If you run a business, or if you are thinking about running a business, this is how to get your brand chosen.

In his book, Branding with Brains: The science of getting customers to choose your company, Tjaco Walvis formulated an ‘algorithm in the brain’.

He suggests that the brain makes brand choices in much the same way Google uses an algorithm to search the Internet.

This brain algorithm has three criteria that inform consumers as they seek to choose one brand over another.

Here’s what the brain looks for:

1. Relevance. The more distinctive and uniquely relevant a product or service is, the greater the chance it will be chosen by the customer. Relevant brands are better linked to the dopamine, or reward, system in the brain (part of the limbic systems), which strongly influences our behavior.

2. Coherence. The more coordinated the branding efforts are over time and space, the greater the chance the brand will be chosen. Coherent branding means repeating the same message over the years and across all customer touch-points. This makes it easier for the brain to retrieve the brand and make it a winner in competition with others.

3. Participation. The more interactive the branding environment created for customers is, the more likely it is that the brand will be selected by the brain’s algorithm. The brain forms numerous new cell connections in response to interactive environment, improving brand memorability.

Here’s a summary

  1. Be different, know who you’re for and tell them why.
  2. Be consistent.
  3. Be connected and nurture interactivity.

I really like this.

Because it’s simple.

And because I know it’s true.

How does/will the behaviour of your brand stand up against this 3-step check?

On Saturday we took Izobel to McDonald’s.

But I didn’t call it McDonalds in front of Izobel.

I just said we were going for a burger.

I focused on the category – not the brand.


I don’t want McDonald’s to be a part of my 2 year old’s vocabulary.

This will happen soon enough.

The kind of ‘mental addiction’ (this is a pretty accurate phrase) that this brand is likely to effect on my daughter is powerful.

So I don’t want to fan the flames.

I will have to tackle the effects of this soon enough.


If you run a business however, you want to do the opposite.

Focus on the name – not the category.

More now than ever.

Because of voice controlled devices.

You want to be a brand and you want to stand for something.

Be a Brand. 

Be a brand because within a year or three, if we want a burger we will shout at a device in our living rooms and it will be delivered.

McDonalds will be fine (notwithstanding other market forces and movements).

Because we will shout for a Big Mac.

If you’re a burger bar then customers just asking for burger to be delivered is likely to get them a burger from the chain that has paid Amazon (or whoever) most money.

See how that works?

You need to market YOU – by name (Big Mac) – and not the category within which you reside (burgers).

Or big chunks of your profit will go to some intermediary as you pay for a top spot in a category when you could have asserted your brand position by building a meaningful brand yourself.

Category Versus You.

I’ve worked in Business Communications for 20 years or so.

And as startling as it sounds, the vast majority of businesses I meet either:

1. Don’t market properly (or at all).


2. Spend money marketing everyone in their category.

Both are silly.

What I mean by Point 1 is just non-existent or crap communications.

What I mean by point 2. is, ‘Restaurant A’ does not know why its is authentically different or better so it just markets ‘going out for a great meal’.

Just like everyone in the category.

They all say similar things (atmosphere, service, food, choice, offers…) because they’re not clever enough (or their agency is not clever enough) to find and home-in on an ownable point of difference.

This is a problem if you are a business owner.

Your problem.

And it needs to be solved.

People that really understand brand do solve it.

But the new consideration now, and this really should be thought about is HOW people are going to order things.

Or communicate things.

And what this means to you.

Most specifically – consumer communication and buying will become increasingly verbal.


So, think about how people will talk about your brand.

In actual words.

Not just reputationally – but literally.

It matters more than ever.

Just this week, on LinkedIn, there was a post about logo design.

It was by a nice chap from Scotland.

The chap was a dragon from the digital version of Dragon’s Den.

So very successful he was too!

Anyhow, here’s what he wrote, alongside little images of four similar logo concepts.

Each of the four logos, by the way, was with a different font, colour way, layout and/or with one of the letters turned quite randomly into an abstract shape.

His copy:

What do you think A B C D or none of the below?

This is the first draft of the branding concepts and it would be good to get your feedback.

He provided a link to the project also.

I responded:

What’s the project’s point of difference please?

The thing you want us to think or remember about them please?

What sets them apart from the other options that the customer has?

He responded:

It will all make sense when we do our big reveal.

I responded:

I ask because, without this information it is impossible to know which logo is strategically correct.

All we are left with is a beauty parade.

And that’s not the way to create a professional logo.

Thank you.

I’ve not had a response to this second remark.

Logo Design.

However, about 230 others did respond to what they thought of the logos.

With things like:

Love the first one. An expression of simplicity in a contemporary world.


D has a clean look.


A – for the A Team!


C but without the two dashes.


A or C.


D looks good to me. Might be worth adding a little green from A in the same colour as the ‘M’.

This went on.

For over 200 comments.

All of them utter, utter, utter, utter, utter drivel.


The reason I get annoyed with practices like this is because – and all professional designers worth their salt know this – the creation of a logo is mostly strategic.

You see, if a graphic designer can’t get clarity, simplicity, memorability, readability and transferability (so it can be used big and small and across several applications/media) into every logo they create then they are not graphic designers.

They’re idiots.

No graphic designer should get major accolades for these things.

Truly great creators of professional logos or corporate identities (or whatever we’d like to call them) help brands to communicate their point of difference – why people should choose them – within the design.

This is not always possible because some businesses don’t actually know their point of difference.

Then brand consultants are needed (but that’s another story).

But the point is, these stupid, pointless beauty parades should never ever appear on LinkedIn.

Or anywhere.

They are embarrassing.

Not only because the designer should know which is the best strategic solution for the brand – but because the whim of an arbitrary group of followers is entirely irrelevant.

And I find them annoying because people actually charge for these silly beauty parades.

And that is wrong.

In summary, a professional graphic designer will create you a visual mark for your business.

A great logo designer will do all of that too of course.

But she or he will definitely, definitely, definitely quiz you to develop a deep, deep understanding of your specialness, your journey, your ambition, your purpose and the reason that you should be chosen above all others.

Then try hard (it is not always possible but we must try) to weave in or sprinkle reference or echoes of this into the right logo for you.

So, if your ‘logo designer’ EVER asks you which iteration you prefer (and there should never be more than 1, 2 or 3 to choose from) – with no explanation as to which is strategically the best for your brand…


There is a lot of chat currently around why lots of high-end luxury fashion brands are changing their logos.

The talking point, more specifically, is why do they all now look the same?






There are lots of opinions on this.

Some say it’s so that the images are better for the digital age.

So they work better on screens.

Because they’re less fussy.

Some say it is to shed memories of a past riddled with things that – these days – are considered politically incorrect.

Or just silly and outdated.

Some say it is to create a simple and visual core for the brand.

So the brand can react to a market that is changing faster than ever.

With campaigns that are born, burn brightly, then switch off.

Leaving the simple core to endure.

Some say it’s so that the brands can visually ‘high five’ each other.

Acknowledge that they are part of the one luxury clothing branding elite.

Some say that as categories blur… luxury / premium / luxury streetwear… it’s a way to push the actual physical brand into the background and let the collections speak louder for themselves.

All I know is that it’s interesting.

That these super-brands are actively morphing to all look alike.

My personal view is this…

They do want to flock together.

I think they feel safer that way as new independent brands come in at the bottom end.

I also think they are playing safe for a faster moving and unpredictable future.

This simplicity keeps them as part of the old club but allows them to create innovative campaigns around the edges.

Campaigns that match or react to the current mood.

I understand all that.

I suppose the only think that may be missing, if indeed I am right in any of my assumptions, is adventure.




In summary – a  willingness to be pioneering.

At a strategic level.

I think a brand can get so big and have so many people reliant on it (shareholders, shops, existing customers and the pounds that they spend) that it gets a bit boring.

Scared to pioneering anything.

So it just follows what the market signals that it wants.


I am not a fan of just ‘following’ in this short life of ours.

I like brands that go out on a limb.

That DO take risks and stand out.

And say something different.

That stand for something.

So my comments above are not about the similar font styles I don’t think.

They’re more about what this move to sameness might mean.

I hope it does not mean that these brands are becoming followers instead of leaders.

I am actually exploring a similar simplification of the Always Wear Red logo because we are less ‘luxury’ and more ‘premium contemporary.’

So a simpler look feels right to me.

But I will never lose the risk and the adventure behind the brand.

Because I love all that.

And I think our expanding customer base do too.

I love creativity.

And adventure.

I also want to think about the strategic reasons – for me – why I might change the logo.

Because – just so you know – logo design is a primarily strategic and not an aesthetic decision at all.

I’ll go into that more in another story.

Here’s a ‘Business of Fashion’ article highlighting the similarities between these fashion super brands:

When I was younger (easy to imagine) and dafter (hard to imagine) than I am now – I used to teach people about marketing.

People wanting to start their own business mostly.

Or people wanting to grown their own business.

It was my job to help them.


One of the things I used to say about marketing, way back in the middle of the 90’s was this:

If you get good at marketing, you are what you say you are.

Unless you’re not.

I knew what I meant.

It’s my definition of marketing.

It’s not the whole of marketing…

But it is a big part of it.

I was in my late 20s at the time, and probably a bit bored with the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition:

The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements – profitably.

Their quote is probably more useful and holistic than mine.

But I still like my quote because it is a good reminder not to bullshit.


Don’t exaggerate.

Or mask.

Or trick people.

Or fucking lie.

Think long term

Be authentic.

Be you.

Do something you genuinely love and that you are good at (or that you can get good at) or you’ll get fed up

Be consistent.

If you bullshit or you are a construct – you’ll get found out.

The dots won’t join up.

There will be gaps in your story and gaps in your offer and you’ll come across as a bullshitter.

Be a storyteller yes.

You have to be great at telling stories in business.

But the story has to be real.


Coming across bullshit in a field is just as bad as coming across bullshit in business.


Because both occasions – it stinks.

3 days ago I created 1 post on LinkedIn.

It was 6 sentences long.

In under 2 days, this 1 post had been viewed over 100,000 times.

As I write, this is still rising at a rate of 200 views every minute.


One of the businesses I run is called ANGELFYSH.

It’s a Brand Communication agency with a difference.

Every team member is three things:

  1. Deeply knowledgeable about tried and theories relating to their various specialisms.
  2. They have advised – at board level – some of the most significant brands in the world in their specialist areas.
  3. They have founded and grown brands of their own.

The first 2 things make us great.

The combination of all 3 things makes us unique.

Because wherever you’re going – between us all at ANGELFYSH – we’ve already been.

If you’re an ANGELFYSH client, you avoid the pitfalls and garner the windfalls.

The Difference. 

It is rare that I will use 50odd as a platform to tell you in detail about one of my businesses.

And whilst this is what I am doing here, there are two very important additional points – for anyone wishing to start or grow their own business.

Here they are:

  1. Have an Ownable Point Of Difference

Be unique. 

And make a promise.


That means we’ve been where you’re going.

So we can actually do what we’ve done for ourselves – for you.

2. Make Sure You Can Prove Your Promise.

Click here to see the LinkedIn post I’m referring to.

It had 100,000 views when I started writing.

As I finish, it has 102,000.

Still in under 2 days.

In a future post – I’ll tell you how I got so many wonderful people to join the conversation.

Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party.

And imagine you are sat at the head of a long table.

So you’re sat at one of the two short sides.

To your right, along one of the long sides of the table, sit 13 people in 13 chairs.

Another 13 sit in chairs to your left.

So there’s you.

And the twenty six.

The Twenty Six.

These twenty six people are rich.

In fact, you are sat at the head of a table that is housing the world’s richest 26 people.

13 to your right.

13 to your left.

Their wealth, just so you know, when added together comes to the same total as half of everybody else in the world.

The poorest half, that is.

So that’s 3,800,000,000 people.

3.8 Billion.

On the upside, you only had to send 13 invitations for this lot.

3.8 billion invitations to 3.8 billion people would have taken longer.

And whilst you may have chairs in the loft or in the spare room.

Some would have had to stand.


This is your party.

So you can chat about what you want.

You could, for example, chat about the fact that if your 13 guests all paid 1% more tax each – then every child in the world currently not in education could be schooled.

And there would be healthcare that would save 3 million certain deaths with what was left.

All of this, if funded now, could happen now.

If they agreed to this.

Which they probably wouldn’t.


I’d be off my food, I think.

And the party would be ruined.

I find such inequality distasteful.

Exactly what to do, I don’t know.

But I do know that better taxation consideration from better governments, would help.

I don’t know that all of my guests are greedy bastards.

But I imagine that some of them probably are.

And that many would not embrace a chat about taxation the same way that I would.

Especially if I opened the conversation by saying:

It’s amazing that you can get wine as nice as this for £7 a bottle isn’t it. We like it a lot. It’s almost as amazing as something I was reading at the Oxfam website last week. Did you know that the poorest 10% of Britons are paying a much higher effective tax rate than the richest 10%? 49% compared with 34% once taxes on consumption such as VAT are taken into account. What do you think about that, then? Garlic bread anyone?”

I’d be rubbish at this party, I think.

We’d have nothing in common.

After they’d left their gifts (which had better be bloody good) I might just ask them to leave.


If you’re going to launch a business – join an existing conversation.

And make sure it’s a passionate and meaningful conversation.

Because the best conversations to join are about things that matter.

Conversation that matter lasts longer.

And so will your business.


So I hope the conversation that you join polarises people.

And I hope you have an opinion.

All great brands have an opinion.

And no great brand is for everyone.

The Right Kind of Conversation

If you have an idea for a business, think hard about the kind of conversation you join, though.

Right now there are conversations that matter going on all around you.

Conversations about:

  • Irresponsible use of plastics.
  • Bullying.
  • Suicides.
  • Isolation of the vulnerable and the old.
  • Gender equality.
  • Why people with disabilities are considered as an afterthought or a ‘problem’ (especially considering there are 11 million people in the UK with a disability).
  • Treating all people ethically and with kindness.
  • Homelessness.
  • Wealth distribution.
  • Global warming.
  • Fair pay and stable jobs for workers.
  • Buying British (if it makes sense to do so).
  • What beer or food actually tastes like.
  • Provenance/historically authentic approaches to making or doing.
  • Experiences that uplift and inspire and help people to be happier or a better version of themselves.
  • Addressing mental health issues.
  • Creating jobs.
  • Knowing where and how things are made.
  • How food can be a fuel to help you live better and longer.
  • Kinder, more ethical farming practices.
  • Buying better and buying less.
  • Making buying decisions for yourself, not because of what people that don’t really matter might think of you.

And there are of course a whole load of fickle and transient people, that don’t really know their own mind, having vacuous and stupid fucking conversations around:

  • How big my lips are (or aren’t).
  • What my dress looks like when I wear it and photograph it for my instagram page (before I take it back to the shop I bought it from).
  • How cheaply I can get something with zero consideration as to why it is so cheap.
  • Which beer gets you most pissed, most quickly.
  • etc.

These people rarely make loyal customers.

Because what they’re talking about doesn’t really matter.

These things may feel like they matter to some people at certain points in their lives.

But ultimately – they don’t.

Pretty soon, these people will seek out satisfaction of another transient need.

Until, one day, they will find a real need that really does matter to them.

Deep to their core.

And there they’ll stay.

The Rules.

Rule 1. Businesses spring life much more quickly when they join existing conversations.

Rule 2. The vast majority of those business will only last a long time and develop a loyal following when the conversation actually matters.

Rule 3. Think about the change you want to make with your business.

Rule 3 is your purpose.

Then – get on it!

If you get Rule 3 right – for you – there will never be a day you don’t bounce out of bed to deliver on the promise you’ve made.

I promise.

For a moment, I was not sure if Apple were losing me.

Or if Samsung were winning me.

But there is only one crystal clear reality in actual fact.

Apple are losing me.

Brand Loyalty.

I’m a real Apple fan.

Because of the aesthetic across their products.

And the usability with the iPhone.

Usability on the MacBook is weak.

So that’s not what hooks me.

Nevertheless, I never ever looked elsewhere.

Until recently.


I loved their attitude once upon a time too.

But, somehow, I have come to think of them as arrogant and salesy.

And I am starting to see their biggest competitors as humble, hard working and a genuine alternatives.

I am not quite ready to jump ship, because I am (albeit at arms length) ‘learning’ the competitor’s  products.

But I am interested.

And this is new.

And from what I read the 2019 iPhone won’t boomerang me back either.

It’s launch will apparently be headlined by some unexciting, intangible, immediately forgettable bollocks like ‘better screen’ or ‘faster’ or ‘there’s a new gobbledy-bollocks in the camera.’


I’m just a bit bored with Apple.

I am not cheering for them any more.

I don’t care if they win or if they lose.

They try to sell to me every few days with some annoying crap about memory on my phone.

MY phone.

And I don’t want THEM selling to ME on MY phone.

How dare they!

And their adverts are neither as artful nor beautiful as they once were.

These days they look like they are created by several good minds instead of one beautiful one.


A great relationship with a brand is like a marriage.

It is love.

But, unlike great marriages in the real world – the real impetus behind the relationship is one way only.

It is the job of the brand to make me feel heady-in-love.

As consumer, I am largely passive in this relationship, until the brand compels me to behave differently and connect.

And eventually fall in love.


So with Apple, these days, I wait.

I want to be seduced.


Bowled over.

Over and over and over.

I want to be proud to be Apple.

And I am not.

The End.

It’ll be some time before I leave Apple.

But the fact that I am even entertaining the idea; the fact that my head has been turned is disappointing for me.

You see, I still love them.

I just don’t think they love me any more.

So, I am sorry to say, that instead of me only having eyes for Apple – I look around.

I rate the others as they jostle for position.

I compare.

I create my personal hierarchies with the other players in the market.

The only good thing that has come from the deterioration of my dedication to Apple, for me, is that I can now write my worst pun since starting this blog.

In the last sentence.

Here goes…

I now do not only have eyes for Apple.

I see many credible alternatives, and I am prioritising them all as pretenders to the crown.

My monogamous relationship with Apple is over.

It has ended in tiers.

Would you rather do the popular thing?

Or the right thing?

Popular v Right

This is an age-old conundrum.

For people and for business.

And especially for the young these days, it is huge.

Young people need our help with this.

Because young people see and feel the ripples of self-harm and suicide from the ostracised and the bullied around them every single day.

And because they want to avoid the same troubles, they choose popular over right.


Being popular versus doing the right thing seems like a choice to young people.

And we need to change that.

By showing that doing the right thing is actually the popular thing as well.

Because people that matter (so not the bullies and the fools) really do respect and love people that stick to their convictions and be themselves.

It takes confidence, I know.

And confidence is transient for most.

So I know it’s hard.


In my work at Always  Wear Red, one of the reasons we are becoming more popular is because we are – wherever and whenever we can – doing what we know is right.

It’s the same for Patagonia.

And Hiut Jeans.

So I think that, because young people buy into these brands, they already see and know deep down that right can be popular too.

Let’s keep the message going.

Right is popular.