Clear Defendable Territory

Week #10

Can you explain to your mother why your brand matters?
Week #10

Brands often strive for purpose and an elusive emotional connection in a bid to matter to people. From that ill-fated Pepsi advert, to Heineken’s ‘Open Your World’ campaign – the search for meaning has led to a spate of unexpected brands taking a position as a force for social good recently.

But while improving the world is all well and good, you don’t need high ideals to matter to people. And especially not one so gut wrenchingly wide of the mark as Pepsi’s (if they really wanted to be a force for social good, why didn’t Pepsi just start with childhood obesity?). If your message doesn’t come across – if you can’t explain your reason for being in a way people understand and accept – then you’ve failed. No amount of higher purpose will make what you do matter.

The best brands communicate their message in a straightforward way, answering the only three questions they need to answer simply and succinctly: What do they do? How do they do it? And why do they do it?

This gives them a clear, defined purpose – a singular promise that is easily understood by everyone. And then they deliver on that promise in many different ways every time people encounter the brand.

Keeping mum
A good way to make sure you get this right is to ask whether your mum would understand what you do. Mum’s are great. They want the best for you. If you tell them what you are doing, they genuinely care, but possibly need it put in everyday language. And they can smell your BS from 20 paces. It’s a great way of keeping you honest with yourself and making sure you get the basics right.

Perhaps it’s time for more ‘brands to concentrate on passing the Mum Test, with an idea that’s singular, straightforward and about why they matter to their customers.


What are Wild Cards?

The Clearing have been working with The School of Life to develop 100 questions designed to help you see your brand from new perspectives. We think great conversations begin with a great question. Each week, we’ll share another question and our response to it. Email us with your own answers on – we’d love to know what you think.