brand

Kevin Keller’s five favorite classic brand mantras


If you’ve read any of the previous brand positioning tips here on my blog, you’ve heard me mention Dr. Kevin Keller, author of Strategic Brand Management (the classic textbook on building brands) and professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Kevin Lane Keller, E. B. Osborn Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and author of Strategic Brand Management

For The Ad-Free Brand, I asked Kevin if he’d share his five favorite examples of real brand mantras. He not only provided the mantras, but also included a few sentences describing why each works so well. Here are his choices:

1. Nike: Authentic Athletic Performance

One of the best brand mantras of all time, developed by Nike’s marketing guru Scott Bedbury in the late 1980s (he would later become Starbucks’ marketing guru). Bedbury actually coined the phrase brand mantra. It did everything you would want a brand mantra to do—it kept the Nike brand on track, it differentiated the brand from its main competitor at the time (Reebok), and it genuinely inspired Nike employees.

2. Disney: Fun Family Entertainment

Adding the word magical would have probably made it even better, but this brand mantra—also created in the late 1980s—was crucial in ensuring the powerful Disney marketing machine didn’t overextend the brand. Establishing an office of brand management at that same time with a mission to “inform and enforce” the brand mantra gave it real teeth.

3. Ritz-Carlton: Ladies & Gentlemen Serving Ladies & Gentlemen

The Ritz-Carlton brand mantra has a clear internal and external message, an especially important consideration for services brands. It is simple but universally applicable in all that Ritz-Carlton does and highly aspirational.

4. BMW: Ultimate Driving Machine

BMW’s brand mantra is noteworthy in two ways. One, it reveals the power of a straddle branding strategy by combining two seemingly incompatible sets of attributes or benefits. When launched in North America, there were cars that offered either luxury or performance, but not both. Two, it is also a good example of how a brand mantra can be used as a slogan if its descriptive nature is compelling enough as is.

5. Betty Crocker: Homemade Made Easy

Another example of a brand mantra that was effective as a descriptive ad tag line, Betty Crocker’s brand mantra remarkably staked out three points of difference (“quality,” “family,” and a “rewarding baking experience”) as well as a crucial point of parity (“convenience”) at the same time.

Thanks to Kevin for providing these awesome brand mantras for The Ad-Free Brand. If you want to learn more about brand mantras, please see this post (or check out Kevin’s book Strategic Brand Management).

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If so, you can find more tips about how to position your brand effectively in my book, The Ad-Free Brand (not an advertisement, mind you, just a friendly suggestion:).

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About Chris Grams

Chris Grams is President & Partner of New Kind, where he builds sustainable brands, cultures, and communities in and around organizations. He is the author of The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Successful Brand Positioning in a Digital World and is the Community Guide on the Management Innovation Exchange (hackmanagement.com).

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