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Is brand ubiquity good?

17 March 2017 Jim Harrison,

We were pondering the value – or otherwise – of brand ubiquity today. It was sparked by a conversation about Ed Sheeran’s 9 singles in the UK top 10 music charts. Though clearly a sign of amazing popularity and commercial success, surely over-exposure or over-dominance (in this instance on quite an epic scale) is the kiss of death for any artist? Ed’s 9 month hiatus from the public eye now seems like a long, distant (and happy) memory…

Equally, we read this week about how Starbucks have had to admit that the brand’s global presence has led to “ubiquity in the consumer mindset” – the dilution of the brand’s reputation for quality coffee, dented by a perception that being everywhere means you can’t be special. You can just be ‘the same’. A weak brand selling weak coffee?

It’s obvious too that ubiquity needs to be a given for many brands – say PayPal or Uber. It’s their foundational starting point on which they can (hopefully) build a more meaningful brand narrative. Though you often find that brands use ubiquity as something of a crutch – with little evidence of a supporting, imagination-capturing big idea.

Love em or loathe em, McDonalds have managed to navigate the brand ubiquity trap with a degree of messaging charm. Their recent free wifi ad showed that you can say ‘same great wifi everywhere’ with creativity and originality:

Is everywhere good? Discuss.

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