On Hero Branding

Photo credit: Jess Lewis under license from Stocksy.com

“Is our brand the hero or is the consumer the hero?”

I am asked this seemingly philosophical question more and more. It hinges on a desire to understand more about how archetypes work in the context of branding. Much has been written about archetypes and some of it is actually useful. But a lot of the material circulating the business press about archetypes and brand strategy causes more confusion than assistance. The reason: much of it focuses too much on the least important way in which archetypes can help a brand convey a personality and a story. And the question I used to open this post illustrates the point.

The Point of Attachment Podcast: The True Meaning of Luxury, Part II

Run Time: about 20 minutes

In the second part of our two-part episode on consumer attachment to luxury brands, we dive deeper into the automotive landscape. That’s due in large part to the fact that we just returned from the LA Auto Show where we unveiled the latest installment of the Brand Dependence Index, this time focusing on automotive brands. In this episode, we’ll share the results, hear what some true enthusiasts had to say about the top-ranked brand, and gather some insight from the marketing executive behind one of The Index’s star performers.

2014 Automotive Brand Dependence Index

Today, we unveiled the third installment of the Brand Dependence™ Index, our periodic ranking of brands in a category based on strength of brand attachment. Studio Chief Larry Vincent presented our findings during a keynote session at ThinkLA’s Motor City West event at the Los Angeles Auto Show. This is the third study in our series of Brand Dependence investigations. Working again with our partners at uSamp, we surveyed  over 4,500 US consumers,  focusing our attention on 23 leading maker brands in the sedan segment.

The Point of Attachment Podcast: The True Meaning of Luxury, Part I

Run Time: about 32 minutes

Many brands aspire to a life of luxury—or rather, they wish to be positioned and perceived as a luxury brand. But luxury is subjective. To some it means a brand for the rich, to others it means a brand with richness. Because so much of our branding work revolves around the concept of luxury, we’ve developed a strong point of view on how to express it in various categories. But we decided to ask some experts how they might define it.


Nowhere is the “luxury” designation more applied (and perhaps abused) than in the world of automotive brands. Our guest, Phil Patton, characterized it this way:


It occurs to me that there are not that many products we explicitly refer to with the adjective “luxury.” We don’t say, “I’m going to buy a luxury laptop,” but people do say, “I’m buying a luxury car.”

Phil is a columnist who writes about automobile design for The New York Times. He describes a luxury car as having “design, grace and elegance.” But he suggests that some brands have a harder time defending their claim on luxury status. For example, many people ask whether or not Acura is really a luxury car?

This was a perfect jumping off point for our show, not least of which because we have just completed a new Brand Dependence Index that studies brand attachment to automotive brands (the results will be announced on November 19th at the LA Auto Show). We wanted to know why some auto brands seem to be a natural fit for luxury designation, while others have to work hard at it? And how does that interplay affect attachment?

How Google Works

There’s little doubt that Google has become one of the world’s most envied companies, largely because of its renowned culture of innovation. Brand Studio’s Larry Vincent had the privilege of interviewing Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, advisor to CEO Larry Page, on their new book, How Google Works. The book delves into the principles and practices that helped make Google so successful and forward-thinking.

It was a revealing conversation and the video is now available from Live Talks LA.

The Point of Attachment Podcast: The Thing That Is The Thing

Run Time: about 25 minutes

Brand Studio Creative Director Marcus Bartlett is fond of asking teams “what is the thing that is the thing?” It’s more than a riddle. It’s the beginning of a conversation to link a story to a brand idea—a way of avoiding the obvious and hinting at the symbolic value of a brand that drives brand attachment. In episode 002 of The Point of Attachment podcast, studio chief Larry Vincent asks Marcus to break it down for the audience.



The thing that is the thing might be a hook or a reference. It’s a way of connecting the promise–the strategy–to something that creatively attracts our interests.

Brands in the News: The loyalty factor

As we do from time-to-time, Brand Studio staffers compared notes and submitted their favorite stories about brands in the news over the past week. You may have missed some of these in the flow of the normal news cycle, so allow us to give you a quick recap.

The Point of Attachment Podcast: You Are What You Post

Run Time: about 17 minutes

It’s often said that “you are what you eat.” In the first episode of The Point of Attachment podcast we build off of Brand Dependence research on social media conducted earlier this year to ask the question: are you what you post? Or, in other words, how much of what people display and share online reflects who they really are?


UTA Brand Studio chief Larry Vincent interviews Mimi, a power user on Fancy.com who has posted over 1,200 unique images on the service as Studio Mimi, creating a consistently rich and luxurious online world that has attracted over 45,000 followers.  In Mimi’s world, it’s always a perfect day at the beach, which is interesting because the real Mimi lives in the northeast, where it’s often more grey than sunny.


Fancy gives you an opportunity to live virtually.  And there is a huge part of me that is absolutely locked and loaded to the West Coast, even when I’m in the middle of an ice storm here.

And therein lies the heart of our episode: is it real if it’s not really real? Mimi says yes.  “What you’re seeing is absolutely me. To the core. And it’s authentic.”