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Now form a brand.

Words from people I admire and respect as a path to wisdom about branding.

Some of them I've met, some I never knew, some alive and some now sadly gone.

Quotes as brand strategy: don't take it too seriously; it's mostly for fun.


Quotes as brand strategy #1.

Most new brands just need a bit of reorganising so potential fans can understand them.

But sometimes, there is a bit of magic when things are back to front.

—It makes people sit up and take notice.

Play it how you want, so long as you can defend it.



Eric Morecambe is a much-loved English comedian.


His line “I’m playing all the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order” is from his Morecambe and Wise 1971 Christmas show, and it is generally accepted as one of the funniest TV sketches ever.


Eric Morecambe’s line is his answer to conductor André Previn's complaints that he was playing all the wrong notes. The quote has now passed into general language.


Quotes as brand strategy #2.

You need three strong elements to form a brand.


  • Purpose

  • Intent

  • Values


Now form a brand.



“Three Chords” from punk fanzine Sideburns, drawn by Tony Moon in 1977.

The now iconic drawing captured the punk DIY spirit; its intent was to encourage everyone to "do it themselves" despite limited means and ability. 


Quotes as brand strategy #3: LOU REED

How does this have anything to do with starting a brand?

Lou Reed is well known for his economical use of chords.

He liked to keep it simple, not overdo it.

He advocated immersing yourself in ONE THING and improving your knowledge of that one thing until you’re an expert.

“I may not know as many chords as other musicians, but I bet I know the D chord as well as or better than anyone.”

To STAND OUT, be famous for doing one thing.

It can be one idea, one promise, one intent or one product.

ONE THING done better than anyone else gets noticed.

​(Unless your brand is actually jazz, in which case, noodle away.)


Quotes as brand strategy #4.

#4 in the series “Now Form A Brand” takes the words of Tony Wilson as a path to wisdom about branding.

“Doing something because you have the urge to do it, inventing the reasons later.” 

Sometimes, you only learn why you do something by actually doing it, putting you in a better position to articulate why. This theory is called "Praxis". 

Praxis is wrapped up in Marxism and Situationism, exemplifying Tony’s sometimes grandiose though well-meaning tendencies. 

This isn’t the conventional way to start a brand, but sometimes conventional doesn’t always work, and often, it’s a bit dull.

(Also, was I even born in Manchester if I didn’t have a quote from Tony Wilson in this series.)


This quote is from the Channel Four documentary New Order: Play At Home. Tony Wilson uses the quote to explain the concept of “Praxis”: the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted or practised.


Quotes as brand strategy #5.

“I’m not giving you my opinion; stop asking people; it creates inertia.”


This advice was barked at me during a certain project I no longer talk about. 


Unfortunately, they were right.

I hate it when people who bark at me are right. 


#5 in the series “Now Form A Brand” takes the words of De La Soul as a path to wisdom about branding.


Specifically running brands and about the optimum number of people to have in your decision-making team. 



Three is a magic number.


One person —who’s presenting the alternative point of view?

Two people —you’re risking stalemate.

Four people —too many chefs in the kitchen.



Quotes as brand strategy #4 DE LA SOUL


The De La Soul version of this song isn't the original, but it's the one that's featured in my life.


It's from their 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising. 


Now Form a Brand #6.

There's so much to enjoy in the Reginald Perrin guide to starting a brand.


—he’s not afraid to tell the truth

—or go against convention

—or make a stand 

—regardless of what people might think 

—humour helps


Frustrated by the pettiness of industry, Reggie establishes the “Grot” shop, which he then attempts to sabotage as an interesting failure and protest, selling items such as mouse traps made entirely from cheese, square hoops and heat-proof saucepans. 


The products, however, are snapped up as novelties, and Grot becomes a huge success.


#6 in the “Now Start a Brand” series…The Reginald Perrin guide to starting a brand.




The premise of the story is that Reginald Perrin escapes his banal everyday existence as just another victim caught up in the monotony of life’s hamster wheel by faking suicide on a deserted beach in Dorset to assume a fake life. However, he soon becomes bored and reveals himself.


Now Form a Brand #7.

Always different, always the same —the holy grail of being a brand: unpredictable and new whilst remaining reassuringly familiar and consistent.


John Peel and The Fall relentlessly introduced fans to new, unexpected stuff that appealed to them.


—it made fans sit up and take notice 

—which stopped them from getting bored and moving on

—without The Fall or John Peel ever having to change who they were

—and lose their core fans



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