 Philipp Weyer 6.06 Germany Swisscubing Cup Final 2018 4.81 / 6.43 / 5.48 / 6.26 / 7.51
5 Tymon Kolasiński 6.12 Poland PST CFL Częstochowa 2019 5.32 / 5.92 / 5.66 / 7.57 / 6.77
7 Patrick Ponce 6.13 United States Liberty Science Center Open 2019 5.57 / 8.87 / 5.65 / 6.52 / 6.23
7 Lucas Etter 6.19 United States Indianapolis Cubes 2019 7.34 / 5.42 / 5.81 / 5.30 / 9.33
8 Bill Wang 6.25 Canada WCA World Championship 2019 6.81 / 6.65 / 5.99 / 5.76 / 6.12
9 Drew Brads 6.29 United States Flag City Fall 2019 6.25 / 6.82 / 6.21 / 6.39 / 6.24
10 Leo Borromeo 6.37 Philippines Bonifacio Memorial 2018 6.89 / 5.12 / 5.35 / 7.46 / 6.88

There are different variations of Rubik's Cubes with up to thirty-three layers: the 2×2×2 (Pocket/Mini Cube), the standard 3×3×3 cube, the 4×4×4 (Rubik's Revenge/Master Cube), and the 5×5×5 (Professor's Cube) being the most well known. As of 1981, the official Rubik's Brand has licensed twisty puzzle cubes only up to the 5×5×5. The 17×17×17 "Over The Top" cube (available late 2011) was until December 2017 the largest (and most expensive, costing more than two thousand dollars) commercially sold cube. A mass-produced 17×17×17 was later introduced by the Chinese manufacturer YuXin. A working design for a 22×22×22 cube exists and was demonstrated in January 2016, [99] and a 33×33×33 in December 2017. [100] Chinese manufacturer ShengShou has been producing cubes in all sizes from 2×2×2 to 15×15×15 (as of May 2020), and have also come out with a 17×17×17. [101]

Non-licensed physical cubes as large as 17×17×17 based on the V-Cube patents [ citation needed ] are commercially available to the mass-market these represent about the limit of practicality for the purpose of "speed-solving" competitively (as the cubes become increasingly ungainly and solve-times increase quadratically).

There are many variations [102] of the original cube, some of which are made by Rubik. The mechanical products include Rubik's Magic, 360, and Twist. Also, electronics like Rubik's Revolution and Slide, were also inspired by the original. One of the 3×3×3 Cube variants is Rubik's TouchCube. Sliding a finger across its faces causes its patterns of coloured lights to rotate the same way they would on a mechanical cube. The TouchCube also has buttons for hints and self-solving, and it includes a charging stand. The TouchCube was introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York on 15 February 2009. [103] [104]

The Cube has inspired an entire category of similar puzzles, commonly referred to as twisty puzzles, which includes the cubes of different sizes mentioned above, as well as various other geometric shapes. Some such shapes include the tetrahedron (Pyraminx), the octahedron (Skewb Diamond), the dodecahedron (Megaminx), and the icosahedron (Dogic). There are also puzzles that change shape such as Rubik's Snake and the Square One.

In 2011, Guinness World Records awarded the "largest order Rubiks magic cube" to a 17×17×17 cube, made by Oskar van Deventer. [105] [106] On 2 December 2017, Grégoire Pfennig announced that he had broken this record, with a 33×33×33 cube, and that his claim had been submitted to Guinness for verification. [100] On 8 April 2018, Grégoire Pfennig announced another world record, the 2x2x50 cube. [107] Whether this is a replacement for the 33x33x33 record, or an additional record, remains to be seen.

Some puzzles have also been created in the shape of Kepler–Poinsot polyhedra, such as Alexander's Star (a great dodecahedron). Grégoire Pfennig has also created at least one puzzle in the shape of a small stellated dodecahedron.

Custom-built puzzles

Puzzles have been built resembling Rubik's Cube, or based on its inner workings. For example, a cuboid is a puzzle based on Rubik's Cube, but with different functional dimensions, such as 2×2×4, 2×3×4, and 3×3×5. [108] Many cuboids are based on 4×4×4 or 5×5×5 mechanisms, via building plastic extensions or by directly modifying the mechanism.

Some custom puzzles are not derived from any existing mechanism, such as the Gigaminx v1.5-v2, Bevel Cube, SuperX, Toru, Rua, and 1×2×3. These puzzles usually have a set of masters 3D printed, which then are copied using moulding and casting techniques to create the final puzzle. [ citation needed ]

Other Rubik's Cube modifications include cubes that have been extended or truncated to form a new shape. An example of this is the Trabjer's Octahedron, which can be built by truncating and extending portions of a regular 3×3×3. Most shape modifications can be adapted to higher-order cubes. In the case of Tony Fisher's Rhombic Dodecahedron, there are 3×3×3, 4×4×4, 5×5×5, and 6×6×6 versions of the puzzle.

Rubik's Cube software

Puzzles, like Rubik's Cube, can be simulated by computer software, which provides functions such as recording of player metrics, storing scrambled Cube positions, conducting online competitions, analysing of move sequences, and converting between different move notations. Software can also simulate very large puzzles that are impractical to build, such as 100×100×100 and 1,000×1,000×1,000 cubes, as well as virtual puzzles that cannot be physically built, such as 4- and 5-dimensional analogues of the cube. [109] [110]

A Matter of Trust

How can your business unlock the value of a trusted source?

We all have different types of friends. There is the friend you have fun with, the friend who is there when times are tough, and the friend you eat lunch with at work. These relationships can be categorized by the level of trust you have for each of them. You may talk about trivial things with the friend you have fun with (less trust) and when you need serious advice, you will reach out to the friend who is there when times are tough (more trust).

This same principle applies to almost everything that we see and interact with in the world. We are constantly taking in information and categorizing it based on our level of trust for the source. For an example of this, take a look at New York newspapers. The king of New York newspapers is The New York Times. The Times has been reporting the news for more than 100 years and is at the pinnacle of trusted news sources. It will only print the stories if there are multiple reputable sources and would never tarnish its reputation by running a tabloid-style story. On the other end of the spectrum is the New York Post. The cover of the Post is regularly strewn with over-the-top headlines about tabloid stories. It is famous for its gossip column, Page Six, and is read more for entertainment than education. The bottom line is, if you read a story in The New York Times, you trust the information far more than if you read it in the New York Post.

As business owners, you want to create a relationship with your customers that is similar to the one The New York Times has with its readers, because customers are clearly more likely to buy something from a brand they trust. But, as I mentioned earlier, the Times has spent more than 100 years earning its stellar reputation, and my guess is that you don’t have that same time. You need customers now. Thankfully, in modern days, it takes much less time to earn that trust. With a little help from the Internet and an unyielding focus on generating quality content, you can establish your business as a trusted source in months. So how do you do it?



WHERE: Washington, D.C Maryland New York Virginia Pennsylvania


OWNERS: Jonathan Neman, Nicolas Jammet, and Nathaniel Ru

SIGNATURE ITEMS: Salads, Wraps, Soups, Yogurt, Juices

Any business that is offering a quality product with excellent branding is inherently a more trusted source than its competitors. So step one in the pursuit of trust is to offer a great product with great branding. Don’t ever skimp on quality, and make sure your customer leaves happy, even if you have to lose a few bucks. The next step is to establish an authentic and strong voice. Think about your brand’s core values and speak to your customers from an honest place. Be your true self. The marketplace will reward you for being honest, open, and authentic. Use this voice to generate quality content, a.k.a. your brand story. This story should include your brand bio, core values, and company mission statement, and is crucial in establishing what your brand is and what it is all about.

The next step is to use this voice and content in every communication channel, from your website to your menus. It needs to be plastered on your forehead. Then, open a two-way channel of communication that can be used to interact with your consumers, such as an e-mail newsletter, blog, or social media account. My preferred channel is to create a blog (easier to update regularly with new information than a website) that is connected directly to all of your social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google Plus. This can be done using Wordpress or a similar blogging program for less than $50 and two to three hours of your time. I also recommend purchasing a unique domain online, which can be done for less than $20.

From here, the key is creating content that is compelling. Do not use this blog to sell or advertise, because when it comes to building trust, greed is not good. Your blog exists to educate, activate, and connect with your customers. Create features on how you make your pizza dough or tell the story of a farmer that supplies your restaurant. Work on exposing the best parts of what you do, because it will give your product substance and add layers to your brand story.

Peyton Manning mentioned in Title IX lawsuit against University of Tennessee

A lawsuit accusing the University of Tennessee of mishandling reports of alleged sexual assaults by student athletes cites a 20-year-old complaint against then-Volunteers quarterback Peyton Manning as evidence of the school’s indifference.

Filed on behalf of six unidentified accusers, the lawsuit alleges that the university violated federal Title IX regulations against sex discrimination and fostered “a hostile sexual environment and culture.”

The university denies permitting a culture of sexual assault to thrive.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nashville last week, two days after Manning led the Denver Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50. It centers on five alleged rapes of female students reported between 2013 and 2015.

“We came together to change what is done about sexual assault,” one of the accusers, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe 1, said in a phone interview.

CNN’s policy is not to name victims of sexual assault or rape.

‘Deliberate indifference’ cited

In support of its claim of “deliberate indifference” by administrators to sexual assaults at the 27,000-student public university in Knoxville, the complaint includes a string of alleged incidents involving student-athletes going back to 1995.

The lawsuit accuses the university of a pattern of “grossly inadequate discipline and resolution in favor of male, ‘major sports’ athletes.”

That favoritism, the complaint said, included “interfering with and stopping the disciplinary process, concealing charges and investigations involving male athletes, arranging for specialized defense counsel for male athletes … facing criminal and sexual assault charges.”

One incident listed as an example in the lawsuit is a 1996 sexual assault complaint against Manning by the university’s first female associate trainer, who is not a party to the current case. Manning would go on to lead the Volunteers to an SEC championship one year later.

Manning played at Tennessee from 1994 to 1997.

Manning incident ‘a backdrop’ to case

The lawsuit is about the university’s systemic problems in handling sexual assaults, with mention of the Manning complaint “simply a backdrop to the institutional issues,” attorney David Randolph Smith, who represents the five accusers, told CNN on Wednesday.

“The issue is how the university is handling sexual assault claims today, but the history has some relevance,” said Smith, who added that more accusers are expected to join the lawsuit.

In the Manning complaint, then-trainer Jamie Ann Naughright alleged that the nude quarterback “sat on her face” while she treated him for an injury, according to the Title IX lawsuit. The case was settled in 1997 on the condition that Naughright leave her position, the lawsuit said.

Naughright later sued Manning for defamation after he, in a book, described the alleged assault against her as a “crude, maybe, but harmless” incident in which he “dropped the seat of my pants” and “mooned” another athlete. He said Naughright “had a vulgar mouth” and that allowing women in the locker room was “one of the most misbegotten concessions to equal rights ever made.”

Manning wrote: “I admit that even in the context of ‘modern’ life, what I did to offend this trainer was inappropriate. Not exactly a criminal offense, but out of line.”

CNN has been unable to reach Manning’s representatives for comment.

Bill Polian, the former Indianapolis Colts general manager and president who drafted Manning, told ESPN this week that the lawsuit’s brief mention of the old complaint “fits the definition of a smear … plain and simple.” He referred to the accuser as the “so-called or alleged victim.”

“It’s just a question of a person who’s lived a great life, great professional life, contributed to every community he’s ever been in, including the University of Tennessee, where a street is named after him,” Polian said of Manning. “And it’s just an attempt to gain notoriety for others by smearing a good person.”

In the five alleged sexual assaults cited in the Title IX lawsuit, only two — involving prominent former members of the football team — resulted in criminal charges, said Smith, the attorney for the five accusers. The men, who are awaiting trial, remained in school. One attended his graduation.

In another alleged assault, involving a basketball player, the man transferred to another university after an administrative proceeding determined there was sufficient evidence that the assault had occurred, according to Smith.

University: Claims ‘simply not true’

The lawsuit claims the university’s administrative hearing process is “one-sided” and “denies victims the rights to a hearing and to the same equal procedural, hearing, and process rights as given to perpetrators of rape and sexual assault.”

Those hearing the complaints are appointed by the university, which also decides all appeals, according to the lawsuit.

Bill Ramsey, a lawyer for the university, said Tennessee officials “acted lawfully and in good faith” in responding to the incidents mentioned in the complaint.

“Any assertion that we do not take sexual assault seriously enough is simply not true,” Ramsey said in a statement. “To claim that we have allowed a culture to exist contrary to our institutional commitment to providing a safe environment for our students or that we do not support those who report sexual assault is just false.”

Recent sexual battery allegation not related to lawsuit

This week, in an incident not related to the Title IX lawsuit, University of Tennessee police said defensive tackle Alexis Johnson was charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and domestic assault. However, Johnson’s attorney and a warrant from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said he faces two counts: aggravated assault and false imprisonment. The alleged assault occurred at a residence hall Sunday.

Gregory Isaacs, who represents Johnson, said his client will plead not guilty at his arraignment next month. “Alexis Johnson has cooperated with every aspect of the investigation,” Isaacs said in a statement. “Alexis adamantly denies the allegation. … Mr. Johnson looks forward to having this matter resolved as expeditiously as possible.”

Ryan Robinson, the university’s athletics communications director, said in a statement that Johnson “has been suspended from all football activities” but declined further comment.

CNN’s Shawn Nottingham and Nick Valencia contributed this report.

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