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Original Articles

Thought leadership for over two decades.

Published Articles

The real gamble is playing the same game as your competitors

by Bruce Tait, for Journal of Brand Strategy  •  Published January 2021

Abstract The essential task of strategy—particularly brand strategy—is to differentiate. But it can go wrong in many ways as managers and strategists are drawn inexorably back to category conventions. This paper argues for a more dedicated focus on differentiation and outlines important observations regarding the challenges inherent in defining such a brand strategy.… Read More → Download PDF →

Do You Manage A Badge Brand? Think Again.

by Bruce Tait, for American City Business Journals  •  Published December 2015

Consider Gucci, BMW, Budweiser and Harley Davidson. These are some of the most powerful and valuable brands in the world, but they have something else in common. They all compete in categories where consumers believe that the brand they choose makes a statement about the kind of person they are. These are often… Read More →

A New Approach to Target Marketing

by Bruce Tait, for American City Business Journals  •  Published December 2015

Is It Time To Start Thinking About Targeting Differently? The idea of a single “target group” has been a pillar of marketing for decades. Generations of marketers were taught that brands that try to be everything to everyone end up being nothing to anyone. It is inefficient to try to reach everyone. Moreover,… Read More →

5 Principles for Finding Your Brand’s Point of View

by Bruce Tait, for American City Business Journals  •  Published October 2015

Complete this statement: All our competitors believe X but we believe Y about the world/people/our industry. Great brands can do this easily. They can pinpoint their unique point of view and then drive that foundational difference through everything they do. This point of difference then becomes the focus for all of a well-differentiated… Read More →

The Mythic Status Brand Model: Blending Brain Science and Mythology to Create a New Brand Strategy Tool

by Bruce Tait, for Journal of Brand Strategy  •  Published Vol. 1, No. 4, Winter 2012–2013

There is no brand strategy job more fundamental than defining and articulating the core meaning behind a brand. If this is not done properly then all the execution that flows from that brand strategy is wasted effort and money. This paper shows how brand models can be important tools to help forge more profound and more differentiated brand strategy ideas because they provide new lenses for looking at a brand. This paper explains Tait Subler’s journey in creating the Mythic Status Brand Model by merging insights from modern brain science with lessons from ancient mythology. It demonstrates the successful application of the model for the Gucci brand. Read More → Download PDF →

Quick-Take Perspectives

How To Differentiate A Brand Part 1: Use Fresh Brand Imagery

by Bruce Tait  •  Published January 2012

The first step in defining a differentiated Strategic POV or positioning for a brand should be determining the type of brand imagery you want to use in your positioning. We have built on the work of Wendy Gordon to create different classes of brand imagery. A given Strategic POV will generally be built around… Read More →

How To Differentiate A Brand Part 2: Be Your Own Category

by Bruce Tait  •  Published January 2012

Study after study indicates that marketers are failing to differentiate their brands. And those brands that are truly differentiated perform far better economically. When you boil it all down, a brand is only really a brand if it is clearly differentiated from the competition. So, how can we make sure that the strategic… Read More →

How To Differentiate A Brand Part 3: Avoid The Category Tablestakes

by Bruce Tait  •  Published January 2012

Don’t settle for a category benefit when you define your brand strategy. One of the biggest problems we see when a team tries to craft a new brand strategy is that they focus on highly important issues in the category — but those issues are simply category table stakes. Category benefits or category… Read More →

How To Differentiate A Brand Part 4: Beware The Zajonc Effect

by Bruce Tait  •  Published January 2012

Robert Zajonc (rhymes with science) was a great psychology professor at Stanford and the University of Michigan who conducted research on numerous topics that gave us greater insight into the human experience. Before he passed away in 2010 he gave brand and marketing folks a great gift. You see, one of his best… Read More →

How To Differentiate A Brand Part 5: Get Your Head Out of Your Industry

by Bruce Tait  •  Published February 2012

There are plenty of instances when it is smart to hire consultants with deep knowledge and experience in your category. But defining your Brand’s core strategic premise is not one of those times.  In order to escape the traps, conventions and category benefits, it will be more helpful to bring in brand experts… Read More →

How To Differentiate A Brand Part 6: Define A Unique Strategic Target

by Bruce Tait  •  Published February 2012

Most organizations define their target group in terms of the type of person who buys their product or service most frequently. Follow the money as they say. For a breakfast cereal that might be harried moms, 25-44 who care about their kids health. We call this group the volume target. They are the… Read More →

Brainstorming In Doubt

by Bruce Tait  •  Published February 2012

In one of my other blogs I referenced a New Yorker article called “Groupthink.” The article challenges many of the ways brainstorming is done, but most clearly indicts the idea that we should suspend judgment when brainstorming in a group.  The classic brainstorming instruction “build, don’t criticize” turns out to be wrong, according to some… Read More →

Conversing with Consumers Requires A Nuanced Brand Strategy

by Bruce Tait  •  Published November 2011

There has been a lot of talk about the impact of social media and the online world on brands.  The typical patter goes something like this: “The conversation is no longer one-way, with marketers sending messages to consumers. Now the consumer owns the brand and can say what he/she wants. Now it’s truly… Read More →

When Did Business Culture Become So Impolite?

by Bruce Tait  •  Published December 2011

My first boss gave me a tip my first week on the job. He said that you should always return calls. Even calls from suppliers or salespeople. And even if it is to quickly explain that you are not interested. It is simply the professional thing to do to close the loop and… Read More →

B2B Brands Are Different. Or Are They?

by Bruce Tait  •  Published December 2011

We’ve been fortunate to work with some world-class B2B brands in the last few years, across a broad variety of categories. But it seems we often go through a rough patch at the start of the relationship because Tait Subler is not a B2B specialist. Many B2B marketers seem to believe that a… Read More →

Brain Science Gives Marketers New Clout

by Bruce Tait  •  Published December 2011

Marketers have always been reliant on psychology for underlying theories about how perceptions shape behavior. But the field of psychology has often been a wobbly foundation for brand strategists and psychological theory is not always greeted as real science in the boardroom. Perhaps it’s because psychology is full of competing theories on most… Read More →

Trust Vs. Technology

by Bruce Tait  •  Published November 2011

I was part of a panel recently at a conference for resorts and casinos. We were speaking on the topic of building greater trust with customers through the use of new technologies, digital media and analytics. My job was to define trust in a brand context. We draw on the work of Lewicki… Read More →

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