Branding | stand out or die out

(Martin Lindstrom)
This month’s newsletter looks at two ways of securing the attention of millions of consumers: both of them by standing out. Are you curious to secure a sneak preview from behind the scenes? Then click here to see my interview with Steve Burton, the head of Alli, and with Donna Sturgess, global head of Innovation and Strategic Planning at GSK, both of whom offer intriguing insights into Alli’s consumer approach. 


What do you do to launch a brand in the super-competitive, brand-saturated North American market? The pharmaceutical industry itself is mega-competitive globally. But within the sector lies the ultra-competitive diet product category. In the United States there are more that 3,000 brands vying for supremacy in this line. GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company, went into the fray with a revolutionary product – but what product doesn’t claim to be revolutionary?


Naming the product ‘Alli’, GSK adopted an unusual strategy, focusing the campaign on the side-effects of the product. They did this, not because pharmaceutical companies are legally bound to do so, but to communicate the fact that, to avoid these side-effects, consumers need to use the product in a particular way. So, the campaign was about educating consumers rather than traditional promotion. Not only did GSK release a best-selling diet book about Alli, but the product itself contained more than 300 pages of interesting reading material about weight loss and how to achieve it successfully and healthily.


In contrast to many diet products, Alli’s communication was frank, transparent and personal. A $100 million campaign made some use of TV, but favored targeted, relevant online one-to-one education. Even the Alli online presence that focused on the core topic of weight loss downgraded the presence of the Alli brand, by modestly including a short byline at the bottom of the page. And, taking individual consumer communication to a new level, GSK has now taken over an entire New York City building to house Alli’s education mission. Alli’s showroom offers welcome, support and education to its users. In short, the brand is all about education.


On top of this carefully designed and thoroughly executed communication strategy is Alli’s design and packaging. Uniquely shaped to fit in the hand, Alli’s packaging is easy for consumers to carry with them always, as they must, and to hold with comfort and security, as they desire. The packaging is the outcome of a sensory branding strategy that invests in the power of association – holding Alli is reminiscent of holding the hand of a friend.



(Martin Lindstrom)
Here’s another way of making your brand stand out. An ostensibly amateur brand video proves that cost efficient branding is well and truly possible… One guy jumps into the ornamental lake with a surfboard while another makes for a bridge. As the surfer paddles to the lake’s centre, the guy on the bridge lights a fuse and propels a bundle of dynamite into the lake. The resulting explosion creates a wave in the peaceful lake, which the surfer catches and rides. Unlikely, incredible, yet dramatic and convincing – and a skilful fabrication. Click here to see the talked-about video and my discussion with the CEO and founder of GoViral, the team behind Quiksilver’s viral marketing success story, ‘Dynamite Surfing’.


‘Dynamite Surfing’, a supposedly homegrown video, features a gang of guys in balaclavas and a lake in Copenhagen.


During just seven days, I alone received this video 212 times. Was this pure coincidence, or part of a well-planned media strategy? I decided to ask the person behind it: Jimmie Maymann and his company, GoViral. The team had selected one thousand opinion leaders who then received the viral ad unhindered by spam filters. And, being keen to voice their opinions and ideas, the recipients did what GoViral counted on and immediately spread the captivating video, sharing it with friends and colleagues.

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