Primal Branding (& Hyde)

Read a great book over Spring Break: Primal Branding – Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company, and Your Future (Free Press, 2006). Thought I’d tell you about the book and, if you’re still with me at the end, ask for your help on applying its lessons toward an understanding of Hyde as a primal brand.

In his Intro (appropriately titled “PrePrimal”), author Patrick Hanlon announces his intention to “find the sticky soft tissue that attaches consumers to brands.”

He observes, “Success is not a mix of great product plus great advertising plus great price point plus great distribution.  It’s something else.  But what?”

His answer: Primal Branding, which he defines simply enough as “the ability to make people feel better about your brand than another.”

Hanlon identifies seven critical ingredients to what he calls The Primal Code:

  1. Creation Story – Example: Fifty-seven years ago on a Dartford (25 miles south of London) subway platform, a young man strikes up a conversation with another young man holding a Howlin’ Wolf album cover and the rest is history. (Rolling Stones).
  1. Creed – Example: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” (United States of America)
  1. Icons – The Nike swoosh… Budweiser Clydesdales… Kiss’s make-up… Starbuck’s mermaid.
  1. Rituals – “… the repeated interactions that people have with your enterprise.” At Hyde, think “auditions” or “senior evals.” Starbucks patrons understand the question: “You want room?”
  1. Pagans & Non-Believers – “In order to have the yin of believers you must also have the yang of non-believers.” So, hawks have doves, Nike has Adidas, CNN has Fox, Yankees fans have Red Sox fans.
  1. Sacred Words are “a set of specialized words that must be learned before people can belong.” Hanlon observes, “If you intend to order a Big Mac instead of a Whopper you know where you need to be.”
  1. The Leader – “All successful belief systems have a person who is a catalyst, the risk taker, the visionary, the iconoclast who set out against all odds (and often against the world at large) to re-create the world according to their own sense of self, community, and opportunity.” Think Steve Jobs… Oprah… Martin Luther King… Walt Disney… Gloria Steinem, etc.

When companies, causes, communities, or personalities embody all seven components, they become the Nikes, the civil rights causes, the Las Vegas’, the Apples, and the Oprahs of the world.

As I read, I found myself considering the seven ingredients in the light of primal brands I have known in in my lifetime. For example,

Rolling Stones
1. Creation: See above.
2. Creed: “It’s only rock & roll but I like it.”
3. Icons: The tongue logo… Jagger as devil… Keef!… Charlie Watts’ cool indifference
4. Rituals: Jagger’s gyrations… Mick & Keef’s continual feuds
5. Pagans: The Beatles
6. Sacred Words: “I can’t get no satisfaction.”… “Start me up!”… “Paint it black.”
7. Leader: Mick Jagger

Civil Rights Movement of 1960s
1. Creation: Seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to vacate her bus seat for a white passenger (1955)
2. Creed: “I have a dream…”

3. Icons: Emmett Till, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Black Panthers, SNCC, Freedom Riders, Malcolm X, Black Power Salute at 1968 Olympics, Cesar Chavez, Brown v. Topeka
4. Rituals: Multiple boycotts (Montgomery), Protest marches (Poor Peoples’ March on Washington of 1963), MLK National Holiday
5. Pagans: Bull Connor, Ku Klux Klan, George Wallace at the U. Alabama entrance
6. Sacred Words: “We shall overcome.”… “Say it loud…” (James Brown)
7. Leader: Martin Luther King

1. Creation: Two guys in an Oregon kitchen playing with a waffle iron discover the “waffle” sole.
2. Creed: Hanlon calls it a “credo of personal empowerment.”
3. Icons: Swoosh logo, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Air
4. Rituals: Hanlon notes, “Sports, as a category, is highly ritualistic.”
5. Pagans: Adidas, Puma, and people who don’t care about sports
6. Sacred Words: Air, Jordan, and of course: “Just do it.”
7. Leader: Phil Knight

Gilligan’s Island (1964-67)*
1. Creation: Fully encompassed in the lyrics of the opening theme song
2. Creed: Get. Off. Island.
3. Icons: Gilligan’s hat… The Minnow… Over time, each character became a unique icon.
4. Rituals: Daily failed attempts to get off island, the Howell’s afternoon cocktail, the Professor’s constant mechanical experimentation
5. Pagans: According to Hanlon: “anyone not shipwrecked on the island and people who watch Survivor.”
6. Sacred Words: “…a 3-hour tour”… “Hey, little buddy!”… “So join us here each week my friends, you’re sure to get a smile.”
7. Leader: The Skipper

* I was quite surprised that the show developed such a cult following after only “a 3-year run… a 3-year run!”

And this brings me to a request for your help in editing and/or finishing Hyde’s Primal Code.  (Got Icons?)  Please edit, delete, or add your suggestions regarding Hyde’s Primal Code.

1. Creation: An AP Calculus teacher finds himself giving his highest grade to a bright student with a poor attitude and his lowest to an underachiever who worked harder than anyone else in the class. He imagines a better way.

2. Creed: “Every individual is gifted with a unique potential.”

3. Icons: ?

4. Rituals: Auditions… 2-4… The Interview… Concern Meeting… Effort Grade

5. Pagans: The Achievement Culture & System (Offered here as a vague placeholder.)

6. Sacred Words: Unique Potential… “Happy, go-lucky throng”… “Bing”… 5 Words & Principles… Mandatory Fun (Modern Translation: Funishment)… “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

7. Leader: Joe Gauld

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld