brand growth manifesto

Hi, and welcome to our Brand Growth Manifesto page!
What you will find below is a compilation of ideas, theories, evidence, and thoughts regarding brand growth. It is based on existing literature, expert opinions, and our own experience.
We believe every brand has the right to grow and fulfill its potential. That’s why we’re providing you with a codified and systematic take on brand growth. It’s not the be-all and end-all of the subject, just our point of view!

I. Introduction

The purpose of this manifesto is to expose h2\agency’s point of view on brand growth and the logic behind the tools and approaches we have developed to aid our clients throughout the brand-building journey.  Our vision on brand growth stems from a close articulation of marketing, market research, strategic management and innovation principles.

In this manifesto, we start out by drawing upon established research, evidence, data, and models in order to provide a structured outlook on brand growth.  We discuss insightful work and research that has been carried out regarding consumer behavior that has direct repercussions on the ability for a brand to grow.

We then provide a systemic brand growth framework to help firms better understand where and how they are able to influence consumer behavior so as to promote brand growth.  Here, we introduce the notions of brand access and value proposition as the undertones to brand growth.  We end this manifesto with the introduction of our Brand Growth Platform® that serves as a strategic tool to brand growth management.

II. Guiding principles

A – Penetration is the name of the game

It should not (but may) surprise our readers that brand growth is first and foremost a question of volume. It is a question of reaching as many customers as possible at as many purchase moments as possible.

We would like to begin our discussion by providing a summary of some of the key points that Professor Andrew Ehrenberg, Professor Byron Sharp and Dr. Jenni Romaniuk brought to light in the recent years.  The first point relates to the proposition put forth by this school of thought that brand growth depends largely on the ability to recruit new customers.

Pareto’s Law is far from 80/20

The first insight into this finding is the re-evaluation of Pareto’s Law (known unofficially as the “80/20 rule”), which suggests that 20% of a brand’s customer base represent 80% of its purchases.  As an important amount of empirical evidence suggests, this is simply unfounded and exaggerated.

Professor Byron Sharp and Dr. Jenni Romaniuk of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute undertook some analysis of Nielsen BrandScan data from the US and showed that the heaviest 20% of buyers actually account for:

  • 51% of the average liquid fabric conditioner brand’s volume
  • 54% of the average breakfast brand’s volume
  • 53% of the average canned soup brand’s volume
  • 65% of the average soft drinks brand’s volume

This is far from an 80/20 proportion.  This means that only focusing on heavy brand users means a brand is only focusing on 50% of its volume.  A substantial error in brand growth strategy!

Light users are key to growth

In many occasions, heavy brand users are “maxed out” and are also heavy users of other brands in the category.  Brand growth comes from focusing on light users. They purchase less frequently, but their volume far outweighs this relatively weak purchase frequency.  This also means that loyalty should not be the primary focus for brand growth, but rather increased penetration.  We will also note that the Double Jeopardy Law demonstrates that increased loyalty comes with increased penetration: the lower market share brands in a market have both fewer buyers in a time period and also lower brand loyalty.1

Figure 2.1: Double Jeopardy example

h2 brand growth manifesto : DOuble jeopardy example

Source: Kantar Worldpanel data (2006)

Figure 2.1 shows data from the UK supermarket sector.  Note that the loyalty metric (share of purchases in the third column) rises along with penetration and market share.

Figure 2.2: Double Jeopardy in the French market

h2 brand growth manifestor double jeopardy in the French market

Source: h2\agency data (2016)

Figure 2.2 is a further example from h2\agency data showing a strongly positive correlation between last 24-month purchase (penetration) and last 3-month purchase (recency) in the French retail sector.

What this data shows is that brands with a larger penetration rate are rewarded two times over: more customers buy the brand and these customers buy the brand more frequently.

B – Chasing differentiation is misleading

The second point we would like to discuss, and which lays the foundation for much of our vision regarding brand growth, is the “differentiate or die” mantra that circulates widely within the global marketing community.  The idea is that for a brand to succeed, it must be very different and “uniquely unique”  compared to its competitors.  We agree that, economically speaking, one of the main characteristics of a market near perfect competition (i.e. not a monopoly, oligopoly or dominant firm market), is offer differentiation (differentiation through the products or services a firm provides). Indeed, we see offer differentiation as the means through which brands can stay relevant, in terms of consumer preference, and obtain a competitive advantage. However, this is at the offer level, and not the brand level (more on this point in the next section, where we discuss vertical and horizontal differentiation).

Through extensive empirical evidence, several parties have debunked much of the marketing myths surrounding the eternal quest for “brand differentiation”. As famously stated by Andrew Ehrenberg, and based on findings analyzed through the lens of the Dirichlet model, “consumers are polygamous rather than either promiscuous or monogamous.”2  In other words, consumers tend to have a set of several brands that they purchase over a given period in time.  It would be quite dangerous to ignore this finding and try to craft a brand that is extremely “unique” and niche so as to cut it off from the majority of the potential customer pool.

Duplication of Purchase Law

The first insight into this point of view on brand differentiation comes via the Duplication of Purchase law, which states that brands share customers in line with their penetration.3

Figure 2.3 shows some h2\agency data from the French retail sector, in which we can observe that these retail brands share customers in line with their respective market penetration rates.  For example, brand A is used by 90% of customers in the market; and 90% of customers of other brands also purchase Brand A within this same time period.

Figure 2.3: Duplication of Purchase Law in the French retail market 

Source: h2\agency data (2016)

We also applied this logic to the non-profit sector, and found that the law holds.  As illustrated in figure 2.4, charities share donors in line with their respective market penetration rates.  For example, approximately 60% of donors in France donated to charity E in the given time period; and roughly the same proportion of donors from other charities also donated to charity E within this same time period.

Figure 2.4: Duplication of Purchase Law amongst charities in France

h2 beand growth manifesto purchase law amongst charities in France

Source: h2\agency data

It is, therefore, misleading to label customers as “My customers” versus “Your customers”.  As Ehrenberg famously stated: “Your buyers are really buyers of another brand who sometimes happen to buy you.”

Brand fans, brand love & brand uniqueness

When viewing these results and its implications for consumer behavior and brand loyalty, it is quite difficult to talk about “brand fans” and “brand love”, and more importantly, provide concrete recommendations regarding brand growth strategy based on this fleeting portion of the brand’s customer base.  What we are more likely faced with are consumers who perceive brands as “substitutable, and this ‘substitution’ is directly proportional to their penetration”4

The counter argument we relentlessly hear is “well how do you explain all those people who wait outside the Apple store after a new product release?  Surely Apple is a love brand!”  Certainly, Apple has a relatively high customer “loyalty” rate, but this is perfectly in line with their extremely high household penetration rate.  Coupled with an almost unparalleled in-store customer experience, crowds will gather in the streets on new product release dates.  However, the volume these crowds represent pales in comparison with the large majority of Apple users who do not gather in the streets when a new product is released.  These scenes of “brand love” should not be interpreted as representing a viable brand growth strategy.  To be clear, Apple’s success “isn’t about cultivating a small but loyal user base. It’s about getting its smartly designed devices in the hands of as many people as possible and advertising the hell out of them. Macs were once a cult; iPods and iPhones now constitute a global religion.”5  In other words, to craft a brand growth strategy based on “harvesting a love brand” is to fail to see the bigger picture.  This can be at best misleading and at worst dangerous.

Similarly, it is quite easy to get carried away by the false promise of brand “uniqueness”.  However, most brands are simply not considered different or unique, and that is perfectly OK!

Jenni Romaniuk, Byron Sharp & Andrew Ehrenberg conducted research to this end in 2007 and found that most brands across several categories are only perceived as being either unique or different by a large minority of their customer base.

Figure 2.5 shows that a mere average of 16% of soft drink users in the UK and 18% of banking customers in Australia perceive the brands they consume as either different or unique compared to other brands in the market.

Figure 2.5: Brand user perceptions of differentiation in the Soft drinks (UK) and Banking (Australia) categories

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 2.5

Source: Jenni Romaniuk, Byron Sharp & Andrew Ehrenberg 2007

What this data shows is that a certain level of brand differentiation does (and should) exist, but it exists within a larger brand growth framework.  It should not be the sole marketing objective, nor the sole objective when adopting a brand growth strategy.

We do not deny that a certain amount of brand differentiation exists and should exist. Adopting a strong point of view on the brand’s “why” is a useful way to differentiate oneself when communicating (more on this in later chapters). However, we would argue that this is not the “be-all and end-all” of brand growth strategy.

C – Distinctiveness trumps differentiation

What marketers should focus on at the brand level is obtaining a high level of distinctiveness. This point was also clearly demonstrated by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.

Brand distinctiveness refers to the brand’s distinct identity based on its distinctive assets.  It is important to highlight this point, because these assets can be trademarked and are legally “owned” by a brand, whereas brand differentiation is not.

Distinctive assets can include:

  • The logo:
  • Colors:
  • Taglines:
  • Symbols:
  • Celebrities:
  • Style / voice::

These are elements used to ensure the buyer will recognize the brand amongst a sea of competition (i.e. “I know this car with a three-pointed star is a Mercedes Benz, and this car with a wreath and crest is a Cadillac”).

The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute suggests that in order to be strong performers, assets must be both prevalent (i.e. most customers can identify them) and unique (i.e. customer attribute them to the brand)6

A brand’s distinctive assets and the ways in which they are to be used (or not) by the firm are often compiled in a brand book.  When looking at figures 2.6 and 2.7 (extracts from different brand book examples), one can quickly recognize the brands associated with these stylistic elements (Skype and Intel, respectively).

Figure 2.6: An extract from an example of Skype’s brand book

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 2.8

Figure 2.7: An extract from an example of Intel’s brand book

The objective is to maintain a consistent use of the brand’s “asset identity “ to ensure continuous brand recognition. In other words, become distinctive!

D – Offer differentiation

Thus far, we have seen that:
1. Brand growth is a question of volume and penetration;
2. Focusing on brand differentiation is misleading;
3. Brand distinctiveness should be a priority

We would now like to turn our attention to offer differentiation. We argue that differentiation at the offer level can and does exist simply because different products or services have different attributes that different consumers value differently at different moments of purchase. This is, of course, imperative to understand in order to increase penetration and have a relevant product / service offering to as wide a customer base as possible.

Economic and strategic management literature shows us that the offer can differ both vertically and horizontally.

Vertical differentiation

We will turn our attention to a tool, known as the cost / quality framework, so as to have a look at what how vertical differentiation works.

Figure 2.8: Cost / quality framework

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 2.6A few introductory points to help interpret this framework:

  • Quality refers to the quality of the product as perceived by the consumer
  • Cost refers the firm’s overall cost (manufacturing, distribution, marketing, etc.) to produce and sell the product or service
  • The cost axis is inverted: higher costs near the origin and lower costs near the extremities

The diagram indicates all quality and cost combinations feasible given current technology. The feasible frontier line identifies the highest quality that can be provided at a given cost. In other words, operating outside the frontier means using new technology.

It is easy to produce at a point near the origin. In other words, it is easy to produce a product or service at a high cost that is perceived as being of poor quality by the consumer. It is more difficult to produce closer to the frontier (i.e. using an efficient cost / quality equation).

The slope translates the tradeoff between perceived quality and production / commercial costs. For example, at the bottom end of the cost axis, investing slightly more in the production of the good or service will lead to a significant increase in perceived quality. On the other end of the axis (near the origin), investments in the production of the good will not lead to much increase in perceived quality.

Vertical differentiation is simply the difference between product or service positioning within the cost / quality framework. In figure 2.9, we have (fictitiously) placed three hotels within the cost / quality framework to illustrate the point: the Hilton, the Radisson, and the Holiday Inn 7. We have placed them each at a point we believe reflects their respective production costs as well as the level of perceived quality by the average consumer.

Note that they all have a different positioning within the framework, yet they are all equally viable positions, given they are maximizing perceived quality at their respective production costs. The Hilton provides a very high perceived quality, but involves higher costs. The Holiday Inn is perceived as providing basic or low quality, but is cheaper to maintain. The Radisson reflects a more intermediary position.

Figure 2.9: Positioning within the cost / quality framework

This differentiation is by no means arbitrary, but rather a truly strategic decision (in this case, managing a 5-star, 4-star or 3-star hotel). It involves investing in services and innovation that will maximize perceived quality at the most efficient cost point.

Besides illustrating the notion of vertical differentiation, the cost / quality framework also allows us to broach the question of a brand’s value proposition, which we will show lies at the heart of the brand growth framework. In the example above, it is imperative to understand the volume of potential buyers that are willing to pay the price premium to stay at a Hilton rather than a Radisson. If very few customers value the quality that the Hilton offers, this vertical positioning may not be viable. We will return to the question of value proposition in later chapters.

Horizontal differentiation

So vertical differentiation translates the strategic decision managers face regarding the trade-off between how their product or service will be perceived and the production / manufacturing / selling costs they must bear.

However, products and services can equally differ at a similar quality and cost point. This type of product differentiation, called horizontal product differentiation, relates to consumer preference. This type of differentiation occurs when consumers disagree about which product or service is better. It is generally depicted using a perceptual map, such as shown in figure 2.10. This simplified example illustrates that given a similar price point for all of these brands, some consumers will purchase Converse, while others will purchase New Balance, simply because some consumers prefer wearing “fashionable” shoes, while others prefer “performance” shoes. In other words, it relates to their personal preferences.

Figure 2.10: Simple perceptual map for athletic footwear

In our vertical differentiation example, most customers will agree that the Hilton is a better-quality hotel and if one could stay there at the same price as at a Holiday Inn, very few customers would stay at the Holiday Inn. However, in the athletic footwear example, which product is purchased depends on the consumer’s preference.

From a brand strategy and growth perspective, it is then imperative to calculate the proportion of the market that would prefer a “fashionable” product versus a “performance” product, and understand what competition the brand would face each point along this continuum. It is also important to determine consumer price sensitivity along this continuum (more on pricing later). The goal is to create products or services that have imperfect substitutes (i.e. they differ horizontally from other products on the market), but that match consumer preferences (existing, evolving or emerging). Creating imperfect substitutes provides a competitive advantage in a competitive market that determines brand growth potential.

In sum, the eternal quest from a brand growth perspective is to increase penetration and volume. The objective is not to create a differentiated “love brand”, but to devise as many entry points to your brand as possible, so as to allow as many customers as possible access to your brand at as many moments of purchase possible.

E – Insights, insights & insights

Insights, the Holy Grail of every marketer, are at the core of every brand growth strategy. We will not dwell on this topic, but simply say that not all insights are created equal and different insights serve different purposes in an overall brand growth strategy.

We typically classify insights that pinpoint user frustrations, tension or unmet needs as insights that drive innovation. These powerful insights are based on observation, and many times truths that the customer is not even aware of. A great example, told by J.C. Larreche, is how in 2003 BMW observed drivers constantly turn off their iPods when getting into a car and then turning them back on when getting out. The customer did not ask BMW to make an iPod compatible with the car’s stereo system, but this is exactly what the car manufacturer did, and a full 6 months before any of its competitors.8

Then there are those insights that can help define a brand’s point of view for advertisement purposes. These insights reveal a deep, until-now-unverbalized human truth that can be a powerful determinant of consumer behavior in a given category. Great examples include the insight used for Dove’s “Real beauty” campaign, that provided a fresh point of view on what being a real-world beautiful woman means. Or the Always #LikeAGirl campaign that brought to the forefront the issue of young girls losing confidence during puberty.

Regardless of the type of insight, how it is framed and how it nourishes the brand’s growth strategy, it is contingent upon the brand’s ability to observe, listen to, understand and act upon deep-seated human behavior within the category.

III. A brand growth framework

In this chapter, we will present h2\agency’s brand growth framework that introduces the three main areas of focus for promoting brand growth.

Figure 3.1: h2\agency brand growth framework

h2 brandgrowth manifesto figure 3.1

Source: h2\agency

Our framework suggests that there are three overarching phases where brand growth can be stimulated:

  1. the category entrance phase – this is where the brand manager ensures the brand is salient, that it is thought of in as many purchase occasions as possible by as many consumers as possible.
  2. the active evaluation / moment of choice phase – this is where the brand manager ensures the consumer chooses her brand as opposed to a competitor brand.
  3. the post-purchase phase – this is where the manager ensures the brand experience, satisfaction and active recommendation create a positive customer retention / customer acquisition loop.

It is important to note that this framework does not intend to represent the shopper journey or the systematic steps taken by consumers in a purchase cycle.  Rather it establishes a larger “brand growth logic”, both in terms of brand access and value proposition, to help firms identify the crucial steps that can be taken to stimulate brand growth. We will come back to the notions of brand access and value proposition in the next chapter.

A – Category entrance

During the category entrance phase, the objective is for the brand to maximize its availability for the consumer, both mental and physical.

Mental availability

Mental availability, also referred to as brand salience, is the propensity of the brand to be thought of in buying situations9.   This can be thought of as a much more inclusive and rounded notion of brand awareness.

Brand awareness depends only on the category itself as the mental “cue” (i.e. do consumers think of Ford when prompted with “automobile brand”?).

While we do not dispute the importance of tracking brand awareness (spontaneous, aided & qualified), we agree with Sharp and Romaniuk in that this does not provide the full picture.

As such, we agree that the full overview of the brand’s mental availability comes from the evaluation of its salience.  The brand must be retrievable in the mind of the consumer at critical buying moments via the most relevant cues.

Another way of looking at the “cues” is through the use of Category Entry Points (CEPs).  Category Entry Points are the Why, When, Where, With Whom, With What of buying situations and can represent gateways to the category, i.e. they are the gates through which consumers pass before making a purchase in a given category.  Examples are provided in figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2: Romaniuk and Sharp’s framework for CEP generation

Source: Romaniuk & Sharp, How Brands Grow Part II

Creating strong associations with an array of these CEPs will ensure the brand is considered by the widest range of customers possible in the most buying situations possible.  In other words, it will provide the means by which the brand can increase its market penetration.

 Thinking strategically about brand growth in terms of CEPs is not only valuable, but also directly actionable.  CEPs can be easily communicated via advertising campaigns, whereby the campaign’s execution can work to associate the brand to a given CEP.  Here the creative’s mission entails the use of specific codes, imagery, symbolism, and overall network of meaning associated with a given CEP.

Figure 3.3 shows an advertisement that is meant to strengthen the association of Allo Resto (a French food delivery brand) to a relevant market CEP (“order pizza on game night”).  It is ripe with the codes that feed this CEP: passion (sports supporters on their knees, fist clenched, mouths open), informality (pizza eaten straight from the box, lack of table, lack of cutlery), personalization (each supporter has his own toppings), and so on.

Figure 3.3: An example of a CEP based advertisement in France

Source: Allo Resto advertisement in France, 2017

Figure 3.4 shows several screenshots from a single Coca-Cola advertisement that ran in France in early 2017.  As illustrated, the ad associates Coca-Cola with three different and specific CEPs (“something refreshing”, “to share with someone special” and “on-the-go”).  When looking at still frames from this ad, it is easy to see how the overall creative execution works to communicate the respective CEPs (sun shining, man in “pouncing” position, etc.)

Figure 3.4: An example of a Coca-Cola CEP-based advertisement

Measuring mental availability

In order to measure a brand’s mental availability, we use Sharp and Romaniuk’s measurement framework10 as a starting point.  This includes:

  • Mental Market Share:  % of the brand’s CEP associations as a function of total CEP associations for the category
  • Mental Penetration: % of category buyers that link the brand to at least one CEP
  • Network Size: the amount of CEPs the brand is linked to in the minds of category buyers who are aware of the brand

However, we go further by measuring the relevance of the different CEPs within a given market, so as to establish an “importance baseline”.  Guided by the belief that no two CEPs are created equal, there are those that represent “wider” category entry points than others and deserve more attention from both a brand growth and a brand equity perspective.  For example, within the soft drinks category, the CEP “to enjoy on the beach” might not be as relevant (in terms of frequency, and therefore purchase volume, and therefore brand growth) than the CEP “to enjoy at dinner”.

By measuring the relevance of the CEPs as well as the association with the brand, we can establish a CEP growth / equity matrix, as shown in figure 3.5, which provides a strategic overview of the brand’s mental availability.

Figure 3.5: CEP growth / equity matrix

Source: h2\agency

Equity CEPs refer to CEPs that are strongly associated with the brand.  They are part of the brand’s overall strength and need constantly preserved and refreshed so as not to be lost.  Marketers can distinguish Equity CEPs depending on whether they are high-yield (i.e. they are cornerstones of the brand’s equity, because they have high market relevance) or low-yield (nice to have associations that have low market relevance).

Growth CEPs are CEPS that are not strongly associated with the brand.  If addressed, they can represent avenues for brand growth. Marketers can prioritize the Growth CEPs depending on their relevance to the market (whether they are low-yield Growth CEPs or high-yield growth CEPs).

Physical availability

The other side to brand availability is what Sharp and Romaniuk coin as “physical availability”11, which refers to the ease of contact with the brand.  It is about getting the product to the buyer where they want it, when they want it and how they want it.

Of course, this involves the supply chain and distribution strategy, but also encompasses digital strategy (SEA/SEO, for example).  It is about paving the way before the consumer and making it easier to purchase your brand as opposed to a competitor brand.

Figure 3.6 An example of increasing physical availability in the French banking sector

h2 brand grow manifesto figure 3.6

Source: Fortuneo Banque advertisement in France, 2017

Figure 3.6 shows an advertisement by Fortuneo Banque in France in 2017 that provides prospective customers with “3 easy steps” to changing banks.  In other words, it is a step-by-step easy access guide.

A recent effort by The Hershey Company provides a great example of overall brand availability execution, as it blends both mental and physical availability.  As illustrated in figure 3.7, Hershey planogrammed their aisle to reflect specific CEPs.  Products were arranged in different sections, such as “candy dish”, “on the go”, “premium”, “theater box”, “fruity chewy”, etc.  This example illustrates that once the brand builds its mental availability via the association with relevant market CEPs (via advertisements), it can work its physical availability using these same building blocks.

Figure 3.7 Hershey planogram

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 3.7

Source: The Hershey Company Inaugural Retail Report (2017)

The overarching objective of boosting the brand’s availability is to strengthen the chances that it will be a part of the consideration set for as many consumers as possible, as often as possible and in the most buying situations as possible.  This begin at the mental “inception” phase and is maintained all the way through distribution.

B – Active evaluation / moment of choice

So increasing a brand’ availability (both mental and physical, as well as its distinctive assets) strengthens the propensity for the brand to be considered by the consumer when entering the category.  However, this is not the entire story.  As McKinsey found, “up to 40 percent of consumers change their minds because of something they see, learn, or do [in-store].”12 In other words, there is an active trade-off prior to and at the moment of purchase.  Again, we are not referring to a set idea of the consumer journey.  This active evaluation phase can take more or less time depending on the category and the implication required by the consumer.  It can also take on different forms, such as spur of the moment in a store or online research.  What we are suggesting is that there is a trade-off that operates prior to the final decision, regardless of the length or importance of this trade-off.

This is where it is imperative to understand vertical and horizontal offer differentiation within the market.

This trade-off can be functional (“this product has such and such a feature that this other product does not”).  It can involve price sensitivity (“I am not willing to pay more than $10 for this product”).  And it can be emotional (“I really like what this brand stands for”).

At this point, the objective is to tip the trade-off equation in the brand’s favor, by providing a reason to choose the brand over the competitor brands.  It is about maximizing the brand’s relative value proposition.

It is here that we will discuss “brand differentiation” as traditionally viewed by the marketing community.  However, note that the importance of this brand differentiation is relegated to a more appropriate (and concentrated) spot within the larger brand growth framework.

Functional trade-off

The functional trade-off speaks to the “rational” decision made by consumers when faced with a choice (i.e. “this product has such and such a feature that this other product does not”, or “this product costs 10 dollars more, but will last longer”).  In other words, it refers to the decision made with the “head”.

It is essential that brands understand their competitive advantage / disadvantage from a functional trade-off point of view.  This is ascertained most often through marketing research techniques such as consumer-based conjoint analysis (CBC) or Max-diff approaches.

Figure 3.8 shows the type of question used to determine the relative part worth of product characteristics and the decision the consumer will make faced with a rational choice.  In this exercise, we provide the respondent with various characteristics of competitor products as well as the price for each product, and ask them to tell us what their choice would be.

Figure 3.8: typical conjoint analysis question in the tire sector

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 3.8

Source: h2\agency


Of course, this type of pragmatic trade-off incorporates the notion of price sensitivity.  And indeed, the firm’s pricing strategy is key to increasing penetration, and therefore, brand growth.   As Rafi Mohammed states “the strategy of pricing involves acknowledging that customers have different pricing needs and then making efforts to profit from these differences.”13 This is because people have different preferences, priorities and shopping habits that impact the value they place on the product(s) your brand is selling. Managers should be asking themselves what they are doing to provide the maximum number of customers with access to their brand given these differences in consumer value.

This can mean implementing a price discrimination scheme through a value-based pricing strategy that is based on the varying value that different customers place on your product or brand. This is very different to an “across the board” pricing strategy such as “we will price this item at 20% over production costs”, which can seriously stump penetration thereby inhibiting brand growth.

Rafi Mohammed lays out an array of tactics in what he calls the “Pricing Blossom Strategy” that can shake up a brand’s pricing strategy and potentially lead to increased penetration.  As illustrated in figure 3.9, this can include different versioning (such as providing a basic option and a premium option), different ownership and financial plans (such as allowing customers to buy upfront, rent, lease, etc.), or different pricing promotions (such as the availability of coupons, sales, rebates, promotional codes, etc.).

Figure 3.9: Pricing Blossom Strategy

h2 brand grow manifesto figure 3.9

Source: Rafi Mohammed, 2010

The idea here is to make the brand as accessible as possible to the largest potential customer base possible while maintaining profitability.  The airline industry is a great example, as it is very common for passengers seated next to each other to have not paid the same price for their respective tickets.

The brand can make itself more available to more customers by understanding the price sensitive segments in its market (via price-sensitivity segmentation exercises), as well as installing a pricing scheme that allows customers to then self-select the most appropriate entry point to the brand given their personal value threshold.

To be clear, it does not mean an “across the board price cut”, such as “lowering prices by 10%”.  Rather, it means applying traditional marketing logic (different consumers want different things) to the pricing strategy by acknowledging that different consumers have different pricing needs and varying price sensitivities which must be considered in order to recruit them.

This equally involves understanding how the product(s) or service(s) differ horizontally and what the pricing strategy is of the brand’s closest neighbor(s). If your brand sells a product that does not have a perfect substitute (i.e. there is no other product that exactly like it), then you have more freedom in setting price and capturing that specific consumer value. Conversely, if your brand sells a product that has a close neighbor, then your pricing strategy may need to be more aggressive.

Emotional & intangible trade-off

Of course, functional and pricing trade-off only represents part of the equation.  Attractive packaging, on-shelf messaging, shared values, brand voice, what the brand stands for and other such criteria can create an emotional connection with the consumer that favors the moment of choice trade-off. This includes thought processes such as “I really like what this brand stands for”, or “I like the way this brand portrays women”, and other more sub-conscious drivers that propel consumers to purchase a given brand.  We are referring here to decisions made with the “gut”.

This also refers to the “why” in Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. It is a strong point of view on the reason the company manufactures and sells the given product or service. This can be a powerful reflection that incites business to create differentiation at the brand level and is an extremely useful guide when communicating the product or service.14

Keep in mind that some of these more emotional drivers are difficult for consumers to articulate, which is why projective marketing research techniques and in-situ observation can provide valuable insight into these moments.

Aside from these methods, h2\agency also uses semiotic analysis to analyze differences in how brands “talk” to consumers, i.e. what discourse they emit.  Our approach to semiotics is powered by our Timeline Semiotic Tool® that was developed in order to historically and thematically categorize brand discourse.  An example of a recent semiotic analysis based on dozens of 2016 TV advertisements from the French banking sector is shown in figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10: semiotic analysis in the French banking sector

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 3.10

Source: h2\agency #h2obsBANQUES (2017)

In this example, we mapped out several banks in terms of how they discuss the notions of empowerment and customer experience, which we found to be two themes central to French banking advertisement in 2016.

Undergoing this type of exercise is a powerful means to understanding how a brand’s point of view on a category might differ from the competition.  It shapes the way in which brands are perceived and understood by the target market.

Of course, understanding brand discourse is only half of the equation.  We equally need to understand how this discourse then resonates within the target market.  To this end, we use our proprietary brand playground® approach.

This involves relative brand image marketing research, i.e. how brands resonate relative to each other, rather than how they resonate in absolute terms.  This constitutes forced differentiation, which is exactly what we are after.  By acknowledging that traditionally labeled “brand differentiation” has its place in the active evaluation / moment of choice phase, we are able to force brand differentiation in this manner, without compromising the overall brand growth framework.  In other words, forcing consumers to tell us how brands differ is acceptable provided we understand that the differences we uncover are relevant within a limited space of the larger brand growth framework.

These differences allow us to map out relative brand territories that help marketers feed the ways in which they communicate their brand identities.  An example from the French banking sector is shown in figure 3.11.

Figure 3.11: brand playground® analysis in the French banking sector

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 3.11

Source: h2\agency #h2obsBANQUES (2017)

Brand Platform

It is here where the brand’s mission, purpose, values, essence, character, style and tone of voice come into play.  This is generally formulated in a Brand Platform, i.e. a living and breathing document that establishes the foundation of a brand’s identity.  It is the brand’s raison d’être that can potentially differentiate it from competitors.   By no means are we denying the relevance of having a clear brand platform.  It certainly has its place within the marketer’s armament.  However, given the different elements of a brand growth framework, we feel that relying on this tool as the guide to brand growth is reductionist.

For example, while the mission and purpose statements may refer to product scope and competitive advantage, they do not contain the essential elements and logic of a brand growth strategy.  Furthermore, the brand’s values and its personality are “simply a list of unexceptional virtues… that could not reasonably be contradicted.”15

Capturing these values more forcefully than the competition can tip the scale in the brand’s favor at the moment of choice (which is exactly what we measure via the brand playground® approach), but it by no means provides the lynchpin to brand growth.

This is why we have relegated the traditional brand platform to a limited space within the larger brand growth framework.  It is not to be confused with the larger brand growth strategy. It is complementary, but not substitutable.

Form a brand growth perspective, we propose a more complete Brand Growth Platform® in the last chapter of this manifesto, which we developed as a strategic tool for ongoing brand growth management.

The firm’s internal structure

So, during the active evaluation / moment of choice phase, brand growth depends on the firm’s ability to tip the trade-off equation in the brand’s favor.

While we have discussed at large customer-based logic to help positively shape this trade-off, internal structural elements are also at the heart of the equation. These can include:

  • The firms’ capabilities: its tools, its technologies, its processes, the workflows it has in place, etc.
  • The firm’s organization: its people, its structure, its leadership, its ability to train, etc.
  • The firm’s culture: its values, its HR, its innovation, its ability to nurture new ideas, etc.

Both the firm’s outward customer and market-based vision, as well as its inward management can provide increased value to new and existing customers, thereby providing the brand with a more optimal position within the cost / quality framework and subsequently promoting brand growth, given the potential buyers are willing to pay the price premium for the value proposed by the brand.

C – Post-purchase

We will now turn our attention to the post-purchase phase, during which brand growth depends on the ability of the firm to monitor and manage customer feedback.  This has ever-Increasing ramifications given the democratization of brand / customer relationships and the ability for customers to make or break brands via the feedback loop.


The first point that needs considered pertaining to the feedback loop is, of course, customer satisfaction.  Understanding customer satisfaction requires the confrontation of expectations with experience in order to understand whether the customer’s needs were met by the brand (and its competitors).  To this end, h2\agency uses its proprietary approach, needify®.

Contrary to most satisfaction approaches, we include a baseline “importance” measure to understand how important each expectation is for the customer prior to determining whether the brand actually satisfied it.  The logic is that expectations that are less important than others do not need satisfied as fully, which allows brands to focus on what matters most.  Visually, this method allows us to identify the level of gaps between the importance of a given customer expectation and the ability of the brand to fulfill it (see figure 3.12 for an example).

This can be done at both the market level (i.e. is the market currently meeting the full repertoire of customer needs?), as well as at the brand level (i.e. how does my brand satisfaction performance compare to other brands?).

Figure 3.12 shows the ability of the entire French banking sector to address customer expectations.  In this example, we can observe several gaps surrounding fees, advice, data security and customer experience, whereas customer’s online banking and innovation needs are relatively well addressed.

Figure 3.12: needify® analysis in the French banking sector

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 3.12

Source: h2\agency #h2obsBANQUES (2017)

Brand experience

It is also essential to analyze shopper journeys and evaluate customer experience (CX) to perpetually find ways to smooth out and facilitate the path to purchase.  This means paving the way and tearing down any roadblocks that are resulting in reduced access to your brand from the very moment customers come into contact with your brand right up until the moment of purchase. This might include the way in which customers are greeted when entering the point of sale, the way customer service representatives handle telephone complaints, the brand’s return policy, their after-sales policy, and so on.

While the horizontal nature of this customer / brand relationship provides a certain amount of power to the customer, it also represents an opportunity for the brand to display its ability to engage with customers and provide a positive customer experience.

Take the example illustrated in figure 3.13, that shows Elon Musk’s response to a supercharger station user in San Mateo.

Figure 3.13: Elon Musk’s Twitter exchange with Loic Le Meur

Granted Loic Le Meur is not your “everyday customer”, but the tweet exchange is an exemplary illustration of how brands can broadcast their customer-centric nature.  Even more importantly, it took Elon Musk less than a week to post the following policy change on Tesla’s website: “We designed the Supercharger network to enable a seamless, enjoyable road trip experience. Therefore, we understand that it can be frustrating to arrive at a station only to discover fully charged Tesla cars occupying all the spots. To create a better experience for all owners, we’re introducing a fleet-wide idle fee that aims to increase Supercharger availability.”16 This is also a great example of how brands can leverage Real Time Marketing.

Post-purchase monitoring also includes surveying user experience (UX) to identify areas of improvement and innovation.  Figure 3.14 features the new application developed by the RATP (the Parisian public transport operator), that provides new features, such as best routes, real-time alerts, and the calculation of the number of stops during a journey to significantly enhance user experience while traveling using the RATP.

Figure 3.14: the RATP’s new application


What this boils down to is better understanding what will drive repeat purchase, but also (and especially!) what will drive new purchase.

Of course, it is important to have some sort of recommendation measure (such as NPS), but even more importantly it is essential to understand engagement drivers (i.e. word of mouth, ratings and reviews on social media, and all other types of earned media). As McKinsey points out, “of consumers who profess loyalty to a brand, some are active loyalists, who not only stick with it but also recommend it.”17  While we tend to refrain from using the word “loyalty”, as it alludes to a much stronger relationship between brand and customer than what has been shown to actually exist for the vast majority of a given brand’s customer base, the point brought up by McKinsey does help illustrate the dual nature of the customer feedback loop:

  1. On the one hand, there is an increase in same customer loyalty (that is proportional to the brand’s market share, as shown via the Double Jeopardy law);
  2. On the other hand, there is an increase in new customer penetration via earned media (to increase brand availability for new customers in the consideration phase and positively impact the trade-off equation for new customers in the active evaluation / moment of choice phase).

Same customer loyalty can equally be enhanced via the use of “sticky products or services”. By “sticky”, we are referring to:

  • Products or services that lock customers into using the brand (customer loyalty programs, financial services setups, etc.). In other words, this provides customers with motivation to continue using the brand and reasonable doubt as whether to leave the brand, given they will use some sort of advantage.
  • Or what J.C. Larreche refers to as “power offers”, i.e. offers that “deliver compelling value to customers, who in turn offer compelling equity to the business.”18 Examples have included the iPod, the iPhone, Facebook, Southwest Airlines, etc.

D – Innovation

As our brand growth framework suggests, underpinning these three overarching phases (category entry, active evaluation / moment of choice phase and post-purchase) is constant innovation.  In our model, innovation is a transversal investment needed to constantly create and enforce competitive advantage.

The subject of innovation is vast, and it is not our intention here to cover all the facets of brand innovation.  What we would like to illustrate is how it fits in our larger brand growth framework.  We believe that ongoing innovation promotes a continuous renewal of the brand’s value proposition, thereby allowing it to favor the moment of choice trade-off equation.

First of all, we would remind our readers that innovation initiatives are transversal in that they can boost the path to brand growth at different levels.  We are not merely referring to product innovation here, but a much wider array of initiatives.

Figure 3.15: The many shades of innovation

h2 brand growth manifesto figure 3.15

Source: h2\agency

Innovation stems from being constantly on the pulse with the consumer’s world, their culture, their behavior, their habits, their beliefs, their attitudes. It’s about identifying and structuring important trends that will affect the brand’s category and deriving innovation-fueling insights that will help firms continuously rethink their value proposition.

Ultimately, innovation initiatives allow the firm to consistently operate as close to the feasible frontier as possible (within the cost / quality framework as seen in Figure 2.6) thereby ensuring a competitive advantage.

To illustrate this point, let us go back to our earlier example regarding the hotel industry. Let us imagine that Radisson has a breakthrough innovation that streamlines their room service proposition, thereby dramatically cutting costs. This allows the firm to offer the same quality, but at a substantially lower cost. As illustrated in figure 3.16, this has rendered Holiday Inn’s positioning irrelevant in the market, as Radisson is now offering much higher quality at an equivalent cost. Of course, they may choose to either exploit this advantage by keeping consumer pricing stable until the competition catches up, or they may choose to immediately lower consumer prices to capture a greater market share.

Figure 3.16: Innovation effect on vertical differentiation

Conversely, let’s imagine that Radisson has a service-level breakthrough, thereby allowing them to compete with Hilton in terms of perceived quality, all the while keeping their costs stable. As illustrated in figure 3.17, this has put a considerable amount of pressure on Hilton.

Figure 3.17: Innovation effect on vertical differentiation

While innovation may be undertaken to promote a product or brand’s vertical positioning, it can also relate to its horizontal positioning. The introduction of Cherry Coke is a great example of new product horizontal positioning. Consumers would generally not tend to agree as to whether Cherry Coke is better than Classic Coke or vice-versa. However, there are some consumers that would prefer Cherry Coke, while others would prefer Classic Coke. The new product allows the company to capture new consumer value through horizontal innovation.

We have discussed differences in the types of innovation, but innovation also differs in its nature.  As seen in Figure 3.18, we can distinguish between three levels of innovation:

  1. Incremental innovation: “new and improved” innovation that is predictable, linear and low-risk;
  2. Breakthrough innovation: “meaningful change” innovation that provides a fleeting competitive edge (i.e. not lasting);
  3. Transformational innovation: “disruptive & radical” innovation that ushers in a new category status quo.

Figure 3.18: The nature of innovation

Incremental innovation

The potential impact of incremental innovation is ensuring the brand remains nearest possible to the feasible frontier, as seen in figure 3.19.  They add value to existing products & services and improve profitability.

Note that we would argue these continual innovations are a necessity to survival, so as to ensure the firm is operating at a competitive cost / quality position.

Figure 3.19: The potential impact of incremental innovation

This includes the majority of day-to-day innovations such as the addition of a new flavor to a product range.  An example of incremental innovation would be the introduction of Cherry Coke:

Breakthrough innovation

The potential impact of breakthrough innovation is the reaching (and marginally surpassing) of the feasible frontier, as illustrated in figure 3.20.  It provides a fleeting competitive advantage to the firm, i.e. the advantage does not last very long as competitors can be quick to catch up.

Figure 3.20: The potential impact of breakthrough innovation

This includes innovation based on new technology that allows the addition of considerable value or the reduction of considerable cost. An example of breakthrough innovation would be Dyson’s bag-less vacuum cleaners:

Transformational innovation

Transformational innovation is more radical and disruptive.  It shapes markets, and substantially moves the feasible frontier, as illustrated in figure 3.21.

Figure 3.21: The potential impact of transformational innovation

An example of transformational innovation would be the introduction of the first automobile.

Note that both breakthrough and transformational innovation create what have become to be known as “blue oceans.”19  As Kim and Mauborgne put it, it’s about making the competition irrelevant.

Ongoing innovation

As suggested in our brand growth framework, innovation is woven within the strategic brand growth framework.

Kim and Mauborgne provide an insightful example in their book “Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant” of how Apple, Inc. has managed this.20

They distinguish between “pioneers” (products offering unprecedented value and high growth potential), “migrators” (products offering value but not innovative) and Settlers (products that follow the norm).  Apple’s different breakthrough innovations over the years (iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad) all represent pioneers, that later become migrators as they are copied and end up eventually as settlers.

What is interesting to note is that once their pioneers become copied by competitors, thereby losing their competitive advantage, Apple releases a new breakthrough product that assumes a pioneer position. In other words, this creates a dynamic innovation cycle, as illustrated in Figure 3.22.

Figure 3.22: Apple’s ongoing innovation

What figure 3.22 also illustrates is the vertical innovation that took place under each pioneer: after the first-generation iPod, we saw the Mini, the Nano, the Shuffle and the Touch, for example.  This is not only a way of staying relevant and adding value to the market, but also a great example of a creative pricing strategy via product versioning.  Acknowledging that not all customers needed or would be willing to pay the premium for a full iPod with 80, 120 or 160 GB of capacity, the first-generation Mini allowed new customers a 4 GB capacity entry-level version at a substantially lower price.  This allowed Apple to address customers with different pricing needs, thereby increasing market penetration.

Innovation initiatives allow the firm to consistently operate as close as possible to the feasible frontier within the cost / quality framework (or, in the case of Apple, move beyond the frontier).  In other words, it allows brands to consistently challenge the level of value they are providing the target market.

Indeed, a brand’s growth strategy can be based on whether it intends to capture additional market value that is currently held by competitor brands (by working on CEP association or its trade-off equation, for example); or whether it intends to create new value (via product innovation, for example).  The effects are illustrated in figure 3.23.

Figure 3.23: value capture vs. value creation


Using the consumer’s needs also allows us to remain sensitive to the dangers of cannibalization.  During the innovation process, and from a brand growth perspective, it is critical to minimize product cannibalization within the brand’s portfolio.

Bain & Company tells of a personal care brand that launched up to six new products a year, but failed to account for the fact that the majority of the shoppers in the target market have only one or two buying occasions per year.  There were simply too many products aimed at a limited amount of buying occasions.  Most all of the innovation went to waste, because the products did not “have the chance to get big”.21

Product forecast models based on marketing research can help avoid this.  To this end, h2\agency uses CEP-based research to establish a map of the buying occasions, which products and brands are associated with these buying occasions and how to position the new SKU from a strategic growth perspective.

Some cannibalization is to be expected, of course, but it is imperative to establish an acceptable cannibalization threshold for competing products within the same brand’s portfolio, and to determine the competitive viability of the new product in the market with regards to the brand’s overall growth strategy prior to SKU launch.

In other words, the objective is to minimize overlap with the brand’s existing products and maximize overlap with competitor products and / or new territory.  Employing a CEP approach allows firms to adopt this strategic vision and avoid product complexity, which Bain & Company describes as “a quiet thief of penetration” 22

IV. Granting brand access

At the heart of our brand growth framework is the never-ending quest for increased penetration.  This becomes a transversal objective that is intrinsic throughout the entire process.

What we mean by increased penetration is granting new (and existing) customers access to your brand.  We will now turn to explaining this notion of brand access and how it can help stimulate brand growth reflection.

Brand access is about the firm’s ability to consistently open gates to new (and existing) customers.  At h2\agency, we believe it to be the crux of what determines the ability for a brand to grow.

What we mean by brand access

Opening the gates to new and existing customers can take on several shapes depending on what part of the brand growth framework one refers to:

  1. In the category entrance phase this can mean strengthening the brand’s availability by:
    • becoming more relevant to a larger number of buyers across a larger amount of category entry points (mental availability)
    • becoming easier to recognize, easier to access and easier to purchase (physical availability)
  2. In the active evaluation / moment of choice phase, brand access means tipping the trade-off scale in the brand’s favor by providing:
    • Rational reasons to choose the brand: functional attributes and reasons to believe that ensure the brand is more accessible than the competition
    • Pricing: a pricing strategy that allows more people to gain access to the brand (not necessarily cheaper, but more reachable)
    • Emotional reasons to choose the brand: an emotional connection based on shared values or a shared vision that speaks to the customer
  3. In the post-purchase phase, increased brand access might come from managing what McKinsey calls the “active loyalists”[1] so as to feed the brand’s availability for new customers and tip the trade-off scale for those customers at the moment of choice.

To better illustrate this point of brand access, we refer to the Brand Access Blueprint in Figure 4.1.  It involves the systematic review of the brand’s ability to “open its doors” at every level of the brand growth framework, thereby increasing penetration and promoting brand growth.

Figure 4.1: h2\agency’s Brand Access Blueprint

Source: h2\agency

The virtuous access loop refers to the ability to use customer engagement to promote brand access at different levels of the framework.  It relies on the close monitoring of customer feedback to understand how the access loop can be optimized.

In our opinion, brand growth is first and foremost a question of improving brand access.

Open the floodgates!

V. The Brand Growth Factory

Beyond the overarching notion of brand access, we would like to introduce you to the Brand Growth Factory. This factory is powered by three core brand growth “propellers”, each reflecting one essential phase of our brand growth framework:

Figure 5.1: h2\agency’s Brand Growth Factory

Brand Growth Factory

We present them as “propellers”, because this illustrates their core function of “fanning” brand growth. They are the catalysts for brand growth.

We have discussed all three of these propellers, in an informal manner, throughout our Brand Growth Manifesto. Here is a quick recap of each one:

The availability propeller: this propeller operates during the category entrance phase. It refers to the brand’s ability to grow its mental and physical availability amongst new and existing customers.

  • Mentally available: the brand needs to be present for a wide range of consumers across multiple category entry points.
  • Physically available: the brand needs to be easily identifiable, recognizable, and easy to purchase across any channel the customer wishes to purchase.

The favorability propeller: this propeller operates during the active evaluation / moment of choice phase. It promotes a favorable brand trade-off. As we have seen, this trade-off can crystallize in several ways:

  • Functional
  • Emotional / intangible
  • Pricing

The strength of the favorability propeller depends on the constant renewal of the brand’s value proposition through a wide array of innovation efforts.

The sustainability propeller: this propeller operates during the post-purchase phase. Its strength depends on the firm’s ability to make the growing consumer voice in today’s data-driven world work for the brand. What we have discussed thus far in this phase boils down to the creation of a brand that feeds on itself and does not rely only on push-marketing to succeed. Indeed, the brand-building journey is not linear, but circular in nature.

This involves the use of Marketing Data Management Platforms that track, collect, centralize, and make sense of multi-source data in real-time. More specifically, this requires an MDMP that is specifically designed using a brand growth logic. It involves putting brand growth at the heart of a firm’s digital transformation. This allows all business unites (marketing, comms, HR, etc.) to consistently monitor, evaluate, and analyze relevant consumer data in order to take synchronized action in real-time.

There is an inherent hierarchy to these three propellers of brand growth. First off, the brand needs to be available to a wide array of consumers across a wide range of purchasing occasions (see our discussion on the importance of brand penetration for growth). Without availability, the favorability and sustainability propellers do not rotate. Indeed, if the brand is not mentally available for a consumer, it will not feature during the consumer’s active evaluation. Similarly, if the brand is not available for a wide range of consumers, there is not much to be sustained by its clients.

Furthermore, the sustainability propeller does not rotate without the favorability one. Indeed, it is the favorability propeller that provides the content for the sustainability propeller.

Figure 5.2 shows a selection of reviews by Amazon customers having recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy S8 in the UK. It illustrates the sustainability propeller at work around a core piece of favorability content: great value for price.

Figure 5.2: extract of reviews from

In other words, the availability propeller feeds the favorability propeller, which itself feeds the sustainability propeller. We illustrate this hierarchy in our Brand Growth Pyramid, as seen in figure 5.3.

Figure 5.3: h2\agency’s Brand Growth Pyramid

Brand growth pyramid

VI. Brand Growth Platform®

In this last chapter, we propose the adoption of a Brand Growth Platform® that brings the different elements touched upon in this manifesto into a single strategic diagram.

Figure 6.1: h2\agency’s Brand Growth Platform®

Source: h2\agency

The Brand Growth Platform® is a strategic tool specifically designed to allow firms a better grasp on brand growth management.

It is composed of 4 key components:

  1. The brand’s identity: who the brand (and the firm operating the brand) is.  It is divided into three parts:
    • Customer-focused elements (the traditional ingredients to Brand Platforms)
    • Internal structural elements (management ingredients)
    • Distinctive assets (legally defensible brand identifiers)
  2. The brand’s availability: the brand’s resonance within the market.  It is divided into two parts:
    • Mental availability (an overview of the brand’s CEPs)
    • Physical availability (the ease of recognition, availability and purchase)
  3. The brand’s value proposition: what it can do to tip the trade-off equation in its favor.  This is composed of four parts:
    • Functional proposition: specific product attributes or qualities
    • Pricing proposition: specific tactics employed to increase penetration
    • Emotional proposition: specific brand qualities that cause attraction
    • Innovation feed: upcoming projects that add value
  4. The brand’s engagement: how it is feeding the customer feedback loop.  This is composed of two parts:
    • Repeat purchase: what is driving customers to repurchase the brand
    • New purchase: what is causing new penetration

The final essential ingredient of the Brand Growth Platform® is the brand growth logic statement, which can be seen as the glue that binds the rest together.  It is the argument for how the four components (brand’s identity, availability, value proposition and engagement) will enable the firm to reach its brand growth goals given what the firm knows about the external environment, i.e. both market conditions and competitor brands.

The brand growth logic statement cannot be formulated without a glimpse into the competitive environment, that is what the competition is doing (what value the competitor brands capture) and what the market itself is doing (what value the market holds).

VII. Conclusion

In this manifesto, we have:

  1. reminded our readers of the theoretical and empirical foundation from which h2\agency’s point of view on brand growth is derived;
  2. established a brand growth framework to help firms better understand where brand growth can be stimulated;
  3. put forth the notion of brand access, as an alternative way of viewing and thinking about brand growth;
  4. provided an essential strategic tool for firms to manage and guide brand growth.

It is our conviction that brand growth should be viewed systematically and pragmatically.  It is contingent upon the ability to provide continuous brand access to new and existing customers so as to increase the pool of likely buyers.  This means paving the way, opening doors, removing barriers, and rendering the path to the brand as “democratic” and as smooth as possible for the greatest number of potential customers possible given the firm’s cost structure.  It equally depends on the constant re-assessment and subsequent renewal of the brand’s value proposition so as to remain the brand of choice once consumers have been provided access.


Aaker DA. Building strong brands, New York: Free Press; 1996

Abrahams, J. The Mission Statement Book, Ten Speed Press, 1995

Bassi, F. The Dirichlet Model: Analysis of a Market and Comparison of Estimation Procedures, Marketing Bulletin, 2011

Bound, J. Users Guide to Dirichlet, Marketing Bulletin, 2009

Brusselmans G., Blasberg J. and Root J., The Biggest Contributor to Brand Growth, Bain Brief, March 2014

Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., and Vetvi O., The consumer decision journey, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009.

Creamer, M., Do Popularity and Penetration Trump Loyalty?, AdvertisingAge, 2011

Driesner C. and Romaniuk J., Comparing methods of brand image measurement, International Journal of Market Research, 2006

Ehrenberg A,, Gerald Goodhardt and Patrick Barwise, Double Jeopardy Revisited, Journal of Marketing 1990.

Ehrenberg A., Unclesb M., Goodhardt G., Understanding brand performance measures: using Dirichlet benchmarks, Journal of Business Research, 2002.

Hébert, N., Hackett, J. L’observatoire attractivité des banques françaises, h2\agency, 2017.

Kim WC., Mauborgne R., Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant, Harvard Business Review Press, 2005.

Larreche, J.C., The Momentum Effect: the secrets of efficient growth, Wharton School Publishing, 2008.

Mansfield A., Romaniuk J. and Sharp B., Competition among international tourist destinations: applying the duplication of purchase law, Marketing in International and Cross-Cultural Environments Track, 2003

McPhee, W., Formal Theories of Mass Behavior, New York, The Free Press, 1963.

Mohammed R., The 1% Windfall: how successful companies use price to profit and grow, Harper Business, 2010.

Romaniuk J. and Sharp B. Conceptualizing and measuring brand salience, Marketing Theory, 2004

Romaniuk J., Sharp B. and Ehrenberg A., Evidence concerning the importance of perceived brand differentiation, Australasian Marketing Journal, 2007.

Saloner G., Shepard A., Podolny J., Strategic Management, John Wiley & Sons, 2005

Sharp B., How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know, OUP Australia & New Zealand, 2010

Sharp B, Romaniuk J., How brands grow Part 2: Emerging Markets, Services, Durables, New and Luxury Brands, OUP Australia & New Zealand, 2015.

Sinek, Simon. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Portfolio, 2011


  1. Sharp B, Romaniuk J., How brands grow Part 2: Emerging Markets, Services, Durables, New and Luxury Brands, OUP Australia & New Zealand, 2015.
  2. Ehrenberg A., Unclesb M., Goodhardt G., Understanding brand performance measures: using Dirichlet benchmarks, Journal of Business Research, 2002.
  3.  Sharp B, Romaniuk J., How brands grow Part 2: Emerging Markets, Services, Durables, New and Luxury Brands, OUP Australia & New Zealand, 2015.
  4. Mansfield A., Romaniuk J. and Sharp B., Competition among international tourist destinations: applying the duplication of purchase law, 2003
  5. Creamer, M., Do Popularity and Penetration Trump Loyalty? AdvertisingAge, 2011
  6. Sharp B, Romaniuk J., How brands grow Part 2: Emerging Markets, Services, Durables, New and Luxury Brands, OUP Australia & New Zealand, 2015.
  7. This example is similar to that put forth in Saloner G., Shepard A., Podolny J., Strategic Management, John Wiley & Sons, 2005.
  8. Larreche, J.C., “The Momentum Effect: the secrets of efficient growth”, Wharton School Publishing, 2008.
  9. Romaniuk J. and Sharp B. Conceptualizing and measuring brand salience, Marketing Theory 2004; 4; 327
  10. Sharp B, Romaniuk J., How brands grow Part 2: Emerging Markets, Services, Durables, New and Luxury Brands, OUP Australia & New Zealand, 2015.
  11. Sharp B, Romaniuk J., How brands grow Part 2: Emerging Markets, Services, Durables, New and Luxury Brands, OUP Australia & New Zealand, 2015.
  12. Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., and Vetvi O., The consumer decision journey, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009.
  13. Mohammed R., The 1% Windfall: how successful companies use price to profit and grow, Harper Business, 2010.
  14. Sinek, Simon. “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”, Portfolio, 2011
  15. Saloner G., Shepard A., Podolny J., Strategic Management, John Wiley & Sons, 2005
  17. Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., and Vetvi O., The consumer decision journey, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009.
  18. Larreche, J.C. “The Momentum Effect: the secrets of efficient growth”, Wharton School Publishing, 2008.
  19. Kim WC., Mauborgne R., Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant, Harvard Business Review Press, 2005.
  20. Kim WC., Mauborgne R., Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant, Harvard Business Review Press, 2005.
  21. Brusselmans G., Blasberg J. and Root J., The Biggest Contributor to Brand Growth, Bain Brief, March 2014.
  22. Brusselmans G., Blasberg J. and Root J., The Biggest Contributor to Brand Growth, Bain Brief, March 2014.