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FINDING TRUE NORTH

launching a new brand escalates along with the risk of failure in highly competitive marketplaces. It’s not that simple, however: Companies must have invested heavily in creating strong, consistent archetypal associations over time before assuming that they can cash in on them through brand extensions. For example, for some time, the Levi’s brand has seemed a bit lost, having wandered away from its original Explorer archetype and into the Outlaw, the Hero, the Regular Guy and, more recently, the Lover. So if it were to launch Levi’s Theme Vacations, what would the consumer expect? Sexy getaways? Down-to-earth budget trips? Or rugged adventures in the wild? Once, we all would have jumped at the third answer, but lately it’s not so clear, creating a negative situation for trading on the parent brand identity. Consider, alternatively, the launch of Polo Ralph Lauren vacations. Or L.L. Bean trips? Don’t you instantly get a sense of what each might be like? This comparison provides a fairly decent litmus test. Beyond being sure that we have consistently nurtured a strong identity, we have to be sure that actions which “withdraw” from the Brand Bank are accompanied by commensurate actions which “deposit” the desired meaning into it. For example, Ronald McDonald Houses, the McDonald All Schools Band, and uniformly immaculate restaurants together go a long way toward compensating for the fact that McDonald’s runs less heartwarming brand advertising and more competitive, opportunistic price promotions than it once did. But if all they had done were to switch the emphasis in their national advertising—with no compensatory “deposits”—the balance sheet would tip, and Americans would begin to feel very differently about the brand. Similarly, one brilliant Lion King production on the part of Disney and a theater that triggered the cleanup of Times Square, and the Disney/ABC versus Time Warner battle for dominance goes all but unnoticed by the consumer. This kind of brand bank or balance sheet can be managed almost intuitively in the case of smaller one-product brands. But as more and more brands become multiproduct “superbrands,” the need for more conscious “banking” is necessary. Brands like Jell-O and Ivory each have more than one product, but the physical similarity of the products bearing their names helps to simplify matters. For instance, all Ivory offerings are associated

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

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