What Charles Darwin did for biology, Al and Laura Ries do for branding.
In their exciting new book, The Origin of Brands, the Rieses take Darwin's revolutionary idea of evolution and apply it to the branding process. What results is a new and strikingly effective strategy for creating innovative products, building a successful brand, and, in turn, achieving business success. Here, the Rieses explain how changing conditions in the marketplace create endless opportunities to build new brands and accumulate riches. But these opportunities cannot be found where most people and most companies look, that is, in the convergence of existing categories like television and the computer, the cellphone and the Internet.
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September 27, 2005
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Excerpt from The Origin of Brands by Al Ries
The Great Tree of Life
The "great tree of life" is how Charles Darwin described his metaphor for the origin of species.
"The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree... The green and budding twigs may represent existing species; and those produced during each former year may represent the long succession of extinct species. At each period of growth all the growing twigs have tried to branch out on all sides, and to overtop and kill the surrounding twigs and branches, in the same manner as species and groups of species have tried to overmaster other species in the great battle for life."
How do new branches arise? By divergence of existing branches. How do new species arise? By divergence of existing species.
When he was just twenty-eight years old, Charles Darwin jotted down his view of nature in his notebook: "If we choose to let conjecture run wild, then animals, our fellow brethren in pain, disease, suffering and famine -- our slaves in the most laborious works, our companions in our amusements -- they may partake of our origin in one common ancestor -- we may be all melted together."
Melted together, looking backward but spread apart and diverging, looking forward.
The Great Tree of Products and Services
In the "great tree of products and services," how do new categories arise? By divergence of existing categories.
? First there was a branch called computer. Today that computer branch has diverged and now we have mainframe computers, midrange computers, network computers, personal computers, laptop computers, and handheld computers. The computer didn't converge with another technology. It diverged.
? First there was a branch called television. Today that television branch has diverged and now we have analog and digital television. Regular and high-definition television. Standard (4/3) and wide-screen (16/9) formats. Television didn't converge with another medium. It diverged.
? First there was a branch called radio. Today that radio branch has diverged and now we have portable radios, car radios, wearable radios, and clock radios. Radio didn't converge with another medium. It diverged.
? First there was a branch called telephone. Today that telephone branch has diverged and now we have regular telephones, cordless telephones, headset phones, cellphones, and satellite phones. The telephone didn't converge with another technology. It diverged.
Did you ever see a tree in which two branches converged to form a single branch? Perhaps, but this is highly unlikely in nature. It's also highly unlikely in products and services.
Some Categories Live. Some Categories Die.