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Narrow your brand’s focus

Life is full of surprises.

Some time ago, as the President of a company I had co-founded, I wanted to expand our brand’s service offerings to embrace everything the industry had to offer. This was the result of a “brilliant” (unsurveyed) marketing strategy.

In fact, it was the opposite of what needed to be done.

There is a fascinating law about this.

It’s in Al Ries’s classic The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.

Chapter 2 is The Law of Contraction. It says, A brand becomes stronger when you narrow it’s focus.

He gives examples such as the Children’s Supermarket, which narrowed its focus (and its inventory) and changed its name to Toys “R” Us. He also cites Starbucks (coffee), Petsmart (pets), Victoria’s Secret (women’s lingerie) , and others.

Whole Foods has a narrower focus and means something very difference than Vons. It’s also a stronger brand.

Moreover, when marketing the brand, the graphics must communicate the focus of the brand at a glance.

The following advertisements of two swimwear manufactures makes the point. The first is a picture of an ad for Adidas swimwear. Three people have apparently dived off of three diving boards (yes, those are six sets of toes you are looking at).

There is no picture of the product (swimwear) or even a swimmer.

Since they don’t show the product, they need to tell you that it is an ad for Adidas swimwear by writing it in the middle of the ad. But the main purpose of the ad seems to be that someone at the ad agency wanted to be cute and arrange the three diving boards in the shape of the Adidas logo.

Who knew?

This never occurred to me until I read about it elsewhere.

Now look at these ads for swimwear manufacturer Arena. These people know how to deliver a focused message at a glance. The first one shows a swimmer getting up out of a river after having just swum up and over a raging water fall.


Arena is the authentic waterwear brand for athletes and real sport lovers.

The second shows a swimmer chasing down a shark! The swimmer is the aggressor.

I love these ads. They position the brand with swimwear of strong, powerful swimmers. It has a real position here, which I think would attract anyone who is a serious swimmer.

How do you narrow the focus of your brand? And then how do you communicate it graphically?

The answer to the first question is carefully crafted surveys of your customers and prospects – something we have been doing for almost a quarter of a century. And the graphics? We work with some of the most brilliant graphic designers in the country.

If you want to increase the response to your communications programs: your website, social media, print ads or direct mail, we are but a phone call or mouse click away.

Remember, On Target conducts surveys that drives sales.