Defining what we do:

unpacking the masterbrand proposition


There’s a lot of lingo in our industry: buzzwords and jargon and that can obscure real meaning. Sometimes intentionally. So we want to get crystal clear on what we mean when we talk about our specialism, which we call ‘masterbrand propositions.’

First, let’s take ‘masterbrands’. We’re talking about big, established brands, which are used to anchor a range of products, activities, departments or divisions. Tesco is a masterbrand. So are Apple and Google. Virgin is another one. All these brands come to life in a whole multitude of ways, to communicate about a multitude of products and services. And crucially, they’re already well known and often well loved.

Next, ‘propositions’: the ideas, plans, pilots and trials that will turn into new products, services, formats or features and – hopefully – become mainstays of that brand’s offering.

In today’s rapidly changing world, these new propositions are often driven by some wider transformation or exogenous event. Take the pandemic, and the way the hospitality industry quickly responded with QR codes, table service and meal delivery kits. Or the way Uber shifted from taxi rides to meal delivery.

Then there are the technological advances affecting pretty much every industry, and reshaping consumer expectations in the process. From the new opportunities created by open banking, to the wholesale transformation of retail driven by Amazon, established brands and businesses have to adapt, fast, to compete with new ventures and well-funded start-ups.

And that’s all happening against a background of even greater change. War, economic turbulence, demographic shifts, climate catastrophe – these are planet-sized transformations, and their impact can be felt in everything from shrinking household budgets to broken supply chains.

All of it demands a response from business. Sometimes its fundamental – a complete change in the way a business operates. Sometimes it’s more a shift in focus or mechanism – the core business remains the same, but might work in a different way.

However, because the pace of change is so fast, many established businesses lack the means to respond in the way they’d like. And those that do develop an appropriate response often don’t have the tools to communicate it – because this type of proposition is so much more than a traditional sub-brand. Its identity must be true to the masterbrand, to protect and build on its equity, while simultaneously signalling something new and different. And because of both technical and commercial development processes, it demands a more agile, iterative approach to creative.

Which is where we come in.

We work with established masterbrands preparing to launch innovative new propositions, that require new identity systems.

Our approach is to adapt, extend and reconfigure what’s already there, using core elements of the masterbrand in new ways, to create identity systems that create impact, while enhancing existing brand equity.

Often, we’re involved from the off – reforming and refining the identity over multiple iterations, as the proposition itself goes from pilot through development to rollout, and then acting as brand guardians after launch.

It’s all about bridging the gap between your existing masterbrand, and the future of your business (or at least, part of it).

So if your sector is heading in a new direction, or you’re planning a new proposition that demands a fresh approach to brand, or you’ve launched a new product or service that’s being let down by its identity, or you’re about to embark on a joint venture, and concerned your masterbrand will get lost in the mix – if you’re facing any of these challenges, or anything like them, let’s talk.