15 Days of Secrets Signs & Symbols of Success. 1 A brand is a story.

You know how riding a bicycle seems so easy, once you’ve done it, but learning involves a lot of wobbly moments, and frequently more than a few scraped knees? Learning and understanding how branding really works is a bit like that. Once you can clearly see how brands and branding work, your vision of the world will never be the same again. And just like riding a bicycle, once you learn how; you will never forget!


The dynamic architecture that is architectonics first helped detect all seven of the fundamental brand types, described in The Matriarchy of Brands. Meanwhile, there is a seven-point outline of applying the architecture, that we call the Seven Secrets to Branding Anything:

7 Secrets to Branding Anything

1.     A brand is a story. Period.

2.     The story exists in minds of customers
not managers.

3.     You didn’t invent the story
& neither did your customers!

4.     Stick to the story.
“That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

5.     Believe in the story.

6.     The stories are just fairy tales (true lies).

7.     There are only seven key stories,
your job is to identify one and fine-tune it.

This is actually quite exciting news! It means that we can quite easily develop a roadmap to success for your brand. The ‘heavy lifting’ has already been done by those ahead of us: the hundreds of long-standing and successful brands that have worked out, through trial and error, what works, and most importantly, what does not. The top 100 brands are exhaustively reviewed and analyzed on an annual basis by Interbrand, the New York-based International Branding Agency.

‘Like the Billboard 100, the Interbrand 100 is based on actual sales and market-share results of thousands of companies. Analyzing the Interbrand 100 year to year is like seeing our culture in a mirror. We can see both what works (rising brands) and what does not (falling or failing brands). Our work has for years involved analyzing these companies, trends and searching for similarities in strategy, scope and understanding.

We call these the tenets of Architectonics, through which we can architect, engineer, design and build better brands at will.

Secret 1. A brand is a story

While technically we define a brand as: the set of relationships through which a commercial, organizational or product identity connects with people; in practice we simply state: “A brand is a story.” Fundamentally the set of relationships through which an identity connects with people is through stories. More formally, it is a story—the story is that of the brand’s hero.

Consistency makes a brand great; consistency is required to produce a brand at all. The question is, consistent with what? You will hear a thousand answers from anything like color and font to price, policy and communication method. The truth is ALL of these may be important yet none is as pervasive as story.

Story is a shortcut to memory, emotion and what would otherwise be chaotic assemblages of words, meaning and messages that all combine instantly in some kind of order through the magic of story: think of this.


Long, long ago in a house that overlooked a beautiful garden lived a childless couple. They prayed every day to bless them with a child. One day they found prayers had been answered. They were at long last going to have a baby!

Their days passed in happiness but alas! the wife fell ill. She would eat nothing and the husband was worried that she would waste away. He tried to tempt her with many good things but she refused everything. “But you must eat something, my dear,” he begged her. “There is a herb called Rapunzel in the garden next door. I will feel better if I can eat that,” she said. The husband’s heart sank when he heard her. This garden was owned by a wicked witch who would let no one enter. But he loved his wife very much and so with a pounding heart, he decided to go into the garden at a time when the witch was away. One day, finding an appropriate time he went into the garden. He had managed to pluck the herb but as he was about to leave, the wicked witch came back. “You thief! How dare you enter my garden?” she screamed. She threatened to put a curse on him. He fell at her feet and begged, “Please don’t curse me. If my wife doesn’t eat this herb, she will die. She is going to have a baby and is very ill.” The witch stopped to think awhile. “I will let you go on one condition. You will give me the baby after it’s born.” The poor man had no other way out but to agree.

He took the herb to his wife and miraculously she soon recovered and gave birth to a beautiful girl. But as per the agreement the witch came to take the baby away. She took Rapunzel—for that’s what she named her—far away and locked her in a high tower. The tower had no doors or stairs. There was only a window on top.

The only person whom Rapunzel ever saw was the wicked witch. Rapunzel grew up to become beautiful with pretty eyes, a beautiful voice, and her golden hair grew very, very long. All day long, when Rapunzel was alone, she would sing and weep.

Every day, the wicked witch came to the tower with food. She stood at the bottom of the tower and shouted. “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let your hair down!” Rapunzel would drop her long, braided hair through the window. The witch used the hair as a rope to climb into the tower.

One day, a handsome prince was passing by and heard her sing. He fell in love with her voice and unknown to all came to the tower every day to hear her sing. One day, the prince saw the witch climbing up the tower using Rapunzel’s hair.

The next day, the prince too called out to Rapunzel. “Let down your hair,” he said. The prince climbed to the top of the tower. After that, the prince came to meet Rapunzel every night.

Alas! the witch soon discovered the prince with Rapunzel. She pushed him from the tower onto a thorny bush, making him blind. She banished Rapunzel into the desert far away.

Many years passed. The blind prince wandered alone and finally reached the same desert. One day, he heard familiar voice singing. Following the sound, he found her. They hugged each other in joy. Tears of happiness rolled down Rapunzel’s cheek. As the tears fell on the prince’s eyes, he regained his vision.

The prince took Rapunzel to his kingdom and they lived happily ever after!

What story does this logo connect to, and why?
The second edition of my Branding Manual, Signs & Symbols of Success, is now available! The ideal classroom compendium and lecture starting point reveals the startling matrix behind brands that work. This book levels the playing field by spelling out for the first time the previously unwritten, unbiased code of conduct for all successful global brands. Order YOUR Copy of this Indispensable Reference, including The Matriarchy of Brands, today!

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