Strip Down to Strengthen Your Brand: Indentifying the Inessential

Monopoly is doing something crazy. The iconic tokens are up for public vote through February 5 and the classic piece with the fewest votes will be replaced by the shiny new one with the most votes.

Monopoly is the most popular board game in the world. If even this market leader is comfortable shaking up its product for the sake of promotion and an infusion of community energy, it makes sense to ask yourself:

What is the core of my brand and what part of my product or service can and should be in a continual state of iteration?

monopoly tokens
Which classic game token is going to jail? Monopoly is putting it up for vote.

Did you know that the silver-colored lineup that comes with Monopoly today isn’t the original set? There was once a lantern, cannon and rocking horse included in game play. So while there are some pieces most of us would shudder to imagine in the doghouse, the tokens aren’t the keys to our nostalgic association with the game.

It can feel like you’re taking a major risk when you consider removing parts of your business in order to strengthen the core of your brand. But studying your business and product to identify what is inessential and wherein lies the true value is an exercise that will only strengthen your brand.

Heinz Ketchup Debranded
Heinz Ketchup Debranded

The UK department store Selfridges recently experimented with debranding, removing all identifying marks from product packaging except the minimal amount needed to be recognized. Consumers find relief in the refreshing packaging that dials down the noise of marketing.

Can your brand afford to get naked? Will people still love your product or service when it’s exposed for what it is at its core or does it depend on the fancy dress and presentation of marketing?

If your brand isn’t strong at its core, it’s time to exercise its strengths. Identify what it is that sets it apart. Rather than trying to be better in areas where it’s weak, aim to make it the best in the area that it’s strong. Everything else is weighing it down. Better to strip off the excess that waters down the value.

A brand underneath the branding is what people fall in love with. With marketing you can dress up a product or service to meet each audience. You can experiment with style and get attention with avant-garde presentation. But you can only afford to do that when the brand’s core identity is true.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (3)
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3 Replies to “Strip Down to Strengthen Your Brand: Indentifying the Inessential”

I miss the “vintage” Monopoly. I was actually confused when my niece was playing with her set and I saw the silver tokens. Where did the simple hotels and small houses go?

This is an interesting point, and it makes me curious about how ideas like this can be applied online branding. As far as offline goes, I am in complete agreement. I’ve seen some specialty automobile limited releases that experimented with minimal branding, and the effect was very striking. Let me know if you have any insights as to how this would work online. I’ve never considered it before, and I would be interested in what you think.

Stripping your brand down to its bare essentials can actually make it more memorable for consumers because too many details can be distracting and more difficult to take in all once.


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