The $5 Billion Franchise (And The Secrets It Left Behind)

One of the longest and most successful franchises in Hollywood history has grossed an estimated $5,074,402,453 in the box office worldwide since it premiered on May 8, 1963.

Ian Fleming created what's been endlessly imitated and parodied. It has inspired scores of skits, punchlines, and script plots. Whatever one called it, everyone knows of it--and it's the dream of every brand and every branding professional anywhere.

World Domination

From the first time James Bond hit the screen, audiences were shaken. And stirred. Aside from the obvious British Intelligence angle and any parallels you see with David Ogilvy, there are some more subtle traits that overlap:

  • Creating a brand is dangerous business
  • Building it requires courage and the ability to face fear without flinching

The Killer Brand

If you're a CMO, a brand manager or, in any way, manage or direct the course of a brand, you are the 007 of your organization in a do-or-die mission.

The greatest risk any brand faces is doing nothing. Being complacent. Thinking everything is just fine. Being uninformed. Being predictable. If 007 did nothing, didn't collect intelligence on the mission at hand and failed to take full advantage of the element of surprise, he would have been dead early on. And the franchise along with it.

Facing the Forces of Evil: Brand Big

If you're going to brand something, go big. Mr. Bond never showed up with an insufficient amount of firepower and contingencies. In short, he came to win. Like ad legend David Ogilvy stated, "Don't bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals." Business guru Tom Peters echoed this concept brilliantly with, "You can't shrink your way to greatness."

When it comes to branding, scale is a factor. Shouting a meaningless bit of dribble is as effective as quietly whispering the most brilliant concept known to man in the middle of the Grand Canyon. You're dead before you start. Go become a librarian if that's the way you roll.

The Brand That Loved Me: Accessibility

The way Prince William and Kate each were open and accessible days (and nights) before the Royal Wedding showed a remarkable humility and approachability.

007 was very approachable, often using charm to get places that were previously off limits. Great brands share that quality.

To get the love of your customers, you need to be bold. Confident. Sincere. Accessible.

The Brand with the Golden Gun: Conviction

When you brand, do it like you mean it, and operate as though it's live TV. In other words, there's no "second take" so get it right. Live up to your buzz factor. Be bigger than life itself.

For the Good of Brandkind

Mere observations wouldn't be of much use without a target and a plan.

Were there traits that were present in a successful James Bond mission that were common to successful brands? I reviewed the characteristics of 007 as well as what made the Royal Wedding an international phenomena (it could've been a royal flop, relying on old tradition rather than breathing new life while respecting tradition). I looked at world class brands.

I discovered eleven prevalent traits we can each use to eliminate evil oppression and help bring about order in a chaotic world.

Your Mission

Pick a world-class brand. Any one you choose. Go through chart below. See which column has the majority of characteristics.

Now, look at your brand. Check off the column with the most characteristics. You'll either be smiling or miserable. Either way, go ahead and do it. (Click here for a larger version of the chart)

Which column had the most checks?

If it's B, congratulations. If it's A, the following things are happening:

  1. You're spending more money to get less attention
  2. Your brand is being presented as a commodity and doesn't get put on anyone's wish list
  3. Your brand is letting your customers and your employees down
  4. Your competition will be (or is) outperforming you You will compete on price alone as your sole differentiator because there is little or no perceived value. This will cost you margins and customers (since there will be little brand loyalty since that customer is loyal to what's cheapest, not what's best).

Your Target

It's simple. Move as many of your traits over to column B as fast as you can and you too will hit your target. Again and again.

Need more ammunition? Download your own copy of "The Lucky Brand" eBook.

Recipient of over 320 national and international design and branding recognitions and awards, David Brier is an award-winning brand identity designer, author, and branding expert. His firm's work has won the admiration of peers and organizations but has, more importantly, helped clients jump-start their brands in new and innovative ways, even (and especially) when they've failed in previous brand makeovers. Most recently, the firm's celebrated work for Botanical Bakery was selected for the 2010 Communication Arts Design Annual and will be featured in "The Big Book of Packaging."

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1 Comments

  • Demian Farnworth

    You can't see it, but I'm bowing to you. That was a solid piece of writing that delivered the goods and inspired this branding sloth. And the interactive piece closed the deal nicely. Well done. It's a privilege to know you and read EVERY word you write.